Finding Time: How Corporations, Individuals, and Families Can Benefit from New Work Practices

Leslie A. Perlow, Author
Leslie A. Perlow, Author Cornell University Press $37.5 (176p) ISBN 978-0-8014-3425-9
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-8014-8445-2
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Perlow, an assistant professor at the Univ. of Michigan business school, spent four years under the auspices of the Ford Foundation, studying the work habits of engineers at Ditto, a pseudonymous Fortune 500 company. She starts by examining the structure of Ditto and how its employees work together. Using single men, working mothers and working fathers as examples, Perlow presents employees' chronicles in which they detail everything they do from when they get up to arrival at the office to lunchtime to going to bed. Several employees also discuss how they spend their time, both at the office and at home, as they juggle the responsibilities of work and their personal life. While there are real difficulties--working mothers, rather than fathers, still have more responsibilities at home and will stay home with a sick child--there are also issues of perception. Driven, successful people are perceived to work long hours, to expand their workdays to include formal and impromptu discussions. So, while some employees requested flexible schedules, flextime seemed to hinder an employee's chances for promotion. Perlow offers some suggestions for improving employee productivity--by having employees specify certain hours for ""interactive"" time and ""quiet"" time. However, most workers were unable to adhere to these strategies, in part because of the continuing pressure to be seen as accessible. As a portrait of what is an all-too-common situation--employees finding there aren't enough hours in the day to meet their work and family demands--this is an interesting portrait. However, the suggestions for change fall short. (Jan.)
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