After we talked about flextime at work on "Good Morning America," we received a number of viewer questions and stories. Read below for Claire Shipman's responses and CLICK HERE to send in your questions or join the conversation in the comments section below.
Nancy Hartzell, Southlake, Texas: My major reason for writing to you is to relate my experience in the work place some 28 years ago. At the time, I was working for a bank in Richmond, Virginia. My oldest child was born in July, 1981 and I also felt the pull between motherhood and career. … The pull to the motherhood side of the equation became the stronger one. Consequently, I made the decision to look for part-time employment and contacted a former employer with a law firm to return as a paralegal on a part-time basis. The arrangement was worked out and I gave my notice to the bank.
That evening as I was walking to my car, the president of the bank stopped me in midstep. His comment was "If you can work for (the law firm) part-time, why can't you do it for us?" Of course, my response was that I did not think that was even a remote chance that was a possibility. …To make a long story a little shorter, I worked for the bank another six years part-time and then for the former law firm for another six years also part-time. My schedule was three days per week with both positions….It wasn't until well into my wonderful arrangement that I realized its uniqueness and how fortunate I was.
Claire: Nancy — wow. Indeed lucky to have had such a modern employer back then. How did your co-workers feel?
Jackie, Waynesboro, Penn.: I was faced with this dilemma five years ago. My daughter had just started first grade. My boss wanted to extend his hours to 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. …I got the last shift. It made it tough because [by the time] I got home it was 5:30. I had enough time to fix dinner, help her with homework and give her a bath before she went to bed. After a few months of this, I was guilt stricken. My husband and I decided I may have to quit my job. It just wasn't working. I loved my job and didn't want to quit. I gathered up my nerves and asked my boss if we could have a private discussion. I explained to him the position I was in. I loved my job but my family more. I explained the new hours were just not working for me. He asked what he could do to help me. He said he didn't want me to leave. We discussed our options and the final outcome was, I would put my daughter on the bus at 8:00 a.m., come to work and leave at 3:30 p.m. to be at home when she got off the bus. Five years later it still works well for me. I am also able to leave during the day to attend school functions with her and to have an occasional lunch with her. Flex time is wonderful. We as women want to do it all. But sometimes we need to tell ourselves we can't and that's okay.
Claire: Jackie, your story really illustrates what we've found. If you don't ask, you won't get what you want. And when you do – if you are valuable — things can often work out! Congratulations!
Lisa Davis, Lawrenceville, Ga.: I think flextime is a good and fair work practice that can be used for everyone including men. My son is an adult now, but my employer allows me to flex one day per week because of our business. I serve customers nationally, so one day per week, which we call "West Coast Wednesdays," I focus solely on my west coast accounts …It's a win/win situation because I get one day a week to sleep in and watch “Good Morning America” and “Regis and Kelly” or handle whatever business I need to take care of, and my employer gets all of their customers’ needs addressed weekly. I'm a happy camper and so is my boss! Now, I believe women with young children should have more time during the day with their kids to take care of basic needs, i.e. doctor and dentist appointments, teacher conferences, activities etc. So both the employer and the employee have to ensure the job is the right fit for both interests.
Claire: I'm so glad you see this as a win/win. Was it hard to negotiate? Any personal tips?