Flex Schedules Can Balance Work, Home Time

Alternative work schedule. The federal government and many private employers allow some employees to select arrival and departure times that suit their personal needs within the working day. For example, some people might want to avoid a heavy commute, while others may benefit from seeing their kids off to school in the morning. These employees are still putting in the same number of hours in the office as their peers, but they're not necessarily the traditional 9 to 5 hours.

Access to concierge services. Many employers recognize that life happens while we're at work and they're offering benefits that help the rank and file to better manage career and home simultaneously. Among the concierge services offered: Dinner-to-go via their on-site cafeterias to help parents who work a bit later avoid the rat-race of getting home to cook for their families; help with dog walking, routine car maintenance, a fill-in at home who can wait for the cable guy to show up, and other tasks that would normally take you away from work during the week or away from kids on the weekend.

Part-time work. Some women would gladly accept reduced pay and benefits to receive a reduced work schedule. Many companies will honor this arrangement for high achievers because it's more cost-effective than losing them altogether. Some employers recognize that you already have the knowledge and training, which would enable you to achieve the same (or better) results on a part-time basis as someone else could on a full-time basis without the same training.

Job sharing. This is perhaps the most difficult of all scenarios to secure because it requires the moon and the stars to align in ways that aren't always realistic. Even though some job-sharing relationships work successfully, the jury is out on the overall effectiveness of such arrangements.

Making Your Case

Even though many of us are intimidated by the thought of approaching our bosses with requests for special accommodations for fear of being shot down, keep in mind that there is no other way to receive the flexibility you so greatly desire.

It's unrealistic to assume that government legislation or a change in company policy will miraculously satisfy our flexible wishes. If you want to make something happen, you must be willing to speak up and lead the charge yourself.

To figure out what type of flexible accommodation might work best for you, consider these issues:

  • How will such an arrangement affect your responsibilities, your key constituents (co-workers, managers, clients, customers) and your employer?
  • Have other employees in your company used flexible arrangements? What is/was the outcome? What insights can they share with you about the challenges and triumphs they experienced? Sometimes there's a leader within your company who has successfully championed this issue and could serve as a helping hand as you navigate this process.
  • What benefits would you and your employer realize if you were granted the flexible accommodation that you seek? Every manager wants to know that the job will get done even better by making special accommodations for you. You can point to any number of benefits to the company: increased productivity, higher morale, less stress and burnout, and higher retention and lower turnover. Any one of these on its own is not insignificant.

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