When I was fifteen I got a job working as a teacher’s assistant in a child care center near my home. The job was easy and it was better than standing behind a greasy counter at the mall. The center was open from 7:30 am until 6:00 pm Monday through Friday so I never had to work late nights or long weekends. In the summer I worked all day, but during the school year I only worked from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. My high school was 30 minutes from the child care center, so in order to make it in on time I had to rush out of class, head for my car, and speed to work. When I arrived I was supposed to punch in with a real, old-fashioned time clock. At least once a week I would arrive late. If I was 15 minutes late, I was docked for the full thirty minutes. Honestly, I was docked more times than I can count.
Thankfully that was the only job I ever maintained with a ‘real’ time clock. All my subsequent jobs had time sheets, which could be manually filled in. I can fully understand the need for time clocks in certain jobs. After all some professions require strict hours. Being a teacher is a perfect example. The teacher needs to arrive before the children arrive, stay while the children are in school, and go home after classes end. But most jobs these days don’t require such strict hours. For example, in the software industry you can work from anywhere, anytime. As long as the developer has an end deadline for her work it shouldn’t matter if she works from 7:00 to 3:00 or 4:00 pm to 12:00. In fact, there is no reason she shouldn’t be allowed to work for 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the evening, with 4 hours off in between. Of course, there are exceptions to these rules. After all, employees need to be available for meetings and conference calls, but otherwise it simply doesn’t make sense for an individual to be asked to sit at her desk for exactly eight hours each day.
So why is it, in this modern day world, that individuals in jobs with flexible time tables are still expected to sit at their desks for eight hours at a time? I know people who arrive to work 30 minutes late and then stay 30 minutes later before going home for the day. More often than not, they spend that extra 30 minutes chatting with coworkers or calling their husbands, but by staying they can officially claim that they worked their expected 8 hours. Why don’t these employees just go home at their regularly scheduled time and work from home for thirty minutes? Or work from home for thirty minutes in the morning the very next day? Or if all their work is finished not work an extra thirty minutes at all?