Whilst some commentators note that the recession is a time to acquire talent, this post by Professor Tammy Erickson at HBR highlights how measures taken by some companies to handle the impact of the recession may have unexpected impacts and consequences on the relationships between employees and their employers.
most of us in professional or managerial roles have viewed the work we do as only loosely related to any particular hours. We work nights and weekends. We grumble about work-life balance. We accept that the deal we have had with our employers was all encompassing.
But the idea of furloughs, particularly for managers and professionals, is planting the seed of a new way of looking at work in our minds. Suddenly companies have asked us to work, say, 32 hours a week rather than 40. Hmmm. What does that really mean? Most of us were never working 40 hours — we might have been working 50 or maybe even 60. We were answering emails at odd hours, writing in the early hours, calling Singapore at night. Does this mean that we should now work 20% less than we were before . . . or does it mean we should work literally 32 hours?
For many, I believe the conclusion will be that we should work the hours specified by the company and perhaps do other things — start new businesses on the side perhaps, sell stuff on eBay, take another job, go back to school, whatever — with the other time.
Loyalties and commitments will undoubtedly change.
There are some interesting comments on the post as well.
Personally I think this change was underway before the recession, but the recession/downturn is accentuating the trend and making it much more noticeable.