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How to Negotiate Flexible Work Arrangements


Since the rise of work-from-home traditional 9-to-5 working hours are being challenged, and many organizations are trying new tactics when it comes to how and where work gets done. Studies show that as much work can get done from home and during non-traditional hours, as during normal business days. Many employers have used the recent pandemic-induced restrictions to try alternate work plans. Even if you are currently not on a flexible work plan you might be able to create one for yourself with the cooperation of your employer. Read on for tips on how to negotiate a flexible work arrangement for yourself.

Common Types of Flexible Work Arrangements

Many non-essential employees probably experienced some aspect of telework or remote work at some point during the pandemic. Employers needed work to continue, and while it was not safe to gather in the office, employees logged in and worked from home. While the length of time telework was permitted by employers varied across industries (some employees have still not returned to the office setting), many employers saw the upside to this arrangement.

Another type of flexible work arrangement includes the compressed workweek. This can be advantageous if an employee desires to work longer than a typical 8-hour workday in exchange for time off later. Depending on the type of work being done, this schedule can allow for more productivity in a single day while providing the employee with longer periods of time away from work. Compressed workweeks are often arranged as 10-hour workdays, 4 days a week, or working an extra hour a day with 1 day off every 2 weeks.

Flex-time is a work arrangement in which employees vary their working hours, but typically still work a full 8-hour day. Shifting work hours from 7 am to 3 pm, for example, allows for less commute time due to traffic, or parents to be home for kids after school.

Job sharing can be a bit trickier to accommodate. This arrangement involves the retooling of job duties so that two (or sometimes more) employees share a set of job duties. This arrangement probably requires some of the most advanced planning and preparation due to the potential effect on salaries and benefits.

Preparing for the Negotiations: How to Get What You Want

A good first step to beginning negotiations is to review your employee handbook and, if applicable, your employment contract. Does anything prohibit a flexible work arrangement? After that, prepare a detailed plan of how a flexible work arrangement would work. Are you more interested in a compressed workweek, or flexibility in the location where you work? Try to anticipate problems or questions that might come up about your specific situation. A combination of flexible work arrangements may suit your needs. Perhaps telework combined with flex time would make the most sense for people with childcare needs at home. Others might need a temporary reduction in hours combined with job sharing to make sure they can remain working while dealing with a health issue.

Proposing a trial period for this arrangement can be helpful to convince employers to consider alternate work schedules. If you’re going to propose a trial period, make sure to set yourself up during a time you know work won’t be overwhelming or challenging in other ways.

Remember, a successful negotiation should have considerations for both sides, so try to frame your negotiation through the lens of “how will this benefit my company?” Telework reduces your employer’s need to maintain a physical office space, providing for potential cost savings. Allowing employees to take advantage of flex time can help boost morale and employee retention.

When to Approach your Employer about Flexible Working Arrangements

While it is true the best time to approach an employer is when you’re negotiating a job offer, it is still possible to revisit your current work arrangement. However, be mindful to consider the time of year you begin the negotiations. If you work for a retail giant, perhaps the best time to negotiate is after the busy holiday season. If your work involves taxes, beginning negotiations about flexible work arrangements at the start of tax season probably won’t go over well. However, if your company is restructuring, it may be a great time to bring it to your supervisor’s attention that you would like to negotiate your current work arrangement.

The pandemic has shown that we all need a more sustainable work/life balance. Flexible work arrangements can allow us more freedom to do the things we love while not sacrificing the value we provide to our employers. Indeed, happy employees are often more productive. Take a minute to figure out the flexible work arrangement that is most suitable for your needs, and have a sit down to discuss it with your employer. You might find it to your advantage.

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