There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Where am I going to find the time? I don’t know how I’m going to get everything done.
Do these concerns sound familiar? For many single fathers, managing a full time job and the day-to-day responsibilities of being a parent is tricky — especially if you or your child’s schedules vary. Coordinating a co-parenting agreement often requires adaptability, and for single dads working the 9-5 grind, carving out the necessary time can feel like an uphill battle.
If you’re seeking a more stable arrangement, consider talking to your boss about creating a more flexible work schedule. Whether it’s working remotely from home several days a week, or telecommuting in the afternoons so you can pick up your child from school, today’s workers have more options than ever for modifying their schedules. Approximately 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partially working from home, with 20-25% working remotely on a frequent basis.
While asking for more freedom in your schedule may seem like a risky endeavor, here are some ways to approach the topic with sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and respect.
Do Some Self-Reflection
For starters, assess your own role at your company. How long have you been there? Are you in a senior position? Has your boss expressed approval of your job performance? Before weighing your options for changing your schedule, you’ll need to look at your role in the company in order to determine how much leverage you have. If you’re just starting out in your position, you may want to consider putting a bit more time in before making specialized requests. If you’re a valued team member who has demonstrated loyalty and top performance, you’re likely in a stable position to request a flexible schedule. It’s important to recognize your own responsibilities in the company before you seek to change the status quo.
Have a Plan
Before approaching your boss outright, form a detailed plan of how you envision your new schedule. It’s a good idea to put it in writing, and give it to your boss after presenting it, to make sure you are on the same page. Frame your request as advantageous for the company, by outlining the ways in which a flexible work schedule will increase your productivity. Whether that means extended hours in the evening (when you would normally be commuting), or even responding to email after hours, it’s critical to outline your plan as a win-win for everyone involved.
Working in the digital age facilitates connectivity and accessibility; be sure to emphasize that you will be reachable, so as not to create any hesitation in your employer’s mind. The last thing you want to do is plant seeds of doubt in your boss’s mind — lest they think you’re trying to skip out on your professional responsibilities. You may also describe your at-home workspace to your boss, to help illustrate why this is a feasible option.
Approach your boss with a thought-out and well-researched plan, to assuage any fears they may have. Remember, the key to getting what you need from management is convincing them that it’s not only the best option for you, but for them as well.
Suggest a Trial Period
The time has come, and your boss is ready to sit down with you to discuss your plan for a more flexible schedule. Again, you’ll want to relay all the benefits of your proposal, including how this new schedule will allow you to be an even more productive and efficient employee.
If you sense any hesitancy from your boss, you may want to suggest an agreed upon trial period. This way, you can put your plan in action to determine if it really is mutually beneficial. At the end of the trial period, consider summarizing the results of your new schedule with a formal presentation.
By approaching the matter with professionalism, your boss will see that you’re serious about your request, and that you respect your superior’s opinion above all.
You Won’t Know if You Don’t Ask
If you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to manage a work-life balance, you’re not alone. According to a 2013 study by Pew Research Center, there are 2.6 million single fathers in America, and 9% of them are raising 3 children or more. You aren’t the only single dad out there, and employers are becoming more and more aware and accommodating of the single parent lifestyle.
Approaching the work-from-home conversation can be delicate, but with the steps described above, you can feel confident and prepared moving forward with your plan. If you are currently on the job hunt, or about to accept an offer, it’s essential to negotiate a schedule that works for both you and your company prior to your start date. You don’t want to start a job with plans for a major schedule overhaul; so after you receive a stable salary offer, prepare to counter with your proposed schedule.
Keep in mind that it may not go the way you envisioned, but you’ll never get what you want without asking. You can also check in with career sites, like LinkedIn or Glassdoor, to read about employee perks and see if any reviews mention flexible schedules prior to asking your new employer. The key is to remain level-headed and professional; even if your request is denied, consider asking if this is something you and your employer can revisit in the future.
What schedule-saving advice do you have for working single dads? Share your feedback in the comments below!