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A Custom-Fit Job: The End of the 40-Hour Work Week

Armed with the idea that, "Everyone deserves a job that fits" a new book makes the argument that it's about time to kill the old, inflexible 40-hour workweek.

In the book, "The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line" the authors show how companies like Jet Blue , Ernst & Young, and Best Buy are rewriting how we work.

The authors claim, "workplace practices that honor workers' responsibilities both on the job and off create a win for employees and employers alike" - in other words those companies who embrace and celebrate new work strategies are actually improving employee morale and the bottom line.

YES, even now in the midst of one of the worst economic crisis evah(!) — one where employees are losing their jobs, can't find a job or are stuck in a job where they're doing more with less — there is a call to pay attention to the feelings and needs of employees.

I can hear the groans already. Many of you roll your eyes in disgust and say no one cares how an employee feels - that they should just be thankful they have a job "assume the position and say, thank you sir, may I have another."

Well welcome to 2010 but more important, get ready for the future where the "one-size-fits-all ways of working" are no longer working. Today's Custom-Fit workplaces include providing Results-Only Work Environments (ROWEs), "Babies at Work" programs, Virtual workplaces and "On ramp and off ramp" opportunities.

Read on to learn more about the radical changing workplace in a special Guest Author Blog from Nanette Fondas, co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace.

"LET BABIES COME TO WORK"

Guest Author Blog
Guest Author Blog

Bullish on the American Worker by Nanette Fondas co-author of "The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line"

Recently President Obama unveiled his plan to further stimulate the U.S. economy: business tax cuts to spur investment in plants and equipment, more government investment in infrastructure improvements, and small business legislation to encourage hiring.

Other suggestions too are emerging from the marketplace of ideas. Robert Reich argued in the New York Timesthat America needs to widen the circle of prosperity by extending the earned income tax credit to the middle class, widening the availability of early childhood education, and making public universities free—a New Deal-esque vision.

Some ideas to cut unemployment have appeared in The Atlantic, including government funding to shorten work hours (to reduce layoffs and keep more people on the payroll), make or guarantee loans to small businesses, underwrite the cost of shipping for companies that export, and stem the firing and furloughing of state workers.

Into this mix, I’ll add some ideas I wrote about in my new book, The Custom-Fit Workplace: invest in human capital, families, and the worker as a whole person. There’s no doubt that during this recession, American workers are being squeezed. They are working longer, harder, producing more and more, even as some needed co-workers’ jobs get eliminated.

Productivity is key right now but humans have limits. That’s why working smarter is needed to support the productivity of the current workforce and that of the new workers added as the economy rebounds from the new stimulus or the business cycle.

Some of the ideas proposed in The Custom-Fit Workplaceinclude:

More flex-time.

Flexible scheduling, job-sharing, and compressed schedules are needed now more than ever as people juggle demanding work hours and other life commitments. Young people, older employees, parents and non-parents alike all need flexibility at times. And research shows that when they get it, their productivity stays high.

More telecommuting.

Whether it’s one employee, one business unit, or an entire company, more telecommuting makes workers’ lives saner and, thus supports their productivity and health.

More results-only work environments.

Today business competitiveness depends upon results. Period. Organizations that focus on results create a culture of high commitment that rewards them in spades. Employees don’t quit. They go the extra mile. Customers return again and again because service is good and product quality is great.

"Now is the time to eliminate penalties on people who slow down, speed up, or make other job transitions." -Co-author, The Custom-Fit Workplace, Nanette Fondas

Don’t penalize lane changers.

Now is the time to eliminate penalties on people who slow down, speed up, or make other job transitions. Today’s workers are a diverse lot: some stay in the fast-lane, some slow down for awhile and return energized, some chug along for decades. Some now have unemployment and underemployment in their job histories. Whether a person’s lane change was voluntary or not, when he or she merges back into the workforce, they should not be penalized.

Let babies come to work.

I’m not talking about on-site child care but rather the new idea of letting an infant come to work with a parent for a few months. Businesses are making this new idea work for both the worker and the bottom line.

The U.S. needs investment in plants, infrastructure, small business and large. We also need smart investment in the people who make industries and workplaces hum.

Visit CustomFitWorkplace.org to learn more about these ideas.

About the author: Nanette Fondas is co-author of The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line (2010) and Executive Blog Editor at MomsRising.org. Formerly a professor at premier universities including Harvard's Radcliffe College, Duke's Fuqua School of Business, and the University of California, Nanette now writes about work, organizations, and management at Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Ms., and MomsRising. Her writing was featured in the "50 Visionaries" issue of Utne Reader. Nanette is a mother of four children, a Rhodes Scholar, and a Doctor of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks

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