(This is a two-part article about successfully creating a new part-time/part-remote job—from both the employee’s and manager’s perspectives. In Part 1, Cara wrote about how she, as the employee, got the ball rolling in changing her full-time job arrangement into one that was more flexible. Part 2 shows how Susan, the manager, helped support and execute the proposal for Cara's flexible work arrangement.)
When one of my direct reports, Cara, first approached me about going part-time/flexible with her job as copywriter, I was genuinely excited by the challenge. Many managers might have viewed it as a pain—one more thing to have to deal with and work around to get things done. Some might even have doubted their employee’s commitment to the job and turned her request into an unwritten “black mark” in her performance review.
But I looked at it as the perfect time to create new opportunities in our workplace. After all, a full-time, in-office gig isn’t right for everyone. The fast-growing advertising agency we work for requires lots of different smart, talented people (and skill sets) to exceed our clients’ ever-changing needs. We simply couldn’t afford to lose great employees just because we refused to budge.
I relished the chance to be the first manager to successfully pull off a flexible work arrangement at our company. Maybe it could even serve as a pilot program and other employees could try their own arrangements in the future. I wanted to do everything I could to keep Cara on our team and to make things work out for her, me, and the company.
We talked about what she wanted: to work fewer hours, spend more time with her family, but maintain her benefits if possible. We talked about what I wanted: to keep her on board, maintain her level of excellence, and keep things working as smoothly as they had been on a daily basis.
I asked her to prepare a proposal—at least a first draft—and I would look it over and give her feedback. She used a template from WorkOptions.com, which turned out to be a very good start. I offered some tips on how to make it as airtight as possible when we presented it to upper management.
I also informally discussed the idea with my manager, his manager, and the head of our HR department. I sought their advice, input, and initial reactions. Because everyone agreed we should try to keep Cara—who had always been a valuable employee—it wasn’t as daunting as such a proposal might be for some managers. We worked out the kinks and concerns through open, frank discussion, and came up with a three-month trial that everyone felt good about. Cara would maintain her benefits and work three days at the office and one day at home. Fridays were her day off.