Flexible working can include a range of options to enable you to better manage your commitments while completing the duties of your job.
It can include:
• Working an agreed number of hours per day but with flexible start and finish times
• Working at multiple locations or home working
• Compressing your hours, so you can work your contracted hours over fewer days, or vary the number you work each day.
• Varying the weekly hours you week, so some weeks you work more than others.
• There’s also term time only working, career breaks and more.
All workers in the UK have the right to apply for flexible working and do not have to be carers or parents. Having these commitments however is likely to be the thing that prompts most of us to ask for flexible working.
I’m incredibly fortunate that I have tried several flexible working patterns since returning to work from maternity, encompassing both flexible hours and home working. I now work three long days split, primarily in the office with a few hours at home. So far it’s working.
But how do you put your case forward to apply for flexible working?
Each employer will have their own set of internal policies and processes for how this is administered. You will have to follow these, but in almost all situations you will have to make your case as to why they should give it to you. This “business case” usually sets out the benefits to the employer and give an indication of how it won’t impact negatively on their business.
So how do you make the most effective case for flexible working? Here are my top tips:
Be upfront with what you are asking for. Don’t bury your aim in lots of dense text or conversation. Get to the point. For example, “I want to work x Hours a day on these days, starting at XXX time and finishing at XXXX. This is a total of XXX hours per week.”
Make a list of what you do and how you will be able to fufill all your duties. Do any of them need to be done in prescribed times or at specific location? Does someone else need to do some of these and if so who. Set out how you can work around these. In short, be specific and offer solutions.
It’s easy to forget about the mental benefits or other less obvious benefits. For example, would your new pattern mean you spend less time commuting and more time working. Would the flexibility mean you are able to accommodate later nights or earlier starts as and when needed. This isn’t about being emotional, it’s simply stating the less tangible benefits to your proposed pattern. This will wash better with some organisations than others of course.
Know your compromise
There is always the possibility that your first proposal may be rejected. Have a fall-back position. What would be acceptable if they can’t give you your ideal solution? Make sure you have done some thinking about this so you can offer up an alternative.