Your Letters: Flexible Work Arrangement: Not possible?
You are a woman.
You have just given birth.
Your in-laws want you to spend more time with your child. Your husband wants you to spend more time with your child. YOU want to spend more time with your child. But the bills need paying, diapers need buying, milk powder is very expensive. How?
Now your employer offers you “flexible work arrangement” – are you going to take it up? Sounds obvious, but let me tell you the truth…
More and more companies are allowing female employees to take up flexible work arrangements after giving birth, but many new moms are reluctant to take up the offers. Why? Because a lot of them are worried about pissing off their colleagues (who will have to take on more work because of their arrangement), because they are worried about not getting as much bonus and because being strong independent women, a lot of them are worried about career progression.
What people don’t realise is that sometimes, there’s no point worrying so much about the future because anything can happen. Let me tell you about the story of a bubbly local mom, Olivia.
Olivia is a 34 year old working mom in the public sector. Since giving birth of her first child 2 years ago, she has worked out a flexible work arrangement with her company in order to spend more time with her family. She goes to the office 3 times a week and stays at home with the kids on other days. Recently, she gave birth to her second child and has maintained the flexiwork arrangement with her organisation.
When I met her recently, I admired her ability to juggle work and family and asked for some tips. “To be honest, for moms like me, there are two things that will help a lot. Firstly, flexible work arrangement is really important for work life balance. Not all young mothers can afford to be stay home moms so working part time really helps. It helps pay for bills yet allows us to spend time with the children during their formative years. The second thing that is important for us is a quality childcare provider with good teachers and a good curriculum. It is not easy to find a provider that feeds the kids nutritious food and conduct activities that stimulates the children’s minds.”
Is she worried about being unpopular with her colleagues because they have to cover more work? Is she concerned about her bonus and career progression? Do the drawbacks bother her?
“Your bonus and career progression will be affected. You are competing with colleagues who work full-time, what do you expect? I’m thankful that my colleagues are very supportive. For me, I am very clear about my priorities. My family is my priority, so the sacrifice is worth it and I have no regrets. Why worry about such things now? When my kids are older and I return to the workforce full-time, who’s to say that I can’t progress in my career? I’ll leave the worries till then. Right now, I’m happy to spend time with my children” says Olivia.
The truth of the matter is that many companies already have flexible work arrangements in place for new mothers. But the mother needs to be clear on what is important to them and before taking up such arrangements with no regrets.
So, what is it that is important to you? Your family or your career? The help is there, it’s just up to the individual to make the decision.
Flexiwork is also not just something for women. It is a means of working that could be considered by everyone.
Have a look at this video and hear what our friends at Shenton Way have to say: