You may have been wishing for more flexibility in your workplace for some time now. It’s time to make that dream a reality and start negotiating for work flexibility with your employer. A well planned out and thought through process will definitely make it happen for you. Here are a few steps based on my own experiences.
The first most important step is actually making the decision to ask your employer for work flexibility. This might sound lame but the fact is that most people don’t think that they have the option or the opportunity to try a flexible work arrangement. In Sri Lanka work flexibility is still rare and uncommon. So employees don’t even consider bringing up this topic with their employers simply because it’s not the norm. But the rule is quite simple, if you need it, then you have to ask for it.
The second most important step is to do your research well. This includes identifying your own flexibility requirements and understanding the workplace policies and vibe around work flexibility. You may have some specific flexibility needs. This could be for different working hours, remote work, working lesser days/hours, etc. You need to have a clear idea about what your needs are and how it’s going to work around with your work responsibilities and commitments. If the flexibility you’re asking for is going to change your scope of work then be ready for changes in your employment terms. Understand the financial implications to you as well as the implications to your employer. It’s your responsibility to make sure that the proposed flexible work arrangement is beneficial to both you and your organization.
You also need to have a clear understanding about your employers’ stand on work flexibility. Are there formal policies around this? Are there other employees who have flexible work arrangements? Is HR open for new suggestions? and so forth. If there are formal policies in place, then Yes you need to adhere to them and take the required steps to make a proposal accordingly. If there are no formal policies in place you have a greater responsibility to show how things will work for you and the organization. Also, you must strive hard to gain the commitment from your managers and colleagues. Are there other employees currently having flexible work arrangements? If so, talk to them and see how they approached it. Even though one size won’t fit everyone, this will help you understand how it works in your organization in an implicit way.
The next step is to create a detailed written proposal on your work flexibility asks. The level of detail (and the fact that it’s all written down) sets the tone for a formal negotiation with your manager. This formality is crucial. The proposal must include the reason for the ask, your needs and the impact on your job. It should also cover how you’re going to manage your responsibilities and the benefits to the organization. Any changes to the employment terms and details of a trial period to try out the new work arrangement should also be included in the proposal.
Once your proposal is ready, book a meeting with your Manager. You should state early what the meeting is about. Take your written proposal to the meeting. Discuss it openly with the manager (sometimes this meeting will need to include HR personal as well). Answer any questions they might have. Ask any extra questions you might have. Always keep an honest and positive attitude during the discussion. Highlights the positives and the benefits and emphasis on your continued commitment to your job and the organization.
After the meeting, give your employer enough time to review your proposal and get back to you. Follow up with a meeting if required. Be ready to make revisions to your request as per comments from your manager. If you are one of the lucky ones to get your proposal accepted right way, make sure that the agreement is in writing with mutual consent from all relevant parties. If the outcome is negative don’t be disappointed and keep up your positive attitude. Always respect the employer’s decision. Take right steps to further revise or recheck the proposal as needed. Give it some time, review the situation and renegotiate after some time.
These are the five steps I took when I was trying to negotiate a more flexible work arrangement with my employer and I’m happy to say it worked for me. This is definitely not a simple process and you will face your own twists and turns along the way (I did for sure!). Make note that these work flexibility opportunities are available for you. As long as you are committed to the cause and take the right steps, You can actually Make it Work!