Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How to choose flexible work arrangements that suit you and work

If you haven’t already organised how you will return to work flexibly, now is a good time to start thinking about. You have probably settled into your new life as a family and you are starting to think about returning to work at some stage. Negotiating a flexible return to work is a fantastic way for you to cope with the balancing act. The following factors will impact on the choices you make in negotiating flexibility:
•The cost of child care;
•The location of your child care;
•The logistics of drop-off and pick-up;
•The type of work you perform.

Talk to your human resources department about flexible workplace policies available to you. Examples of flexible arrangements that may be available to you include:
Job sharing – is an arrangement where two or more people share one full time job, each working part time on a regular basis. It may be viable when part time work is not an option. Job sharing can be adapted to a variety of circumstances, because arrangements are individually designed to suit the needs of the organisation, the job sharers, and the nature of the job.
Part time – is an arrangement where you work less hours than full time ordinary hours. For example, this may include a reduced number of days per week or more flexible hours (e.g. school hours) every day of the week. You are still entitled to employment entitlements such as sick leave and annual leave on a pro-rata basis.
Work-from-home arrangements – is an arrangement where you may be able to work-from-home for part of the working week depending on the nature of your work. Working from home is always a very attractive option for most parents. However, the following issues should be considered:
- Working from home does not take the place of child care.
- Working from home requires discipline, focus, and the ability to deflect distractions.
- There are significant health benefits when you work in an office such as social interaction and team work.
- Are you set up to work from home? Your home office should include a fax, computer, printer, telephone, desk and chair.

The next step is to assess your duties, tasks and responsibilities. By working flexibly, will some aspects of your job be neglected? Where are the gaps? Do you have any solutions? Will your team be happy with your proposal to work flexibly? Will some members of your team have to take on more work?

The key to negotiating flexibility is to be considerate of all parties that will be impacted. You will need to consider the implications on the business, your customers, and your team. If you acknowledge these implications and propose a solution, your business case will be more credible and well received.
Ask your human resources department for a business case template so you address all relevant issues.

Sit down with your manager and discuss your options to work flexibly. Ensure that you seek agreement before returning to work.

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