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Annabel: Flexible working requests don’t have to be to work fewer hours, or to work at home. When my first child was born, I just changed the hours I worked. Rather than working a 5 day 35 hour week (with two hours minimum per day commuting), I switched to 3 twelve-hour days. It was tough but it was worth it because it gave me a four day weekend.
Laura: This arrangement can be very tiring since it involves some long days, but it can mean you need to spend less on childcare (if you have someone available to pick up your child at the normal time on your three working days).
Annabel: I found it really useful to have the extra quiet time in the office, but still to be working (and present) for my normal number of hours. My colleagues were sceptical at first, referring to me working part time, but at the end of the year it turned out I had outperformed them on every measure we used to evaluate performance, from fee earning onward.
Laura: It is important to have proper time for yourself and rest time if you are going to work this way. If you just switch from doing a full time condensed week into doing housework and being Mum, you can find yourself getting very tired indeed. Make sure you schedule some ‘me’ time into this cycle.
Annabel: I think I made that mistake. I used to do all the shopping and chores on Friday so that the weekend was child time, and then use Monday night to prepare for the week. If I knew then what I know now, I would have made sure I had at least half a day of ‘me time’ in that schedule – if only to take a walk in the park.
Laura: Be realistic. If your job requires constant contact with you, you may end up working three long days and then being on the phone on your other days anyway. You need to make sure you are not taking on more than you can do over the mid-term. So many women strive to be superwoman when they have a young family.
Annabel: You need to think about which days and how this might work with bank and public holidays. Most bank and public holidays are on Friday and Mondays and most people want to work flexibly to give them long weekends. If you are happy to do something outside of Tuesday-Thursday you may find your boss more enthusiastic if you are not part of a large and interchangeable team. If you are working your normal hours on condensed days you need to make sure you get the same number of public holidays as your five day a week colleagues. It is easy to people to view you as part time – which you are not!
Laura: There are jobs when this can work very well, but this doesn’t work for everyone or every organisation. If you are doing work that can be done without customer contact or without unscheduled colleague contact, then the actual time you do your work may not be an issue. This pattern can work but hardly anyone ever thinks of it. This is one of many options under the ‘flexible working’ heading.
Do you have a query that you’d like Laura or Annabel to answer? Follow this link and post your question for them – http://balancingthebump.com/contact/
Posted by on 29/07/2011 10:21:26
Jackie Groundsell is known as the queen of women's business networking lunches - the connector. She supports thousands of small business owners through her events and lunches.