The best employees show unending loyalty to work, staying long hours and being on call for bosses or clients. At least, that’s the credo of 21st-century American capitalism.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Even though long, unpredictable hours have become a feature of many jobs, and people who work them now earn disproportionately more, some employers have figured out how to cede more control over where or when work gets done.
It’s happening even in occupations where face time and on-call availability seem essential, like finance or food service. There are signs that, with unemployment at the lowest point in half a century, more companies are turning to flexible work arrangements to recruit workers — and in some cases, creating a model for how work in the United States could be remade.
At Credigy, a finance company near Atlanta, any worker can arrive late, leave early or work from home, no questions asked, as long as the work gets done — and even the members of the senior leadership team do so. It’s a different world from most professional services companies, which require long hours in the office.
At Miss B’s Cafe in Louisburg, Kan., servers collaborate on their schedules so they can fill in for anyone who needs a day off, and the kitchen manager bakes brunch pastries the evening before so she can attend yoga on weekend mornings. It’s unlike many service-sector jobs, in which schedules can be assigned at the last minute.
The long and unpredictable hours that have resulted from America’s obsession with