7 crucial steps to scoring a flexible work schedule
Sway the hiring manager by doing this necessary prep work.
Not a fan of putting in the traditional 9 to 5, or commuting an hour to the office, or having to stay chained to a desk all day? Can’t say we blame you.
It’s no surprise 64% of millennials say they would like to work occasionally from home, and 66% would like to shift their work hours, a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found.
The upshot: 80% of employers offer some form of flexible work arrangements to employees, according to a Trends in Workplace Flexibility survey. But don’t expect to be handed a job offer with such perks: The survey also found that roughly two-thirds of managers offer flexibility to all or most of their employees at their discretion.
If you’re hunting for a job with work flexibility, here’s how to convince a hiring manager why you deserve it.
1. Do your homework
Research potential employers to find out whether they offer flexible work arrangements. Start by checking the company’s website to see if the organization promotes flex options as one of its desirable employment features, says work options advisor and negotiation coach Pat Katepoo. However, Katepoo adds that “some don’t walk the talk,” so you’ll need to go a step further.
Don your detective’s hat and drive past the parking lot on the weekend. “If the lot’s full, working overtime is probably part of the culture,” says Los Angeles-based executive coach and leadership expert Libby Gill. Also, get insider knowledge by talking to current and past employees—ideally ones in your prospective department—and ask what the boss’s stance is on giving direct reports flexible arrangements.
2. Time your approach
When to broach the subject with the hiring manager depends on your motivation. If having a flexible work schedule is a deal-breaker for you, bring it up during the job interview process, says Laurie Young, co-owner at Stamford, Connecticut-based consulting and recruiting firm Flexible Resources. Otherwise, wait until you receive the job offer to discuss the topic; mentioning it prematurely could hurt your candidacy for the position.
3. Make your case in writing
You should have the conversation in person about what you’re asking for, but bring a written proposal that spells out the terms. Putting pen to paper shows you’re serious about the request, says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO at Flexjobs.com.
4. Focus on the company’s needs—not yours
We get it: Being able to telecommute means you get to work in your PJs all day. But the hiring manager wants to know how the arrangement will benefit the company. Thus, framing is crucial. Point out that Stanford research shows working from home boosts employee happiness and productivity. Also, mention how fewer interruptions gives you more time to focus on important projects, says Sutton Fell.
You may even be helping the manager solve a problem by requesting to work from home, says Sutton Fell. “If the office is crowded and [the company] is on the hunt for more space, saving them one cubicle or office to use for someone else is a benefit.” If you’ve telecommuted for previous jobs, talk about how it improved your productivity, says Katepoo.
5. Address the manager’s concerns
The hiring manager may be hesitant to grant your request. Perhaps he or she fears that you won’t be accessible if you’re allowed to telecommute, or that your work performance will suffer if you set your own hours. Present a plan for how you’ll address these issues. For example, agree with your boss on how frequently you’ll check in throughout the workday when working remotely.
6. Know what you’re willing to sacrifice
You may have to make concessions to get your proposed work arrangement, so determine ahead of time what you’re willing to give up. A Staples Advantage survey found that 40% of employees would take a pay cut to be able to work at home. Carefully consider the consequences before making such compromises; starting at a lower salary, for example, could hurt your long-term earning potential.
Alternatively, you might suggest to the manager starting the arrangement on a trial basis. Try: “I understand your hesitation. Let’s test it out and assess in 90 days whether the arrangement is working for you.”
7. Solidify the terms
Once you’ve reached an agreement, put it in writing. Make sure your contract states the terms and any contingencies. Then, when accepting the position, reiterate your enthusiasm about the job. “Saying, ‘I’m committed to exceeding your expectations’ goes a long way,” says Gill.
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