- Q. Dear Sirs/Madam:
A friend/co-worker and I work for a governmental agency. Both
of us are Claims Adjusters, peers. We are interested in job sharing.
She is currently
on an extended maternity leave; I am presently working. She is
expecting to return to the job force in January and propose the
job sharing arrangement. However, we want to make sure that we
cover all bases before venturing into it. Once we cover everything
we need to know about an arrangement such as this, we will put
it in writing for proposal to management.
Do you have any tips/advice on the "how-to's" in making
a job sharing arrangement successful? Most of all, to sell our
management into agreeing to such a proposal?
I look forward to hearing from you.
A. Dear Christy:
- Job sharing
is a challenging but satisfying flexible work arrangement requiring
excellent communication and coordination.
- You and your
coworker should first spend considerable time discussing the
details and expectations of the job sharing arrangement. Discuss
the desired schedule, the job responsibilities and how they will
be shared. You must also decide on a method for keeping each
other regularly updated so that important information doesn't
"fall through the cracks." E-mail, voice mail, daily
logs, telephone or face-to-face meetings are options. Going through
this process as a team will also give you an indication of general
compatibility as job sharers.
- As in any relationship,
there is no perfect match, but in deciding whether you and your
co-worker will be a good long-term, job-share team, consider
- 1. Good communicator: Maintaining a workable
and productive arrangement will require effective communication
on an ongoing basis. Your communication styles should mesh well.
- 2. Cooperative: A supportive teamwork
attitude of mutual respect, and a give-and-take approach to the
exchange of ideas are positive indicators of a right partner.
Someone who is strongly competitive is generally not a suitable
- 3. Similar
and complementary skills: While you want someone with a good background
and with experience in your field, someone who complements your
strengths and weaknesses can enhance the partnership by rounding
out the position.
- 4. Similar
Attention to detail or big picture approach? Methodical or intuitive?
Organized or sloppy (important when you share a desk or filing
system)? Prompt or procrastinator? Swift or thoughtful in decision-making?
Compatibility in work styles may not be a make-or-break factor,
but in general, it will make for a more harmonious arrangement.
- 5. Flexibility: Ideally, your partner
should be able and willing to trade time with you should the
need arise. Child care arrangements may be the limiting factor
in meeting the ideal, but expectations in this category are worthy
of discussion. In selling your management on the proposal, it
is critical to have the details you discuss in a well-organized
written format. Also, consider items such as, What if one partner
leaves or wants to resume full-time? What are the coverage expectations
if one is away for three days sick leave? Three weeks vacation?
Also vital in making your "pitch": You must present
the benefits from their perspective as the employer, not yours.
I invite you to visit http://workoptions.com for lots of helpful
tips on getting the boss to say "yes" to your proposal.
- Two excellent
resources for individuals in your situation include, The Job
Sharing Handbook, available from New Ways to Work, and my own Flex Success: A Proposal
Blueprint for Getting a Family-Friendly Work Schedule. In
addition to several proposal preparation exercises and strategies,
Flex Success includes a job sharing proposal outline and
a finished sample of one that gained approval. For specifics,
go to http://workoptions.com/flexsucc.htm.
- Best wishes,
Q. Dear Pat,
I am a 31 year
old mother of 3 school aged boys. I am looking to supplement
my husband's income. My previous employer would like me to return
to work in data entry, even if it's just part time. They tell
me I'm the only one that can do the job, they've gone through
3 girls in the past 8 months since I left work to be with my
kids. I would like to avoid an office position -- I enjoy my
'home base' and would like to work from my home if possible.
What can I say to convince my old boss that I can do the job
while working from home? How can I get him to see my viewpoint?
- A. Dear Mrs Kirby,
- When the employer
seeks you out, you are in a favorable negotiating position. Use
this to your fair advantage. Clearly think through the arrangement
that you want (days, hours, location), outline it on paper in
the form of a proposal, and describe how the job tasks will get
done under these conditions. Use the business term "telecommuting"
instead of "work from home" when you write out your
proposal. You may want to consider at least one day of the week
in the office; most telecommuters are present two to three days
- Be sure to point
out that telecommuting is a growing business trend used by many
progressive businesses which often results in double-digit increases
in productivity. Point out other employer advantages; you want
to present the case with your boss's agenda in mind, not yours.
See the "Good for Business"
section at http://telecommuting.about.com for lots of great data
to include in your proposal.
- For some proposal
strategy tips from those who got the boss's approval to telecommute,
I invite you to visit my website at
http://workoptions.com/telecom.htm. As a desirable, sought-after
employee, be confident about asking for what you
want. Keep a firm position about which aspects of the arrangement
are of most importance to you and be ready to give or compromise
in areas that are not as critical to your job arrangement satisfaction.
- Best wishes,
- Q. Dear Expert,
- Much to my delightful
surprise, my boss just agreed to let me work from home one day
per week. However, she said that Human Resources must approve
the plan. Now I must come up with a written proposal for this
- Any suggestions
for format and/or content? Perhaps you even have a
- Thank you!
- A. Dear Janet:
- A convincing
document spelling out all the details of how you will get the
work done at your home office makes it harder for the decision-makers
to say no. But, where to start?
- WorkOptions.com offers several practical
resources to answer that question. Flex Success: A Proposal
Blueprint for Getting a Family-Friendly Work Schedule is
a step-by-step proposal development tool, sort of a digital workbook
which, in a quick and easy fill-in-the-blank way, equips you
with a customized, thorough and convincing professional document.
It has a six-year record of positive results.
- There are several
Strategy Tips from first-time telecommuters who received approval
of their plan found at http://workoptions.com/telecom.htm.
- These ideas
should get you started on the path to final approval.
- Best wishes,
|Q. Hi Pat:
I'm currently on maternity leave, waiting to have my second child.
I'm working for a company at which I've been employed for about
12 years. They are very hopeful that I'm planning to return after
having my baby. In fact, my boss sent me an email message on
my first day away from the office offering a little incentive
The job that I hold, Executive Secretary, is one that is best
done at the office. However, with my many years of experience
there, I have the understanding of "the overall picture"
that allows me to quickly recover
from a day away from the office.
Since my oldest daughter will be attending kindergarten this
fall, my plan is to negotiate a Monday, Wednesday, Friday onsite
schedule if I should return to the job. With this schedule, I
would be able to transport her to and from school on Tuesdays
and Thursdays. My husband may be able to adjust his schedule
for the alternating Fridays that she would attend.
My commute time to work is three hours round trip, so in addition
to the school issue and having time to spend with my newborn,
I would be getting a break from the long commute! My plan would
be to bring work home with me for Tuesdays and Thursdays, to
help meet a 30-hour part-time work schedule in order to maintain
I welcome any advice you may have in the negotiation process!
- A. Hi Lori,
- You have stated
a very good case for cutting your work week to address your personal
needs. Now, you must state the benefits in terms of your boss
and employer. That's the tough part!
your job to be less-than-full-time requires thoughtful and thorough
planning. (In fact, given your position, you may want to consider
a job-share arrangement.) It's best to put forth your plan in
written form. Be sure to cover all the bases in your proposal
in order enhance your chances of getting approval of your arrangement.
It's up to you to develop the "business case" which
shows how your employer will benefit (retention of a loyal and
experienced employee, increased energy for the job, etc.) and
have its needs met under your new arrangement.
- Your boss will
want assurance that it can work; spelling out the details on
paper goes a long way to giving that assurance. This approach
is the most effective, time-proven way to a proposed new work
arrangement approval. Outline your new schedule, your continuity
of communication plan, your duties and how they'll be covered
on your days away from the office. Be prepared with rehearsed
replies to your boss's expected objections to your request and
- You'll find
lots more specific strategy tips at http://www.workoptions.com.
- It sounds as
if your boss appreciates and needs you. This indicates a willingness
to "work something out." Do your part to present a
solid plan and proposal, one that will make your pleased boss
to agree because you developed a great solution to keeping you
on the job.
- Best wishes,
about to negotiate a contract with my current employer to do
work out of my home. While this is exciting and exactly what
I've been wanting
to do, starting my own business within one month is scary. I
want to negotiate a fair hourly contract rate, but don't want
to gauge my employer or price myself out of my first home business
job. On the other
hand, I don't want to be taken advantage of because of my lack
of time to plan (I learned of my lay off and opportunity to work
from home on March 1, 1999; my last day is April 2, 1999, and
between now and then I need to sign a contract).
- What expenses
do I need to consider when determining my hourly rate?
- Thank you for
Menlo Park, CA
A. Dear Anne,
- First of all,
in your move from employee to independent contractor (IC), you
may want to consult with an accountant or tax attorney regarding
whether the work you end up doing for your soon-to-be former
employer meet the strict and specific, IRS-defined criteria for
"independent contractor." A checklist exists to help
make the determination. If you work as an independent contractor
for them, but are later discovered to be miscategorized based
on the criteria, I understand both parties can get into "hot
water" by the IRS.
- If all is well
in that arena, when figuring your hourly rate, take into account
what you must now cover yourself, without the help of an employer:
the portion of Social Security taxes your employer was paying
for you, which will double what you as an employee alone pays
(called self-employment tax if you are set up as a sole proprietor);
insurance (medical, life, disability); office supplies; equipment
(purchase, maintenance and repair); utilities; plus holiday,
sick and vacation pay (you must have a rate that allows you to
take such days off).
- If you will
be doing work for other clients (this is an important item on
the aforementioned checklist), you need to consider sales and
marketing expenses, including your time. Time for planning, accounting
duties and the like, will also be on your own time. While my
expertise is in helping employees set up work from home as an
employee (telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements),
from my own experience and research, one recommended rule of
thumb is to charge about 2-1/2 to 3 times what your hourly rate
was as an employee. (Even if you were salaried, figure your hourly.)
- A pre-contract-signing
trip to the library or book store for a crash course on subjects
related to your needs (negotiating, fee-setting, business start-ups)
will probably yield a valuable payoff for you. If I were you,
I would start on the higher side and negotiate down, but have
a bottom line figure and hold firm.
- Best wishes
in your new venture.
Q. I am a work outside mom (33 yrs old).
I have one child (6) and one stepdaughter (11). For the past
month or so, or at least when I purchased my new computer and
started surfing the web, I have been seeking a way that I can
stay at home w/ my children but yet
contribute to the household finances. At this point I am trying
decide if we can afford for me to quit my job and maintain our
budget. I am planning on searching more sties and links to look
for more answers.
- I just hope
there is something out there for me to do to help support my
family by working at home, so that I can spend more time with
my family. The stress of working outside the home is making a
monster of me, and the constant rushing after work hours (supper,
baths, homework, etc...), is creating an unhealthy homelife.
- At this point,
I admire all those who manage a family, marriage and a career
from home!!! I just hope I can find a way to be a part of that
type of group. Do you have any advice you can send my way?
- Take care and
God Bless you and your family and all your efforts to help those
- Donna Gorenflo
A. Dear Donna,
- I sense your
strong motivation, which is a powerful ingredient as you plow
through the necessary steps to transition to an at-home career.
As you are researching at-home career possibilities while continuing
your outside work, you may want to "practice" living
on only your husband's income for a few months to see if leaving
your outside job is financially feasible in the near future.
This will likely involve developing a stricter household budget
while cutting discretionary spending. Savings can usually be
found in the eating out, wardrobe and recreation categories,
- You might find
Quicken Deluxe 98 useful for its handy budgeting tools features.
You'll find some helpful family budgeting resources at http://catalog.cfcministry.org/catalog/, and ongoing money management
features at www.cheapskatemonthly.com/ and www.familymoney.com.
- As you do your
cost-cutting, use your current job income to pay off any consumer
debt you might have and to save up for your start-up business
costs. Remember, in terms of income and profits, a new business
is often characterized by lean months (or years) in the early
stages, so you want to have a financial cushion to keep you going
through to the growing and thriving stages of your at-home enterprise.
- Many mothers
I've worked with have found relief in the work/family time conflict
by successfully negotiating a flexible work arrangement at their
current job. Such an arrangement allows for a steady income as
you plan for your transition to at-home career status.
- Developing a
solid plan and written proposal to "pitch" to your
boss is the first step to securing the new work arrangement,
whether it be a shortened work day, shortened work week or telecommuting.
Since your children are in school, a shortened work day of say,
six hours a day, may help tame the "monster" that rears
its head due to rushing, stress and fatigue. With more "breathing
space" between work and home responsibilities, you can enjoy
more time with your family during the dinner and evening hours,
plus carve out more time and energy to research, plan -- and
even start -- your new career working at home.
- Once you and
your husband agree that your finances and your business plan
are well in place, you can be confident that the time for leaving
your outside job and completing the transition to an at-home
career will have arrived.
- Best wishes,
- Q. I am a full-time
working mom. My husband and I are wanting to start planning another
child. With the career I have now, I cannot possibly have a newborn
and work ten hours a day, so I am interested in a part-time job.
- For years I
have made special gifts for people for birthdays, christmas,
etc. I love working with flowers, making wreaths, swags, baskets,
and recently I did a wedding and loved it. I would like to get
started in setting up booths at craft and bazaar shows and maybe
working part-time in a floral or craft store. But I don't know
how to get started.
- What kind of
criteria does one need -- how much money will I make -- will
I have to pay taxes or is it legal to be paid under the table
-- how can I advertise -- is this type of business booming?
- Can you help
lead me in the right direction? Perhaps you know of some good
resources and others that I can talk to.
- Thank you in
advance for your assistance.
- Tara Holliday
A. Dear Tara:
- It sounds as
if you have a passion and a talent, plus indications of a "market",
i.e., people who are willing to pay for your crafts. Those are
all good raw ingredients for exploring the possibility of starting
- A logical next
step might be to do research on setting up a business and then
developing a business plan. This process will help you answer
some of the many questions about business start-up, including
those about legal and tax requirements, advertising, sales projections,
costs and profits, and more.
- Home business
Brabec has written a few books
on starting and running a successful crafts home business, including
Cash: How to Profit from Your Special Artistry, Creativity, Hand
Skills and Related Know-How. Click on that title to see her other
titles, pricing and ordering information. They look like the
perfect "first course" for your interests.
- Meanwhile, you
can explore job openings and expected pay at local crafts or
floral shops. If the outlook for that possibility is not good
in the near-term, (either in terms of availability or financially)
you may want to negotiate a shortened work week or work day at
your current job. My web site, Work Options.com, has more information
on this topic. This would allow you some work/family balance
even as you do business research and start up.
- Going through
a whole year of holidays, craft fairs, and the wedding season
would give you a good gauge of your business's potential and
give you a better idea whether you could then transition completely
out of your outside employment.
- Best wishes,
|Q. I am a working
full time Mom of four. I currently hold a management position
at a small bank as Operations Officer, with 20 years banking
experience. I am interested in finding out about working at home
as a "fiduciary" but don't know where to start to look
A. You'll find lots of helpful information
among the EP
Is your need
related to starting a business in general, or for developing
a business specifically as a fiduciary?
- If it's the
former, take a look at EP Expert Terry Lonier's information, especially, "The
Top Ten FAQs About Starting a Business." This will help you develop a
framework for starting your business and give you an idea of
what steps to take.
- If you are wondering
about being in business specifically as a fiduciary, you'll want
to do market research. Who is filling that role in your community
now? How many are there? How busy are they? Who are their main
clients? Consider, will potential clients be comfortable and
confident working with someone out of their home, or will the
nature of fiduciary duties have them seek an institutional setting?
If so, can you overcome this with some sort of competitive advantage?
- The book, Getting
Business to Come to You, is another helpful and comprehensive resource
written by EP
Experts, Paul and Sarah Edwards.
- Is your business
something you can start from your home on a part-time basis?
Because acting as a fiduciary is a professional service based
on relationships and trust, you can expect that it will take
more time and ongoing marketing efforts to build your clientele
and income than it would for a product.
- Setting up a
job sharing arrangement or other flexible work schedule for your
current role at the bank would allow you more time to explore
and develop your home business plan. For more information on
that approach, visit my web site at www.workoptions.com.
- NationsBank is a progressive example
to show your employer of a banking company which promotes alternative
work schedules, even for management level employees (see the
October issue of Working Mother magazine for more
- Meanwhile, keep
exploring the EP site for valuable information
and inspiration. You are sure to find more guidance as you move
toward making your home business idea a reality.
Q. Dear Pat,
I've lived in
my community for scarcely over a year, and I've just been terminated
from my first job in this area (our office moved beyond commuting
distance). My supervisor kept me employed from home so I would
qualify for the severance pay applicable to 1-year employment.
- Perhaps I've
been spoiled, but after tasting work-from-home and noticing the
difference in our family life, I am determined to be at home
when my children are here. I have been a single mom of two for
8 years, and have re-married this year. I feel I can finally
make my family the priority by being the mom I should be, and
the mom my children deserve.
- Although I've
been interviewing for full-time work, I make it a point to be
honest with my potential employer regarding the flexibility I
need for my family. My most recent employer hired me on-the-spot
with the knowledge of my need for flexibility, although that
job still required me in the office for 8 hours. The telecommuting
aspect really intrigues me, and would allow me to be at home
when my children are home from school, yet be in the office daily
for 5-6 hours.
- When asked about
my plan by a recent interviewer (who seemed positive on the idea
of flexibility), I wasn't very specific, other than starting
work later and the ability to leave earlier. I realized I need
a concrete plan and to be prepared for more specific questions.
What information might a potential employer seek when faced with
the issue in an interview? How can I prepare myself to field
all the questions a potential employer may ask?
- A. Dear Lorraine,
- Any potential
employer would want to know the specifics you have in mind, so
it's a good idea to be well-prepared to discuss how you would
get the required work done within the context of the flexible
work schedule you are proposing. Detail your intended schedule
and when/how specific job responsibilities would be completed
with that schedule.
- If you are planning
to propose telecommuting or a shortened work day, you'll also
want to present a strategy for how you will maintain regular
communication with your subordinates, colleagues and/or superior(s)
when you are off-site during traditional work hours.
- Also, be ready
for possible objections from your potential employer. These may
never done this before; it's not our policy, so I'm not sure
how it would work."
- "If I let
you do it, everyone else may want to do the same."
- "Your type
of job can't be turned into part-time (or telecommuting)."
- Scripted replies
to these and other objections can be found in my document, Flex Success: A Proposal
Blueprint for Getting a Family-Friendly Work Schedule. For more information,
please visit my web site at www.workoptions.com.
- These preparation
steps highlight the challenge of proposing a flexible work arrangement
going into a new position. Virtually all of my clients are redefining
their current position, as you did during your
transition out of your former job.
- Since you don't
have that option now, you may be better off, in my opinion, to
establish yourself in a new position for a length of time and
then propose the arrangement you desire. (Even when employers
have formal telecommuting policies, they often include criteria
such as the employee must have worked in their position for a
minimum duration, usually six months to two years. You can understand
that a manager of a newly-hired employee would want to have a
sufficient degree of confidence and comfort in the employee's
capabilities and character before letting him or her work off-site.)
- I can't blame
you if putting off workplace flexibility is an undesirable approach.
In that case, your best alternative, in my opinion, (and depending
on the nature of the position, of course), is to propose to a
new employer a thirty-hour work week, with six hour days, emphasizing
the cost savings, among other employer benefits of part-time.
Although that might mean a re-working of your household budget,
it is more in line with your vision of work and family balance.
- I hope these
suggestions are helpful to you.
Q. Dear Pat,
- I am a new mom
and I have always worked outside the home full time. Now that
my daughter is born, I am having a terrible time transitioning
even to a part-time job. I feel that the only way that I will
be able to manage is to find work out of the home.
- I have looked
on the Internet and I am afraid that a lot of the opportunities
are scams. I don't particularly want to sell anything or have
to be gone in the evenings. Do you know of any opportunities
that may be legitimate that I could net $1,000 per month? My
income is necessary just to make ends meet.
- I am college
educated and have mortgage banking experience, however, nothing
that I could "freelance" and provide a service to people.
- Please advise.
Thank you for your time.
A. Dear Alisa,
- While my expertise
is mainly focused on converting one's current job into something
more flexible, I believe I can steer you to a few places where
you might find the help you are seeking.
- One excellent
overview and interesting perspective of "business
opportunities" is found right here on the EP site. It's called "Finding
Your Work-at-Home "Opportunity", written by EP Co-Founder, Lisa Roberts. There are two parts:
one helps you crystallize your marketable skills; the other provides
ideas for creative application of your skills for a viable home
business opportunity. I think the material will speak directly
to your needs.
- Also, head over
to EP Experts Paul
and Sarah Edwards' page for information on choosing the right home
- Finally, you
may also get some viable ideas by spending some time at the About.com's
Telecommuting site. The "Job Spot" link might be of particular
- Best wishes
on finding the right combination of work and family balance.