Negotiating Your Flexible Position: Strategies For Success
Perhaps the time has arrived for you, as it has for so many people in today’s evolving workforce, to make the switch toward a flexible work schedule. Maybe you recently had a baby, your maternity leave is over and you’re feeling unsatisfied to be back in your full-time role. Or you need to help care for an aging parent. Or you simply feel that you will thrive better as a flexible worker. Whatever the reason, I’m here to tell you that you can and should go for it. Just make sure you do it right.
As the founder and CEO of Inkwell, a flexible staffing company, I am often tapped for advice on how to make the switch to flex work. The first thing I tell people is to look into the possibility of keeping your current job and negotiating with your boss for a schedule that’s flex. I’ve helped many people successfully make the case for a flex work arrangement. You, too, can use the following tips and strategies to win your employer over to the flexible model that is the future of work today.
First, be a great employee. Hopefully, you have already made yourself indispensable at work, exceeding your boss’s expectations and establishing yourself as a key member of the team. Your value, track record and history with the company will give you a lot of leverage when the time comes to negotiate for a flex arrangement.
Know what you need. Do you want to take Tuesday mornings off so you can go to music class with your baby? Stay at home every other Friday? Or work remotely two days a week? Know in advance what you need so you can ask for it directly.
Do the math. If you’re asking for a significant change, your employer may need to reduce your salary accordingly. For example, if you wish to work a four-day week, divide your annual salary by five to determine how much money you make in one workday. Then subtract this amount to calculate your salary for a four-day week. You can pitch it as a cost savings for your company, strengthening your case.
Do the research. Find out if anyone else in your company has a flexible work arrangement. If there is a precedent for it, or a model already in place at your organization, this can help pave the way for you. Look beyond maternity leave toward your company’s overall policy on flexibility.
Gather your data. Get some statistics about the growing number of flexible workers today and present your boss with proof that flex workers are often more productive than non-flex workers. Also, if your company has not established a precedent for flexibility, find out if your competitors are doing it. Your company won’t want to be seen as behind the curve.
Frame flex as a benefit for your company. So many companies are finding that flexibility is one of the most attractive job perks they can offer. It’s a great tool for both recruiting and retention, leading to greater job satisfaction and even, perhaps, better health. Be sure to point out these facts to your employer.
Create your script. When you’re ready, request a meeting with your boss and create a script for yourself so you’re not tongue-tied. Remember to say that you are dedicated and loyal, and that you want to stay with the company for the long haul. But in order for you to stay, and in order for the job to work for you and your family, you need a more flexible schedule. Be clear about the terms you need, present your research and data, and frame it as a positive for you, your boss, and the company.
Set up a trial period. During your meeting, you can suggest setting up a trial period or pilot program to test out working flex. For example, you can set up a three- or six-month trial period in which you are given specific targets and goals to meet on your flexible work schedule. After the trial, meet with your boss again to reassess. Did you hit your targets? Working flex on a trial basis can protect your company—and it can protect you too, giving both of you an exit strategy if you need it.
Look outside the box. If your company has no model in place for a flexible work arrangement, you can pitch the idea of leaving the company and contracting for them on a flexible schedule through an agency. As a contractor, you won’t be subject to the usual corporate protocol.
Go above and beyond. If you do successfully negotiate for a flexible arrangement, thank your employer for their flexibility and open-mindedness. Then set the bar a little higher for yourself, going above and beyond their expectations and delivering stellar work. Because if you shine in your flex role, you’ll help to blaze a trail for the next lucky individual to follow in your footsteps.
This article first appeared on Forbes.
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Founder & CEO
Who I Am
I am a Mom, an attorney, and the former executive director and general counsel for a women’s rights foundation. I am a dreamer, a believer, and an agent of change. Women’s issues are my passion, and it is with this mindset that I created Inkwell.
In some respects, we are lucky. Our generation of women has been offered choices. Some women stay home and raise their children with single-minded effort, while others work... Continue Reading
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