Posted by: Raj Mali | June 19, 2007

7 Simple rules for negotiating flexi time

Want to work from home, switch to part-time or reorganize your working day? Before you ask your boss, read these expert recommendations.

Just because you’d like to set your own hours or work from home doesn’t mean your employer will share the sentiment. Employers don’t want to hear that you need a career makeover (or makeunder); they just want to know what’s in it for them. To talk to the higher-ups at work about going flex, check out these recommendations from Cynthia Shapiro, author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know — And What to Do About Them.

1. Pay your dues
Asking for a flex-work schedule after six to 12 months with a company is pushing it. You first have to prove yourself dependable, hardworking and indispensable. Better to request flex work once you have three solid years under your belt — and have proven you can do your job backward, forward, blindfolded and straitjacketed.

2. Win over your boss
Make her look successful every step of the way, as if you’re in business for yourself and she’s your biggest client. Without her on your side, your bid for flex work won’t get far. If you do score a flex arrangement, it’s crucial that your boss support it 100 per cent. Otherwise, you could drop your weekly hours from 40 to 24 but still find yourself saddled with a full-time workload — only for less pay.

3. Be a company cheerleader
Drink the Kool-Aid (or at least pretend to): If you plan to ask for the moon, resist the urge to publicly bad-mouth your employer. Sing the company’s praises instead, especially in the office, where Big Brother really is watching.

4. Study the culture
To predict how your employer will react to your request for flex, don’t just study the policies in your employee manual — pay attention to the company’s actions, too. “Look at what they truly reward and truly punish,” Shapiro says. Is anyone else in your department working flexible hours, part-time, or from home? Have any of your coworkers successfully negotiated flex work? Or was their request denied, or, worse, were they mysteriously let go?

5. Make your case in writing
In your proposal, ask not what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company: Offer to work flexibly for a trial period — perhaps telecommuting one or two days a week to start (but not Mondays, which are often busiest). Point out how your flex job will let you get more work done in less time, save the company cash, and any other (actual) benefits you can think of.

6. Choose your timing wisely
The best time to ask for a job makeover is when everything’s calm, especially if you’ve just saved the day or somehow made your boss look fabulous. You don’t want to request to go flex during a time of total chaos, like during a big product launch or when the company’s fighting for its life — unless there’s something irresistible in it for the company.

7. Go the extra mile
If you do go the part-time, flextime or telecommuting route, regularly update your colleagues on your progress and stay on top of deadlines. (Even better, overdeliver the goods.) Keep in close contact with the mother ship at all times when working off-site. It’s your job to assure your manager that everything’s running swimmingly and you’re not off in the Cayman Islands, sipping Mai Tais instead of working on the Big Presentation.

Hope this gives you enough clarity to take your first step. If this stuff helps you negotiate a Flex work schedule for you, do write us your story that we can use to inspire others. Till then…Chilll.

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