Give and take

Flexibility and work scheduling

It’s been almost a month since I started full-time at the restaurant, and I’m finally getting comfortable and settling in. While I love the feeling of belonging and ownership of my work, as the shine wears off, I’m finding that I need to make some adjustments.

In my fantasy dream job, I make my own schedule. This isn’t entirely practical because my time management and discipline skills could use some work, but a girl can dream.

After being at the same cafe for 3+ years, I didn’t set my schedule, but seniority went a long way and my requests were taken seriously. I worked almost all opening shifts with a few mids and hardly ever closed. When my boyfriend got a Monday-Friday job, I stopped working Saturdays, and when I took a second job I stopped working Sundays to make time for my new gig.

Now, I’m back at the bottom and wondering; how much should I give?

My current availability is set to open. Open availability says I’m dedicated, I’m ready to work, and I want to be here, but my current set schedule is putting me in a difficult position.

I’m working nights starting in the afternoon, and ending around 10 or 11 p.m. Friday-Tuesday. This means 3 days a week, so now it's basically impossible for me to spend time with my boyfriend. We can see each other for a couple hours Wednesday and Thursday night or Saturday and Sunday morning, but that’s it.

The night schedule is partially in line with my night owl tendencies, but I find myself staying up late and waking up later and later.

I’m accepting that ‘early’ and ‘late’ are increasingly relative terms, but my ‘early’ two months ago was 4 a.m. And now it’s hard not to feel like I’m wasting my mornings.

When I was getting ready to manage, I really valued someone who was willing to open their schedule and had few time requests or restrictions. That job took a lot of dedication and time in the first year.

I did mention to my manager that I'd like to get some morning shifts and was told that this could happen when something becomes available, but I'm not sure when that will be.

I talked this over with a close friend who has a lot of experience in the same field. She recommended closing my availability on one night, so that I could spend time with my boyfriend, but keeping the rest of the week open.

I think this is a great and reasonable suggestion, but I still get nervous about asking for even one weekend night, especially since I was originally hired for weekend nights only. I'm scared of being seen as ‘weak’ for asking for a busy night off or ‘undedicated’ particularly because it would be to spend time with my boyfriend.

These are antiquated ideas, I know, but in service culture, they are still extremely prevalent. It’s okay to do if it’s “just a job” to you, but not if you're serious. Not if you want to move up or gain responsibility. And then the more responsibility you have, the less you can restrict your time.

This employer has not made me feel pressured, however these feelings are so ingrained in the culture of service it's impossible not to address them.

I was lucky to build a strong rapport with my previous managers, but after only two months at this restaurant, I don't feel as comfortable sharing personal feelings.

What do you and your partner do to make time together when your schedules don't match up? Has anyone else struggled to talk with their supervisors about scheduling?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences!