How to make your case for flexible working

woman interviewing Whether you’re seeking a brand-new role or negotiating with your current employer, it’s helpful to think through how you’ll make your case for flexible working in advance. That means, being clear about how the company will benefit from the arrangement you’re asking for. Here’s how to do it.

Identify tasks that could be done from home

An excellent place to start is to consider whether the role would allow you to work a day or two a week from home. Identify the tasks where you don’t have to be office based to still complete them well and on time. For example, if you work as a marketing manager or project planner with access to cloud-based files, then an element of strategy and design work could easily be done out of the office.

When building your case, be sure to focus on the benefits that working remotely will bring to your employer, such as:

  • Fewer distractions, which means you’ll be more productive
  • It’s easier to make phone calls and talk with clients in a noise-free environment
  • Financial benefits, including a reduction in office space and carbon footprint

Consider how part-time could benefit the employer

If you’re happy to be office-based but seeking part-time or adjusted hours, the same point applies; think about how it could benefit the employer.

For example, if the role is in a small business, and you are more senior than the role requires, you would probably be able to deliver all the outputs they need in fewer days. So you could explain that they would get a more highly-skilled employee, who would need less managing, for the same budget.

Similarly, if you’re asking to work a full day, but start and finish early, you could note that this would provide cover for the office phones before the formal start of the working day. Or if you’re pitching to work as a job share, you could note the reasons why two heads are often better than one.

Back up your argument with facts and stats

It’s also worth having a few facts up your sleeve to back up your case. For example, in a recent survey, three-quarters of respondents reported that flexible working improves their productivity. In the same survey, employees who work from home felt significantly less anxious or stressed than office-based colleagues.

There’s also evidence about the impact of flexible working on issues such as wellbeing and motivation, which might support your case.

Draw on your previous success

If you’ve worked flexibly in the past, this can also act as evidence for your business case. Think back over your most recent flexible role and note how your arrangement worked in practice. For example, perhaps you had a compressed hours arrangement, working four long days, instead of five standard ones, but your output was on par with your five-day colleagues.

If you haven’t worked flexibly in the past, you can highlight other people’s experiences. There are many success stories of individuals who make a huge impact on their employers, without being tied to their desk for 40 hours every week.

Remove the emotion from your business case 

There are often personal and emotional reasons why a more flexible working schedule is more beneficial than the standard nine-to-five. It could be that you have child or elder care to consider, that you have a health issue, or maybe you’re looking to take a step back before you retire.

Whatever the reason, be sure to remove the emotion when you’re making your case for flexible working. Remember, this isn’t about you. It’s really about how your proposed arrangement will benefit your employer. And, as with any business case, the facts should speak for themselves and emotion should never play a part.

Offer flexibility in return

Flexibility works both ways. And, if you’re looking for a true partnership with your employer, you should make it clear that you’re prepared to give as good as you get. For example, it could be that you’re keen to work three days per week, but you would be needed in the office on one of your days off for the monthly team meeting. If that’s the case, you should be clear that you would be happy to swap your working days for those weeks so you can make the meeting.

By offering to be flexible in return, you’ll show your employer that working flexibly won’t stop you being a dedicated member of the team.

Think about the best time to make your case

Finally, to give yourself the best chance of success, choose carefully when to make your case for flexible working

If you’re applying to a new company, the best time to do this is at the point of a job offer, having already blown your potential employer away with your skills and experience. Of course, if the employer mentions flexible working during your interview, or if it was part of the job ad, then it’s OK to have a low-key discussion about how this might work.

When the time is right, be honest about what you want and why you want it, and be clear about how you feel this arrangement will benefit you both. Your honesty will help remove any ambiguity and pave the way for an excellent relationship. Good luck!

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