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6 Steps to Negotiating Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible working arrangements may be just what you need to achieve work-life balance. Here’s how you can make the case to your boss. [TWEET]

Working moms and adults responsible for the care of an elderly relative know only too well the pressures of the daily grind while trying to tend to loved ones. As parents across the nation push for flexible schedules and greater work-life balance, employers are taking notice. While not all businesses are on board, the trend towards non-traditional, flexible working arrangements is unmistakable and the savvy employer knows that staff satisfaction and retention relies on happy employees. On the flipside, the shrewd employee knows that the trick to effectively advocating for flexibility is convincing your manager that the situation benefits the company just as much as it does you.

The changing nature of labor, the influx of millennials into the workforce, and the demands of a new global economy are converging to inspire companies to seek viable solutions to shifting expectations. If businesses are to attract and retain top-quality workers, practical executives know that being open to part-time schedules, unconventional hours or job-sharing are key to a thriving enterprise.

Arm yourself and take these steps before you hit up your boss for a flexible working arrangements:

1. Research

If you hope to work at a particular company, start by perusing the company website to see if flex work arrangements are one of the company perquisites. If you already work there, check with co-workers who you think may have successfully negotiated a flex arrangement. Ask them how long they were in their current position before they felt secure enough to present the boss with their proposal. Then, ask them for tips on how to approach this particular manager about flexible working arrangements.

2. Have a strategy

Successfully navigating the waters of negotiation means  considering the effect that working from home, or working odd hours, will mean to the bottom line. Address that concern by outlining a plan to communicate with others who rely on you for rapid turnaround. Offer evidence indicating how the change may improve productivity, morale and organizational effectiveness. To squelch any possible dissent, a specific written plan must be laid out ahead of time, showing how a restructured schedule will provide value to the company.

3.  Acquire a problem-solving viewpoint

Clarify the advantages that satisfied workers offer to the overall success of your organization. Rather than approaching your supervisor with a clumsy pitch disputing current office policies, demonstrate that you’ve thought this through with your department’s advantage in mind. Show that the company stands to gain revenue and/or a client base by offering stats on other firms that flourish when job sharing or flexible work schedules are par for the course.

4. Be flexible

In seeking flexibility for yourself, watch out for rigidity in your proposal. Know the company culture. If high-brow and steeped in tradition, your unconventional plan may not get a positive reception. Some resistance may understandably arise from a lack of experience overseeing off-premises staff. Objections to flexible working arrangements may also be voiced if the boss anticipates further staff requests for comparable arrangements. Be prepared to provide a backup plan or two if your supervisor balks at first.

5. Compromise

By its very nature, negotiating relies on both parties giving up something in order to get something. If you are in sales, your job is to demonstrate that your productivity will increase, and with it, revenue. Your boss needs to feel that your organization will continue to profit even while allowing you to work from home. Show her that your intent is to continue to produce exemplary work, and she may offer you the chance to do that work from home. Lack of compromise has derailed some from achieving the holy grail of work-life balance.

6. Ask

First, ensure that the timing of your request does not correspond with an important deadline or gargantuan project. Then, on a low-stress day, present your flexible working ideas to your supervisor with detailed plan in hand. Your well-crafted ideas deserve more than a suggestion – so make sure you ask. Suggest a trial period to implement your request, so that she doesn’t feel that it’s an all-or-nothing pitch. Offer her time to think about it, and then follow up in a week or so.

Knowing how to negotiate your way to a more humane work life will give you alternatives to the drudgery of ‘9-5 and barely alive.’ In making a pitch for flexibility in the workplace, it’s essential that you have a strategy for making your plea. When you present a proposal that exceeds your boss’s expectations, you’ll be on your way to knowing how real negotiation works, and with a bit of finesse, you might just give as good as you get.

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!