Women have many options when they near the end of their maternity leave in terms of integrating work into their new life and their new priorities. For many, stepping back into the role they left: full time status, is the path they choose (or most often, the only path they believe they can take). However, with changing priorities, flexibility may be what you seek – either short term as you transition or as the long term solution.
For women who truly WANT to stay home full time and have the means to become a full time caregiver, I raise my glass to you. I was not that mom. In fact, Julia Dellitt really summed up how I have always felt in this article. Women who want to work – need to work – who enjoy and feel valued through their career, have a spectrum of opportunities depending on their role, their organization and their ability to state their needs to their supervisor.
Here are 8 Guidelines to make a work from home schedule successful.
1. Focus on the work. It is important that the team and the organization focuses on the WORK and not the location. You should – as always – be responsive, timely and productive.
2. Review methods of communication. No one should hesitate to contact you by phone, text, messenger platform, and you should be as responsive as possible.
3. Out of sight should not be out of mind. At the beginning, you may need to remind / request co-workers to include you since you won’t be seen to remind that you should be brought into an unscheduled conversation. This is learned behavior for all, so try not to let your feelings be hurt if / when (it inevitably) happens that you were ‘excluded’.
4. WFH employees can be extremely productive. Without the distraction of water cooler chatter, lingering in meetings, and other workplace interruptions, work from home employees may be more productive.
That said, you don’t ‘owe’ the organization more time. The natural tendency is to blow through work hours when you work from home and prove you are working hard, so it is incumbent on YOU to respect your boundaries and start / stop / break / eat as you should.
5. Reclaim your commute time. If the goal of WFH is more child bonding through not commuting and more productivity – honor both by reclaiming your time to your advantage. Morning walks become your new ‘commute’; afternoon classes or mommy group replace your evening ride home. Plan that time in order to maximize the value to your work life integration.
6. OWN your flexibility, don’t apologize or work around it. If someone wants a meeting, schedule it. You can dial-in or take a video call, but the team should not change their timeline to accommodate your being in the office. Schedule weekly face time when you are on site, but don’t shy away from filling your days (no matter where you are physically located) with meetings and forward momentum.
7. Check in with your co-workers. Connect with your manager, direct reports and co-workers after 30-60 days to see if there is any feedback on which you can improve. Don’t ask for permission or revisit the decision for your work from home days, but be ready for feedback that you can act upon to be even more productive and available when you do work remotely.
8. This is not an accommodation. It is flexibility that you have earned and don’t take lightly. Similar to a promotion, you will want to make sure you are exceeding expectations with everyone impacted.
Barbara Palmer operates Your 4th Trimester, an innovative program that helps employees transform into working parents. Through one-to-one coaching provided as a benefit by their employer, employees receive the guidance they need to integrate their work and life after welcoming a new child. The program successfully attracts, retains and engages employees, providing support in their new role as Working Parent.