"Taking every other Friday off gives me additional flexibility. KPMG even gave me the opportunity to choose how I want to organize my schedule myself."
What’s your role at KPMG?
I am a Manager in the Neuchâtel office. My main tasks include managing audit projects for industrial and pension fund clients.
How many children do you have? How old are they? Does your partner work as well?
I have two kids – a little girl, who is two years and eight months old, and an eight-month-old boy. My wife works 60% of a full-time schedule at a bank.
What does your flexible working arrangement look like?
I work 90%, which allows me to take off every other Friday. I also extended my paternity leave for two and half months after my second child’s birth. One part of this time was unpaid. This period was very important to me, as it meant more time for us together as a family. It’s a key period for both parents and children, and we all wanted to be together. I spoke to my management, partner, teammates and clients and everybody was open – the feedback and reactions were really positive. You just have to communicate well. We travelled a lot and all of us enjoyed it so much – well, our boy was still very quiet then. I am really grateful for that time. You won’t get many opportunities to do something like that, so take the chance whenever you can.
In the context of your family arrangement how does a “normal” working day look like?
In the morning we wake up at the same time to have breakfast together as a family. This time is very important for us and we never skip it. Then we get ourselves and our kids ready to leave the house and go to daycare. We live in Neuchâtel; my wife and I both work in the city and the daycare is close by, so we do this part of the day together as well. If I need to go to a client’s office, I take the whole family by car to the daycare. In the evening my wife picks up the kids and we have dinner. The kids then go to bed, and I tell a little story to the older one. I always ask her what she wants to hear and then create a story out of it. Yesterday I had to invent a story about dinosaurs.
How does your flexible working arrangement help you with your role as father?
It’s all about being together – not only with the kids but also with my wife. That was the idea of the flexible working arrangement. My wife has the same day off, so we have a long weekend every other week to do some activities or to go to Ticino, where my wife is from. We want to maximize the time we spend together. Each day is a gift, and we want to make the most out of it.
Are there any challenges you face in your working arrangement?
There are times when it’s more difficult than others, but I always try to be strict with myself – this means I always do everything I can to be able to take every other Friday off, and most of the time it works. It’s not always easy but again, you just have to communicate well and transparently with your boss, teammates and clients. I schedule meetings before Friday, I work a bit later or wake up a bit earlier – you just have to be organized. I don’t like to lose this day. You must learn to accept that some things which aren’t emergencies and which you’re not able to work on right away can wait until the following week. It’s all about anticipation and communication.
Was there ever a critical moment when you had to prioritize family (sick child, daycare issues, etc.) over work and how did your team support you in this specific moment?
With Covid-19, organization became even more complicated when you had a sick child at home. Once I had to take off the afternoon because my daughter was sick even though I had a lot to do. But sometimes there are certain things you have to prioritize over others. For every mother and father, the Covid era, and especially the first lockdown, have been quite challenging. I was working from home; my wife was not. Imagine having a crying baby next to you while you are working. KPMG supported me in this situation: They were aware of the challenging reality faced by families during these times and it was clear for everybody what comes first – I really appreciated that!
What is your recipe for a well-balanced work life?
Be strict with yourself! The moment you decide to stop working after a long day and close your computer is important. I stop thinking about work at exactly this moment. I go back home and have dinner with my wife and kids and when I have my Friday off, I don’t check emails and I don’t worry about work. I am strict in keeping work and private life separated.
What do you appreciate most about KPMG’s flex work model?
It wasn’t hard at all to negotiate working 90%. If you expect to get “no” for an answer, you will never ask, but KPMG is really open to the flexible working model. Taking every other Friday off gives me additional flexibility. KPMG even gave me the opportunity to choose how I want to organize my schedule myself.