So, you have decided that transitioning to a flexible working schedule would be a good fit for you. Maybe this is because your family circumstances have changed, and you need time in the morning to drop off your kids at school.
Or perhaps your optimum hours of inspiration and productivity don’t coincide with your current working hours.
Whatever it is, you have identified flexible working as something that would be beneficial to your working life. Now the question is: How do I go about asking for such an arrangement?
Statutory vs non-statutory
Before explaining how to make the best case for yourself, it is worth mentioning that there are two main avenues to explore when submitting a flexible working schedule request.
- Statutory: A legally supported request that has to meet specific criteria.
- Non-statutory: One that is not supported by law but does not need to meet any criteria.
The current working climate
The 40-hour workweek, in which an individual works rigidly from 9 am – 5 pm, is we should all recognise, outdated. This way of working does not reflect the elastic gender labour divisions that exist today or the complexity and fluidity of the modern person’s life.
Working in a flexible way is also no longer exceptional but something that can be reasonably expected to be offered by employers.
The other good news is that employers are more likely than ever to understand the benefits of flexible working for both the company and their team members. For example, offering flexible working improves retention rates, helps attract a broader range of diverse talent and enhances productivity.
Requesting A Flexible Working Arrangement
Once you have decided which type of request you would like to make (bearing in mind legally, you can only make one statutory request per year), the first part of asking for flexitime is knowing precisely what you are asking for.
Do you want to work in the office 10 am-6 pm on two days out of the week, and 8 am-4 pm the rest? Are you looking to work fewer hours or fewer days? Do you want to work from home some days and in the office on others?
If your company already has a flexible working policy, you can then compare how your requests would align with it or not. You should know the policy inside out before you make your request.
How your company stands to benefit from you having a flexible working schedule
In articulating to your team leader/manager why you are making this request, it is always good to have plenty of reasons why it is beneficial for them that you work in this way. These arguments are always best made with empirical evidence.
Some broad reasons for employees being given flexible working contracts include:
- Flexible working employees are found to have reduced levels of sickness and absence.
- They are more likely to stay with the company (reducing employee churn)
- They have statistically higher job satisfaction which makes employees more productive.
- Businesses save on overheads thanks to these employees often working from home.
- Companies are able to entice a greater diversity of candidates regarding age, gender, ethnicity, disability and religion.
How you stand to benefit
The second part of the argument is about making a case for how you will thrive thanks to flexible working. What are the top reasons why you want a flexible working arrangement? Some ideas include:
- Working when you feel the most productive.
- The chore of commuting is stifling your motivation.
- Preventing the feeling of ‘burnout’.
- Achieving a better work/life balance.
Whatever your motivations, make them clear to your employer and frame them in such a way that will persuade them that this change will give them a more motivated, energised and engaged team member.
Sadly, it is rare that making the change to a flexible working schedule has no drawbacks at all and that your idea of flexible working is the same as your manager’s. Indeed, one conspicuous negative is reduced office time, which can lead to a lapse in company culture engagement.
Remember, there is no one size fits all approach to developing your flexitime working schedule. Make sure that it works for you specifically. If your pitch doesn’t entirely convince your manager, an excellent option to go to is requesting a trial month in the new proposed schedule.
Optimistically, this offer will show that you are not demanding anything and help your manager to understand further how your proposition may work before they agree to it.
In this month, you can build your case and evidence all the benefits you initially talked about. In evaluating your performance, your employer will hopefully comprehend your desire to change more fully and ideally allow you to switch to this routine full-time.
The MD of Zebra People, Nick Cochrane, says a good rule of thumb when it comes to a successful compromise regarding flexible working is:
“As long as you as the employee work around the business’ needs, rather than the business needs working around yours, then the arrangement should work well”.
Flexible working can be an excellent tool for improving your performance and your work/life balance, but only if you consider both the employee and employer’s priorities together.
Keeping this in mind may help you to remain open to discussion as your career and homelife progress, so you can always get the most out of how you work.