Skip to content

How to Negotiate Flexible Work

Anna Meller, a work-life balance specialist, offers her advice on
how to negotiate flexible working, as a returner.
On 30 June 2014 the legal right to request
flexible working was extended to cover all employees after 26 weeks’ service. Many
forward thinking employers have already embraced the benefits of flexible
arrangements and extended these to new joiners. While this is good news for returners
and everyone concerned about their work-life balance, an employer is still able
to refuse a request if they believe it will have an adverse impact on their
Preparation is key
Time spent preparing to negotiate – reviewing
your desired working arrangements and the potential business benefits of working
flexibly – will be time well spent. Before you start attending interviews, develop
a compelling business case that can provide a foundation for future
Building your business case
Begin by clearly identifying the key
skills and experience that make you valuable to an employer. This will not only
enable you to craft a flexible role from one that’s full time, it will also
enhance your confidence as you begin negotiating. In every job there are
specialist tasks that will require your skills and experience and more general
ones that could be delegated or eliminated.
Questions to consider
  • To what extent could your new job allow time
    and location flexibility?  How will you
    manage the work/non-work interface?
  • Will you always need to be in the
    office to carry out every aspect of your role (an increasingly unlikely
    proposition with technology) or can you do some of your work at home?
  • What additional support will you
    need to be able to work from home?
  • What’s the likely impact on your
    workplace colleagues, your clients and customers?
  • How can you minimise the
    disruptions to them and ensure smooth working arrangements?
  •  Are you happy to receive calls
    and emails from colleagues outside working hours or do you guard non-work time
    for non-work activities?
And, finally, but most importantly, how will
the business benefit from you working flexibly?
By now you should have a clearer picture of your
preferred flexible working arrangement and the business benefits. While you may
not always be able to work to your preferences, understanding them will enable
you to agree clearer ground rules with your future boss and colleagues.
It’s also useful to have a fall-back position.
Are there alternative arrangements which might also suit you, or issues on
which you could compromise?
Having completed this ground work you’re ready to begin negotiating.
to start negotiating
It’s best to be upfront about your need for flexible
hours. Raise the matter at the end of your first interview. The response you
get will give you a good indicator of the organisation’s cultural attitude
towards flexible working.
Rather than starting with a request for a specific
arrangement, begin with questions. Almost every organisation now has a flexible
working policy, so ask what arrangements the policy covers. What options are
there for arrangements not covered by the policy? What experience does your
potential manager have of managing flexible workers? Is there anyone else in
the team already working flexibly?
The time to discuss the details of your preferred
arrangement is when the organisation asks you back for second interview. Make
it clear that, while you have a preferred option, you’re open to negotiation.
And don’t feel you need to agree to an arrangement there and then. If you need
time to consider alternative suggestions ask for one or two days to mull things
further support
A series of forms that can help you in your planning can
be found on my website here:
By Anna Meller