• Keeping Friends

Guest Post: 3 Ways to Flex Your Job for More Free Time for Friends

Published: January 17, 2013 | Last Updated: December 8, 2020 By | Reply Continue Reading
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Despite all the ways in which close friendships can enhance our lives, many women who are working, raising a family, and/or caregiving for aging parents or other relatives may feel they simply don’t have time for friends. Pat Katepoo, a work-life advisor, offers some practical suggestions (in her guest post below) that might make it easier to find more free time for friends.

By Pat Katepoo*

Building the bonds of friendship takes time and consistency of contact. But after a weary week at work, you’re usually too tired or busy with other matters to take the initiative to meet with your friends. And so the relationship languishes.  Sound familiar?

If you find your personal life squeezed by the demands of a rigid work schedule, it’s time to add job flexibility to the mix.

How? The fastest way is to propose a flexible work arrangement at your current job.

Here are three ways to make modest changes in when and where you get your job done. The added flexibility will give you more time freedom with your friends.

Be sure to share these free-time tactics with your working friends so they can reap the benefits along with you.

Propose a Telecommuting Arrangement

Telecommuting is a low-barrier step to finding free time to spend with friends. In this arrangement, you continue your full-time hours, but work one or two days a week from home.

You might be surprised at the amount of time and money you can save by working from home only two days a week. That’s not counting the time it takes to get ready, along with stopping at the gas station or dry cleaners.

Got your numbers? If it’s at least an hour a day, you’ve just surfaced some spare time–and cash–to meet a friend for dinner. Or at the very least, make a catch-up phone call.

Rush-hour traffic can be a physical drain, too, so a cut in your commute could mean less stress and more energy.

With those appealing pluses of working from home, you might want to meet your friend at the gym for a workout together, or for a long walk at the park.

Propose Taking Every Other Friday Off

Would you trade 10% of your income for 26 long weekends a year?

If you take every other Friday off, or eight hours out of every 80, you’ll have three-day weekends on a regular basis–while still retaining 90% of your salary.

When pitching your manager, label the arrangement a “slightly reduced work schedule” instead of “part-time” to position it more favorably. At only 10% fewer hours, your proposal should meet little resistance.

Propose a Four-Day Workweek

For many women, finding free time for themselves is the challenge. A flexible work arrangement that allows for one full weekday off every week fosters a balance between me-time and friend-time; you can have most of the day for yourself, then meet a friend that evening.

For the four-day workweek, I offer a menu of three options.

  • To keep full-time hours, propose a compressed workweek of four, 10-hour days.
  • A modified compressed workweek has you working four, 9-hour days. At 36 hours a week, be prepared to take a 10% pay cut, unless you meet certain conditions to cut your hours while keeping close to full-time pay.
  • Finally, if you’re in a financial position to pro-rate your pay by 20%, propose a four-day workweek of 32 hours.

Whichever four-day option you favor, why not seal a deal with your manager that allows you to alternate days off.

For example, Wednesdays off would be a welcome midweek break; at other times, like when a Monday holiday comes around, you could take the prior Friday off, to enjoy an extra-long weekend. Job flexibility is sounding better by the minute, isn’t it? And your friendships can flourish because of it.

Propose It in Writing

Whichever flexible work arrangement you plan to pitch to your manager, don’t get personal about your reasons. Instead, be prepared to present a written plan and proposal that includes the business case for job flexibility.

When you do, you’re likely to get approval of the new work arrangement within weeks, perhaps starting with a trial period of three months.

Start making plans with your friends; you could be enjoying more job flexibility and free time by next month.

*Pat Katepoo is a work-life advisor and founder of WorkOptions.com, where she equips professionals with proposal templates to negotiate flexible work arrangements and higher pay. 

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