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Ask Robin Bond
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Washington Business Journal features Robin's advice on parenting and workplace flexibility
8/21/2006
 
The Parent Trap - How to give parents flexibility, without alienating other employees or forgetting that it is, after all, work.

In a country with one giant generation retiring and 30 years of zero-population-growth behind us, employers will still need to come up with solutions that work for employees, rather than the other way around, says Robin Bond, president of Transition Strategies, a Wayne, Pa.-based employment law firm.

Parents need to carry some of the burden and round up extra support if needed. Bond, the Transition Strategies president, was a single working parent and says, "You know how those cards at school say, 'List one or two emergency contacts'? I had 10."

She hired her kids' after-school providers (at double their usual hourly rate) to take the kids home sometimes. Bond made arrangements with other parents, knowing she'd be able to reciprocate on the weekends. Other ideas Robin shared included:

▪ Employees who want to set up their own alternative work arrangements should take cues from their corporate culture. Different things will work in different environments, and if you're the trailblazer you have to come in with a proposal that demonstrates how your work will get done in a way that satisfies management. Maybe your management will be more impressed by statistics, or maybe you'll need to be armed with information on how it's worked in other branches.

▪ Keep an eye on productivity. Now that Bond is the employer, she says she just wants the work done. Special arrangements are great for employees who use them to do their jobs better, but if the work's not getting done, what was the point, again? A combination of accountability and flexibility also will kill perceptions by nonparents that people with kids aren't pulling their weight.

Some options to think about:

▪ A "paid time-off" bank, rather than more traditional vacation/sick time demarcations. Allow a certain number of hours that can be applied to sick employees, employees with sick kids, Little Leagues games, vacation, dental appointments, whatever.

▪ Different work arrangements, whether part time, partial telecommuting, flex time. The options for getting the work done without an in-the-office, 9-5 routine are limited only by your imagination (and that of your employees).
 
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Robin Bond
 
Robin Bond, Esq.
 
 
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