How To Negotiate A Flexible Work Schedule

For most employees, a flexible work schedule is key to a high quality of life. But not all employers understand the benefit of offering a results-oriented workplace rather than one focused solely on rigid requirements about hours and face time. I asked expert Pat Katepoo some questions about the most effective way to negotiate a flexible work schedule in a workplace with no existing policy offering it. Here are my questions and her expert negotiations advice:

Pat Katepoo, Flexible Work ExpertMany employees are afraid to ask for a flexible work schedule. Is it risky to ask for anything outside the cultural norm?

Unfortunately, many employers aren’t using workplace flexibility as a business survival strategy, so yes, asking in that environment can be risky. However, putting forth a proposal as a work group or department can be less risky, especially if it’s positioned correctly. After all, a plan for telecommuting or part-time arrangements can be aligned with the employer’s priorities, such as increased productivity and cost-cutting.

Are there industries in which flexible schedules are easier to get?

A flexible schedule at your current job is not dependent on the industry as much as it is on the job position you hold, how you want to restructure it, and how well prepared you are to make your request. After acceptance of your well-prepared plan and proposal, the key to success in the long term is a supportive direct supervisor. The most progressive employers train their managers in work-life issues and how to manage by results instead of face time.

What is the biggest mistake employees make when negotiating?

Not putting their request in a written proposal. It’s too easy for a manager to give a knee-jerk, “No,” if the employee hasn’t spelled out a first-rate plan for how the work will get done under the new arrangement. Another big mistake is making their case based on personal reasons instead of positioning the bottom-line business benefits of the proposal.

How can you predict whether your boss is likely to accept or reject a request for a flexible schedule?

In my experience with thousands of career professionals since the 1990s, I would say you have roughly an 80% chance of getting your request approved if you are a reliable, productive employee who presents a detailed professional proposal in writing to a manager for whom you’ve worked at least two years.

Thank you, Pat!

Want Help Negotiating A Flexible Work Schedule?

Are you unsure what to say to your boss to convince her/him to permit you to work a flexible work schedule? Since 1997, Pat Katepoo has advised thousands of professionals on how to negotiate telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements. Her expertise has been featured in dozens of media outlets including NBC Nightly News, NPR, The Wall Street Journal and US News & World Report. Her popular and effective Proposal Packages for getting flexible work approved have helped employees in all 50 US states and more than 25 countries. Vist to buy proposal templates to help you negotiate work schedules offering maximum maternity leave, part-time hours, job sharing, a compressed work week, telecommuting, or a sabbatical.

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