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Dear Pat: I’m on maternity leave and getting ready to head back to full time work next month. I want to devise a more flexible working schedule so I can have time with my daughter after work before she goes to bed.
My plan is to reduce my “face-time” workday from 8:30 to 5:00 to 8:30 to 4:00 by taking only a 1/2 hour lunch and making up the other 1/2 hour working from home.
If I don’t work the 1/2 hour at home each day, I’d be looking at a pay cut of about 7%, which I am not prepared to take.
Meanwhile, my boss has set up a meeting to discuss bonus and salary, so I think this is a prime time for me to propose my flexible work schedule. What do you think? And should I wait to see what he’s offering me first before requesting what I want?
Any suggestions or advice would be appreciated. New Mom in Massachusetts
Dear New Mom: Ideally, people would be paid based on results only, not hours. Too bad management styles at most employers haven’t progressed that far yet.
So my first suggestion is this: don’t get caught up in the mire of monitoring 30 minutes of remote work every day. It’s inefficient. And it’s a mental tether that will put a kink in the rhythm of your daily life.
Instead, pitch the same schedule, but reframe the time difference into weekly terms. In other words, propose that you’ll complete 2.5 hours a week of work remotely. Provide examples of the job task(s) you’ll do from home. It’s a relatively short amount of time, so you can probably carve out one or two time slots a week to do the work.
Another suggestion is to consider taking part or all of your raise in time instead of dollars. Here’s an approach for doing that.
Have a clear idea of the amount you expect for a raise, based on your achievements and research of your market value.
But let your boss offer the figures first. Then make your pitch, either during that conversation or, depending on the flow of the meeting, a few days later: “I’ve been thinking…”
So What Happened?
This new mom wrote me some weeks later to report what happened, and to share her observations about her employer (and Work Options):
“I initially met with my boss and he presented me with my bonus for last year and a 6.5% raise for this year. I then emailed him my proposal with a request to discuss.
The time-money trade idea worked; we agreed that I’d keep my raise but it would be pro-rated to reflect my shorter workday (with no remote at-home work!). In other words, I’ll be returning to work at close to my previous year’s salary but with the new part-time schedule I wanted.
As progressive as [my employer] is, it still operates like a herd of cattle going to and from the office on a daily basis. They are flexible when it comes to appointments, child needs etc., and I have seen more movement towards better work life balance for employees who ASK. [Note: her emphasis.]
Pat, I would like to thank you for your advice and your proposal template. The proposal was very detailed and had all the key components that my boss needed to see.”