The Question of Salary vs Flexibility

TelecommutingLast week I found myself attending a conference.  I talked with two mothers who work outside of the home during a break and was awestruck when one of them stated; “Next time, I’m going to negotiate flexibility instead of salary.”  I completely understand the need to be flexible as work hours overlap into home life and family needs bleed into the workday.   Heck, I’m single and I have to deal with it.  Add a spouse and a few children and the overlap becomes a daunting challenge.  No wonder 42% of working adults (both men and women) are willing to be paid less for more flexibility at work.   But I’m struck with the assumption that we can have one but not both.  I believe a much better way to think of flexibility and work is to change the statement to “Next time, I’m going to negotiate flexibility and my salary.“

Flexibility Benefits Employee and Employer

Am I insane to dare recommend this as a goal?  I don’t think so.  Not when you realize that some flex items employees want are the same that employers want. Research done by the Work and Family Institute in 2009 shows that while 77% of companies surveyed have taken cost savings step during the recession 81% of companies maintained and 13% increased their flexible workplace options.  One example is that 19% of companies have added or increased telecommuting to save on the cost of office space.

Asking for such benefits would be considered a win/win since both parties want the same thing.  They may want them for completely different reasons but they both want it.  A working mom may look at working virtually from home as a means to save 2 hours of commuter time per day which allows her to take her children to school in the morning or meet her children at the bus stop in the afternoon, or to still work a full day when a child is off from school.   A company may want to increase virtual workers to lease smaller or less centrally located space at a cost savings.  Thus if telecommuting is what you want there is no automatic reason to decrease your salary goals.  Let your employer inform you why such a request would be a burden to the company before you assume it is a burden.  In many cases it will be a welcome request.

Recently this year’s top Working Mother 100 Best Companies was announced.  The details of each company and why it made the list is very enlightening.  It helps you see what companies can do for its employees.  More importantly it may hit you that there is a reason certain benefits appear over and over again.  The companies get some financial gain (cost savings, revenue generation, minimize employee turnover) from having them.  Or you may be pleasantly surprised to see that your employer is on the list and there are more benefits available to you than you realized.

Hopefully, you will agree that you can negotiate flexibility and salary, even in this economy.

© Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited