4 Steps to a Flexible Work Arrangement

Are you hungry for a little more flexibility in your day?  If so, you’re not alone. And you’re not off in thinking a little “flex” would be good for you. Whether reducing your hours, moving to a partially remote arrangement, or compressing your schedule, research shows employees with flexible work arrangements are happier at work. They’re also less prone to burnout and psychological stress. Now, who doesn’t want that?

Here’s what you might not know, though: 80% of succeeding in these discussions happens before you ever get to the negotiation table. Does that surprise you? See, requesting a flexible arrangement requires solid information-gathering – done in advance of your conversation – to set you up for success.

Whether you want telecommuting days or different hours, you’ll want to translate this information into an actual case for change.  Here are some powerful steps for getting started, and getting that “Yes” answer you need:

Assemble some key data.

Relate the data to your personal performance record such as high ratings on performance reviews or highlighted contributions.  Along with that, gather some third-party metrics or research that illustrate the increased productivity that comes from flexible work schedules.

Develop a work plan.

Outline the arrangement you want. It should show how your work will be managed, who might provide coverage when you’re not at your desk, and how you’ll be accessible when you’re not in the office. Try to answer all the obvious questions your boss might ask in this work plan.

De-risk your proposal.

Making it less scary to your manager.  Show any examples or precedents within your company where telecommuting is working well. If it helps your case, include flexible benefits that your companies’ competitors offer. You can also ask your manager to commit to less by suggesting you both try it out over a 3-month trial period.

Paint a picture of the benefits.

Not just for you, but for your department and the company. This makes it harder for your boss to say “No.” You might start with how your newfound productivity  will help your department, then your company, then you. Explain too how reduced absenteeism, for example, will help maintain the continuous flow of work. Share your openness to doing a lot of the legwork to implement your vision once you’ve got the green light.

Those people who have enviable, flexible work arrangements have some clear things in common. They don’t make a spontaneous ask. They gather information so that they’re the smartest in the room on the subject. They frame their ask in a way that shows it’s good for everyone.

Remember that before you can be flexible, you have to be willing. Now that you have the process down, what flex will you ask for?

This article was originally published in Care.com.

Photo credits: J. Kelly Brito

Selena Rezvani

Selena Rezvani is a recognized consultant, speaker and author on women and leadership.  A seasoned human capital consultant, Selena uses workplace culture assessments to help corporate clients be more inclusive and welcoming to women.  She’s also the author of two leadership books targeted at professional women – Pushback: How Smart Women Ask—and Stand Up—for What They Want (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and The Next Generation of Women Leaders (Praeger, 2009). Selena has been featured in the LA Times, Oprah.com, Todayshow.com, Forbes, and wrote an award-winning column on women for The Washington Post.

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