Alternative Work Schedules To Maximize Family Time

I've always worked pretty long hours but this year I've decided I want to spend more time with my family. The problem is that it's a lot easier to talk about it that to actually make the change.
Armin Brott

Every dad needs support, encouragement, information, confidence and tools to help him be as involved as he possibly can with his new family. Our fatherhood expert, Armin Brott, author of The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be and Father for Life: A Journey of Joy, Challenge, and Change , has advice for your growing family!
Mr Dad
Armin Brott
  • Read more articles
  • See his book: Father for Life

  • Your question
    I've always worked pretty long hours but this year I've decided I want to spend more time with my family. The problem is that it's a lot easier to talk about it that to actually make the change. Is there anything I can do to make the transition easier?

    Armin Brott answers
    You may never be able to resolve your work/family conflicts completely, but there are a few ways you can maximize your time with your family, minimize your stress and avoid trashing your career.

    Schedule changes
    Here are some rather painless flexible-scheduling options to run by your employer:

  • Work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour ones.
  • Work 5 am to 1 pm (or some other schedule) instead of your usual 9-5.
  • Consider a split shift, for example, work 8 am to noon and 5 pm to 9 pm.

    Working less than full-time
    If you can afford to, you might want to consider one of the following options:

  • Job sharing. You and another person divide up the responsibilities of the job. You'd probably use the same office and desk. A typical job-share schedule might have you working two days one week and three days the next the person you're sharing with doing the opposite. One warning: be very careful to negotiate a continuation of your health benefits. Many employers routinely drop them for less-than-full-time employees.

  • Switch to part-time. Pretty much the same as job sharing, except you're probably won't have to share a desk with someone else.

  • Become a consultant to your current employer. This can be a great way for you to get a lot of flexibility over your work day. There are also lots of tax advantages -- particularly if you set up a home office. At the very least, you'll be able to deduct auto mileage and a percentage of your phone and utility bills. However, if you become a consultant, you'll lose your company-paid benefit package. So be sure to build however much it would cost you to replace that package into the daily or hourly rate you negotiate with your soon-to-be-former employer.

    Working at home (Telecommuting)
    Millions of Americans do work that doesn't require their physical presence in any particular place at any particular time (engineers, computer programmers, and just about anybody else who sits at a desk). If you're not a construction worker or a retail salesman, you might be a prime candidate for telecommuting.

    As the cost of office space rises and the cost of telecommunications equipment falls, many companies are finding that they save money by having their employees work elsewhere at least part of the time. Now before you start to panic, I'm not suggesting that you rent out your office to someone else -- most telecommuters work only a day or two a week at home. The point is that by telecommuting you may be able to reduce the time you spend getting to work and spend it with your family instead.

    Remember, though, telecommuting is not meant to be a substitute for child care; you're supposed to be working when you're at home.

    Interestingly, employees who telecommute are more productive and get more and faster promotions than their office-bound co-workers.

    Another major advantage to telecommuting is that you don't have to shave and you can work in your underwear. There are, however, a few disadvantages.

    Working at home can get a little lonely -- you might miss hanging out around the water cooler and schmoozing with your buddies. And if you have a tendency to be obsessive about your work, you'll have to train yourself to take frequent breaks.

    I can't tell you how many times I've realized--at 10 at night--that I haven't eaten all day and that the only time I went outside was to take the newspaper in from the porch.

  • Tags: telecommute

    recommended for you