How to ask for a flexible work schedule

How to ask for flexibility at work, woman talking to manager at work

At a glance

  • A flexible schedule can be helpful for adults who learn and think differently and for parents of kids who learn and think differently.

  • Figure out the schedule you want and how your plan would work.

  • In your request, focus on how you can continue to meet your employer’s needs.

Learning and thinking differences like ADHD and dyslexia can put extra demands on your time. That’s true if you’re raising a child who learns and thinks differently, or if you yourself struggle with focus, communication, or other challenges.

It can be hard to balance those demands with those at your job. Teachers and caseworkers may call to talk about your child’s IEP — right when you’re busy at work. You may need to be home when school lets out to help your child cope with homework stress. Or maybe you focus best on certain tasks at specific times of day.

These are all reasons to ask for flexibility with your schedule at work.

Depending on where you work, it may not be possible to ask for a flexible work schedule. But if you have a job or career where flexibility is possible, here’s how to ask for the schedule you need. 

Figure out what flexible work schedule would be best. 

It’s important to know exactly what you want before talking to your employer. Here are a few questions to keep in mind as you think about what your ideal schedule would be.

  • Do you want to keep a full-time schedule but work from home? 

  • Do you want to shift your hours, like starting later and working later?

  • Do you want to keep the same job, but work fewer or different hours?

  • Do you want to switch to a role that has different hours? 

  • Do you have another job to consider? 

Do your research. Does your company have a formal policy regarding flextime? Does anyone else work a nontraditional schedule? Are people allowed to work from home? If so, your company may be open to your request.

Be ready for questions. 

Be sure you have answers to the questions your boss is likely to ask. Will you attend important meetings or events when you’re not normally supposed to be in the office? Will you check email when you aren’t scheduled to work?

You may even want to write a proposal. Come up with a plan that describes what you’re asking for and how it will work. Lay out the schedule. If you want to work fewer hours, figure out what your adjusted salary could be. Be ready to answer any concerns your manager may have.

Keep in mind that this isn’t just about you. List the ways the company will benefit from your idea. For example, if your proposal saves the company salary or benefits, point that out. A flexible schedule may even allow you to be less distracted and more productive.

Make your pitch.

When you request a meeting, tell your boss what it’s about. Be clear that you’re committed to your job and focused on your employer’s needs. Give your boss time to look at your proposal.

Remember that you can ask for a trial period. If your boss doesn’t love your idea, ask if you can try the new arrangement for a short time. Three months is generally best, but try to get at least one month. Then you and your manager can see how well the flexible hours work.

If your boss says no, the answer may not be final. Keep the conversation going, but use your judgment on timing. Things might change, and your company might be more open to a more flexible schedule when you ask again.

Check out more ways to start conversations with your boss about what you need.

And if you’re curious whether you’re eligible for formal workplace accommodations, find out what the law says.

Key takeaways

  • Typically, managers care most about whether you can meet your company’s needs.

  • Consider writing a proposal that states your case for a flexible work schedule.

  • Be ready for questions, and see if your boss will let you try out your plan on a trial basis.


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