Depending on how much your line manager wants to know, you may want to agree in advance of each KIT day what you'll be doing and when you intend to arrive and go home. This may be a simple phone call or some thoughts from you by email a few days in advance. It also serves as a reminder that you're coming and acts as prompt to have desk space available and time in your line manager's diary.
"Informally keep in touch with colleagues so you know what is going on in the team and you can get an idea of how you could be of use. Some of my KIT days were spent in training/conferences. Others were to help my team out when they were stretched. In relation to the latter, having kept in touch informally, I was aware the team was very busy and I thought I was able to manage childcare for a short period so was able to offer to do some work, partly from home, to take the strain off the team."
If you and your employer are up for KIT days, be confident to suggest ways you can do them, with your baby in tow if necessary (particularly if you are breastfeeding). Many people talk about not being able to do KIT days because they don't have formal care in place, yet there are many ways to make it work. For example, could you make a direct request to bring your baby into the office whilst you attend a team meeting and sift through emails? Or arrange for your partner or a friend to accompany you and take care of your baby outside the office whilst you take part in a strategy meeting?
'Proper preparation produces performance', so the saying goes. It's much easier to feel confident about returning to work when you're certain about what's expected of you in your first few weeks and months. Using part of a KIT day to sit down with your line manager and map out your activities and deliverables for the first four to six weeks is desirable. Whilst it might change, having this conversation flushes out implicit hopes and expectations on both sides, avoiding nasty surprises from hidden assumptions. Even the most well-intentioned employers can get it wrong by under-stretching returning employees (to show they care) or over-stretching (to demonstrate their confidence in you). Do talk to your line manager about these four to six weeks being a period of transition when you'll be building up to business as usual.
The prompts below have been written to help shape your thinking and structure a conversation with your line manager. You might even want to send this guide to your employer.
- What activities would you like to use KIT days for? How will doing these things help you make a smooth return?
- What are the benefits to your line manager of you having KIT days? Are there additional benefits to your wider team or clients?
- What do you know about pay arrangements for any previous employees who have done KIT days? What would you like to suggest to your employer?
- What might your options be for childcare whilst taking part in KIT days?