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Work from home with a new baby

It sounds like the perfect solution. Continue working full-time, but work two or three days a week from home. It sure would ease the emotional strain of leaving your infant each work day.

But is it a wise solution?

It can be, under the appropriate conditions.

Be aware that it's the expected norm of telecommuters to make any necessary caregiving arrangements, inside or outside the home. It's considered unrealistic to think one can be the primary caregiver of a child or other dependent(s) while concentrating on the work of the employer.

If telecommuting is new to your employer and/or your department supervisor, there are likely issues of loss of control (by your boss) to overcome.

Even though there are well-documented, double-digit productivity gains among employees who work from home, a supervisor inexperienced in managing off-site employees may question, "How do I know you're working if I can't see you?"

This will usually be an unspoken question whose answer you must clearly address in your proposal. This is especially true if you have a newborn or otherwise have young, preschool children (since your boss usually knows about them and has probably figured out your motives for working from home).

Your telecommuting proposal must address this:

Be sure, when addressing the suitability of your home office set-up, to mention how dependent care is being handled. Your boss might not ask it directly, but you can be assured, the question is there.

It need not be lengthy or detailed, but it should be addressed.

The way you say it is important in conveying this issue as part of the business case you are presenting:

Inappropriate: "Each work day, I'll drop off my baby at the babysitter's, who is located 10 minutes from my house."

Appropriate: "I've lined up a full-time caregiver for my child, located 10 minutes from my home office."

Example: If your spouse does shift-work or your mother-in-law lives with you and that person will care for your baby during regular working hours:

Inappropriate: "My husband will watch the baby while I work."

Appropriate: "I've arranged for full-time in-home care for my child so that I can work without interruption."

The unspoken truth is...

...with in-home or nearby care, you may enjoy a break or lunchtime with your child. Employees who are nursing mothers may be able to nurse more often and/or for a longer duration than if they were not working from home.

Along with cutting the time, costs and stress of commuting to the office, these are welcome benefits of the work-from-home arrangement you are seeking.

If necessary, "time trade-offs" are done; if the straight eight hours are not covered during the regular work day, time is made up in the evening hours. This gives flexibility to the telecommuting arrangement and can be seen as both a positive and a negative of working from home.

You will have to decide, depending on your personal/work/boss situation, whether this approach to working a full day needs to be addressed in your proposal, or informally.

Working your regular job from home with a new baby is not an ideal set-up, but with the proper arrangements, it can be manageable, productive and rewarding.

Pat Katepoo is founder of WorkOptions.com and the developer of the electronic workbook, Flex Success: A Proposal Blueprint & Planning Guide for Getting a Family-Friendly Work Schedule.

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