Seven years ago, I was working at another company in a role that I loved. My husband and I had just welcomed our first (and only) child to the world. My husband, a self-employed consultant, was conveniently between projects as the last of my maternity leave waned.
One morning, at breakfast, we looked at each other and I asked …
“So, what are we going to do?”
“I guess you go back to work. I don’t have another project yet,” he said.
And, so it was.
The first three months back in my job, I was sleep-deprived, emotional, and barely hanging on with the demands of keeping a newborn, a marriage, and a career alive. And, even in this transition and full-blown family transformation, I was blessed. My son spent time with his dad, and he was a healthy child. Many families have to contend with so much more.
However, in months three to six, survival seemed to be fleeting. I felt like I was sinking and thought I might just drown.
I wondered if there was another option.
With humility, I’ll state that I was a consistent top performer and I routinely accomplished in a day or two what take others a full week or more. I proposed an amended work week – 32 hours. My employer responded, “Unfortunately, we have limits to how many FTEs we have. You’d be taking up an FTE spot in the org chart even though you’re not a full FTE. And, we just don’t have the process or the systems to handle anything less than 40 hours for an FTE.”
So, when I began interviewing for a contractor opportunity at Citrix, I thought “What the heck … why not propose a 30 hour/week role?” In fact, I knew from my current experience that many projects only need a part-time resource, and are forced to commit to a full-time contractor because most talent either doesn’t want less than 40 hours or simply can’t afford it.
Turns out, I won the #womenintheworkforce lottery in two ways:
- The leader of the Citrix team was progressive and open to alternate work arrangements
- An employee on the team was already working 30 hours/week and just happened to be going on maternity leave
Thanks to this open-minded, pragmatic, and status-quo-questioning leader, I joined Citrix as a contractor at 27 hours/week. I converted to an employee six months later at 30 hours a week. And, I worked at least 37 hours/week for the next four years out of gratitude and loyalty for the opportunity to make my son my focus at 2pm every day.
Citrix gave me the opportunity to arrange the critical pieces of life in a way that allowed me to be a little more like the wife I’d been before I had a child, the mother I had envisioned I could be, and the professional who had just found her groove and wanted to keep going.
I can say with certainty, these six years at Citrix have been the highest growth and greatest contribution years of my career.
I realize not all roles or companies can offer employees an alternate work arrangement. And, honestly, with a couple of employees on my team who work reduced hours, I know it requires commitment from the employee and a high level of communication to make it work. Yet, I also see these team members exceed expectations — they are direct and efficient, they excuse themselves from meetings that don’t require their contribution, and they work extra hard to make it impossible for anyone to ever blame their reduced hours for a missed deadline.
When companies and leaders are open minded to alternate work arrangements, we all win. It’s time to #BeBoldForChange. This is the #CitrixLife.