Negotiating flexible work such as reduced hours, a shift in schedule or an opportunity to work from home could lead to less stress and more time for your family. Unfortunately, not all companies have policies or practices in place to support working with flexibility. Further, even companies that do have accommodating policies and practices often give individual managers discretion in granting schedule change requests. Therefore, you must be prepared to ask for the schedule you want and overcome your manager’s objections.
The best approach to making a schedule change request is to do so with your company’s best interests in mind. Think about how your request could actually benefit your company. Is your proposed altered schedule or work arrangement a solution to a problem your company is facing?
For example, reducing your hours could help cut costs in a department facing budget constraints. Shifting your schedule so that you come in earlier or stay later than usual could allow your company to extend the hours that they provide service to customers. Working from home could help free up office space if you are in a growing company that has a shortage of space. These are just a few examples; many possibilities exist.
The key is to identify how your proposed work arrangement actually benefits the company. In addition to the fact that you will be more productive since you will be less stressed and more committed to the company (both of which you should point out in your proposal), you should also clearly illustrate for your boss that your schedule change is in the company’s best interest.
Once you’ve built the business case for flexibility, then you need to put your proposal in writing. A well-written proposal that spells out exactly how the arrangement will work should answer any concerns your boss may hold.
Some key things to include in your proposal:
- The proposed arrangement. Which days will you work? What hours? Will any work be at home? You should also indicate how you get your job done in this arrangement, your plan for transitioning work to others if necessary and your plan to handle any other individuals affected by your recommended change.
- Contingency plans. How will you handle any fluctuations in your workload? Also, indicate how you will handle any meetings or other events that occur on your off days.
- Compensation. If you will continue in a full-time position, indicate no changes in pay or benefits. If you request a reduction in your hours, you need to address your suggested changes in pay, benefits and paid time-off allowances.
- Company's gain. Highlight here your research on how this arrangement will benefit your company.
- Trial period. Recommend a trial period to test the new arrangement. A trial period will help assure your employer that you will do what it takes to make the arrangement work. Further, it will indicate that your willingness to change if the arrangement doesn't initially work.
- Evaluation. Finally, you must indicate how you will determine if the arrangement works. Will you look at productivity reports? Will both you and your boss sit down and discuss it? Will you collect responses from your customers? Your co-workers?