Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2/9/16- Reduced work schedule

So about a month ago, in my post about my R.A.,  I mentioned that I'd be talking to my boss about a reduced work schedule.  Well, I had that talk right before the holidays, and it went much better than I anticipated.  I was nervous that my boss and company would not be supportive, and worst case fire me for being a lame, sick person.  I'm not the only autoimmune disease patient that feels like their disease is going to get them laid off from work.  It's seems silly to be afraid of that, as decency and sympathy would dictate that we wouldn't fire someone for being sick, but the reality is, we've all heard of the story where someone struggling with chronic illness is fired from their job.  In fact, I still struggle to forgive a certain company for firing my friend who has MS, but that is a story for another time.

My story about my job and illness has a more happy ending.  My story starts with the fact that when I was first going through diagnosis, my boss was very understanding, and my company actually insisted I sign up for FMLA (Family Medical Leave and Absence) and protect my job.  By protecting me and my job, they protected themselves, and it was a win-win for both parties.  Flash to 2015, my boss was aware of all my health struggles that year, as I kept a pretty open dialogue with them about what was happening to me. I know some people believe that their health status is none of their co-workers' business, and I respect that. For me, I want to raise awareness about my disease, so I'm pretty open with my boss and my co-workers about the fact I have R.A. and get sick more often than I'd like.

I also had a the support of my doctor, who wrote a note, so when I went to have the conversation with my boss and new boss (the project did some shuffling in December and I got a new boss around the time of the talk),  But I'm not 100% sure I needed the note because when I talked to my bosses about a reduced work schedule, they understood how I felt and helped me get the ball rolling on the company paperwork.   My department manager also approved my new schedule (24 hours/week). I think I had empathy from the department manager because unfortunately their family member just got diagnosed with Lupus.  I mean that is a crappy way to gain a manager's empathy.

My new office mate (he sleeps mostly, which makes it easy to focus on work)

I've been working 24 hours/week and most from home (my bosses suggested that, and I'm appreciative that they did), and it's been good.  Working less was supposed to help me get more rest, but after the husband's accident, I was not sleeping much and super stressed.  However, now that the dust has settled after husband's accident, meaning I'm now in the rhythm of dropping/picking Jack up from daycare and having to do more of the house chores, I am getting a little more rest and even moderate exercise (because walking is so good for joints)!  And I'm so grateful that I have the flexibility to help more with Jack.  We've really come to enjoy our time together (he was a total Daddy's boy, if that is a thing).  I don't think I'd been able to step it up with helping with Jack and other household stuff (my husband does a lot of the cooking and dish washing) if I didn't have this reduced schedule.  I'm so thankful!  It's a true blessing.

I just wish that there was a way to give more people in the US tech industry part time work because so many full time engineers/caregivers whom I know desire part time work.  I know there is the company Power to Fly (no they aren't paying me an endorsement; I wish, call me Power to Fly!) that said why can't tech workers who are parents/caregivers work more flexible jobs (part time/remote/flex hours/etc) and came up with an awesome model to help those tech workers.  However one company doing that doesn't seem to be enough in talking to tech workers.  We need more than one company doing it, and if I was interested in starting a business, I'd totally start another Power to Fly type company (hint, hint to those of you with entrepreneurial aspirations).  I've had co-workers ask me how they can work part time like me, and I always joke, just get an autoimmune disease, which that is not a funny joke at all if you think about it.  The demand and desire is out there to have flex work, and it shouldn't take having an autoimmune disease to get a part/flex schedule, (hint, hint to companies wanting to attract a diverse talent, provide flexible work options and you'll catch more "flies"; the technology exists to offer more flex work in the tech industry).   Rambling done. Opinion given (maybe I'll do a survey one day to back my engineers that I know desire flex work statement). Momee Zee out.

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