Tips for reshaping your work situation to fit your life's needs -- even if your coworkers are content with their standard 9 to 5 set-up.
Maybe your husband got a new position in another nearby state, which would tack on an extra two hours daily to your already arduous commute. Or perhaps you're just coming back from maternity leave and still want the option to nurse your baby to sleep for her afternoon nap. Or you might be stuck smack dab in the middle of the Sandwich Generation, caring for an aging parent.
Whatever the reason, you need a little work flexibility during this time in your career. Thing is, all of your colleagues work in the office. All. The. Time. That doesn't mean you should abandon your dreams of a little work-life balance, though. Here's how to negotiate flex when your colleagues work in the office.
Check the company's policy. Reach out to the Human Resources department to find out what your company's rules on flexible schedules are. If they already offer it, then you can cite that when you go speak to your boss -- but be sure to bring a copy with you in case your boss is "unfamiliar" with it!
Find others in the company who work flex. If you work in a large organization, chances are someone, somewhere is telecommuting. So ask around to see which employees work at home, and then contact them. Find out how they were able to secure their flexible schedule, and see if they can offer you any pointers before you attempt to negotiate a telecommuting arrangement.
Schedule a meeting. Set up a time to speak with your boss as soon as possible. Calmly state that you're experiencing a life change, and, while you love your job (and want to keep it!), you need a little flexibility with your schedule. Have a clearly outlined plan of every aspect of your position, and illustrate how you can accomplish those job duties working from home.
If you have small children who are not yet in school, reassure your boss that you have child care in place so they won't be a distraction (or a deterrent to your boss agreeing to allow your flex schedule). Share a calendar of your working hours and stress that you will be available when you say you will be.
Boost the benefits to boss. If you're the first employee to request flex, you may be met with a little (well, a lot) of resistance. Stress that working from home means that you'll be able to truly commit to your job without having to take days off to tend to others. And since you won't have to commute in to work, you'll be able to increase your productivity.
Be sure to list all the ways that telecommuting is cost-effective for the company, too. After all, when you work from home, it saves the company money in reduced office equipment and office space needed. Add to that decreased consumption of electricity, papers printed, toner used, and all those small but significant savings quickly add up. By reducing your carbon footprint, telecommuting is truly a green way to work.
Be flexible. Even after you've pleaded your telecommuting case, your boss may still not like the idea of you working from home. So suggest other options that might be more amenable to him instead. Offer to work from home two days a week to start, so your boss can get used to not seeing you in the office, but still sees that you are keeping up with your workload. Since Friday is generally a slow day, request that day and let your boss choose the other one, so he still feels like he has some control.
There are other flexible schedule options that you might want to consider. For example, you could work part-time in the office every day and then continue your workday when you get home. Or you can work a compressed week by working your full-time hours in fewer days. Carefully consider which options would work best for you and your family before presenting them.
Speak with your colleagues. Once your boss has green-lighted your new work at home status, he will most likely alert your colleagues. But it's a good idea for you to speak with them personally, too. Even office besties can turn sour when one employee gets a work perk that the others haven't been offered -- or were rejected.
So take your friends out to lunch -- and out of the office -- to speak with them about this latest office update. Explain why you need to work a flex schedule and reassure them that your workload won't fall onto their already overcrowded plates once you start working from home. That way, there won't be any hard feelings of perceptions of favoritism. And be sure to point out the benefit for them -- since you've now created flexible schedules within your department, you're paving the way to allow your fellow co-workers the option to telecommute in the future, too.
While it can be challenging, you can definitely can -- and should -- ask your boss for a flex schedule, if you feel like you need one. After all, when people feel respected by their bosses for their commitment to both work and family, they become stronger, more motivated, and happier -- employees.
- Learn the difference between a flexible schedule an alternative schedule at FlexJobs.com.
- FlexJobs.com shares tips for finding a telecommuting job.
- Visit our partners at FlexJobs.com for more resources, tips, and advice for working parents.
Jennifer Parris is the Career Writer for FlexJobs, an award-winning service that helps job-seekers find professional opportunities that offer work flexibility, such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time or alternative schedules. To learn more about Jennifer, visit FlexJobs.com or tweet @flexjobs.
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