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Job seekers say they want to control their schedules


Time revolutionaries: You might be one of them. Or your mom or your younger brother or your daughter. They are people who are trying to wrest back control of time from the monster with the white face, mechanical brain and hands that never stop doing their dirty work: the good old industrial-age time clock -- or whatever its equivalent is in each person's life.

The time these trendsetters prefer is an oddball stew of techno-time and biorhythmic-time, a beast employers seem to find particularly frightening. Women have been leading the crusade -- demanding, if not getting, job-sharing, humane maternity leaves and home-based job time. Some are setting up home businesses so they can work hours suited to their needs or wants. (According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, women are the fastest growing group of new entrepreneurs). And now fresh troops are joining them.

According to a new study by Demos, a British think tank, young people -- those who're walking in the baby-boomers' footsteps -- also say they want the freedom to control the time they spend working.

The report showed their first requirement of a job -- and this is no surprise -- is to make money. Second, they want work that exercises their intellect and, third, they say they want to manage their own time to meet their employer's output needs.

There's the critical concept -- output. These 20- to 30-year-olds and many women of all ages say it's what they produce and its quality that should concern employers -- not when or how they do it. That might mean working nontraditional hours or at home some days.

"I don't mind working hard at something I like," says Vicki Keppler, 21, a Towson State University senior who is job hunting now. She, like the British young people surveyed by Demos, says she's looking for a job that pays adequately, an employer who will respect her knowledge and a life that isn't dominated by work -- or more accurately, the stress of doing work that's not particularly satisfying on somebody else's rigid timetable.

"It's not the working hard part that concerns me. It's the working long."

Ms. Keppler has worked since high school and had one job where her manager worked 12-14 hours daily because that was the job structure. "He was always stressed out. I know I don't want to feel like that."

She's typical for her age, according to Karla Henderson, professor of leisure studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "This group is operating on a worth ethic rather than a work ethic. They want to be valued for the worth of their work, not just their productivity."

An excerpt in the current Utne Reader from the British magazine, the Idler, says young people also don't feel any obligation to be loyal to an employer. They've grown up witnessing the more-work-for-the-same-pay effects of downsizing, corporate bullying and abrupt layoffs of even senior executives.

"They've seen their parents sweat over job security. I get the sense my students feel their parents work too hard," says Ms. Henderson. "They're asking themselves if the cost is worth the benefit."


What do you do to save time, to make life easier? What have you cut down on or cut out to make more time for yourself and your family? Have you found a way to simplify your lifestyle? Call the Sundial number that follows to tell us your tips and thoughts. Future columns will feature your ideas. Be sure to leave your name, city of residence and daytime phone number when you call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call (410) 268-7736; in Harford County, (410) 836-5028; in Carroll County, (410) 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6220 after you hear the greeting.

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