This week,a CareerMums user emailed me with the following question (specific details have been changed to protect privacy):
"I require some assistance to negotiate flexibility when returning to work in a few weeks. I am a Sales Manager and would like to work 3 days in the office, 2 days from home as I am struggling to get childcare for my 5 month old. Any assistance would be appreciated. I would like to send my request in writing to my boss this week to ensure that it is actioned prior to returning to work."
My response was the following:
"Thanks for getting in touch with CareerMums. Your challenge sounds very common!
Importantly, don’t communicate to work that you need to work from home because you don’t have childcare yet for those days. You will have to work that problem out but it is important not to indicate that your child will be at home while you are working. It just doesn’t work.
Instead, dissect your role immediately into the following groups:
• What can be done inside or outside of office hours
• What can be done at work or at home
Also, get a copy of your employer’s flexible work policy. If they don’t have one, refer to the new employment law (Jan 2010) stating that working parents now have the right to request flexibility if their child is under school age. See www.fairwork.gov.au for more information.
This will be the foundation of your business case in line with needing more flexible work arrangements because you are a parent with a young child.
Refer to the following web page for tips and questions to answer in your business case proposal: http://www.careermums.com.au/content/negotiatingflexibility
Mention that you are happy to offer a 3 month trial period to prove that it can work for yourself and the business.
Stick to the facts. Don’t be emotional. You will find child care for those 2 days eventually, and in the meantime, you would have set yourself up to work 2 days from home. It is important to understand that working from home does not negate child care. A sales role implies constant communication with customers and potential customers. If you have a child at your feet demanding attention, it doesn’t look good. The upside is that if you work from home, you can drop your child later to childcare and pick your child up earlier making it an easier day for all of you."