Return to Work - Working from home 1-2 days a week?

(42 Posts)
Coristarz Sun 21-Apr-13 16:13:42


I'm returning to work in June, my LO will be 4 months old.
I have to return to work full time this early because we can't afford me reducing my hours. I want to ask to work from home 1 or 2 days a week in order to reduce our childcare costs (we don't have any family around, so for us the only option would be full-time childcare).

Has anybody done this and has it worked for you?
I read some companies will only accept homeworking if childcare has been arranged, but what is the point then? hmm


Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RedPencils Sun 21-Apr-13 16:23:29

If your employer doesn't mind you catching up in the evenings and only being available during nap times then its doable.
But from my experience you just can't do a 9-5 job when there are DCs in the house you are looking after.

badguider Sun 21-Apr-13 16:24:39

Working from home with childcare cuts out the whole commuting time and also means that if the child is sick you can still work (if this is occassional).
When I work from home I can drop my child at nursery at 8:55 be working by 9, work till 5 and pick them up again at 5.05.

How on Earth will you manage 8 hours with a 4mo baby if you don't have childcare?

WipsGlitter Sun 21-Apr-13 16:26:47

It depends on what you do, but someone tried this in my last job and it didn't really work out.

I used to do what badguider describes, my CM lived round the corner so could be at my desk within 5 mins of dropping DS off.

I don't think many employers would be keen on someone working from home with no childcare in place at all. And sometimes it's just about doable with a small baby (if they sleep a lot) but as they get older children tend to demand a lot more attention - not great when you need to get some work done!

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 16:29:56

the reason they want childcare in place is because they will be paying you to work not look after your child, i think you're after a flexible working contract where you can make up the 14 hours work either in the evenings or at weekends or whilst your child naps which as they get older decreases, mine didn't sleep in the day past 18 months.

RedPencils Sun 21-Apr-13 16:32:13

Acutally just remembered someone who did what you are suggesting. Everyone knew that she wasn't really working, it was just a paid day off with her child and it caused a huge amount of resentment.

Coristarz Sun 21-Apr-13 16:35:14

My job is a project-management type role. I do not need to see clients or make too many phone calls, 90% of it is done by emails. I have a couple of conf calls with the US a week, and some team meetings - but these can be done when I'm in the office. I can't use commute as an excuse, as I live 10 minutes away from the office...
The main reason I want to do this is because we can't afford full-time childcare. It's £80 a day, and right now I am the only one working as my OH is out of work!
Of course, until he finds work he can look after the baby, but I want to be prepared for when he finds work, hence the idea of me working from home 1 or 2 days a week.
I know it will be hard, but we have no family around to help, and this is the only way I can see of reducing our future childcare costs...
In my company, there are many people who currently work from home at least 1 day a week, which I'll use as examples of precedent..but not sure what reason to give them as tbh the main reason for me would be to reduce childcare costs...but I don't want to mention that if they will use that as a reason to refuse my request!

Trillz Sun 21-Apr-13 16:36:48

If you are looking after a 4 month old you are not actually working.

Trillz Sun 21-Apr-13 16:38:45

I am a big advocate of flexible working and working from home (for everyone, not just parents).

People claiming to be "working from home" while looking after children (and so getting much much less done than they would normally) make it harder for those of us who genuinely want to work from home to get permission, because the people in charge of the decision think that working from home = skiving.

Coristarz Sun 21-Apr-13 16:46:11

I really do work. I work mainly with the US so because of the time difference I never stop work at 5pm. I am on BB constantly until 11pm, 12...and also work on weekends (unpaid) whenever my project reaches crunchtime. So it's not my intention to lazy around. If I have to stay awake until 1am to finish a task I will do it.

Anyway, I will ask and see what they say. I just wanted to see if other people had had experience with this... Every employer is different. Thanks.

Katz Sun 21-Apr-13 16:46:22

so when will you get the work done, if you have no childcare? assuming you work a 35 hour week normally then you would need to do 14 hours, to cover those missed days in the office i think you want a flexible working contract one which maybe allows you to do 3 long days in the office say 8am until 7pm which would be 9 of the hours (assuming normal 9-5 working day).

prawn100 Sun 21-Apr-13 16:47:00

I doubt that your employer will agree to this. Why should you be paid your full rate to do your job whilst also looking after a child?

It's attitudes like yours that make it difficult for others, you just add fuel to the argument that people who work at home aren't really working.

tribpot Sun 21-Apr-13 16:51:55

Frankly, to make it viable for your OH to go out to work he needs to be earning more than the childcare costs. Same as it is in most families (although I personally think it is worth considering the long game where careers and children are concerned). What are the prospects of him getting work at the moment, i.e. is the need for childcare likely to become urgent?

You have some advantages because of the US time zone you're basically working in, but you will be expected to have childcare in place for the times when you're working. Babies grow and they don't need 3 naps a day forever.

SwedishEdith Sun 21-Apr-13 16:58:55

I think the only way this is acceptable is to be completely upfront with your employer about your reasons. If you're measured on outputs then it may well be doable. But you need to be honest. Maybe a trial 2 months? I think you will find it far harder than you think.

I can see this is a difficult situation for you. You are right to think about options and plan ahead for childcare for when you both are working.

I agree with those who have said you can't work and look after a child at the same time at home. I have tried this and it was difficult. I only really managed to get anything done during naptime or after bedtime which isn't practical if you have a full time job to report to.

What might work is to hire a mother's help, someone who wants to get into nannying ultimately but needs to gain experience, who can look after your child for you while you are working from home. Then you are there to vaguely supervise in the background and ensure things are done how you'd like them, but can reassure your employer that you are not trying to do your job while being in sole charge of your child.

I'm assuming by the childcare costs you've quoted that you are in London or similar expensive city? If so, you will find plenty of willing and hardworking young migrant workers who will accept minimal payment in return for work experience and language immersion.

PlasticLentilWeaver Sun 21-Apr-13 17:00:30

Whattrillz and tribpot said. You are doing no favours to those of us who genuinely work ftom home. You cannot claim to be working while supervising a baby, crawler, toddler.....

Your DH can do it short term, but what you suggest is not a long term option. If you tried to use that set up, your flexible working request will get laughed at by HR and validly so. You would be providing them with a genuine business reason for why you are not a candidate for home working.

DeafLeopard Sun 21-Apr-13 17:04:53

I work from home without childcare - difference is mine are at school and in the holidays are old enough to entertain / feed / toilet themselves (9 and 14).

How can you do an audio conference with a baby screaming in the background? Would you be happy to leave the baby to wait for their feed / in a poo filled nappy etc? What about when they get older and will not just lie there, but want to be up and exploring?

Mine are old enough to know to be quiet if I am on the phone and don't interrupt me unless it is urgent, a baby / toddler cannot and will not do that. I really think you will find it hard to justify working from home without childcare.

Also do't forget about workplace childcare voucher schemes. This may ease the cost issue.

MrsHoarder Sun 21-Apr-13 17:14:45

I am a student. During the day (when I would have been expected to be interacting with collegues/clients when I worked) I get maybe 90 minutes of work done, maximum. All in the midafternoon. I then get more done after DS is in bed, until I'm too exhausted to continue.

DH did work as you propose, but only because we had a complete childcare emergency and his work agreed he could work take 1 day off and work 1 from home and juggle a full day's worth of work across them. But he went to them with the attitude that this wasn't how we planned things and could they please help us out for a month. It was exhausting and stressful, we hardly spoke because we were always looking after DS or both working.

Anyway, you will need your DH to earn more than the childcare+commuting costs on every day he plans to be out of the house. Planning to work and care for a baby is infeasible, especially once they start moving.

IDontDoIroning Sun 21-Apr-13 17:29:03

Looking after a child is a full time job ask any nanny childminder or sahm.
Why do you think people employ them if its possible to do both?
people like you do genuine work at home workers no favours at all.

You can't work at home and look after a baby.

flowery Sun 21-Apr-13 18:16:27

What everyone else said. There is no way you can devote as much time and energy to your job while looking after a baby as you did when in the office 100% focused on the job only.

The "point" of home working for most parents is reducing commute/being able to do school run, that type of thing.

Attempting to do a full time job while looking after a baby is no good for you, no good for your employer and no good for your baby either.

BreastmilkCrucifiesAFabLatte Sun 21-Apr-13 18:23:59

I work partially from home. Whereas I possibly, possibly could manage it on a very p/t basis during slow periods with a 4 month old on my arm, there is no way I could give both my work and child sufficient attention from crawling onwards. Honestly, you need real childcare.

PiratePanda Sun 21-Apr-13 18:34:04

ROFL. Once your child is crawling there is no way you can work from home without childcare - they need constant attention from crawling through the toddler years except when they are asleep (and my DS is NOT a sleeper).

Do you have space for an au pair? They could look after your DC for the 2 days of working from home. Alternatively, could you work from home on a Saturday while your DH looks after the baby that day? My DH and I do this; I work Tuesday to Saturday and he works Monday to Friday to cover the day DS is not at nursery. But we have particularly flexible jobs.

Coristarz Sun 21-Apr-13 18:40:12

Thanks everyone.

[...] "People like you do genuine work at home workers no favours at all"... Okay... confused. A bit annoyed by this sort of comment as I'm not trying to rip my employer off, or be a lazy cow the day I work from home if I'm allowed to. I genuinely work hard too. I'm only trying to find a solution to my situation. I also know that baby will grow and will require more attention/time, so in the future I will need a different plan.

Every employer/circumstance is different. I'm lucky I work for a flexible company, and I will get to an arrangement - whether it's a day from home or switching some of my working hours to the evenings, or whatever...

I just wanted to hear other people's opinions on this - which I have! So thank you all.

expatinscotland Sun 21-Apr-13 18:40:41

'I read some companies will only accept homeworking if childcare has been arranged, but what is the point then?'

Because they are paying you to work, not look after your child.

Your DH is not working just now. So why can't he be a SAHP and then you don't have childcare issues at all?

TippiShagpile Sun 21-Apr-13 18:44:17

IME it just doesn't work. I tried working from home (self employed at that time) with a very young baby and it was hideous.

I could either ignore my work or ignore my child. I couldn't do either role properly. Hugely stressful and a complete disaster for me.

PuppyMonkey Sun 21-Apr-13 18:51:51

Switching to evening work so your DP can look after the child sounds like a plan.

Or, if you can't afford full time childcare, you could go part time.

PlasticLentilWeaver Sun 21-Apr-13 22:40:40

Sorry, but you are trying to 'rip your company off'. If you are being paid to work for them, you cannot be childminding at the same time. Whether you see it that way or not at the moment, with a 4 month old, you will hopefully get it once the baby becomes mobile.

I have worked for several flexible family friendly companies, and they have ALL insisted on you having adequate childcare arrangements if you want to home work. They have accepted occasional emergency situations with sick kids being at home but the norm is that someone else is looking after the child/ren.

I would be very surprised if that wasn't laid out in the contractual arrangement.

tribpot Sun 21-Apr-13 22:47:11

In fairness the OP is not intentionally trying to rip off her company. This is her PFB and the baby is 2-3 months old. She has no actual frame of reference to know what trying to work with a baby and/or small child to look after is actually like. And I suspect has never really considered the details involved in her colleagues' arrangements that allow them to work from home part time.

I do think a mother's help (to use the outdated term) is a good idea as it's relatively low cost childcare because one or both parents are also on site and available to lend a hand/make a decision. However, as the DH is the one currently out of work I do think he should be considering his best options to support the OP in her return to f-t work.

wonderstuff Sun 21-Apr-13 23:02:58

When I first went back to work DH was on gardening leave, he looked after the baby for a month, then when he got a job we arranged a nursery place, which we could afford because of the extra salary. Sadly childcare will take a big chunk out of your family income, whether that be due to a reduced salary or nursery or childminder. Local surestart centres usually have a list of childminders and they do work out cheaper than nursery places. Childcare vouchers are offered by lots of companies, you buy the vouchers out of your pre-tax salary and use them for childcare, so you gain the 20% you would have paid in tax on that income. Also make sure that you are getting your entitlement to Child Tax Credits.

If I was in your situation I would have my DH as my childcare plan and then plan childcare around both your jobs when he is back in work, I wouldn't try to fund lots of childcare on one salary - maybe a day a week so he can focus on job search if you can afford it.

I work from home, the advantage is that I can put my ds in a local playgroup rather than nursery - he does 9-12 one day and 9-3 another and I do a days work between those days. That only works because he is 2 though, when he was younger I worked 3 days a week and had him in nursery.

Tasmania Wed 24-Apr-13 00:07:39

My gosh... I do have to say - reading this and listening to my MIL, I have to say my mother got off lightly with me and my brother. We managed to occupy ourselves with stuff pretty early on, and hardly needed attention.

Is there really no family around or are they just too far (and you could move)?

NatashaBee Wed 24-Apr-13 01:38:55

Your employer is paying you to work, not to look after your child. It's not fair on your colleagues if you are expecting them to pick up the slack while you 'work at home'. I had a colleague who claimed to work at home while looking after her baby. When her manager asked to account for her time on those days she claimed she'd spent the entire day clearing out her deleted items. She was asked to leave shortly afterwards.

AlbertaCampion Wed 24-Apr-13 02:06:06

OP, three words: don't do it!

I worked from home one day a week, with a similar-aged baby to yours, for similar reasons to yours. It was absolutely hideous.

Some of the downsides have been covered here, but here are others:

1. You'll feel like a crap mum: for having work on your mind and trying to get work done when your baby/toddler wants or needs your attention. Closing the door on my sobbing child and running downstairs to take an important call from a client without background baby noise has not been a highlight of my mothering career, put it that way.

2. You'll feel like a crap employee: for looking after your child during hours when you could be working.

3. Resentment from other members of the team - even when it isn't justified. I would get up at 5 to work until the baby awoke, work through naps and work after the baby's bedtime. So one way or another, I put in my hours. But that didn't stop other team members being resentful and making comments about how I "wasn't really working".

In conclusion: it's tiring, stressful, depressing and you'll get a lot of crap for it. Avoid if poss.

Coristarz Wed 24-Apr-13 17:53:19

Thanks for all your feedback.
I'm going to suggest compressed times- working 8am to 6.30pm 4 days and then have one day at home not working, but i will reassure work that i'll still be available on Blackberry for any emergencies on the day I'm not in the office- im happy with that. This would save us 1 day nursery a week when my OH goes to work full time.
I have no family around (they're all abroad) and OH's family isn't in London so yeah...tricky. But well, we'll find a solution.

mrsjuneyjuney Fri 26-Apr-13 08:40:17

Have you looked at the cost of a childminder? It should be less than £80 a day, even in London where I know childcare is more expensive.

We paid £55 a day for a fabulous childminder/mini nursery in south London so you should be able to do it for around that. £80 is steep and approaching nanny rates.

Don't forget that the cost, while significant, for childcare is a temporary thing. It gets much cheaper when you get the 15 hour funding come through and then they start school etc... I know it seems like a massive outlay now and it is, but if you can find a way to make it work in the short term, in the long term it will get more manageable financially and you'll have kept your career going. If you get it right now, your employer might be more willing to explore flexible options with you in the future when you have term times to deal with, e.g. 5 days a week termtime, 3 days compressed during holidays.. just something to think about.

It's never simple but you'll figure it out.

Mandy21 Sat 27-Apr-13 23:07:18

OP Its a difficult situation but its manically hard and whilst you have a content, sleepy 2-3 month old now, in the nicest possible way you have no idea what's coming with a crawling baby or a toddler. You'll be amazed at how quickly they can up the stairs, pull something over, eat the spider thats crossing the carpet.... you really can't be taking your eyeys off them for a second. Thats the voice of experience blush. I've also (in later years) been at home with a poorly toddler, still taken that really important call from a client only to hear (and the client to hear too ) shouts to come and wipe a bottom! I think it just ends up undermining your professional credibility and your self esteem really.

Have a look at nursery costs for 4 days as opposed to 5 - you don't generally save that much by going to 4 days (I mean you might pay 4 x daily rate for 4 days, but you get a preferential weekly rate if you do all 5). I think using your DH and then compressed hours is an option, but just check the finances carefully.

Good luck.

Coristarz Sun 28-Apr-13 21:57:32

I spoke to my boss this week, and luckily they are very flexible and supportive. I will work an hour extra 4 days a week, and 1 day a week I can do the remaining 3.5 hours from home: 1 hour early in the morning, and then 2.5hrs after 5pm as that suits the business (I work mainly with the US, west coast, so the time difference works in my favour). I told them the reason I wanted to be at home one day was to save a bit on childcare, and they are fine with that.

Obviously this is the scenario for when both OH and myself are working FT; while he isn't working he will be a SAHD.

Mandy21 - thanks for the advice. Yes, I noticed nurseries have a preferential weekly rate but when doing our calculations, it was still worth it having 4 days rather than 5. But I'll double-check.

Starfish - I am in London too, in Chiswick. Yes, I'm going to check childminders as well, although I find it a bit overwhelming as there are lots in the Council directory and I'm not sure how to "chose" one. But that's another story.. hmm

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BackforGood Fri 03-May-13 19:07:04

Glad you've resolved it. I have to agree with all those who have said that of course you can't give your employers a full day's work and look after a baby - pretty unbelievable that anyone who actually has a baby could suggest this at all.

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