How to Negotiate Flexible Working Hours

Negotiating and implementing a Flexible Work Arrangement

Today’s work environment is changing, and companies understand that Australian workers need more flexibility to take care of home needs, whether it be children, parents, or even their continuing education. In fact, statistics show that one in four workers in the country is personally responsible for taking care of someone else.

Flexible work schedules refer to a working arrangement other than the traditional business hours five days per week. It does not necessarily mean working from home, although many flexible arrangements do include some working from home. If you need flexible work opportunities, getting them may be as simple as asking, depending on the role you fulfill at your job.

So how do you negotiate flexible working hours?

When you apply for a new position, you need to ask at the outset about flexibility options. Doing this right gives you a better chance of hearing “yes.”

Know Your Value – The first thing you need to do when approaching a potential employer to ask about flexibility is to know your value. You need to be confident that your skills and abilities bring something of worth to the company and are beneficial enough to encourage flexible arrangements. If you are confident, the potential employer will be impressed.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask – If a job advertisement does not say flexible work is an option, do not be afraid to ask. If the employer does not have strong applications, the company may be more interested in offering a flexible option.

Learn All You Can – Research the employer before you apply or go to an interview. You may find that they readily acknowledge their flexible work policy. If you have people in your network, on your facebook page, or in other professional social networking positions that have involvement with the company, ask them what they know.

Be Open – If you absolutely require a flexible arrangement, let the employer know before you take valuable time in an interview. They will appreciate it, and you will be able to save time for interviews at jobs that fit your needs.

Be Proactive – If you are applying for a role that you know works well for flexibility and have worked in a flexible arrangement before, send a business case with your application.

Interview Well – in addition to preparing for the interview, plan to use it as an opportunity to do your own “interview” of the company. Since you have experience and knowledge about the industry and are a valuable applicant, you can take this stand and be an active participant in the interview process.

How to Negotiate

Once you have determined that a job is, in fact, a good candidate for the flexible work option, you need to negotiate for it. You also need to do this if you are currently in a job that you wish to have changed to be more flexible. Remember, most jobs are not offered with a flexible arrangement.

Step 1: Get Informed
Start by getting a copy of your company’s Flexible Work Policy or Telecommuting Policy. This will help you make an informed request. If you know people in the organization that are currently on a flexible arrangement, ask them for tips in negotiating.

Step 2: Schedule an Appointment
Instead of walking into your boss’s office and asking for the flexibility without warning, schedule an appointment to discuss it. This gives you the opportunity to prepare your negotiations, and also work up the confidence that this is a good idea for everyone involved. When you do negotiate, consider offering a three to six month trial. This gives your employer the chance to try out the arrangement and see if it works for everyone.

Step 3: Build a Business Case Proposal
A business case proposal outlines why you need a flexible arrangement and how it will work. This needs to be typed out to be placed in your file. Questions to answer include:

  • Why you need flexibility
  • What solutions you recommend
  • What type of flexible work arrangement you wish to propose
  • How this will impact your job duties
  • What savings or costs there will be in setting up the flexible work arrangement
  • Why you are a good candidate for a flexible arrangement
  • How you will measure your effectiveness and success while working in the flexible arrangement

Step 4: Following Through
Once you have been set up in your flexible work arrangement, you need to follow through to ensure that it sticks and works well for all involved. These tips will help make the solution work.

  • Communicate any work situations that will be handled differently when you are working on a flexible schedule. Keep everything open between yourself, your co-workers, and your clients or customers.
  • Consider keeping a journal of your work arrangement to help you identify areas that could be improved.
  • Make improvements as needed while you go through the process.
  • Meet with your manager regularly to monitor the situation, and discuss concerns if they arise.
  • Ask for feedback from clients and co-workers about every six months, and be willing to change based on that feedback.

The key to making a flexible work arrangement work is communication and openness throughout the process. If you an keep the lines of communication open, you can successfully negotiate flexible working hours, and find a work/life balance that suits your lifestyle.