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come and tell me about long distance commuting, senior roles and having a life. is it just wishful thinking that they might be compatible?

(6 Posts)
hatwoman Wed 16-Sep-09 13:12:50

tell me anything and everything.

in particular I'd be interested to know if anyone has succesfully persuaded an employer that you can work on a train! as well as at home, say once a week. I'm looking at a 2 hour train journey - (with some slightly awkward messing about at either end) so I could - in theory - arrive in the office at, say, 10.30 - having already done, say 1.5 hours work. and leave at, 4.30, and do another 1.5 hours work on the way home.

has anyone done anything like this?

Sallypuss Wed 16-Sep-09 13:22:18

think you'll need a very understanding/non-neanderthal boss.

I work for a FTSE 50 company and am one of their most senior women. I have always worked all the hours under the sun but took seven months maternity leave and since coming back have been quite strict about my hours as my DD is my priority for the foreseeable future. I have also come back 4 days a week and refuse to work on my non-workng day unless it's life or death (though I do check emails on the Blackberry). I also have a long commute 1.5 hours each way.

I think you have to be upfront with your boss about what you are willing to do and also be flexible (I do a lot of work with the US and so will regularly do conference calls etc once my DD is in bed).

My company is very male-dominated and senior women are a recent addition let alone those that have children. I think if you're clear about your boundaries but similarly flexible then it can work.

StillSquiffy Wed 16-Sep-09 13:26:15

my journey is 1.5 hrs each way and although I blackberry half the way, I wouldn't dream about including it in my 'normal' hours - it is just what you do when you are in a senior role. You will also find (as I do) that phone reception is hit and miss, and you can't really use a computer on the train because you lose concentration every couple of minutes or spend half your time terrified that the chap opposite is going to pour his coffee over it. And that is before worrying if someone is reading confidential stuff over your shoulder.

The commute really is your responsibility, not your employers, and I would be amazed if you found them treating what you propose seriously (whatever they may say to your face). What would sound better instead would be to ask if you could work 2 hours every evening after putting your DC's to bed. Then in reality you do the work on the train instead. But TBH even a couple of hours extra in the evening is what you would do in a senior role quite often, without including it in your daily hours.

It sounds as if you either need to move closer to the office (impossible I expect, especially if you have family around), or put in a request for flexible hours. I know someone who does an 80% flexitime arrangement where she gets in early, takes just a 30 minute break for lunch and then leaves at 2.30.

itsmeolord Wed 16-Sep-09 13:30:49

I think there are some issues with your suggestions.

1. Working on a train depends on whether or not you can find a table seat, what the phone reception is like (for internet and phone access) and how crowded it is as well. It's next to impossible to work effectively on a train on a commuter line. I have tried it.

2. The slightly awkward messing about would over time turn into very awkward messing about I suspect as the longer you have to do something that is awkward the more irritating it will get which won't do much for your general mood.

3. Working at home is fine and you are generally more effective ( I do a mixture of homeworking, office working and site visits/meetings) but you need to have all the tools available to allow you to do your job at home. So, decent internet access, a phone that will allow conference calls, decent laptop, ability to receive faxes if necessary. Remote access to office systems.A proper office space is essential, you need somewhere quiet that you can organise with paperwork, stationery etc that you will not be interrupted/asked to move on if there is someone at home. So kitchen/dining room table working not really suitable.

Why do you want to ask to do this? It's easier to suggest a solution if you post the issues.

annh Wed 16-Sep-09 13:50:27

Agree with everything everyone has already said about difficulty of phone reception, shouted conversations, trying to find a seat so you can actually work etc. Another thing to consider is what you would do if you needed to get home urgently and had to face a two hour journey. I gave up a much shorted commute than you are proposing because dh was already working in London and I did not feel comfortable that if anything happened at school e.g. I could not get there quickly. Your children may be much younger so that may not be an issue.

hatwoman Wed 16-Sep-09 14:18:08

hi again - sorry for lack of info - there's so many other things that I didn;t want to write a whole essay on it....and, in any case, I operate on mn on the assumption that anyone who knows me in rl would recognise me, and I just didn;t want to go into too many details. thanks for all your thoughts

the seat/table thing is rarely an issue. it's a fast inter-city type service - not a slow cummuter line. I do it reasonably regularly already and I've never been unable to get a seat.

the distance from school thing etc is also a valid point - but dh wouldn't be far away. and I also have family nearby.

also working from home - another valid point but I currently wfh and have my own study etc. and this employer is good on providing support for home working.

I think you are right squiffy - that, as far as the employer is concerned, it amounts to a request for mixing office working with non-office/home working - and it's my responsibility to just get the stuff done, whether it be on the train or at home later.

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