Flexible working. A term that has become more commonplace amongst Irish employers over the past few years. It refers to any type of working arrangement that varies from the traditional Monday-Friday, 9am-5.30pm. It encompasses part-time working days or hours, job sharing with another colleague, or remote working options.
Flexible working has been shown to produce benefits for employers. Namely increasing productivity and helping to attract and retain employees. Furthermore, it has been proven to lead to an increase in employee morale, reduced absenteeism and more engagement.
However, some employees are wary of having the discussion about flexible work with their employers and don’t know how to start the conversation. Here are some tips on how to ask for a flexible working arrangement with your employer:
1) Decide What You Want
Firstly, decide what kind of flexibility you want. It is worth spending time researching your options and thinking about what type of flexibility would suit your needs and those of your employer. Be specific about what you are looking for and write it down.
2) Research Company Policy
Next, do some research into the HR policies already in place within the company. You may not be aware of an existing policy that outlines the company’s stance on flexible working practices. The HR policy should outline if flexible working is encouraged. Also, it will detail who to contact to arrange a discussion about your options and if you are eligible to apply (some policies require employees to have worked for the company for more than a year). It will also outline the procedure for getting approval for the request and who to appeal to if your request is not granted.
3) The Informal Meeting
Then, arrange an informal meeting with your line manager or HR manager to discuss your interest in flexible work. Have information with you regarding specifically what you want and any company policy documents you found already. Arrange the meeting in an informal setting if possible and ask them to tell you about your options.
4) Prepare and submit a flexible working letter
Consequently, after your initial informal meeting, you will have a better understanding of what options are open to you. You may have put forward your suggestions to your manager and they may request that you prepare a formal business document outlining your case. This document should include the detail of your proposed new working arrangement.
An example of an employee who is looking to work from home one day a week:
Dear [manager’s name],
Thank you for meeting with me to discuss the flexible working arrangements available to me.
I propose that I work remotely one day a week as part of a new flexible working arrangement. The day of the week that suits me best is a Friday, subject to your approval.
I am interested in working from home as I think it will improve my productivity. For instance by being at home I will be able to focus solely on my work activities without other office distractions. This would be especially useful when I need to concentrate on the data and analytics reports I complete at the end of each week.
Also, I propose working this new arrangement on a trial basis as of [insert date] and set a meeting in six weeks to review the arrangement.
Thank you for your consideration.
5) Formally Agree
Finally, if your proposal is agreed on, ask for a written confirmation of the arrangement from your employer. It should be formalized before starting on the agreed terms. Furthermore, you should set dates for a trial period and agree future dates for meetings to review.