1. Choose the right time
If you're interviewing for a full-time role, it's still possible to negotiate flexible working - as long as you position it correctly. But be realistic. Whilst it may be possible to negotiate four days, it's unlikely that you'll be able to secure a three day week.
We suggest having any conversations about flexibility face-to-face and ideally as part of the second interview, when you know that they're interested in you. Preparation is key! Think about possible objections and how you will overcome these. You need to show that you've considered how the role can be worked over fewer days.
2. Think business
If possible, put together a business case to show how flexible working will work in the role and how you can achieve the business objectives whilst also working reduced hours. This shows a potential employer that you've considered things from their point-of-view, as well as your own. Try to find a real life example of how you've made flexible working work in your previous roles.
Think about the language you use. Focus on delivery and how you will help them achieve their goals and objectives. Not only does it show that you're practically-minded, but considerate of the needs of your manager and coworkers.
3. Keep an open mind
Ask yourself: why do you want to work flexibly? You don't need to share your reasons, but it's useful to consider exactly why you want to change the way you work. This is because working flexibly can take many different forms - job sharing, early/late start and finish times, compressed hours or working from home - and more than one of these options could be a good choice for you.
Plus, if you’re able to suggest a number of ways of working that you'd consider - and explain why each of them could work well from a business perspective too - this immediately puts you in a stronger position.
4. Offer to trial it
Some employers might feel more comfortable hiring you on a flexible working pattern if they can see it in action over a trial period first. Try suggesting that they try flexible working for a month or two initially. Put in place a process that enables you to track and measure performance and have a way of comparing it to a full-time or non-flexible member of staff.
If it isn't successful, think about what went wrong and test a new approach until you get it working. Once your employers see that your output remains the same (or even improves) during this period, they’ll feel reassured that the quality of your work isn’t necessarily reliant on the hours you work or the amount of time you spend at your desk.
5. Remember: it’s your right to ask
By law, every employee has the opportunity to request flexible working, so try not to be apologetic or shy when starting a conversation about changing the way you work. You’re entitled to discuss this and your employer is legally obliged to fairly consider your request.