In this fourth and final part of our “Asking for Flex” guide we’re focusing on how to make a flex request as an employee of a business. Check out Part 3 for how to ask during the hiring process, and Part 1 and Part 2 for an analysis of flex requests from a business perspective. Or if you’d prefer to get all that stuff in one go, you can download the whole guide as a PDF.
This guide will always be a work in progress. Disagree with anything we’ve said? We’d love to hear your comments below.
Professionals: How to ask for flex as an employee
The best way to make a compelling request for flexible working is to do as much of the thinking for them as you can, but prepare to be collaborative.
When you work on your proposal, treat it as an opportunity to innovate. Think about the work you do that really makes an impact. This is what you want to prioritise, so make sure your request demonstrates how you’re going to get it done. Stuff that takes a lot of time but is of less worth is the stuff you want to try and be rid of.
Is there a junior staff member you could mentor, upskilling them to take on some of your role? Are there more efficient processes that could be adopted that will cut out some of that time-consuming, low-impact work? Could working from home, away from distractions, actually help you get more of this low-impact stuff done?
Make sure you also think about the impact your new schedule might have on company culture, especially if guiding the culture is part of your responsibility. How are you going to re-allocate your responsibilities or change the way you do things to make sure the internal culture doesn’t suffer?
All of these questions are about anticipating fears. A truly compelling proposal will have answered all a business’s concerns before they can be raised. Knowledge is power here: the more you can learn and the more confident you can be the more likely you are to get what you need.
With all that said, bear in mind that your statutory request for flexible working doesn’t have to be the start of the process. Rather than trying to come up with a full solution on your own, work out what your requirements are, how you’ll adapt so the business doesn’t lose out, and then go to management for a discussion. Flex is a conversation – and starting that conversation early might be more useful than talking to yourself.
BUT. Before you begin working on a flexible work request… put your CV in order. We don’t want to freak you out, and a flexible work request cannot get your fired, but you may need to prepare for a rejected request. If you think you’ve made a reasonable and workable request, and your employer has been unreasonable or disingenuous in rejecting it, you may decide to bring the matter to an employment tribunal. We cannot advise you on this, but one thing we would point out is that you are highly likely to leave the business after this regardless of outcome – few people soldier on in these circumstances. The business can’t give you what you need, and may have behaved poorly in trying to avoid giving it to you. What reason do you really have to stay? Our advice would be to find a company that’s more forward-thinking (we can help with that), and don’t be shy on expressing your displeasure, provided you do so professionally.
At Juggle we vet the flexible culture of every business we work with. We’re compiling a list of companies that do it right, and a list of companies that do not. We’re interested to hear about any flexible working experiences you’ve had – positive or negative – so we can make this list more comprehensive. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll publish it sometime in 2019.