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Planning and communication are keys to successful flex working arrangements.

When I had my first child, I was the first woman at the firm who wanted to return to work after a period of leave, and work part-time. At that time there was no legislated right to parental leave, nor a right to have a flexible work arrangement considered. I was so determined to get it approved that I made a fundamental mistake. I did not talk about what could, from my demanding, full time role, realistically be covered in three days. So, while it worked incredibly well for the firm, it was an unmitigated disaster for me – trying to do five days work in three.

In the following 20 years, I have worked flexibly in a number of different ways and have learned many lessons and now mentor and counsel many people on this important subject.

There are two main things that in my view make a FWA work well – communication, and a spirit of reciprocity. Communicate your needs and expectations up front and straight away if problems arise. And be prepared to offer a degree of reciprocity if needed.

When preparing your proposal, try and think of every possible problem or question that may be asked and make a pre-emptive strike in your proposal. For example, cover communication, team meetings, career development and salary expectations.

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