What to consider when making this big decision.

By Kara Corridan

Consider Flex Time

Q: I was on the fence about leaving my job but I'm not sure it's a smart move. How can I figure out what will work best for me and my family?

A: You're far from alone. People are examining their work situations more than ever. "People are asking, 'Is there another way I can do this?'" says corporate consultant Kathy Kane, Freehold, NJ-based president of K2 Work/Life Solutions.

As a result, employers are quickly recognizing the importance of offering a flexible work schedule. Many of the companies that do best are the ones that incorporate flexibility into their routines. "They didn't miss a beat," says Kane. "They may have been displaced from their offices and their employees may have been scattered in different areas, but they could continue to manage effectively for two reasons -- they weren't afraid to manage people who weren't in the office, and they had the tools and procedures in place to do it."

Bottom line? "The time has never been better to ask for a change," says Kane. "Companies are going to be more accepting of people requesting flexible work schedules. They know that they need a legion of loyal employees to make them successful."

How to Change Your Work Situation

To change your work situation, Kane suggests these four steps:

  1. Evaluate yourself. Examine your work style, your motivation for working, your personal and financial needs and how they fit with your childcare or family situation, and what you're capable of doing. Ask yourself questions like: Can I live without the social interaction of an office? Do I need the presence of others to motivate me to get work done?
  2. Evaluate your job. What are the components? What do you contribute to the company? How do you get your work done? How can you do it in new ways?
  3. Come up with options. Can you telecommute? Can you work part time? Can you implement a compressed schedule? Be creative -- combine a few options. Maybe you'd work part time but telecommute for one day, or maybe you'd work a compressed schedule but during different hours. Find solutions that meet both your and your employer's needs -- and come up with a few alternatives to increase your chances of getting what you want.
  4. Create a proposal. Whether or not your company has a formal proposal policy in place, when you speak with your boss, make it clear that you take full responsibility for yourself and that getting your job done is your top priority. It's also critical to remember that you're suggesting a business deal -- not asking for a favor. "People who asked for flexibility at work used to go crawling in on their knees," says Kane. "But you should not think of this as asking for something extra. Technology makes flex time possible. It's just the way life is now."

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