How to negotiate flexible working hours

Going into an office and sitting at a computer is becoming pretty archaic. If all you need is a computer and an internet connection, what is the point of facing the horror of commuting? You could sit at that same computer screen in the comfort of your home, or somewhere more inspiring

Last year legislation in the UK changed to allow every employee to request flexible working after 26 weeks of employment. Previously this only applied to parents and to certain careers. According to a study by Bentley University, most millennials believe that flexible working hours would actually make people their age more productive. So what’s stopping you from curling up on the sofa with your laptop instead of a long day in the office?

Well, you’ll need to convince your boss. Here’s how to negotiate flexible working hours with your employer so you can lounge in your pyjamas all day.

1. Really think it through before you ask

The nature of your job will dictate whether or not you can work from home. If you’re required to be physically present at an office during normal hours, then flexible hours probably won’t work for you. Be realistic.

2. Come up with a plan

Don’t start an informal negotiation. Come prepared with a formal proposal so your boss will take you seriously. Design a schedule of when you’ll be working remotely, and explain how people in the office will be able to reach you.

3. What’s in it for them

Remember to outline the benefits your arrangement will bring to your employer. This is what will be most appealing for them, so present at least three reasons why this will make you a better and more productive employee. Instead of saying you’ll get rid of your commute, for instance, say you’ll be able to start work earlier and more refreshed because you won’t have to spend two hours of your day commuting to work.

4. Address any concerns

Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. It’s understandable that your employer has concerns about giving more freedom to an employee. More freedom requires trust. Put your employer hat on and predict what your boss’ most pressing hold-ups will be. Productivity will most likely be a main concern, because how will they know you’re not just watching daytime TV? Find a way to make yourself accountable, like setting very specific goals that can be ticked off daily.

5. Start small

Increase your chances of success by including a testing stage in your proposal, like starting by having two flexible days a week in the first two months. Your employer is more likely to consider your request if you propose a trial period to start with.

6. It’s a two way conversation

Once you have your plan outlining the benefits, advantages and addressing main concerns, you’re ready to take it to your boss. Make it formal but remember that this will only be the first stage of the negotiation. Depending on the size and how common flexible working is in your company, your proposal will probably have to be assessed by people higher up. This takes time. Show appreciatiation that your proposal is being considered and make yourself available to discuss it further.

7. They said yes – now what?

A flexible working arrangement comes with a dose of trust, so do your best to fulfill or exceed your employer’s expectations. Remember to be professional – it can be comfortable to be in your pyjamas all day, but it wouldn’t be the right look for a video conference!