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In search of a better balance

In many ways my new job continues to disappoint. 

I realise that it is still very early days – it is only but 4 months but I took this job in this firm specifically because it promised me a move to a place where it would be easier to combine work and family.

There have been moments in recent weeks when I’ve struggled with this – did I really imagine the whole ‘work/life balance’ discussions we had whilst I was interviewing. 

Did people really mention that there were other working mothers who had managed to reduce their hours, balance longer days with shorter days and in general be supported by the business to have these options?
Really?
Given these are the people that are reluctant to let me work from home or even my local office? 

I was so surprised by the reality now I’ve got my feet under the desk that I went back and checked the notes I’d made during my interview process and its down there, admittedly  written in my poor handwriting, but its there saying that yes they had implied that this was a firm dedicated to flexibility and being family friendly.

Hahahahahahahaha.

You see I don’t think my employer has realised that they are on fairly shaky ground. 

At the moment it is not going to take a lot for me to have a knee jerk moment and walk out of the door with no intention to return.  And this, despite the fact that I want to work and I want to carry on with my career. 

Its just that I am stretched too thin – far too thin.  Mr Muddling is incredibly busy at work so really not around at all, my work is getting busier and the home front needs more than I can give it in the short while before I collapse in a heap of an evening or rushed around at the weekend.  We were away this last weekend and so much just didn’t get done.  In fact I have no idea when it actually will get done.

The big thing is that, as it stands today, they have made the investment in hiring me and to be honest, given how quiet the market is, they probably haven’t recouped too much of that investment.  What I’m really hoping is that they realise this  and that this at least motivates them to find a way to get this to work.

I suspect that what will happen is that BossMan is in for a nasty surprise.

Because you see, I have reached a fairly dramatic decision (at least for me), that I want to drop a day a week.  Not necessarily the same day.  In fact preferably not but I don’t want to work five 12 hour days a week in the office plus the fact that I’m having to do more things in the evening, more client entertaining so more reasons to miss bedtime.  I want an extra day to be more involved with the girls, to be more involved with their life and to have more time as a Mummy and less as someone who just runs out the door in the morning and runs back in just before bedtime.

At the moment I’m in the process of trying to compile a compelling business case for me to work in the office less and to reduce my hours.  I had hoped I would be able to find flexibility without having to formalise things – I had hoped for more flexibility, to be able to work from home and to use that as a way to do the nursery drop off, to be able to have lunch with them, to deal with things like getting the house alarm serviced or coal delivered.

Trouble is that I’ve never asked for flexible working before so can anyone help me with what I need to present. 

How should I do this? 

What should I ask for? 

What information do I need to give them? 

What kind of ‘spin’ do I need?

How can I make this happen?

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17 comments to In search of a better balance

  • http://www.worksmart.org.uk/rights/family_friendly_work

    I found this really helpful when I was looking to return part time. Really good advise. I hope you manage to make things how you need them to be

  • Mummywhisperer

    I don’t know about ‘spin’, but basically think about what they as a company and boss value. The more they see it as missing, the higher they value it. It’s not about what they say they value, but how they behave.
    (have a quick read through step2 in your program).

    Great decision though, well done and good luck!

  • Good luck Hannah. I have formally asked for flexible working 3 times now and been lucky to get what I needed each time, but then I do work in the public sector.

    You basically just need to make the strongest business case you can, giving reasons why it would still work for you to be flexble. Show how you can do give and take with them to suit their needs and yours. Talk about contingencies and demonstrate in your letter that you have thought through all the options. Give examples of where your work could be shared about (if that is what needs to be done).

    http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Employees/Flexibleworking/DG_10029491 This si a good link with all the legalities on it of what you need to state in yrou letter. They then need to meet with you within 28 days to discuss (or they can just approve without a meeting).

    Very best of luck, Mich x

    PS – Hope it cheers you a little, you won the ski passes from my blog!

  • Oh babe! But congrats on making such a massive decision.
    Remember the law is on your side – advice and links above are great.
    I would avoid any spin and be honest but in a matte r of fact and professional manner.
    Also do you understand how your boss makes decisions? Approach in a manner that enables your boss to make the decision you need not as you would maybe want the decision to be made yourself.
    xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Muddling Along

      Have checked the HR site at work and there’s an awful lot about how they can reject it and appeals which doesn’t fill me with hope, still nothing ventured, nothing gained

  • Good for you!
    Your company should have a policy/ process to deal with requests like this. Whilst you are legally allowed to request flexible working, bear in mind that they have no obligation to grant it. (I also think the request might apply for those who have been with a company for at least 26 weeks- probably tells you at the links others have posted)
    What you will need to clearly demonstrate is how the work will continue to get done while you are not in the office; whether this is via redistribution, dropping something, occasionally checking in from home, or whatever. You want to minimise their case for saying it would have a negative impact, basically – as these are the grounds on which they can turn you down.
    Good luck, and if you want to chat about it at any point, I’m here.
    x

  • Oh its so very hard isn’t it 🙁 I was completely unable to reach a good compromise on the balance and so I had to quit, I think the hardest thing is that in the perfect world I still didn’t know exactly how I wanted it to be and so I could never quite get my case across clearly 🙁

    • Muddling Along

      Its incredibly hard – I’m trying to do this to stay working, I can see if I can’t get things sorted out then there is the worst case which is I just walk away… their loss obviously

  • Muddling Along

    Thanks – thing is that I am in contact 24/7 at the moment so its just that I’m trying to get a bit more time away from them (this is mostly because my boss won’t even let me work at home occasionally… sigh)

  • I can’t give you any legal or HR advice but I do want you to remember to value yourself. You know how good you are so when you go to them take that confidence with you. You are somehow holding it all together – and I honestly don’t know how, but you need that time out. You also need some time for yourself…. good luck lovely xxx

  • Question after reading “tomorrow’s” post, are you making this decision for you or Mr. Muddling?

  • Sorry I’m late to this, just catching up. Having only ever worked from home since having children I can’t speak for myself, but I can speak for K. He works from home quite frequently – I don’t think he asked, though, I think he just says ‘I am working from home today’. Perhaps you need to take that approach? Sending love and gin and missing you – we need a girly escape. In fact, I may have a plan on that front. xxx

  • You appear to have a confident, lucid voice which, I suspect, is the voice you bring to every other area of your life. Approach this thing as though it were a client project. 1. What needs to be accomplished? 2. Why? 3. How could it be made to happen? I have found in this way the ‘give and take’ on both sides becomes clearer. I was a corporate Executive for many years – always very conscientious about what my company/clients needed to thrive. Things changed for me when I turned myself into my own client and life became less mental. It was my mid-life epiphany. The only other thought that comes to mind, if it is not a deal-breaker for you, is to consider having the SAME day each week which helps with forward planning for them and for you. All of that to say: Become your own client and act in your best interests – not theirs.

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