How To Negotiate Flexible Working Arrangements

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Follow these five steps, and you’ll increase the chances of your boss approving your flexible work arrangements.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could create more flexible work arrangements at your job?

Instead of clocking in traditional hours at the office, you could pitch ones that work better for you and your family and optimize your productivity.

The good news is you don’t have to dream about this perfect scenario.

Thanks to the tips in this guide, you’ll learn how to negotiate a flexible work arrangement to make your wishes come true. We’ll give you a roadmap to follow to prepare and present your case for speedy approval.

5 Steps to Negotiating Flexible Work Arrangements

While it may seem simple enough to just ask your boss for a flexible work arrangement, following these five steps will increase your chances of getting the green light:

Step 1: Do Your Homework First

The best thing you can do to secure a flexible working arrangement is to prepare for a negotiation instead of simply asking and expecting a “yes.”

If you try to do the latter without backing up your case, the chances of your boss saying “no” are much higher.

So to do this, first figure out why you want a flexible work environment in the first place.

This probably isn’t something you’ll share with your boss. However, it’ll become your motivating “why” that keeps you going throughout this process.

Do you want to spend more time with your family? Do you want more time to focus on your health, work out, and cook healthy meals?

While your boss probably won’t say “yes” based on these reasons, they can help you determine what your ideal flexible arrangement may entail.

After you come up with your “why,” you can then move onto figuring out how this arrangement will benefit your boss. This will become the driving reason that would motivate them to approve your request.

If you think you can be more productive by working hours that suit your night owl or early bird style, this is a great reason to present when the time comes. Or maybe you think you’ll be able to take a longer break midday during slow hours, so you can work later when it’s busier and your boss needs all hands on deck.

So spend some time figuring out why a flexible work arrangement means so much to you. Then, brainstorm reasons it would benefit your employer before heading on to this next step:

Step 2: Map Out What a Flexible Work Arrangement Could Look Like

It pays to give some thought to the ideal work arrangement you’d be interested in creating.

Again, this doesn’t mean it’ll become a guaranteed schedule, but it helps to present what would benefit you and your employer most. 

Figuring this out ahead of time shows initiative. It also means your boss doesn’t have to spend their time/energy thinking of it themselves. And when it’s outlined and makes sense, your flexible work arrangement is much easier to approve.

So, what do your ideal flexible work arrangements look like?
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Is it working early three days out of the week and working later in the day for the other two? Or would taking a longer break between your full day suit your job better?

Keep in mind, you also have to consider what kind of arrangements work best for your employer.

If Mondays are crazy busy and your boss needs you working traditional 9 to 5 hours, pitching an alternative schedule may be an obvious no-go.

But maybe you can log off early on Tuesdays and Thursdays for two hours, pick up your kids from school, and return to work for two more hours later in the evening.

Don’t forget to consider how your arrangements may impact other employees, which is a point that’ll likely come up in your negotiation.

Maybe you can cover for other team members while they work a flexible style on alternative days to yours. Or you may pitch an option to rotate weeks, so you can work a flexible schedule every other week while letting someone else do the same on alternative weeks.

This would show your boss that you’re a team player and willing to let others enjoy the same flexibility, which could definitely help your case.

By considering what your job needs on top of coming up with what you’d like personally, you’ll once again have a better chance of scoring a “yes.”

Step 3: Prepare Your Case

With those items on paper, you can then create a cohesive “report” that helps you successfully present your case.

This can be as simple as jotting down bullet points of what you’ll say in your negotiation, or you could go a step further and share your research in a quick PowerPoint if necessary.

This step aims to help you stay on track while getting your strongest points out effectively. After all, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time here. And you definitely don’t want to forget or fail to state your best points due to a lack of time.

Practice going over your statements a few times to get out any jitters and ensure you’re presenting your case cohesively and persuasively.

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On top of this, you’ll need to imagine possible rebuttal scenarios that your boss may give. Think about all the potential reasons your employer may deny your request. Then, try to prepare a response for each reason that makes sense and attempts to convince them otherwise. 

Once you’re comfortable with the plan, schedule a time to meet with your boss. Be sure to consider their schedule. If you catch them at a hectic time, they may not be able to give you their full attention.

Step 4: Present Your Case

This is the part of the negotiation that often makes people uncomfortable. But if you’ve properly prepared by tackling our first three steps, you should be able to quell some of those nerves, especially if you practiced your case beforehand.

First, thank your boss for meeting with you and giving you their time and attention.

Then, you’ll want to get right into the specifics of what you’re asking for and how this will benefit them.

Instead of shooting out your ideal schedule, mention that you’d like to discuss the possibility of creating a more flexible work arrangement. Quickly follow this up with the benefits they’d see if you did this.

If they seem interested, you can present your ideal schedule and explain that you’ve considered how this would fit into your job’s needs and affect your coworkers.

Remember to breathe through this. Try not to rush it, no matter how nervous you may feel. It’s also crucial that you don’t get mad or disappointed if they say “no” right off the bat.
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If you think a negative answer may be on the horizon, mention that you’re not expecting an immediate response and ask if they’ll give your idea some thought before committing to an answer.

It’s highly likely that your boss may need to mull over your case and come up with some rebuttals as to why this may not work, as mentioned earlier.

Step 5: Be Prepared to Back Up Your Case or Offer an Alternative Solution

In a perfect world, your boss will give you the thumbs up as soon as you present your solid case. But that may be unlikely if you’re the first to request a flexible work arrangement.

So if they do offer some rebuttals, which you hopefully anticipated, grab your list of responses. Run through the answers you prepared, and see if they help turn the tide in your favor.

If your boss replies with something you weren’t expecting, take a quick breath before answering how you plan to make it work. Get creative and try to come up with solutions that benefit you and your boss without negatively affecting your team.

You may even want to suggest testing your flexible arrangement for one week if they’re unsure if it would work well. Then your boss can make a final decision after they see the results.

Whatever options you throw out, just be sure to think about your boss and other team members. This will give you the best chances of receiving their stamp of approval.

If your boss ultimately says “no,” don’t get too upset or give up hope. You can bring up your idea at another time (maybe even a better one). This gives you extra time to work out answers to their rebuttals or stack your case with additional facts.

If you’re still unhappy with your current work arrangements, consider looking for other work that gives you more flexibility. We know the best 100% remote companies and those crushing flexible work arrangements, so you have many options to fit your needs.

Final Thoughts on Negotiating Flexible Work Arrangements

After reading this guide, you can see that you shouldn’t just ask your boss if you can have a flexible work arrangement. Doing so can increase your chances of getting a “no” instead of a “yes.”

If you follow the steps laid out in this guide, your boss will see that you’ve done your homework and that there are benefits in it for them too. Your upfront legwork should boost the odds of them approving your request.

In the end, if your boss says “no,” you can always find a job that offers more flexibility.

And if you do get to work a flexible schedule -- kudos! Make sure you have everything you need to set yourself up for success. Check out the helpful tips in the following resources next:
  1. How to Create a Flexible Workspace
  2. How to Work from Home and Find Productivity and Motivation 

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