Here's to Having it All
More mothers are crafting flexible work solutions. One of these may be the perfect fit for your new family.
Sharing your job with a co-worker
You'll need to do a bit more legwork, but job sharing can be well worth the effort, according to Laurel Kimbrough, who shared a marketing position at Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. for four years. Not only did she and job-share partner Vicki Williams work well together, but after two years as a team, the duo was promoted to director.
Finding the right partner is critical, says Kimbrough. "I approached Vicki because she and I had worked together in the same department for two years and had comparable skills," she explains. The next step was research: "We talked with a lot of people at Coke and at other companies who had job shared, to get their insight and advice." Then she and Williams created a detailed proposal.
Some people split functions and rarely communicate with each other. But Kimbrough and Williams decided to share the job description, requiring much more interaction. In this scenario, a proposal must address how the partners will work together. For instance, every evening Kimbrough and Williams left detailed voicemails about the activities of the day, "including conversations, disagreements or anything else we felt was pertinent," Kimbrough says. "That way we always started our day completely briefed."
Focus on how work quality will improve with job sharing, suggests Kimbrough: "I'd write a presentation one day, and Vicki would edit it the next and make it better. We actually achieved more and presented more polished work than we could have alone."
Propose a trial period and shared performance review so both partners are evaluated on the same criteria and have a common objective, suggests Kimbrough. Sound perfect? There are downsides: Unlike telecommuting, job-share partners also often split salary and benefits.
Condensing the workweek
A condensed workweek schedule re-quires that you complete your work in less than five days. "How will your job get done in only four days?" your boss will want to know. Before requesting this option, determine how you'll get everything done (longer hours, less time spent commuting, better prioritizing) as well as how you'll cover emergencies that may pop up on the day you are out of the office. "And even if you're working 10-hour days Monday through Thursday, taking every Friday off may spur resentment among your colleagues," says Katepoo, who suggests choosing a day with the fewest meetings or deadlines earlier in the week.
Finally, really think about whether a compressed workweek will offer you balance. As a working mother, putting in 10-hour days, four days in a row, may actually increase your fatigue, not lessen it. On the flip side, it may be worth the hassle to have an extra full day with your baby or to attend a discussion group for new moms. Remember, you can always try out any type of flexible option your boss agrees to, then return to the status quo if it's not working.