How to advocate for a flexible work arrangement

p 1 how to advocate for a flexible work arrangement

Possibly these previous 15 months of distant work have satisfied you that you simply by no means need to return to a five-days-in-person schedule (or in individual, in any respect). Or possibly you’re an extrovert who’s keen to return to the workplace, however you need a completely different workload and less-crazy hours than you’ve labored earlier than. Whichever the case, you’ve managed to transfer previous that obscure feeling of wanting extra freedom and extra management, and also you’ve landed on a clear ask: on the precise flexible work arrangement (FWA) that can work finest for you, your profession, and your loved ones as we enter the “new regular.”

Now come the all-important subsequent steps: securing organizational approval, getting your boss totally on board, and ensuring that the important thing members of your work guardian “village” are prepared to do their half to assist your new arrangement. Right here’s how to deal with every one successfully—and get your new FWA up and operating.

Whereas at work

If you happen to’re looking for a extra formal arrangement and also you work in a giant group the place FWAs are already frequent, that is seemingly to be a pretty easy course of. Likelihood is, there’s a set of pointers for placing your flex setup in place and even a sample-form contract to use for making the request. As soon as you understand the drill, sit down along with your supervisor to speak about your “ask,” making it clear you’re doing so inside accepted organizational bounds. Be gracious, constructive, and appreciative, however know that if you happen to’re in good standing (e.g., haven’t been issued any form of efficiency warning), chances are high first rate you’ll get the inexperienced mild.


If you happen to’re planning to use self-directed or casual flexibility, or are looking for a very small-scale lodging (e.g., leaving two hours early and solely on Wednesdays), attempt having a this-is-no-big-deal, FYI-type dialog along with your supervisor: “Chris, my plan is solely to duck out for physician’s appointments and different kid-related causes the place wanted, making up the work later within the day. I’ll preserve the workforce posted, all the time be reachable on cell—however my hunch is that nobody, together with you, will discover.” If you happen to’re seen as diligent and dependable, your supervisor is unlikely to squawk.

If, nevertheless, you work in an setting that’s much less flex-friendly, or if there’s no formal coverage or different official “permissioning” of flex work, or if you happen to’re making a huge ask (like shifting from 5 days per week to two), or if you happen to’re the primary individual in your group to search a formal FWA and could also be setting a new precedent post-pandemic, then you definately’re most likely going to want to go into promote mode.

As you enter these conversations along with your supervisor or with HR, you’ll guarantee the very best outcomes by emphasizing 4 key elements:

  1. You intend to use the arrangement responsibly.
  2. There can be minimal if any influence on the workforce and the enterprise.
  3. The FWA creates advantages for your boss and group, not simply for you.
  4. Any “making it work” particulars stay squarely in your shoulders.

Because the dialog unfolds, attempt preempting any skepticism or reluctance by saying issues like:

  • “In fact, the duty is 100% on me to make sure that the work will get completed and in a well timed manner.”
  • “Sure, there could be a change in my hours—however not in venture possession, or our funds, or the workforce’s general staffing.”
  •  “This arrangement will make it doable for me to proceed practising legislation, and allow you to preserve a educated patent lawyer on the workforce for the long run. It might be helpful in our recruitment efforts additionally—so many individuals are trying to swap roles now, and different present and aspiring mother and father we’re looking for to rent will seemingly take word.”
  • “Certain, I’ll want a better-quality, higher-speed print setup at dwelling, however that’s on me and straightforward to do.”

If you happen to sense discomfort, or get actual pushback, inform your boss and/or the skeptical HR supervisor the next:

You perceive that that is an only-if-it-really works scenario.
You talk your understanding through the use of a assertion like, “We may do that for two months, and if it doesn’t work, both of us may pull the plug.”

There seems to be clear precedent.
“I agree, it does really feel like a huge leap, however a number of of our [colleagues in department X, at competitor organizations, etc.] have completed this efficiently already. And the wheels stayed on the bus throughout the pandemic, when so many people had to change our hours and site, so there’s clear proof that this type of arrangement can work.”


You’re in no rush.
“I do know it’s a lot to course of, and I’m not pushing for a solution right this moment. Please take your time, and whenever you’ve thought this by, we are able to regroup.”

All through any dialog, and at each section of the negotiation—as laborious as it could be to accomplish that—bear in mind to keep away from getting dramatic or shrill. Remaining in a respectful, pleasant, collaborative body is simply extra seemingly to be efficient. And steer clear of hostage-taking: “Do that for me or I stop” is an choice you must use solely as soon as, solely on the tail finish of an in any other case failed negotiation, and provided that you’re ready to comply with by (e.g., as a result of you’ve got one other job supply).

If you happen to don’t get what you need, or end up getting sizzling beneath the collar at any level, although, bear in mind: You’re an worker—not an indentured servant. Your boss and your group make their selections, and also you’re free to make your individual.

Whereas at dwelling

Your boss is an important companion in making any FWA work, in fact—however you additionally want the assist and understanding of the “bosses” within the dwelling sphere: your companion, household, and caregivers. Play it ahead: In case your companion thinks working from dwelling means accessible to deal with errands and home-repair initiatives, or in case your mother-in-law sees your second-shift evenings nearly as good occasions to pop by for a go to, there’s going to be a lot of friction.

Earlier than your FWA begins, have a direct dialog about your new schedule and strategy with every key member of your at-home village—simply as you could have already got completed along with your boss and colleagues. To assist make issues clear and to reinforce the concept that is a actual, official, no-joke arrangement, put your timetable on a piece of paper, with “work time” and “nonwork time” clearly marked off. Clarify to your partner/companion/household what you’ll want so as to make the arrangement profitable—whether or not that’s to be left alone whereas in your house workplace, to have their assist in doing day-care pickup, or to have devoted use of the house laptop computer on Thursdays. Be direct, and refer—properly—to penalties: “A condensed workweek will give me a lot extra time with Mateo, which is a profit for our complete household. If I can’t make it work, although, I’ll want to return to the previous manner.”

Make sure to supply a preemptive thank-you as nicely: Flexibility might imply leaning on their time and persistence in new methods, and feeling wanted and appreciated will encourage them to assist.