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Under flexible working legislation, applicants now have to explain how they think flexible working might affect their employer and how this could be dealt with. The idea is that flexible working is mutually beneficial.
Often, though, there is little support for employees seeking to make this business case and it can be hard to know what to do.
Tania Jones runs an HR business and offers free workshops to parents in Bristol about their employment rights. She says: “It’s important to present a request from a business perspective. If there are additional costs involved they should admit and justify them.”
Other experts advise showing how your work can successfully be carried out under the proposed new working pattern, demonstrating that it will not harm the business and may even have business advantages. This may involve sounding out colleagues beforehand to ensure they are on side. If requesting remote working, it may be that there are parts of a job that can be done more effectively from home without distraction, such as analysis, reading, strategic thinking or writing reports.
For job shares, it is worth putting forward how this might work in terms of handovers, communication with team members or clients and so forth and researching examples of successful job share partnerships. For part-time work, it is important to think through whether there are certain days or hours which need less cover. Are there certain tasks that could be delegated allowing other staff the chance to act up? If managers are dubious, it might be worth suggesting a trial period, but ensure there is a proper review process.
It is important to methodically think through the tasks a job involves and whether they can be done differently, from a different location, at different times and so forth.
It is also good to have a compromise solution, since the flexible working process is a negotiation. It may be, for instance, that with some homeworking a person who requests part time could work full time, or that they could work less at certain less busy times of the year.
Top tips for negotiating flexible working
– Think through the tasks a job involves and whether they can be done differently, from a different location, at different times and so forth. Be honest about addressing any additional costs or challenges.
– Show your work can successfully be carried out under any proposed new working pattern and demonstrating that it will not harm the business or may have business advantages.
– Research some case studies, ideally in your sector, that show how the work pattern you are suggesting can work to both the employer and employee’s advantage.
– If managers are dubious, it might be worth suggesting a trial period.
– Have a compromise solution as a back-up.