As you’re thinking about going back to work, you may be considering the possibility of a flexible work arrangement. Not having to be at your desk between the hours of 9 and 5, 5-days a week can be just the ticket to making life a little more manageable with kids at home. In fact, it might just be a game changer in making this whole thing work, especially if you have a long commute. There are lots of different types of flexible schedules which your workplace may or may not be amenable to. Some of the most common are: non-traditional hours, working from home and reduced hours. Consider what might work for you and then we can talk about how to broach the subject with your boss or HR.
Non-traditional hours: This often means an early start time (maybe your spouse is doing drop off) so you can head out early to get that daycare pickup (e.g. 7am-3pm). But maybe it’s something more custom like working 9am-4pm and then an hour in the evening hours after bedtime. This is great for parents who use daycare providers and need to make a pickup time or for someone who is looking to get an extra hour with the kids in the evening and are open to the idea of pulling out the laptop at night.
Working from home: This one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s when you do the work you typically do at your desk at your office, at home instead. It means no commute – aka TIME back in your day. Plus, maybe there’s some folding of laundry that happens on a conference call as an added bonus.
Reduced hours: It’s also worth considering if a part-time schedule could work for you and your family. While it doesn’t work for everyone, the trade-off works for some.
Okay, so how to broach this topic.
First, if you know anyone in your office who has a flexible work arrangement, ask them all about it! Find out what the details of their arrangement are and how it’s going.
Second, start the conversation with your manager. Send them an email and ask for a touch base before you return to work to discuss details of coming back. Ask them if they’re open to you taking on a flexible schedule. Assuming there isn’t anything within your role that would prevent this from being a non-starter, they’ll likely be open to the idea. Be ready to outline what you have in mind. Write it down and have it in front of you ready to reference when you’re on the phone. And if this is not common practice at your office, suggest a trial period. If you’re in good standing with your company, most companies want to figure out a way to make things work for all parties – and that means experimenting with flexible work arrangements is on the table.
Third, follow up over email and recap the conversation and outline any next steps. If there is official paperwork that needs to be drawn up, then ask for that to be sent to you or ask if there is someone you should directly work with to hash out the details.
Most importantly, remember, if you don’t ask, it’s not going to happen. There is no harm in exploring this option and understanding what might be possible.