Charles McKenzie Associates

Make the case for flexible working

Through the rapid reliance on smart phone technology and advances in cloud adoption, professionals across different sectors have the ability to work anytime, anywhere.

It means that employers can offer employees the option to work remotely and encourage a better work/life balance.

But if it is not offered to you automatically, here’s how to ask for it and improve your chances of success. And remember, it is now a legal right for you to request!

  1. Your Business Case
    Whilst the intention with flexible working may be to achieve a better work / life balance, make sure your business case clearly presents the benefits for your work and your team, to ensure productivity levels will not be reduced as a consequence.
  2. Set Your Professional Goals
    When launching into your case for flexible working, outline the problem you are trying to solve and the solution you have in mind. For example, if you have a long commute to and from work, it is inevitably eating into your workday and general productivity and energy levels. Show what you could achieve instead, without over-promising and setting false expectations.
  3. Build on Trust
    Any hesitancy in allowing flexible working is often centred on concerns of focus or ‘lack of visibility’ when a member of staff is not in the office. The only way to combat this is to have established a strong working relationship with both your manager and team.  Really, it makes sense that you have a high chance of a positive reaction to any flexible working request, if you are already known as a reliable, dependable worker who is productive and put in 100 per cent day after day!
  4. Honesty is the best policy
    In the same vein as building up a trusting relationship with your team and manager, it is crucial to be honest about your request for flexible working and showcase that you are still committed, enthusiastic and ambitious for the benefit of the company. So if it is to ensure you are home for children’s bedtime, you already have a plan to work around it so that nothing is compromised.
  5. Negotiation Skills
    The most important element of any discussion regarding flexible working is to ensure a joint agreement is the outcome, between you and your employer. So if you had initially proposed two days working from home, but are prepared to go on a trial run with one day a week, this is likely to be much better received as a starting point to prove you can achieve your goals.
  6. Understand different generations mind-sets
    Whilst flexible working may seem obvious to you as a step in the right direction, older generations who have spent the majority of their working life sitting in an allocated desk may struggle with the concept. At the other extreme, new generations coming into the workforce, ‘expect’ flexible working policies to be in place. Understanding the position of a company will make a difference to your chances of success.
  7. Understand your rights
    At the end of the day, the fallback when it comes too flexible working is the law, which changed to allow any employee to make the request, if they have worked for the same employee for 26 weeks. And whilst employers are not obliged to accept the request, they must at least consider it “in a reasonable manner.”

The fact that the law exists at all should provide the necessary support to show the significance of flexible working – for the benefit of businesses and employees alike – not only for productivity and efficiency, but also establishing trustworthy relationships within the workplace.