These days, it almost seems, as having a flexible work schedule is common practice at most workplaces. The traditional nine-to-five, Monday-through-Friday schedule does not work for everyone anymore, and some companies accommodate for those who work better with a more flexible schedule, such as one where you can work from home. For example, telecommuters–those who work from home– have increased by 115% in the last decade, according to a new study.
If other workers are able to have a flexible schedule or work from home, maybe you can do! Whether your company offers the option to work from home or not, it never hurts to ask your boss for a more flexible schedule. But, before you do so, it’s best to go into a conversation like this prepared. Here’s what to do.
1. Read through your contract or the employee handbook
When you were hired, you were likely given an employee handbook filled with the ins and outs of the company’s rules. You might not have read through everything when you got the job, but if you’re hoping to change up your work schedule, the first thing you should do is check the handbook, or your contract, and see if it says anything about flexible schedules or work from home options.
Plus, doing so ahead of time and bringing it up later in your conversation with your boss shows that you’ve done your homework!
2. Make a plan
Whether your company policy says anything about flexible time or not, you should prepare a plan for the flexible schedule if you want to increase your chances of getting it approved. First, consider how you can balance your work and life and what schedule would make the most sense, both for you and your employer. Are there certain days of the week where you do physically need to be in your office for meetings or to do something for your job? What parts of your job could be done remotely? Do you have an office set up in your home or a specific place where you would be working so your employer would know where you are located when you’d be working?
The more you take the time to compartmentalize all of your work tasks, the better you can set up which days of the week you can get those tasks done, and which days you could be in the office or work from home. If you can show your boss that you have a set plan in place for what your schedule will look like, it’ll be easier for them to see your schedule from your perspective.
3. Lay out the benefits for your employer
Next, make a list of the ways in which your employer could benefit from you working from home or having a more flexible schedule. You don’t want to make it seem that you are just trying to get a flexible schedule for your benefit – you have to show your company how this will be good for them too.
“Perhaps you will be able to work the two hours you now spend commuting,” suggests Human Resources expert Susan Heathfield. “Less stress will make you a better employee. Knowing that you can drop the children at daycare and pick them up will make you less concerned about their welfare.”
4. Talk to your supervisor
The next step is to negotiate with your supervisor. If you are a valuable and trusted employee (meaning you’re timely, hard-working and generally a team player) you should not have an issue discussing a flexible schedule with your supervisor. Your track record on your other projects and overall work ethic should be a good indication that you will be able to pull this off.
You have a plan, you’ve thought through the benefits both for you and your employer, so now it’s time to sell your supervisor on the idea! But, don’t get your hopes up too high and don’t feel discourage if they don’t say yes or give a direct answer.
According to Karen Dillion, co-author of How Will You Measure Your Life?, you should not expect an answer right away.
“Don’t push for a yes or no right away,” she says. “Your manager needs time to think about the implications, or maybe get approval from HR. Give them the time and space to do that.”
5. Ask for a trial period
If you don’t hear back from your boss, a good way to bring up the conversation again is to ask if you can try working a flexible schedule for a week so you and your supervisor can see how it could work. This could be a great opportunity for your supervisor to see how motivated you are to make the schedule work–and how much it would mean to you for your work-life balance to be a little better.
Even if your supervisor says no for now, don’t take it as a total loss! You can still convince them later on. If they say no, maybe they aren’t totally sold on the idea that you could get the work done remotely – so before you ask again, spend time working on how you can show your boss how you can still maintain your strong work ethic even if you’re not in the office as much. Goodluck!