How to get a flexible schedule

Flextime benefits can vastly improve your job satisfaction with no negative effect on your performance.

How to get a flexible schedule

Have more control over your schedule.

Your work-life balance tug-of-war is no joke, and the ability to have more control over your schedule is at the top of your list of benefits to get excited about. In fact, a flexible working arrangement is the most important consideration for parents evaluating a job prospect, according to a survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management. 

A flexible work schedule is so important to working parents, flextime benefits even beat out salary, health insurance, and retirement benefits. Of course, working parents aren't the only ones who want flexibility—everyone does. The Monster 2020 State of the Candidate survey found that a flexible work schedule is the third most-desired aspect of a job offer (34%) for all job seekers. Unfortunately, not everyone works a telecommuting job or work-from-home job.

If you’re looking for a more flexible job, here’s how to rally co-workers and make a persuasive case to the boss.

Assess the culture

Look around you. Does anyone else have a flexible arrangement? If so, talk to them. If not, find out if others are interested in such programs. Experts stress that work-life balance is not just a women’s issue. Next, go to HR. Are flexible work schedules in the menu of benefits? Many company programs go unused, so know what you’re entitled to. If your company does not offer such a program, consider creating one.

Assess yourself and your job

Flexible work arrangements come in different forms. They include a flexible start and end time, compressed or extended workweeks, and being able to leave the office during the day to tend to other commitments. Some HR consultants also label telecommuting (especially if it’s not every day), job sharing, and reduced work schedules as flexible arrangements.

Given these variations, figure out what kind of schedule and arrangement work best with your work habits and job responsibilities. Would a particular schedule or arrangement improve or impair your ability to perform your job?

As you consider your options, and be honest about your level of discipline and your past performance. If you’re not performing as expected with a regular schedule, your boss is unlikely to hand you the privilege of a flexible one.

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes

Position your proposed arrangement as one that benefits the employer through increased productivity or other cost savings. If, for example, a compressed workweek will provide added coverage at a time when the company needs it, sell your proposed schedule in that way.

Prepare a proposal

Write a formal business plan and schedule a meeting with your boss to explain the benefits to him and your employer. Be ready to explain how you will accomplish your job tasks. Outline why your flexible schedule won’t mean more work for your boss or colleagues.

Keep your promises

Once your flexible schedule gets approved, perform. Measure and record your progress. Create and monitor a timeline for achieving certain goals (at home and at work) to determine if you’re meeting your performance objectives. Check in with your boss often to ensure she’s satisfied with your results. Set up a time to review the success of the proposed schedule a few months after it’s in place. If it’s not working, be open to change.

Communicate with co-workers

Resentment from fellow co-workers is a possibility. Performing well and communicating often is one way to gain support. Make sure your colleagues and boss know your schedule, what you’re working on, and how they can reach you. Have a back-up plan for modifying the system, if necessary.

Return the flexibility favor

While you’ll need to establish limits so you’re not working overtime, be willing to make necessary accommodations. Flexibility from your employer demands the same from you in return.

Switch to a more accommodating company

If your employer isn't receptive to your proposal, go after one who already is. Need help getting started? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume and cover letter—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. As a prospective employee, you have negotiating power in your favor, so use it to get a better schedule. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent to your inbox when positions become available. (And who knows? Your boss may change her tune once you get a competing offer.)