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When I started having children in the early '90s, a co-worker and I pitched a job share arrangment to our managers. Flexible work schedules that met the needs of working parents were about as common as a patient two-year-old back then, especially in the manufacturing facility where we worked. But with the support of an enthusiastic Human Resources manager, the management team approved our plan.
In the years since, the company that approved what was almost a radical idea came to recognize the importance of flexible work options for employees. To attract and retain talented people, flex work options were integrated into the company's benefits offerings. Here are five options the company now offers that are common to many businesses.
- Job share
- Part-time work
- Compressed work weeks - i.e. four 10-hour days
- Flex-time - i.e. full-time employees vary start and end times each day
Flex options such as these are a boon to working mothers. Locally, Chrysler Group LLC in Auburn Hills has offered flex work options and support services long enough to make Working Mother's Magazine "100 Best Companies" list 12 times. www.workingmother.com/BestCompanies/node/1671/list They offer the usual assortment of options such as job share, flex time and work from home, but also include on-site day care, elder-care referrals and several other services intended to help balance work and home life.
Does this sound like something you would be interested in? If so, the good news is companies have a vested interest in retaining talent, which helps maintain continuity with daily business practices and long-term goals. Flexible work options help businesses retain talent, which can eliminate the cost of hiring and training new employees.
If you are interested in pursuing a flexible work schedule of your own, you can certainly feel encouraged by a current business culture that promotes work/life flexibility. But as any good employee knows, you need to support your choices with data that demonstrates your willingness and ability to make the arrangement work.
For instance, if you work part-time and an issue comes up that needs your attention, are you accessible on your days off? If you intend to job share, how will you and your partner manage the transition of work?
If you'd like to telecommute, will fellow employees know how to reach you when you are working from home? If you are flexing your start and end times each day, can you still support your clients during non-traditional work hours?
These are just some of the basic questions you have to ask yourself before pursuing a flexible schedule.
Businesses need to know that you will continue to support the goals of the company and maintain quality work standards while balancing work with personal life. If you ask yourself the right questions, and present a good business case to your boss, you stand a better chance of getting your flexible schedule approved. Wouldn't it be nice to throw a load of laundry in the washing machine after you've saved that spreadsheet?