A reader writes:
I work in a satellite office — headquarters is about 2 hours by car, and in the past, I’ve rarely been asked to travel there, as all of my work can be done in the office where I’m located. However, I’ve just been asked if I could travel to the main office twice a month, as it would be “beneficial to the team.” This means a 4-hour (total) commute, which I’m dreading, as well as a logistical issue with childcare, as my partner travels quite often and I would need to hire a babysitter to get the children to and from school on the days I’m required to be away.
I’m considering asking if there’s room in the budget for my company to pay for a babysitter on the 2 days a month I’m away if my husband is also away. Also, I’m considering asking if I can come up for 1 day a month instead of 2. What’s the best way to phrase this? And should I even bother?
Don’t ask your employer to pay your child care costs. That’s just not a business expense; it’s a personal one. It would be akin to asking your employer to pay the increase in your mortgage if you bought a house closer to work, or asking your employer to pay for an extra hour of your kids’ daycare if your work hours were lengthened. These are not business expenses.
However, since this is a change the arrangement that you signed up for when you took the job, you can certainly explain that it will cause some logistical problems and ask if it’s feasible to do it once a month rather than twice.
But before pushing back, make sure that you understand the reasoning behind the request. Do they want you in the office more often because there have been communication problems or other concerns that they think more frequent contact will solve? Make sure you understand what’s prompting the request before you push back against it, or you’ll look out of touch with their concerns (and potentially heighten them).