Last year, I was invite to give a talk to grade six student on career day about my work. A student asked me what is the working hours like. I told him engineers work flexible hours. They don’t understand what’s flexible hours, so the teacher explained to them that I can come to work any time I like, go home any time I like and take breaks as much as I want. The idea of flexible hours seems novel to the students and they all say that’s cool. Then the teacher use the chance to teach them the importance of time management. Maybe I should tell the students, flexible hours is not cool in reality.
Flexible hours does not mean shorter hours, in fact it is often longer hours. Engineers’ work is project based, as long as we meet the dead line and show up in the meeting, to some extend we have the freedom of when and where to work. In other nine to five jobs, they have day in day out tasks. If you take a day off or have a sick day, someone have already covered your work for you. But in our job, if you take a day off, your tasks are still sitting there waiting for you come back and finish them. I end up working extra hours before my vacation so I can get all my the tasks out of my way. The only time I enjoy flexible hours is down time between projects. I can take the benefit of flexible hours by having a shorter work day if I don’t have much to do.