Getting a Flexible Work Arrangement: Creating a Win-Win
Workplace flexibility can definitely be a win-win for the employee and the company. According to the Corporate Executive Board, people who feel like they have good work-life balance are 21% more productive at work.
The most important thing in requesting a flexible schedule is planning. The critical things you need to plan before asking for a flexible work arrangement are:
a) Begin with documenting the value you bring to the company. Not only does this step enable you to prepare some reasons why your leader should let you have some flex in your work, it will also raise your confidence in how you ask for the flex. Confidence is everything. If you go in knowing you deserve this flexibility, are a valuable employee, and will make it work well for your colleagues, that confidence will rub off on your leader who will therefore be more likely to say yes!
b) Clearly define what you want. Do you want to work from home two days a week? Do you want to come in at 7am and leave at 4pm? Do you want to work 40 hours/week, but have the flexibility to do it whenever works best for you? Be sure your ask is clear. If you just say, I’d like to work from home every once in awhile, your manager may walk away from the conversation thinking you are going to do it once a month and you were expecting once a week. Be clear so all parties know exactly what is being decided. Also, clearly defining what you want, makes you more likely to get what you want. If you go into the conversation as more of a brainstorm with your manager, you will likely walk away with something different than what you really wanted in the first place.
c) Think through the pros and cons of this arrangement for your team. Be sure you can easily articulate how this will help the team and be prepared for any pushback you may get. For example, if I work from home twice a week, this will save me at least four hours per week commuting. If I spend that four hours working out, it will not only increase my personal health, but it will also help me be more innovative and energetic at work.
d) Practice it with someone! Writing these points on a piece of paper is very different from presenting it as a proposal to a real person. Practice it with a friend, colleague, or career coach to ensure you are clearly meeting all the points of your value, your request, and the win-win to the company. Also have them reply with some of the cons or pushback you may get so you are prepared to answer those questions confidently.