How To Ask for a Flexible Work Schedule

How To Ask for a Flexible Work Schedule

What can you do if you need a flexible work schedule? It can be challenging to balance your personal life with your work responsibilities. We often have personal issues which arise that require us to be available during traditional business hours.

Maybe you need to be home to care for a child when she’s sick or after school, accompany aging parents to doctor’s appointments, carry out community service projects, or even to pursue a hobby. Because of these other commitments and responsibilities, many workers would like to ask their employer for a more flexible work schedule.

You need to be very careful about how you approach your employer, or you can send the wrong message about your commitment to the job. However, many employers are willing to negotiate a schedule with a highly valued employee. That’s especially the case when it’s easy for you to work from home and still get your job done.

Here are some tips to improve your chances of negotiating an accommodation for a flexible schedule from your employer.

Tips for Asking for a Flexible Work Schedule

Before for you ask for a schedule change, lay the foundation for making yourself indispensable. The more important you are to the organization, the better your chances of success.

Make sure you choose a time to make your request when you have demonstrated a strong commitment to your work and are operating at a high level of productivity. If your manager knows you can be counted on to get the job done, he or she is more likely to agree to a flexible schedule or, at least, to try it.

Be prepared to furnish a strong rationale for revising your schedule. If your employer believes that you have a compelling reason for flexibility, then they might be more sympathetic to your request.

Consult your employee manual to determine whether there are any guidelines for accommodating staff with personal concerns. If your organization advertises itself as an employer that affords work-life balance, then your chances of success will be greater.

Who to Ask

Start the process with your immediate supervisor, even though you may need to secure approval at higher levels. Most likely, your boss will have the final say over whether a flexible schedule will make sense in your case, so make sure your supervisor is an ally early on in the process. Know the rhythms of your boss’s moods and avoid times of stress as you consider when to meet.

What to Say

Prepare a message that emphasizes your intention to maintain your current level of responsibility (unless you are looking to transition to a part-time job).

For example, you could say “I would like to explore the possibility of redistributing my hours while carrying out all my current responsibilities with the same dedication as in the past.”

Make a Plan

Devise a plan for how you will get the job done within the new framework that you are proposing. Emphasize how you will make up for any time when you would not be present on the job. Your plan might include working certain hours at home or coming to the office outside the traditional workday.

  • I would plan to come into the office at 7:00 am so I can leave at 3:30 pm to pick up my daughter.
  • I could work in the office while my children are in school and the remainder of my hours during the evening and weekend.
  • I will work uninterrupted on my writing projects at home from 8:00 to 10:00 pm each night.
  • I could work a split shift and come in at 8 am, with a 2 hour break from noon – 2 pm, then work until 6:30 pm.

Tailor your plan, so it fits both your circumstances and the needs of your workplace.

Be Clear About What You Want

Make it clear whether you are requesting a temporary change to address a transitory situation or a more permanent restructuring of your schedule.

For example, you might need to cover child care while your son is in half-day kindergarten or spend more time with a parent who is dying. If so, you can reassure your employer of your intention to resume your former schedule once those needs have been addressed.

Prepare for Objections

Anticipate any objections that your employer might have to your proposal and be prepared to present a solution.

For example, an employer might be concerned that it would be difficult to supervise you during some of your proposed flex hours. So you might respond, “I will provide a summary of the tasks I have completed during those hours and copy you in on any communications.”

If necessary, assure your manager that you have all the equipment and technology you need to be as productive at home as you are in the office.

If you’re turned down at first, don’t issue any ultimatums unless you are prepared to leave your job. Instead, ask about trying a flexible schedule on a temporary basis.

Ask for a Trial

If there is resistance to your plan, propose a defined, trial period for both parties to evaluate the viability of your plan. You could say, “I can understand your concerns with my proposal, could we try out the new schedule for a month and then evaluate whether it makes sense to continue it?”

Know Your Bottom Line

Be prepared to negotiate and accept a partial accommodation if that is feasible. For example, maybe you can work your traditional schedule by arranging childcare after school on Tuesday and Thursday but modify your hours on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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  • March 30, 2022