Make a Business Case to Get a Flexible Schedule

Flexibility and work-life balance are the top two considerations for the majority of millennials when evaluating a job offer. And, although they might not be as vocal about it, older workers feel the same way about flexible schedules.

There are a lot of factors contributing to the importance of flexibility. Research has found productivity drops significantly after about 50 hours per week of work. Employees who work long hours are doing so at the detriment of their health, which leads to higher insurance costs, absenteeism, and loss of productivity.

Despite the growing focus on flexible schedules and the touted benefits, change often starts with employee requests rather than a company proactively making a policy change. Although up to half of all workplaces offer part-time schedules, only 30% of workplaces offer more than one type of flexible arrangement, which include flextime and remote work. And, as an individual, it can be much more difficult to negotiate for a flexible schedule when it can make you seem less dedicated in your role or less valuable to the company.

Although it would be great if the onus was on companies to offer scheduling solutions that benefit the overall workforce, at most offices, the burden will be on the employee to change the culture around flexible scheduling.

Mac has written before about how to negotiate for a flexible schedule, but I wanted to focus on how to make the case for a flexible schedule that your organization will understand: make it a business case. Here’s a few ways to show your employer that offering flexible working hours makes sense for their bottom line.

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Lay out the cost savings for the company

Flexible schedules that offer work-from-home options, flexible start and end times, and comp time, can add up to overall cost savings for an employer. In fact, one Stanford study found that working remotely increases productivity, overall work hours, and employee satisfaction. Over a nine-month period, the study observed 250 employees, half of whom worked from home, and half of whom worked in the office. They concluded that removing the time it takes to physically commute to work and the distractions of the in-office environment made a huge difference: telecommuters completed 13.5% more calls than the office workers, performed 10% more work overall, left the company at half the rate of people in the office, reported feeling more fulfilled at work, and saved the company $1,900 per employee.

There is also the potential to reduce the office overhead as part-time, remote, or flexible employees split the space while they’re in (or out) of the office. The company might even be saving money, if you negotiate for less hours and a correspondingly lower salary, based on time working.

  • Try this tactic: Itemize the amount your employer spends on hosting you in the office. You might not be able to find specifics, but you can estimate the cost of your office space, utilities, and supplies. When you go to make your pitch for a flexible schedule, you’ll be prepared with hard numbers to support your business case.

Identify additional benefits

Be creative and precise in explaining how offering a flexible work schedule benefits the company as much as the employee.

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There are actually a lot of benefits for companies to offer remote work. For example, if you spend two hours a day commuting, working remotely or coming in after the commute means you have two more hours to spend working. Or, potentially, an employee who is stressed out and unable to concentrate due to daycare schedules can have a more productive day, when offered a bit of flexibility.

Nail the logistics

If you’re presenting the business case for a flexible schedule, make sure you lay out the logistics of how it would happen. Think about the tasks you have to accomplish – can they be compartmentalized into different times and areas? For example, could you take client calls at home, or do you have to be in the office for a certain number of hours to run payroll? Depending on your role, the where and how of your remote work could differ greatly. Get specific in your solution.

You should also spend some time thinking about what you want, exactly. Would you prefer to work 4 10-hour days, or have a consistent 10 am – 2 pm schedule? Do you want to leave early during the summer when your kids are out, or do you want to work remotely almost all of the time? What does your preferred schedule look like? Where, physically, will you be? What kind of equipment do you have, and what would you need to make it work? Again, the more specific you can get, the better.

  • Try this tactic: When you make your case, present your ideal option first, but have some alternatives in your back pocket. Make it clear how your proposal will benefit the company in the long run, and you will make it easy for them to say yes!
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