If you are a working parent, it can feel like you’re constantly dropping the ball. Understandably, you have so much to manage each day that figuring out how to spread your focus across family and work is rarely straightforward.
You can reclaim some of the hours of the day by leveraging flexible work arrangements. These are designed to help professionals spend more quality time with their growing families. Deciding on the type of arrangement that works best for you is important; understanding your requirements is a good starting point.
The best flexible work arrangements to consider
We delve into a collection of flexible arrangements that will allow working parents like yourself to achieve their professional goals.
1. Work from home
While many have returned to the office as the pandemic has eased in Singapore, the changing mentality towards work it inspired is here to stay. With the work-from-home revolution helping people recognise that hours spent commuting are often unneeded, many now seek jobs where working from home is the norm.
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Who will find work-from-home most suitable?
This approach has proved particularly valuable for all working parents. Since you no longer need to get yourself to work, you can focus on getting your children to school or getting some extra sleep. You’ll also save money on childcare and eating out.
2. Create a compressed schedule
Operating on a compressed schedule – squeezing a standard work week into four or less days – is another flexible work arrangement growing in popularity, with 61 companies in the United Kingdom recently completing a landmark trial. Most British companies are not returning to the usual five-day work week while a third want to permanently introduce the arrangement.
It may not be surprising to find the same impact on the local job market – 76% of Singaporeans have already indicated a positive response towards a four-day work week, as revealed by consumer insight and analytics company Milieu.
A four-day workweek frees up an extra day to spend valuable time with their family and complete crucial errands.
Who will find a compressed schedule most suitable?
In most cases, a compressed schedule for full-time employees means working four 10-hour days. The longer working hours can be tiring and unlikely helpful for parents with children requiring greater attention daily.
However, many workers are bound to relish the work-life balance and full-time pay that comes with a compressed schedule. If you are considering such an arrangement, be sure to consider your familial requirements as well.
For instance, if your children already have their schedules booked for extracurricular activities most of the week, using that time to channel to work will work in your favour. An extra day off gives you ample time to rest and catch up with family.
3. Request a flexitime role
Flexi-time roles are the ideal solution for working parents, as such arrangements allow you to set your daily schedule as long as you work your contractual weekly hours. You can start late, finish early or take time off in the middle of the day to keep up with your children’s evolving needs.
While not every role is suited to flexitime work, finding out whether your existing or future employer is open to the idea could help you achieve an excellent work-life balance. Meanwhile, jobseekers should look for prospective employers that list flexible work hours as an extra perk in their job descriptions.
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Who will find a flexitime role most suitable?
Parents with infants benefit better from flexitime roles. Perhaps you’re returning to work after paternity leave, and your wife needs extra help at home. Or, your maternity leave has ended, and you find it’s best to adapt your work schedule to your child’s needs before they turn two. Flexitime roles let you focus your energy on work and parenthood in less stressful ways.
4. Share your job
If you’re willing to work part-time hours, job sharing might be the best approach for your life as a working parent. This flexible work arrangement allows two people to share a full-time job, naturally freeing time for working mothers and fathers to spend more time with their families.
Who will find job sharing most suitable?
While job sharing isn’t the most obvious choice when looking for a flexible working arrangement, it can be a great solution when you have a dependable partner at work to divide your schedule. Alongside open communication and regular feedback, this approach can simplify your professional life.
Such an arrangement, of course, will suit parents who are agreeable to a lower income due to the reduced number of hours worked.
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5. Consider annualised hours
Annualised hours take flexi-time arrangements to the next level. This form of flexible schedule sees an employee’s pay calculated based on the entire year rather than the standard week or month. Your workplace contract will state the number of hours to be worked per annum.
For employers, annualised hours can help cater to roles where demand fluctuates depending on the season. However, the benefits for workers translate to a flexible schedule where you earn a fixed salary but regularly encounter periods where less work is required.
Who will find annualised hours most suitable?
An annualised hours package will suit any working parent since there is complete flexibility to spread out the work time across the year. Some employers may indicate unnegotiable requirements, such as working on specific days or during certain periods.
These provide enough room for adapting schedules across work and professional lives.
How do I ask for a flexible work arrangement?
When asking your boss or future employer for a flexible work arrangement, lead with a win-win solution for the business and your productivity.
Be clear about your home responsibilities and how inflexibility can impact your work performance. Then, explain why an alternative arrangement will help address this issue.
Choose the ideal moment to propose the change. If you reach out to your boss before your maternity leave ends, there is ample time for them to plan out the resources and manpower accordingly. In other instances, your performance appraisals or regular feedback sessions offer a conducive time to chat about flexible work arrangements.
It’s typically advised to avoid approaching the topic during a stressful period since companies typically demand employees’ full commitment at this time.
However, if you find it unbearable to work through the rigour, expressing your concerns is important before you burn out, which can consequently impact productivity. Arrange for a face-to-face one-on-one chat as soon as possible based on your boss’ availability.
Flexible work arrangements are only beneficial when they are in your favour, both for your personal and professional goals. Think through what’s best for you before taking on a flexible working arrangement.