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 arrangement. Is it risky to ask for one when it’s outside the cultural norm?

There’s a risk of your request being denied, yet that’s where you’re starting, so there’s nothing to lose by asking. With solid preparation and a proposal for how your job will get done under the new arrangement, you could be the first to get more flexibility where you work. I’ve seen that happen over and over again. In fact, a plan for telecommuting or a part-time arrangement can be aligned with the employer’s priorities, such as increased productivity and cost-cutting. Positioning it that way increases the chances of approval.

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 a 90% 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 how to convince your boss? Since 1997, Pat Katepoo has helped thousands of professionals get approval of telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements using her popular Proposal Packages. Visit to explore your options. (This is an affiliate link. The price to you is not higher from using this link, but the small referral fee to me helps to offset the cost of running this website).

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