Protiviti is dedicated to promoting flexibility and a healthy life-work blend. As part of this commitment, employees can work with their HR leads, advisors, and managers to develop a Flexible Work Arrangement (FWA) that works for them. Options include part-time schedules, flexible workday hours, working from home, compressed schedules, and many more scenarios.
To highlight the way that a flexible work arrangement can enable success personally and professionally, we asked Barb, a Director in our Los Angeles office, to share her experience with this program. Here’s what she had to say!
How did you decide that an FWA was for you?
“I worked at Arthur Andersen before joining Protiviti, and I’ve been working a flex schedule since my oldest was born. He’s 18 now, and my two other sons are 15 and 12, so it’s been a long time!
At Andersen, when I arrived for my annual review during maternity leave, I hadn’t really given much thought to how I would come back to work. I assumed I’d come back full time and, honestly, that was a little bit of a scary idea. My husband was a partner at Arthur Andersen (today he is a MD with Protiviti), we had a new baby, and I kept wondering: “How will this work?”
During that meeting, the partner with whom I worked asked if I’d considered an FWA. I said I hadn’t really thought about it, so together we crafted what it could look like. We defined which clients I could keep to facilitate a 60 percent workload, or three days a week. We set it up in a very structured way that allowed some fluidity as well.
That’s how I began doing the FWA while at Andersen, and I’ve been doing it ever since!”
What do you find rewarding about your FWA?
“Right away, the FWA gave me the flexibility to spend more time with my oldest son, and later, my younger two sons. Knowing that I would be home for two full days during the week plus the weekend was very fulfilling. I knew I couldn’t get that time back; it was now or never. That was the first – and most important – perk for me.
It’s also nice to know that you can switch things around, that I could always maneuver that schedule if I needed to. That flexibility took a lot of the burden off, back in the day.”
How did you figure out what works and what doesn’t?
“It’s about knowledge-sharing with others who have a FWA and being willing to try new things. There was a time when the kids were older when I thought about doing four shorter days, so that I’d be home when they arrived after school. But I quickly learned that the full-day scenario worked better for me than the partial day scenario. I just couldn’t be out at a client site long enough in a given day; I felt like I’d arrive just to turn around and leave to accommodate that schedule I’d created. So I went back to and stuck with that kind of tree-day-a-week structure. That’s what’s been most successful for me.
I also try to frontload the schedule, working Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. That’s by design. If you’re starting a new project, you want to – from a leadership perspective – be in the field with the team the early part of the week to make sure the project is progressing according to plan. Then, as the project is executed, there’s less of a need for you to be physically out there with the team.”
What’s your advice for someone considering an FWA?
“I sense people may be hesitant about a FWA because they don’t know if it can be done, but I know from experience that it can be successful. You just need the right support, and you’ve got to be a little creative. For example, you have to think about how you can build in and plan for those times when a client might need you at a time when you’re not “on the clock,” so to speak.
In general, I think embarking on an FWA takes a bit of overcommunicating. My advice is to ensure that expectations are clear and that everybody really understands and agrees on the same set of expectations to make your schedule work for you.”
Thank you for sharing your story, Barb.