Negotiating Flexibility as a New Mom

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Did you know that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.9% of women working have children under age 18. Pew Research Center also reports that 40% of all households with children under the age of 18 include mothers who are either the sole or primary source of income for the family. This leaves many hardworking moms asking the question, “How do I discuss work flexibility with my employer so I can better balance work and mom duties?”

To help moms ask for flexibility we chatted with Tonya Lain, Regional Vice President at Adecco, who discussed the struggles working moms face and how to professionally ask for flexibility at work as well as advice on how to “make the case” to an employer for flexibility such as working remotely, reduced hours or flextime.

Momtrends: When should women ask for flexibility within their jobs?

Tonya Lain: Women need to be honest with themselves and carefully outline the demands and requirements of their home life and work life. A clear list and understanding of what could (or can’t) potentially be outsourced or shifted will help someone back into a plan to accommodate what needs to be done and covered off on.

If flexibility in hours or scheduling is needed at work, it’s important to approach an employer from a business perspective rather than the personal or emotional perspective—and this should definitely be addressed before someone starts calling out, coming into the office late, etc.

Momtrends: How can women “make the case” to an employer for flexibility such as working remotely?

Tonya Lain: Center the discussion on the increased productivity someone will have working at home—will you be able to be online for a longer period of time, cut down on transit time, etc.— rather than your personal needs.

Develop a formal plan that will lay out how to plan to accomplish working remotely. This will help your employer know that you’re serious about working while not in the office. You should also be prepared to make the investments needed to work from home—reliable phone and internet connectivity and childcare are two examples to show that your time at home isn’t a mask for taking care of the kids or tending to issues in your personal life.

Keep the conservation focused on productivity, return on investment and your level of effectiveness. Also, be as flexible as possible on the days you could remotely-- if there are certain days that work is consistently crazy, your manager may be less likely to give you the okay versus days that may be a bit slower.

Momtrends: What challenges do you think she will face?

Tonya Lain: There will always be distractions at home—whether its kids or some other reason. While personal issues may come up, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re not working from home so you can also babysit your children or run a day’s worth of errands. Designate a specific area to work quietly and determine chunks of time that pure productivity happens—no calls, no email, no distractions.

Momtrends: Are more companies easily adapting to flexibility? Any examples?

Tonya Lain: Yes. More and more, companies are starting to realize that flexibility is needed. With the majority of families having two working parents, both moms and dads are working to balance the personal and professional. Some companies are starting to realize that productivity goes up when flexibility is possible, while others are starting to see a wider untapped area of super qualified job seekers that would love to find a way to stay in the working world a few days a week, but also dedicate time to raising their children.

Tonya Lain is a Regional Vice President for Adecco Staffing US, the world’s largest staffing firm. With over 15 years of experience in the staffing and human resource solutions industry, Tonya’s team specializes in the placement of professionals in the creative & design, corporate services, accounting, finance, administrative, sales and human resources sectors.

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