If you were to write a wish list describing your dream job, would a flexible work schedule come to mind? While 9-to-5 workweeks in the office were once the norm for American workers, employers are increasingly offering flexibility as a job perk. It’s more common – and easier – than ever for organizations to opt for remote teams and flex scheduling thanks to the convenience of communication tools like Skype and Slack. Likewise, the explosion of the gig economy in recent years has normalized work-from-anywhere careers that let employees set their own schedules. But it’s hard to figure out how to get a flexible schedule when your current company doesn’t have a policy on remote work.
A recent study found that 97 percent of surveyed employees reported that a flexible work schedule would raise their quality of life. So if you are in the middle of a big career change, you may be looking for a way to start your next chapter with flexible working hours. But what if you are happy with your current role and don’t want to jump ship just because of your preference for a bit more autonomy with your schedule?
If your current employer doesn’t offer flexible scheduling, but you want to adjust your schedule to better fit your life, there are a few things you can do to prove to your boss that a flex schedule will work for the organization as well as for you. Whether you want to work from home more often or you’d like to optimize your calendar to balance work and family life, there are a few things you can do to transform your work schedule from fixed to flexible.
Be a self-starter to build trust with your employer
As with any relationship, it is important to build a solid foundation of trust with your employer before making any special requests like a flexible schedule. Before you approach your employer about changing your hours, spend at least a few months demonstrating that you are a dedicated self-starter who can get excellent work done with minimal supervision. Meet your deadlines and contribute positively to company culture. You also need to show your boss that you communicate effectively and proactively. You’ll become known as a responsible, self-managing professional, and your boss will be less likely to worry about you working outside the office.
Make a plan for your flexible schedule
It’s easier to say yes to a specific plan than a general idea. If you approach your boss with a well thought out plan, you’ll be helping them realize that you have already put the work into figuring out how to sustain or improve your job performance under your proposed schedule. Specificity also gives your boss something to work with. If you would like to propose converting your job to a fully remote telecommuting position, for example, you might explain how you plan to stay on task and in the loop. Go out of your way to answer that unspoken question: “Do remote workers actually get work done?” Your employer may have adjustments to make to your idea, but it’s important that you come in with a structured proposal for how this arrangement will work for your employer as well as for yourself.
Pitch your flexible work vision to the organization
Once you have dedicated an ongoing effort to building trust with your employer and developing a concrete plan to succeed with your proposed flexible or telecommute schedule, it’s time to take action. Set a meeting with your boss to discuss your schedule. Concisely share your reasons why you need a new, flexible schedule, but focus on presenting your plan for how work will get done on this new timeline.
It can be daunting to prepare to negotiate a flexible working schedule. But if you can demonstrate how you plan to excel in your position moving forward, you’ll have a strong case to support a flexible schedule that offers you work/life balance and better career satisfaction.