Over the past several years, conversations about the benefits of a flexible work schedule have become more and more common—and for good reason! Professionals and companies alike have come to see that the number of hours worked isn’t necessarily the best measure of productivity and employee engagement. In fact, many have realized that having more flexibility during the workday can allow for not only increased productivity, but better results and project outcomes. As a result, the most forward-thinking companies are prioritizing flexibility in an effort to better support their employees and attract future talent!
With this in mind, you may be thinking about asking for a more flexible work schedule. While this type of request is certainly becoming more common, navigating this conversation can be tricky. The good news is that many companies will be receptive as long as you are able to explain how it can better serve you and the company in the long run. Here are some tips you can use to ask for a flexible work schedule:
Flexibility can mean different things to different people. While we may focus on hours when we think about flexible work schedules, there are a variety of different solutions that may make sense given your specific situation. These can include, but are not limited to:
Before you approach your manager to discuss the possibility of having a flexible work schedule, really think about what type of solution will most help you and your goals.
Before your conversation, do some research on flexible work schedules, both at your company and outside of it. Start by consulting your company’s employee handbook or reach out to your Human Resources department to see what your options are. If your company currently doesn’t have a policy in place, do some research on how others have successfully implemented flexible work schedules! Going into these discussions with a full understanding of your options will show your manager that you take this work arrangement seriously.
When you discuss the potential of a flexible work schedule with your manager, try not to just make it about you. While you do need to address your goals, it’s also important to explain why this solution can benefit your employer. If you have a long commute and are asking for a hybrid remote schedule, for example, you’d explain how a reduced commute would allow you to be more productive during the workday.
Understand that, at first, your manager may not be completely ready to grant you a flexible schedule. Instead, they may want you to compromise in order to meet some of their needs as well. If this is the case, you can suggest working on a flexible schedule for part of the week while maintaining your current schedule for the other half. Being open to compromise from the onset can not only make both parties happy, but doing so early on may make your manager more willing to grant you further flexibility in the future!
Even if you have made a strong case for yourself, your manager may want to have a trial period with your proposed flexible work schedule first. Whether that trial period is a couple of weeks or a couple of months, this is a great opportunity for both you and your manager to see what works and what doesn’t. During this trial period, it’s critical that you’re getting ahead of your deadlines, initiating new projects, and staying on top of your work. By doing so, you’ll prove to your manager that you’re capable of working on a flexible schedule indefinitely.
If your request for a flexible work schedule is granted, it’s important that you’re able to hold yourself accountable. If you are working different hours or in a separate location than your supervisor, you’ll need to learn how to manage yourself in a sense. Your supervisor will of course still be there for you, but it’s up to you to ensure you are being productive, meeting expectations, and staying connected with your team. To do this, practice open and direct communication, become a planner, limit personal distractions, and set goals.
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