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How to Ask for Flexibility at Work

By Kate Kelly

At a Glance

  • A flexible schedule can be helpful for parents of kids with learning and thinking differences.

  • If you want to request a flexible schedule, figure out the schedule you want and how your plan would work.

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

If you have a child with learning and thinking differences, you may find that work-life balance is complicated. Teachers and caseworkers may call meetings without much notice to discuss Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and other issues. You may need to get your child to afterschool tutors and other appointments. Or maybe you want to be around to manage homework and chores.

The bottom line: A normal schedule doesn’t always work. So you may be looking for a more flexible arrangement. Here’s what you need to do before you ask.

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Decide what work schedule you want.

It’s important to know exactly what you want before talking to your employer. Do you want a full-time schedule but to work one or two days a week from home? Do you want to work a full-time schedule but not necessarily from 9 to 5? Or do you want to work part time? 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 sometimes? If so, your company may be open to your request.

Be ready for questions.

Be sure you have answers for the questions your boss is likely to ask. Will others have to pick up the slack when you’re not there? Will you attend important meetings 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, say what the salary would be. Be ready to answer any concerns your manager may have.

List the ways the company will benefit. 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 with your boss, tell her what it’s about. Be clear that you’re committed to your job. Focus on your employer’s needs. You may want to tell your boss about your child’s learning and thinking differences. Give your boss time to look at your proposal.

Keep in mind that you can ask for a trial period. If your boss doesn’t really like your proposal, 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 isn’t always final. Keep the conversation going. Things might change and your company might be more open when you ask again.

Key Takeaways

  • Your manager cares most about whether you can meet the company’s needs.

  • Consider writing a proposal that states your case.

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

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  • Facebook
  • Twitter
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  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom