Just about every working human would like a flexible schedule, and most mothers jump quickly to the idea of part-time. Before you give up full-time hours, however—and a full-time salary that could greatly impact your long-term financial security—ask yourself the question that tops this article’s list:
- Is what I really need a better system of managing my priorities and my time?
Though it may rarely seem to be the case, many working mothers clock full-time schedules, spend lots of quality time with their families and find time for themselves, too. It’s a reality that working and non-working mothers feel high levels of stress at every age and stage. A full-time job is not always the culprit—multiple kids, a busy household and a steering wheel that seems glued to carpooling hands can do a number on a psyche, too. That said, if you’re totally convinced that something other than the traditional full-time schedule is the only way to keep your blood pressure within a normal range, it’s critical to zero in on your “ask”. Decide exactly what you are proposing as your new work arrangement. “I’d like to work in a more flexible way” is a vague request that puts the onus on your boss to figure out possible scenarios. Because there are few managers who do not prefer to have the people they manage always in their line of vision, you want to take the lead in crafting an arrangement that you and your boss can use as a starting point for discussion and negotiation. You will feel more control over and satisfaction from your work and life if you set up and meet certain goals. What, specifically, will give you greater work+life peace…a consistent 8 or 10 hour work day, fewer commuting days, the ability to drop your children off at school every day, a weekly volunteer morning for an organization important to you, a part-time arrangement that gives you half the week at home? Once you know your flexibility goals, the next step is to see how the goals translate to an actual work arrangement. Begin to put structure around your proposal by asking yourself 19 more questions:
- Do I want reduced hours (something less than 40 hours) or a more flexible full-time schedule?
- Can I afford to work less than a full-time schedule?
- Could I successfully do all that is required for my job in fewer days? Could I afford to work 4 days and be paid 80% of my salary—a substantial savings for my employer and a free day for me?
- How would a part-time schedule affect my eligibility for employee benefits?
- Could I afford to work less than 30 hours—and save my employer from mandatory health care coverage?
- How would a less than full-time schedule affect my opportunities for advancement?
- Are there known busy periods throughout the year when I would be willing to forego flexibility?
- What is my ideal flexible schedule—e.g., beginning day earlier or later, ending day earlier or later, compressing work week into four long days?
- Is the ability to work from home one or more days a week my objective?
- Which regularly scheduled meetings require my presence on site—and which could I participate in via Skype?
- Should I be on site for predictable monthly responsibilities that require last-minute coordination among many people and departments?
- How much on site training or oversight is needed by the individuals and teams I manage?
- Do I have—or can I create—a home office set-up that will be a productive, quiet space?
- What equipment or software would need to be duplicated in a home office set-up—and is it cost-prohibitive?
- Do I need the buzz of a busy office and lots of co-workers to be truly productive?
- Would a job share be viable? Who would be a likely partner?
- Would my current childcare arrangements fit with my ideal flexible schedule? Would my childcare arrangements also be flexible when I need to give my employer extra time or handle emergency work situations?
- Would I prefer to cut back on or eliminate business travel? If this is not possible does day or overnight travel affect my desired flexible schedule?
- How does client interaction and oversight—especially for those in different countries or time zones—affect my ideal flexibility schedule?
Once you answer these questions, you’ll have a better idea of the kind of flexible schedule that could work for you—and your boss. Like every other relationship in life, there’s harmony, fairness and less stress for all when both parties give and get. —KAS
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Photo Credit: www.freedigitalphotos.net/Stuart Miles