How to negotiate flexible work in 2020

Flexible work arrangements are becoming increasingly popular and widely adopted in most office environments. However, there is still a little way to go with many businesses. In the Annual Workplace Flexibility Report 2019, a clear finding was that whilst many companies are implementing flexibility policies, they are not always communicating these policies to staff adequately. The demand for flexible work is increasing and there are still obstacles for flexible work such as stigma, lack of communication and lack of training.

If you feel like you need a plan to talk to your boss about working flexibly, hopefully this blog can help you.

Do some research

Firstly, have a quick chat with your manager about setting up a meeting to talk about flexible work options. Then set the meeting.

It can help to have some statistics or general facts behind your interest in flexible work. You should know your main reasons, and companies will often be aware of some of the benefits of flexible work. But it can be helpful to remind them of things like the fact that 70 - 90% of people believe they are more productive at work due to workplace flexibility. And that you believe you would also benefit in the same way.

Think about your role and alternative ways to achieve your work

Think about your role specifically and how you could fulfil your work obligations and expectations with alternative work times or remote work. You could also do some further research about flexibility for your role and how it has worked for others.

Ensure you include your employer in your logic

When thinking about how you could achieve all your duties (and more!) consider what the business requires of you. If you have a well-thought out plan to share about how you can achieve a five-day workload working part-time for example, you will ease your employers’ questions of “how will this work?”

Always go in with a plan, how do you see your work-arrangement in the future? This is probably something that will be discussed again at the end of your conversation to clarify any agreement you and your manager come to.

Write down your main reasons

But it’s not all about your employer. It’s also about what suits you and what will make you a happier employee. Do you require to start earlier and finish earlier so you can pick up your children from school? Would you prefer to work from home one day a week to stay on top of household chores or avoid a long travel time? Does part-time work suit you more whilst you take up extra studies or require to be there for your family a little more? Whatever your reasons are, write them down. Jotting down 1 – 3 main reasons can help you open a more fluid and honest conversation.

An example way to start this conversation could be: “I love my job and am driven to go further in my career; however, I also need to make time for [insert reason]. It would relieve a lot of pressure and stress which would make me more focused and productive when working.”

Workplace flexibility often increases employee satisfaction and happier employees are often motivated, efficient and productive. It’s always nice to back up your reasoning with a benefit to the employer.

Be confident

Approach the conversation positively! If you have a belief in yourself, not only that you deserve flexibility but also that you can easily work in different parameters, your boss is more likely to have the same confidence in you.

Understand certain realities

Understand that sometimes you will have to be there for important meetings or that some of your work can’t be done offsite or your workload requires you for more than a three-day work week. Think of alternatives to your ideal flexible solution and understand it will be a conversation about what works best for each of you.

Once the flexibility conversation has been opened, more often than not, employers will respect the needs of their employees and they will encourage work that not only makes for happier staff but also more productive and motivated members of their organisation.

Good luck with your flexibility discussions this year!