What Is Flex Time and How Can It Work for You?

Put your biceps away. Flex time has its own strengths that can improve your work-life balance.

What Is Flex Time and How Can It Work for You?

A flex schedule can help you achieve work-life balance.

Not a fan of waking up super-early, or commuting an hour to the office, or having to stay stuck to a desk all day? Can’t say we blame you. That's why a flexible schedule—or flex schedule—is very desired by today's workforce. In fact, one Monster survey found that a flexible work schedule is the third most-desired aspect of a job offer (34%), behind salary (73%) and time off (39%). But exactly what is flex time, and why is it so popular? 

According to the Department of Labor, "a flexible work schedule is an alternative to the traditional 9 to 5, 40-hour work week. It allows employees to vary their arrival and/or departure times. Under some policies, employees must work a prescribed number of hours a pay period and be present during a daily 'core time.'" Studies have seen higher job satisfaction rate and a better work-life balance among workers with flexible schedules.

Of course, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the resulting change in work arrangements was profound. The percent of people working from home nearly doubled, rising from 22% in 2019 to 42% in 2020, according to the American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industries that saw the biggest chunks of their employees working from home were financial activities, professional and business services, and education and health services.

But when Covid restrictions relaxed, some companies were eager to get remote employees back on-site and working traditional schedules. If you're looking to break free from the traditional work arrangement, you'll have to prove you're responsible and capable of doing your job away from the office and on a schedule that doesn't follow the strict 9-to-5 guidelines.

When you’re hunting for a job with a flex schedule, here’s how to convince a hiring manager why you deserve it.

How to Get a Flexible Schedule

1. Do your homework

Research potential employers to find out whether they offer jobs with flexible hours. Start by checking the company’s website to see if the organization promotes flexible schedules and/or offers work-from-home positions as one of its desirable employment features.

Don your detective’s hat and drive past the parking lot on the weekend. If you see a bunch of cars there, working overtime is very likely part of the culture. 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 a flexible schedule.

2. Time your approach

When to broach the subject with the hiring manager depends on your motivation. If not having a flex schedule is a deal-breaker for you, bring it up during the job interview process. 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.

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.

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. According to a report by Owl Labs, post-pandemic, one in two people would not return to a job that didn't offer the option of working from home. Furthermore, 23% of full-time employees said they were willing to take a pay cut of greater than 10% in order to work from home at least some of the time.

That said, 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 of your flexible schedule

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. Let them know you are totally committed to exceeding their expectations.

Find Jobs with Flexible Hours

What is flex time worth to you? If it's enough to get you to change jobs, you should go for it! Work-from-home jobs and flex time are two of the most coveted job perks out there today. Need help looking for jobs with a flexible hours? Create a free profile on Monster to get started and we can send job alerts directly to your inbox. You can also get connected to recruiters and let them know what you're looking for—and not looking for—in a job.