What's your Problem?

Should I move to flexible working?

by Jeremy Bullmore
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Q: My company has offered all staff the chance to work reduced hours or take unpaid leave as a way to cut costs.

I'm tempted to take advantage of this, not least to spend more time with my two young children, but I'm worried that management will view this negatively and that my chances of promotion will be harmed.

A: As background, you should read my answer to the first question above. You may think I'm being servile and always siding with management - but I do urge you to see things through the eyes of others as well as through your own.

If you decided to take up that offer of unpaid leave or reduced hours, I doubt if your management would view that negatively; they'd presumably be quite pleased. But that's not to say that if a possible promotion came up and it lay between you on unpaid leave and an eager beaver still doing five days a week, management wouldn't favour the eager beaver. I realise this is precisely your own conclusion, too; but it doesn't sound quite so unreasonable.

Nor, I think, should you be deterred from taking time off. If you can afford to do so, it's a wonderful opportunity to be with your children and it shouldn't have any long-term effect on your career. But at a time like this, it obviously wouldn't give you an immediate opportunity to play a high-profile role.

- Jeremy Bullmore is a former creative director and chairman of J Walter Thompson London. His book Another Bad Day at the Office? is published by Penguin at £6.99. Address your problem to Jeremy Bullmore at: editorial@managementtoday.com. Regrettably, no correspondence can be entered into.

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