There’s no time like now to seek more flexibility in your work, but successful requests take planning. Here’s how to prepare.
Flexible work options have been steadily growing over the last decade. Perhaps that’s why decisions by Yahoo! and Hewlett-Packard to drop their telecommuting programs are such hot topics — once employees are offered work flexibility, they don’t want to let it go.
GenY is one of the groups pushing for more flexibility in their jobs because they don’t want to be tied to their office desks, working long days and giving up their personal lives. Instead, they realize work and life can be better balanced, and they’re making it happen.
The modern workplace is trending away from traditional 9-to-5 office jobs and toward greater flexibility in when, where and how we work. (Click here to Tweet this thought.) If you’re looking for a more flexible job, either with your current employer or in a new company, here’s how to get it:
1. Decide what type of job flexibility you want
Common options include telecommuting, working a flexible schedule or alternative schedule, working a condensed work week, combining vacation and sick time into all-inclusive “paid time off” or setting your own schedule.
What type of flexibility is most appealing to you? Is it location or hours? Something else? It could be one type or a combination. Decide what the ideal flexible job looks like for your life before going further.
2. Assess how likely your employer is to embrace flexibility
Do they already offer casual Fridays, generous personal time off or impromptu early closures? Are you casually allowed to work from home for a day or two each week or month? Or is your company more of a traditional office environment with fairly rigid work schedules?
If they don’t seem open to offering flexible work options, proceed to step five. But if you think they might get flexible, read on.
3. Develop a pitch for a flexible work arrangement
This can’t be a spur-of-the-moment conversation. Take time to create a formal proposal outlining your request for work flexibility. The proposal should include the type of flexibility you want, a plan for putting it into place and how you’ll maintain or improve your work performance as a result.
Your proposal should be less about why you’ll benefit from flexible work, and more about how your employer will benefit.
4. Ask for a trial period
Many managers will be hesitant to grant your request for flexible work options out of fear of the unknown. The easiest way to allay that fear is to ask for a trial period where you’ll demonstrate how great this newfound flexibility will be.
Aim for at least a month so you’ll have a chance to smooth out rough patches at the start, and keep track of anything quantifiable to show your boss improvements in your output.
5. If all else fails, look for more flexible pastures
If you’ve tried these tips and your employer won’t budge, it may be time to find a more flexible job elsewhere. Lots of job listings now state specifically if they offer perks like telecommuting, flexible schedules or ROWEs (results-only work environments). Even if they don’t, it’s worth asking about during a job interview.
Flexible job options are a popular and growing part of the workplace. Young professionals are expanding these options by making them a necessity rather than a perk, and work flexibility is becoming the norm at companies throughout the world. All it takes is a little preparation, and you’ll be on your way to a more flexible job.
Brie Weiler Reynolds is the Director of Online Content at FlexJobs and a contributing writer for 1 Million for Work Flexibility, the first national initiative to bring people together and create a collective voice in support of work flexibility. FlexJobs lists thousands of professional-level jobs that offer flexibility like telecommuting, flexible scheduling and freelancing.