When her daughter was born, Jennifer Forest was working as a project officer at a government agency, but she desired a different life.
Specifically, Forest wanted the flexibility to spend time with her daughter … on her schedule. “I didn’t want to be confined by the 9-to-5 workday routine,” she says.
So she began her own business as a freelance museum consultant and writer, which organically led to her book, ”Work Women Want: Work at Home or Go Part-Time.” Her goal? Help other working moms who face the same challenges she did (and still does!) figure it all out.
We sat down with the enterprising mother to discuss everything from how to have the flex-time talk with your boss to the biggest work-from-home pitfall.
LearnVest: How can new moms go about deciding if working from home or part-time is right for them?
Jennifer Forest: You won’t know unless you have a firm grip on what’s important to you. Many mothers want to be there for their children, but they also still enjoy the satisfaction of—and income from—working. Frankly, the only way to have that and more time with your kids is to either control the hours you work or have reduced hours. Since a lot of women find themselves in workplaces that may not be flexible, this means negotiating part-time work or working from home—so if you need to be at the school gate for pick-up time, you can be.
What are some tips for broaching the topic with your boss?
It can be scary for a manager when a staff member asks to go part-time. They’re going to worry about all of the unknowns: How will you get the work done? Will you be around for meetings? What problems will it cause with other staff—and will everyone want to go part-time if you do?
So if you’re the one doing the asking, it’s your responsibility to show how you can still deliver on your workload and the key priorities of your job. This means having a well-thought-out plan that eliminates all of these worries and shows how you can still be a valued part of the team—regardless of your hours.