How to Negotiate a Flexible Work Schedule

This is what you need to know, if you’re pitching for flexibility. The road to achieving a work-life balance is closer than you think.

Over the last decade Gen Y has been complaining more and more about the nine to five work ethos. They are demanding more flexibility when it comes to time, location and working methods in order to achieve work-life balance. To many of this younger generation, giving up a personal life isn’t an option any longer. Many women, especially those with young children, also feel they need a job with adaptable hours in order to spend more time at home to take care of their families.

If you’re looking for a more flexible job, be ready for it as it’s not easy, can even be risky but not impossible. Information and timing are key elements to negotiating success. So whether you’re thinking of negotiating a flexible schedule with your current employer or in a new job interview, here’s how to get it:

Look for clues
Check the company’s “careers” section on their website to see if there’s any information about flexible work schedules.

If you’re being interviewed for a job, inquire about employee connectivity during “off” hours. Are employees expected to check email in the evenings or on weekends? If flexible work policies are mentioned on their website, ask about the level of employee participation. If you already work at this company, you can tell from experience what the level of participation required from employees is.

Decide what type of job flexibility you want
Decide what type of flexibility you need. Is it time or place? Or something else? There are common options for mobility including telecommuting, working an accommodating or alternative schedule, working a condensed work week, combining vacation and sick time into all-inclusive “paid time off” or setting your own schedule.
Think of the best type for you or combine two or three of them together. Decide what the ideal flexible job is for you before you go ahead and request it.

Assess how likely your employer is to embrace flexibility
Besides connectivity after working hours and the general level of participation expected from employees, another sign your employer is ready to negotiate a flexible agenda with you is if you already have casual Fridays, generous personal time off or early closures. Were you allowed to work from home before? How often does it happen?

Try to answer these questions before you meet with your employer. The more generous your employer is with regard to off time, the higher the chance for you to get the schedule you want.

Prepare a hot proposal
The way to request an ideal work schedule is to create a pitch that will convince your employer your suggested adaptable timetable is more beneficial to the company. Work on a formal proposal in which you include the type of flexibility you want, an implementation plan, and how this is going to improve your performance.

If you think flexible working hours are more important than money; you can also suggest giving up part of your salary in exchange for accommodating hours, or work according to a results-only schedule without even mentioning hours.

Ask for a trial period
If managers seem hesitant to agree, suggest a trial period. They most probably haven’t dealt with something like this before or are afraid that if they agree straight away more employees will demand the same. A trial period is a fair decision for both sides. You might even be the one who isn’t happy with the new arrangement.

Last resort: Look for other opportunities
If you’ve tried these tips and your employer is still not convinced, it may be best to find a more flexible job elsewhere. Lots of job listings state specifically if they offer perks like telecommuting, malleable schedules or ROWEs (results-only work environments). You can also ask about it during the interview even if it’s not stated. But it’s recommended you only do that in a second or third interview as you might loose a great opportunity if you start talking about a flexible schedule so soon. If you’re absolutely sure a flexible job is your only option, don’t bother applying to jobs that don’t clearly mention an accommodating schedule.

Flexible job options are becoming popular all over the world. Young professionals are turning flexible jobs into a norm rather than a perk. All it takes from you is determination and understanding your needs as well as your company’s before you make that smooth transition from fixed to flexible.

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