Bernie, the president and major shareholder in a well-established 13 person architect firm in New England decided to reduce his work to three days each week as part of a plan to phase into retirement but also to have time to care for his baby grandson, Gabe.
Bernie’s son and daughter-in-law both wanted to be able to continue their careers but did not want to use outside daycare for their infant. Finances were tight for the couple and they thought hard about the possible options, working with Bernie to create a practical solution that worked for everyone. Bernie would have Gabe two days per week while the mother provided care for the remaining three days. Starting when Gabe was six months old, Bernie would have sole responsibility for the child on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:15 until 4:30, when Gabe’s parents returned home from work.
Although at the age of 56 this would be the first time in his life that Bernie would be solely responsible for the care of an infant, he was determined to provide the necessary love and attention his grandson needed. From personal experience Bernie knew the value of having someone at home to offer the security and consistency he believed all children deserved. His mother had died when he was very young and though close to his father Bernie had essentially raised himself. Bernie was convinced he had the dedication and intense desire necessary to care for his grandchild and that by helping his son and daughter-in-law he was being a positive force in the life of the young family.
At work Bernie negotiated with the other two partners in his architectural firm to reduce both his workload and his salary by 60%. This would not cause any hardship at home as he and his wife had finished paying for their children’s educations and had become accustomed to living modestly on their combined incomes. The new work schedule meant Bernie had to be more ingenious in dealing with work situations and his problem solving skills became beneficial at home also. His perspective at work changed, he became more patient and aware of the importance of human relationships and less worried over the little things.
Despite some skepticism on the part of his partners, they relied on their 30 year relationship to trust Bernie to make the arrangement work. After one year of this new arrangement Bernie became aware that his partners were picking up some of the slack from his reduced work hours. This made him feel uneasy, so after evaluating the situation, Bernie put a solution in place that he felt was fair to all involved. He divested himself of enough company stock so that he and his partners became equal owners.
Bernie was thoroughly enjoying the new schedule, never having to work two days in a row, not cramming chores and family time into the weekend, and having access to community services during the day. Being with a young child was challenging at times, but Bernie was determined to offer Gabe what he thought a ‘normal’ parent would provide: plenty of time to play and lots and lots of attention.
Bernie looked after Gabe for three years and when his younger brother was born he often looked after both of them. Today, Bernie can look back and clearly see that the solution he put in place benefitted both his family and his business. He’s also discovered that the relationships he created with his grandchildren have been a powerful force in his life that continues to this day.