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Solicitor working from home as way to make part time work (opinions from anyone with ideas welcome!)?

(19 Posts)
Parapluie Tue 21-Oct-08 10:47:19

My firm does not want me to go part time but seems to be prepared to discuss some sort of flexibility, with talk it only working if I can provide remote working for at least some part of every day of the week.

I'm just wondering if anyone has ANY experience of/ideas about the below:

1. Two days at home with me working from home those mornings only. How likely is it that work will bleed significantly into the afternoons?

2. One full day working from home and one day officially part time but with me promising to check blackberry and be available for urgent work remotely? Will this end up being abused?

3. Two days officially part time (and therefore unpaid) but with me checking blackberry etc.

They have made it clear they would not accept two days in a row out of the office.

Any ideas anyone? Or any other suggestions for how to make this work? I work one hour from home (and childcare etc) and DD's nursery can take her for mornings only if need be. DD will be 8 months. I am absolutely desperate to spend as much time with DD as possible. Would be a SAHM if I could!

Thanks so much for any opinions/suggestions.

WideWebWitch Tue 21-Oct-08 10:51:20

Can you go for compressed hours, where you do a ft week in 4 days nad take the fifth off?

It seems to me you'd get the worst of all worlds if you did mornings only, surely you want to either be working or not working on any given day?

So I don't think you should go for pt on given days really, it would be a pain imo.

I would go for 3 days in the office, one day working from home, ft, and one day off, completely, that would be my preference and is very do able.

AxisofEvil Tue 21-Oct-08 10:58:53

What sort of work do you do? That may affect whether these proposals would work.

Parapluie Tue 21-Oct-08 11:08:09

I would absolutely prefer to have proper full days off out of the office - problem is that is what the firm has made its sticking point - they must have my presence on every day of the week. We are currently a very small team (4 lawyers in all) in a much bigger firm and I think that is their concern. I work in Commercial Property.

WideWebWitch Tue 21-Oct-08 11:19:06

I seem to remember Lisalisa (who is comm prop lawyer iirc) being asked to take a pay cut AND drop in hours recently.

Have you looked at the company flexible working policy? Is there anything there that might help?

mumof2222222222222222boys Tue 21-Oct-08 11:21:57

I think how it works in practise will depend on how strong minded you are re not being abused. eg If you check the blackberry on your "free" afternoons and something urgent comes up, what will you do? If you have dd with you, can you seriously devote attention to it? Probably not. Can you send emails "Received and will deal with tomorrow am." Will this be acceptable? If not, I think system is bound to fail.

Am not in private practice, but think that com prop is an area where you should be able to take full days off if working part time.

Good luck.

AxisofEvil Tue 21-Oct-08 11:27:25

Com Prop is likely to be easier to make this work than the more transactional departments. Agree boundaries are likely to be an issue with this - expectations would need to be very clearly agreed.

MrsWobble Tue 21-Oct-08 11:28:55

how about something like a 3 day week - Mon, Weds, Fri - full days in the office with an agreement to check emails/phone messages from home on Tues and Thurs.

if urgent business arises as a result of checking messages you will then work whatever hours are needed on Tues and/or Thurs from home and then take an equivalent number of hours off the next day (or roll forward as TOIL).

this gives them the flexibility they are asking for but an incentive not to take the piss since you will not overall be doing any more hours than 3 days plus a bit of checking messages.

if you can make the childcare work - and depending on your assessment of the extent of intrusion into your non-working days that will result - then this might work.

as an employer i would consider this - for a 60% salary.

AxisofEvil Tue 21-Oct-08 11:34:46

Mrs Wobble's plan sounds good. The danger with some of your original ideas is that you could end up doing 100% of your workload for less than 100% of the full time salary.

Is there any option to do a certain number of hours over the year? Think I saw someone posting about this on a previous city lawyer thread. This might not work from a childcare perspective but might be worth considering.

Parapluie Tue 21-Oct-08 12:57:06

I like Mrs Wobble's plan too ... although I can see them not being happy since full timers may be expected to work late in the evening etc and not for extra pay ... but that doesn't happen every week whereas I could see me ending up doing full time hours every week with no extra pay so that should perhaps be a worthwhile compromise. I am very afraid that the other options ie working from home will end up being easy abuse situations.
I will have a look at the other thread you referred to too - sounds very relevant to me, although I fear there is no way they would accept compressed hours.
Seems incongruous at the moment given that so many other ppty lawyers are being laid off/asked to reduce hours to keep jobs etc I know...

strawberrycornetto Tue 21-Oct-08 21:44:37

Hello. I work in a city firm. I am just back from maternity leave and I am working 3 days in the office, 1 day at home and 1 day off. I have effectively agreed to your option 2 re checking blackberry. I have had two days off so far. The first 1 worked for about 30 minutes, last week for about 3 and a half hours shock. There is an element of me finding my feet, working out how to organise myself and how to work with my team so I can delegate things that come in on my day off. But I also think I am going to need to be really tough. My plan is to review it after 3 months and look at my time in comparison to full time team members (we have transparent hours). If am more than 4/5ths of average I am going to ask for it to be reassessed and for me to be paid for compressed hours rather than part time.

From what I have seen so far, you need to be very disciplined, have supportive colleagues and probably a good pre-existing reputation. I think that I might find two half days easier to manage in terms of time but I would rather have a full day off, even if it is interrupted.

AxisofEvil Wed 22-Oct-08 10:43:08

Actually one other thought to bear in mind is what sort of clients you work with and what sort of work you do (within Com Prop I mean). Never mind what your firm thinks - would your clients expect you to be available 5 ( or 7...) days a week. Because if they do then that may actually be the biggest problem to having days off IYSWIM.

Parapluie Wed 22-Oct-08 11:43:04

StrawberryCornetto -thanks, it is so useful to hear from someone already doing what I may do. I would rather have a full day off too but we do not have transparent hours unfortunately so I couldn't compare what I was doing to anyone else.
AxisofEvil - its hard to tell. Before I went on mat leave there is no way the clients I worked for could be said to be that pressuring, but since I have been away there have been some significant new clients come in and I don't know what their expectations are. What I do know though, having worked in 2 whopping City firms prior to this one, is that client expectations are often lawyer led anyway so I believe it is not impossible to manage their expectations, it just goes against the macho culture.

fridayschild Thu 23-Oct-08 17:55:37

I am in Comm Prop and work FT. When I work from home from time to time the blackberry goes crazy in the afternoon, but I am left in peace in the morning. Based on this my advice would be to put your LO in nursery in the afternoon, not the morning. But being available to work every day is a good "sell" to people who are resistant to part time work; they can see that some things can wait but you will deal with what's urgent.

Fixed hours (which is one take on the Mrs Wobble suggestion) are a harder sell than part-time if you ask me, and I wouldn't go there.

I think you're right about expectation management, but sometimes you need to build up a bit of trust first. Do you have a good secretary who can help - ie by monitoring e mails and actually ringing you if there's something you need to see on the Blackberry?

You need to be pretty resilient about not working on your day off, if you are going to have an entire day off, and actually I think that depends on you as much as your firm. I work with some PT lawyers in comm prop who manage this, and some who don't.

Pendulum Sun 26-Oct-08 09:48:27

From what I've seen in the trade press, Comm prop work is taking a battering at the moment. This could work to your advantage if you're prepared to take 60% or 80% salary and work PT. I do 4 days a week (not in property) and my firm get very good value for money- I effectively do 5 days' work in four and none of my matters have been reallocated.

RibenaBerry Mon 27-Oct-08 14:59:17

I have a few questions:

1. As others have said, is your secretary good? One issue with checking the BlackBerry is that you can get sucked into everything. Ideally you need a secretary or a trainee flagging what needs you (either on email or calling you).

2. Fixed hours are a big no no for City lawyers and their colleagues (annoys everyone else too much when they work two hours overtime every day with nothing to show for it and often means dumping work on colleagues at the end of the day). However, I don't see why you shouldn't get time off in lieu if your work on non-working days exceeds the overspill that full timers would expect into their personal lives - e.g. weekends. You presumably time record, so you can keep a check on this through your time sheet. An even better way to do it might be to negotiate that if your work on non-working days exceeds X, your salary percentage will be adjusted as you are clearly working to closer to full time hours. Stress that you do not expect fixed hours on the days you do work.

3. I would think seriously before doing part days from home. Odd as it sounds, I think a full day from home is easier. A part day often bleeds into the afternoon. If you do do part days from home, think about afternoons only and make it clear that you will not be on the Blackberry beforehand (people will need to phone you if there's something vital).

On an extra point, visibility, visibility. I know it's childish, but once you have the arrangements, the odd 7pm email on the Blackberry (partner cc'd) makes them feel you're still around.

I'll come back if I think of anything else.

RibenaBerry Mon 27-Oct-08 15:00:05

That should have said 'a few comments'...Proof reading skills go out the window in personal life...

hellywobs Tue 28-Oct-08 19:42:34

I tried to get flexible hours when I worked in pp and they wouldn't agree. But they did let me do a 4.5 day week instead of 5 days (for 90% salary) and there are lots of others mums (and non-mums too) working 3 or 4 days a week. Part-time is easier than flexible I think. When I worked FT I worked a strict 8.30 to 5 to fit in with nursery hours and that worked - doing general commercial contracts and advisory work in a well regarded regional firm.

I now work FT for a legal publisher but do 1 sometimes 2 days at home so I can do school drop off and pick up and leave early on Mons and Fris to collect son from childminder.

My husband works for a big city firm and does flexi-time but he is not a lawyer!

Quattrocento Tue 28-Oct-08 19:47:28

Your DD is young now so I like the sound of Mrs Wobble's arrangement - of using TOIL to protect your hours. You might have to agree an overtime threshhold though to get that through your HR people.

One arrangement I enjoyed for several years was to work for an 80% salary, working full time during term-times and just taking lots of extra holidays to cover school holidays. That worked really really well and might be useful for you when your DD is older.

Good luck

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