Traditionally, the standard workday meant a 9 am to 5 pm gig. It’s what your parents did, it’s what you prepared for while in school, and it’s most likely what you’re doing now. But, personal and professional responsibilities no longer just wait around for your nine to five schedule, and trying to cram everything into this archaic time frame can cause massive anxiety, among other problems. You need some flexibility, but how do you bring yourself to ask your employer?
Even though you may understand that a flexible schedule means you still have to fulfill all your obligations as an employee, your manager may have had a negative experience with a prior employee who was granted flexibility. You may pose the question, “Can I work from home every Tuesday?” but all they hear is, “I’m going to binge watch Netflix all day and not even glance at my work email.” In today’s digital age, although we have the means to work remote, not everyone has the self-discipline or work ethic to do it. Others, however, thrive in remote and flexible environments; doubling their productivity and really proving their value as an employee. So, how do you show your manager you're capable of handling a flexible schedule?
Understand Your Manager’s Side
When you approach your supervisor, always remember there's a strong probability that you're not the first individual to request to have their work schedule altered to fit their needs. Whether you need to bring your children to school each morning or you're the coach of a little league team who practices at 4 pm on Wednesdays, your manager may be hesitant to bend the rules for you. After all, if they grant you this perk, what's stopping your co-workers from asking for the same privilege? And what's worse, if the leadership team allows everyone some flexibility and one of your colleagues abuses the liberty by sleeping in, rather than escort their kids to the bus stop, it could reflect badly on everyone.
Make a Plan
Instead of just strolling into your manager’s office and announcing that you're now coming into work at 10 am rather than 9 am, you should be prepared to make your case and give a solid explanation as to why you need this change. You also want to make sure you never become aggressive or defensive when your manager questions why you need flexible time. Flexible time could mean:
- Working part-time.
- Working from home.
- Compressed hours - a.k.a. finding a way to fit your five day work week into four days.
- Term-time - also referred to as annualized working, which means agreeing to work a specific number of hours each year or being granted paid or unpaid leave during certain times of the year, such as school holidays
You have to know what you are requesting when you ask for “flexible hours,” that way everything is on the table and nothing is left to question.
Ensure That Work Can Be Completed
When you’re requesting to have any above schedules, it’s not uncommon that a manager may think that less time means a lower quality of work. You have to make sure you let your supervisor know that just because you are making a request, does not mean that you are intending to slack off or your productivity levels will differ from the work you delivered under your standard nine to five day. Be prepared to communicate how you plan on organizing and leveraging your time under the new schedule, so they have a clear understanding of how you plan to accomplish your goals.
Have It in Writing
When you are requesting flexible hours, you shouldn’t simply knock on your supervisor’s door and say that the two of you need to talk. Send a calendar invite for a meeting to go over the topic and make sure that you have something in writing, so an agreement can be met. By doing this, you are taking professional steps forward and creating a better environment and conversation for this dialogue to go in a positive direction.
Flexible hours are extremely valuable and attractive in today's workplace. However, if you didn’t walk into your job with this type of schedule in place, you are going to have to take certain steps in order to obtain a new routine. You may be shaking in your boots over asking your manager, fearing the answer will be no; but if you approach it in a professional manner and prepare an outline of how you plan to execute a new schedule, you’re framing your request in a way that both you and your employer can understand the pros and cons of a flexible work schedule.