Making Flextime Work

According to Catalyst, getting your company to agree to an alternative schedule is the easy part.

You might think you could ease your work and family conflicts, if only the company would let you work reduced hours or telecommute. But according to new research by Catalyst, a New York non-profit that studies issues facing women executives, getting your company to agree to an alternative schedule is the easy part. Getting the schedule to work is far harder, requiring you to become a proactive planner and to overcome coworkers; resentment. Here are four of the most important steps to take:

Submit a written proposal to your supervisor, detailing how the new schedule will improve productivity.

Marcia Kropf, vice president of research at Catalyst, encourages you to identify the "core duties" that you'll continue to handle and specify tasks that you might delegate. Make sure the delegated tasks go to a staffer who will appreciate them as a "career development opportunity."

Schedule a follow-up meeting.

Once the arrangement is approved, meet periodically with your boss to reassess the new schedule. "Make sure the schedule is really working, so you can reconfigure it if you need to," says Kropf.

Counter your coworkers' resentment with laughter.

If staffers are cracking jokes about taking the day off when you're telecommuting once a week, respond to the underlying resentment with a smile. Remind them that even when you're at home, you're still on the job. "If they say, 'Have a nice long weekend,' you need to say, 'I'll be working at home tomorrow. Call me if you need me,'" Kropf advises.

Think proactively.

Instead of expecting people to remember your schedule and plan meetings and deadlines around you, you need to plan around them. That means, for example, sending an email to coworkers reminding them that you'll be working at home on Thursday and suggesting a time before then to discuss that upcoming report. "People will think of you as being responsive," says Kropf. "At the same time, you're in control because you've anticipated their needs."

Coordinates: Catalyst has published three reports on managing flextime. Catalyst, 212-777-8900; info@catalystwomen.org .

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