Are you a Time lord ? (Or a shift shaper)

Well.... Eileen's said some things that I never expected , but "I need you to stop evangelizing about working for me, because now we've got too many people who want to work for us." made me laugh out loud. So I'll have to ask forgiveness for a post which starts by talking (again) about why I like this job.

The hours I work are all over the place, I'll work late at the office, I'll finish early. I'll do a bunch of e-mails before breakfast but take my daughter to school or my son to nursery and get to the office at 10. If I don't need to meet anyone at the office I'll work at home. My work/life balance is pretty good - work sometimes encroaches on home-life (and Vice Versa) but not unreasonably so. Technology helps. Smart telephone call routing, broadband, IM, Mail, and Groove mean it doesn't matter where I am. Outlook Voice access let's me triage mail from the car and I can do a lot of my mail from my phone. In my old job in MS consulting (where the management asked me not to talk about the job for different reasons) I used to meet IT people who would scoff at the idea of providing the facilities for people to work flexibly in the way that we do at Microsoft.  

The Equal Opportunities Commission have a report out called "Enter the timelords - Transforming work to meet the future". (Press release, full report PDF). By the way I like the EOC's slogan "Women, Men. Different. Equal."  Promoting equal opportunities isn't about making us all the same; it is about not shutting out any group: different people have different approaches and business benefits from from diversity...

Anyway back to the report. It says "for the majority of people, the reality of work is still fixed hours at a set place of work, which no longer fits the way they lead their lives" . It moves on to look at more flexible approaches and divides up jobs based on whether they are location dependent/independent and time dependent/independent.


  • Chief Executives

  • Writers

  • Artists

  • Social science researchers

  • Telephone sales people

  • Call-centre operators

  • IT user support technicians

  • Van drivers

  • Social workers

  • Plumbers

  • Lawyers

  • Sales assistants

  • Waiters, waitresses

  • Teachers

  • Fire service officers


Of course part of my job means I need to be in a specific place at a specific time - so I'm not 100% time lord. (I'm not a shift-shapers because the things which need me to be somewhere aren't regular things that I can swap with someone else) . Time stretchers often have customers (with inflexible jobs) who want service outside the normal 9-5 day. Remote controllers are really remote customer-service reps: with a networked computer and a telephone they can be located anywhere but they need to be available when customers demand it.

Eileen's been involved "Women in technology" stuff - I read her blog post on Saturday and it just added to the positive feeling I have about this job right now. But I have also said that concentrating on one dimension - skin colour, religious beliefs, education, gender, age, physical disability - does tend to annoy me ... I want to see the most able wanting to work here, and us hiring them without obsessing about which of those buckets they belong in - but if analysis of the buckets shows we are putting off one set of people it's right to ask why. We know that too few applications for jobs in IT come from women. Since the burden of caring tends to fall more on women than men it's generally accepted they have the greater need for flexible working: one way to get more women might be to sell the benefits of working in modern companies - which are more family friendly.  

I want to see us squash the idea that you have to be a 30-Something, university-educated, able-bodied white, middle-class male to work in IT. My 7 year old daughter doesn't think that but by the time it comes to choosing "A" level subjects and university courses a lot of girls do. We're trying to change that with events like "DigiGirlz day" - we're doing the first UK one next week with some schools who are close to our office. If it's a success there will be more. Because of school "Inset" days I'll be taking my kids to see their grandmother on that day. Work/life balance again.

Comments (1)
  1. Anonymous says:

    For nearly half my life I’ve been woken in the mornings by the Today Programme on BBC radio 4 . So much

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