A few years ago, I asked my boss if I could come into and leave the office half an hour early to accommodate my triathlon training schedule. She agreed, and I went on to have the healthiest training season of my life, to #slay at my job, and be in such a mentally good place that I experienced some crazy personal growth.
That 30-minute shift had a dramatic impact on my well-being. I shudder to remember that I almost didn’t ask for it.
That’s right. I was afraid that I would come off as entitled and whiny, or that my boss would think I wasn’t serious about my career. Many employees hesitate to ask for flexibility, but cultural norms are shifting. In some places, there are even laws that give employees the right to ask for flexible schedules.
If you’ve been thinking about asking for flexibility at the office, I encourage you to go for it. Several studies have found that flexibility at work makes us happier, healthier, and less prone to burnout. Once you’ve decided to go for it, try these tactics to increase the likelihood you’ll get a resounding YES.
Make it Specific
If you’re asking for flexibility, it’s important to articulate what that means to you. If your boss hears, “I’d like a flexible work schedule,” they’re going to have visions of you coming and going at all hours of the day. If you say, “I’d like to work remotely once a week so I can do deep work uninterrupted,” they’re going to imagine quality finished projects. Clarify exactly what flexibility you are requesting and why.
For better or worse, your boss wants to know that this flexibility isn’t going to negatively impact your work product. State that clearly. If you think the added flexibility will actually improve your productivity, say so! It may seem too obvious to mention, but just put it out there.
Have a Plan
How will you communicate with your team when you are on a different schedule? What systems will you put in place to make sure things don’t fall through the cracks? How will you manage your workload? Your boss will ask these questions, so work out a plan in advance. They’ll be impressed that you have everything worked out.
Toot Your Own Horn
I know we all HATE doing this, but there is a time and a place, and this is it. Point to a recent example where you took initiative, exhibited autonomy or delivered excellence. Then, draw the line to the ways in which flexibility will help you do MORE of that. For example, “Working from home on that proposal we just won allowed me to focus and work more effectively. I’d like to be able to deliver at that level more often, and I think working remotely once a week will help me do that.”
Now that you’ve got the tools, go get that flexible schedule!
P.S. If you try this, email me to let me know how it goes!