5 Tips for Negotiating Flexible Hours

Say goodbye to the nine-to-five.

There’s a reason why nontraditional work schedules are becoming increasingly popular—they’ve actually been proven to make employees happier, healthier and more productive, all while allowing them time to prioritize their commitments outside of the office. Ready to broach the subject with your boss? Read these negotiation tips first. 5 Tips for Negotiating Flexible Hours

The Skill Set: How to Negotiate Flextime

1. Know what type of flexibility you want

It’s best to go to your boss with a specific ask. “Before you approach your employer about a flexible work option, you need to know which one will work best for you,” says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “This might include things like flexible hours, working from home, working part-time, having a compressed workweek or some combination of those.” 

2. Tell your employer how they’ll benefit from the arrangement

Recent press indicates that there are plenty of reasons why flextime can actually benefit employers, including employee retention, increased productivity, a healthier, happier workplace and more satisfied employees,” says Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin. “High-profile employers, such as Richard Branson at Virgin, have also touted the benefits of flextime in the past few years.” Sara explains, “Flextime helps employees better manage their work and personal lives, reducing the tension employees feel when they need to go to a personal appointment during the workday, leave early to help a sick parent or take the day off because of a child's unexpected illness. 

3. Prepare and perfect a pitch

Sara suggests going to your boss with a detailed, written proposal, which should include your specific request, examples of how it’ll benefit the company and make you a better professional, statistics that support your claim and examples of other people or teams who use flexible work options. “Remember that your employer’s interests are what matter here,” adds Elizabeth. “Assure them that you’ve got your job covered, and you are more likely to get the flextime arrangement you want.”

4. Time it right

“Flextime is a particularly thorny area, because employers are usually concerned that by allowing you to work a reduced schedule or to work remotely, something is bound to fall through the cracks,” Elizabeth explains. “Knowing when to broach the subject is tricky,” says Sara. “Rather than dropping subtle hints or catching your employer off guard, set up a time to chat.” She advises being ready to make your pitch during that conversation, but waiting until your boss is ready. “If they want to set up a different time to hear your rationale, be patient and don’t rush them,” Sara adds. 

5. Suggest a trial run

If your employer has little or no experience with flexible work, Sara warns that you may need to go one step further to calm their fears. “In these instances, suggest a trial where, for a specific period of time, you’ll work on your ideal schedule,” she says. “Track your performance and plan to check in with your employer a month or two later. Once they see you in action, they'll be less likely to take back the arrangement.”


Get the best of the best career advice, #lifehacks and style stories, delivered straight to your inbox—sign up here!