Follow-Up File: Flexibility benefits both boss and staff

Name: Mary Verdin

Job: Owner

Business: Verdin Marketing Ink

What she said then:

In May 2007, Mary Verdin was a member of The Tribune Round Table discussion on local child care.

She owns Verdin Marketing Ink, a public relations firm in San Luis Obispo.

At the time, Verdin was looking for childcare for her soon-to-be-born son, Alden. She hoped for space with the same in-home provider who watched her first son, AJ.

“Having children was one key factor in my deciding to start my own business,” Verdin said. “Having the flexibility to participate in my child’s life was important to me, and I felt I could best do this as my own boss.”

What she says now:

When Verdin Marketing purchased its new office on Tank Farm Road last year, the owner made sure to have architect Greg Wynn design a space in her office for the kids.

This makes it easier when she needs to bring one or both of her sons to work in the morning or on weekends.

“I’m really proud of it,” she said. “When we give tours of the space, I always point out the kid area.”

Verdin’s firm opens at 8 a.m., but she can’t take Alden to daycare until 8:30. Now 2, he’s learned to eat breakfast at his fold-down table in her office while she checks e-mail. His daycare is five minutes away.

Verdin’s nine employees moved into the 2,750-square-foot space in July 2009. Build-out for the “condo-style” office shell was about $100,000.

Her favorite feature is the 13-by-23-foot conference room. The glass walls roll up to open the space to the rest of the office.

As an employer, Verdin said her own family’s needs have made her more flexible about accommodating requests from employees to support their family situations.

In one case, a mother brings her children to work part of the day for a few weeks of the year. In another, Verdin agreed to an adjusted workweek for an employee because his partner lives in Fresno.

She sees such flexibility as part of a strategy for employee retention.

“In this area, we don’t pay as much. An ad agency in L.A. would pay a lot more,” Verdin said. “We look for other benefits. One of our main four goals is to make this a great place to work.”

But she also cautions employers be realistic about the ramifications of agreements before making them.

“Whatever I offer one employee has to be available to any employee,” Verdin added. “Think down the line to where you think you’ll be in the future, just to make sure it works for all current and future employees, and makes business sense.”

— Raven J. Railey