How can I talk to my boss about flexible hours?

We know that starting a conversation with your employer about flexible working can be tricky. In fact, according to Aviva’s Working Lives report, more than one in five private sector employees in the UK are too afraid to do so. 

And it’s true that it can be hard to predict how they might react to your requests and difficult to know how to assure them that allowing you to work flexibly could benefit their business as well as you as an individual.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of ideas for you to consider before you call that all-important meeting. Hopefully, they’ll give you the information and confidence you need to have a productive discussion.

1: Don’t apologise

Fight the urge to apologise when you ask for the option to work flexibly. It’s actually your right as a worker to make a request for flexible working - whether that’s working from home, going part-time, job sharing or altering your working hours to suit your needs.

By law employers must consider written requests to work flexibly and respond to them within three months; they’ll then need to have a solid business-related reason to reject any requests that have been put forward. You can find out more about exactly what you’re entitled to on the ACAS website.

2: Sell your skills

Rather than building your case for flexible working around your problems, treat this meeting as a refresher course for your employer in why they hired you in the first place. Gather examples of work you’re particularly proud of and collect great feedback from clients and others that you can share. In the face of all that positivity and productivity your boss is much more likely to want to support you in your role however they can.

3: Put together a business case

If you can explain how flexible working will benefit their business your employer is more likely to be receptive to it as an idea. For example: are you able to start work earlier or finish later in order to expand the hours in which the business will be contactable by clients? If you’d like to work remotely, would this save the business money in overheads and allow your boss to free up desk space for other employees?

4: Have your goals in mind

Go into the meeting with exactly what you want clear in your mind. Do you want to work three days a week instead of five, or perhaps stay on full-time but work remotely two days a week? If you’re looking to go part-time, have you considered how your boss will cover the work you’ll no longer be able to do? If you come ready with practical solutions you’re more likely to get the results you’re after.

5: Be prepared

Dress in a way that makes you feel confident and use assertive body language; for example, resist fidgeting or slumping. If you appear confident in your ability to make flexible employment work for yourself and the business, your boss is more likely to feel comfortable supporting you and approving your requests. It’s also important to choose the appropriate time - set up a meeting rather than mentioning your request in passing, so you can ensure you cover all the points you’ve prepared.

To see what a successful meeting about flexible working could look like, check out the brilliant role-play video from those champions of flexible working Digital Mums - we especially like the tongue-in-cheek examples of what not to do!

To find out more about how flexible working could work for you, get in touch with us today.

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