Talking Your Boss into a Flexible Schedule

John Krautzel
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Around 70 percent of workers see flexibility as important to their job happiness, but many never pursue flexible work schedules because of lack of precedence, conservative management or fear of change. If you don't step up and speak out, you can't expect change to happen. If you're longing for a more flexible work schedule but don't know how to broach the subject with your boss, here are a few tips to get you started.

Keep the Focus on the Company

Your boss cares less about how valuable a flexible schedule is to you and your family. He wants to know how approving a flexible work schedule is likely to affect the company. When you present your proposal to your boss, be sure to focus on ways that your proposed plan benefits the organization. For example, if your plan includes remote work time, point out that you will be using less office resources and fewer sick days. Share that a better work-life balance makes you a happier, more productive worker. Look for advantages that are unique to your situation. Perhaps you're looking to move to a flexible three-day work week. If so, explain to your boss exactly how you plan to keep up with your responsibilities while working a flexible three-day schedule.

Give Details

Before you talk to your boss, put together a written plan spelling out the details of the flexible work schedule you think would be best for both you and your organization. Include specific details about communicating with clients and collaborating with co-workers. Include ideas for minimizing any inconveniences to other team members and employees you interact with regularly. Add information about a possible trial period and criteria to assess that trial period before moving forward with a more permanent situation.

Offer Examples

When you meet with your boss, offer examples of successful flexible work schedules. This is easiest if you know of others at your company with flexible schedules or if your organization has official flexibility policies with guidelines for nonstandard work schedules. If you are asking for something completely new, share stories of those outside your organization successfully doing flex work. Be sure to include how the flexible work schedule helps the company, not just how it helps the employee.

Be Persistent

Hope for a positive response, but be prepared for a negative answer. An initial "no" doesn't necessarily mean failure. Give your manager more time to think about your suggestion, and then bring up the topic again. Sometimes, that first negative answer is just a standard response due to current policies. Your discussion may have planted seeds that could lead to your manager to talking to others about creating official flexibility policies.

Your career and happiness are your responsibility. If flexibility is important to you, you may need to talk to HR or managers with more power than your boss. Remember, the best flexible work schedule might not be the first one you propose, so be open to listening to your boss and working together to find the best solution for both of you.

Photo courtesy of Ambro at


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