Welcome to The New Social Worker's Blog

The New Social Worker is the quarterly magazine for social work students and recent graduates, focusing on social work careers for those new to the profession. This blog is a companion to the free online magazine at http://www.socialworker.com.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What About Us?

Over the past decade or two, many companies have been playing around with the traditional 9-5 working hours to gain a feel for what makes sense both for the company's bottom line and for its employees. Flextime, self-regulated vacation time, and 4 10-hour day work weeks have become more common, and many are now considering having one or more of those options to be a necessity when seeking work.

Some companies have reported that such options create happier employees, which makes them more loyal and more productive, which is worth it to the company in the big picture.

Could such ever work in Social Work? To be honest, there's a huge part of me that likes the idea of working Monday-Thursday and having 3 day weekends, even if it meant 10 hour days for the other 4. There's an even bigger part of me that likes the idea of flextime allowing me to not start work until 10 or 11, even if it meant working until 6 or 7.

For me, this sounds awesome... but then, I say that as someone who doesn't have to pay for after-school care for children and as someone who is naturally a night owl.

What do you think? Would your personal life be improved or suffer if your company began such protocol? How do you think it would impact your clients?


  1. I am a social worker in the child welfare field and part of the reason I love my job (and came back to CW) is the flexible schedule. Not only do I get 5 weeks vacation time a year, but I also get "flex time" - meaning when I work a crazy long day, I am usually free to work a shorter day sometime later in the week or month. My work hours are generally 9(ish) to 5(ish) - but if I want to come in at 10 and work til 6, no one is really going to bat an eyelash. I also get to work from home 2 days per month (caseworkers get 1xper week). And getting an hour off to go the doctor/dentist/whatever is almost never an issue. I plan my scheduled appointments around my work responsibilities and make sure my supervisor knows where I am. I've worked in two child welfare agencies and this is pretty much the norm as far as I can tell! So, if you are looking for flexibility - I'd say social work is where its at! :)

  2. I work as a hospice social worker in a hospital based hospice program in the rural south. This last year, my boss has given me a lot of flexibility in the hours that I work (this is more due to the fact that I have been in graduate school and completing a non-employer-based field placement than the company changing it's policies.) In order for me to get my work done, I have worked lots of evenings and weekends. In many ways it has been helpful to me, my clients, and my company.

    My company has benefitted because I have been forced to streamline my productivity, and have managed to get more work done in less hours. When I go to work, I go because I have work that needs to be done, not because it is the hours that I am required ot be at work. My 40 hour workweek has turned into a 30 hour work week, and I have been surprised that it has worked.

    My clients have benefitted because I am able to be more flexible with thier schedules. I am more able to work (and more cheerful about working) late nights and weekends because I am in charge of my schedule. As such, I am able to better accomodate clients who might be unavailable during regular business hours. 

    I have benefitted because I would not have survived this year without being able to flex my schedule. I would not have been able to complete a 20 hour a week field placement, plus classes, plus a job without flexing my schedule. I have enjoyed my job more, and am now much more satisfied with it. Without giving me autonomy, I would have been forced to either quit my job or put school on hold, and neither of these would have been good options.