Talking with Your Manager About Flexible Working

Published by: LifeWorks,

As pandemic restrictions begin to lift, many organizations will need to begin drafting strategies for resuming their usual business practices. The strategy may include employers requesting their staff to return to the workplace.

Organizations and their team members have had to make swift and massive adjustments to continue to deliver their products and services. Though many may be eager to get back to their pre-pandemic workday, you may find that your adjusted way of working has worked quite well for you.

Asking for a non-traditional working arrangement

Even before the pandemic, you may have considered a non-traditional working arrangement, such as remote work or a flexible schedule, but have been apprehensive about raising the issue. The good news is that your organization may now see how well your adjusted arrangement has worked and be more amenable to your request. So, now may be the time to have the flexible working conversation.

You’ll need to arrange a time to meet with your manager. Collect your thoughts and jot down an outline of your work strategy. Then, set up a time to talk with your manager. Here are a few discussion points you may want to include:

First, be clear about what you are proposing. Would you like to retain your current plan or to implement a modification to your flexible work arrangement? Would you like to work from home and, if so, how many days a week? What schedule are you proposing? Your manager will have to consider business needs, so be prepared to be open-minded in your arrangement.

Express your commitment to supporting the organization. Talk about your desire to set and meet goals, take on projects, and continue to learn and grow with the organization, regardless of where or what hours you are doing the work.

Talk about the benefit of work-life balance. School and childcare closures or caregiving arrangements may still be a factor in your need for flexible work. Your employer will likely understand that COVID-19 is still producing obstacles. While you can explain how flexible work has helped you personally, make sure to focus on how it benefits the organization by improving work-life balance in general.

Show what you’ve done so far. You’ve demonstrated your ability to adapt to an ever-changing situation. Describe how you’ve been able to get the job done, meet goals, and adapt to new ways of communicating with the team. Make sure your manager knows you will continue to do what is necessary under any arrangement you reach.

Look to the future. You could explain how this experience has laid a foundation for developing a continuity plan and how your arrangement could help you avoid a work disruption in future crises.

If you are an essential or frontline worker

If you are a frontline or on-site worker or it turns out that working remotely was not an ideal arrangement for your particular occupation during the pandemic, you may still find a flexible work option to be beneficial. Consider asking the following:

  • Could other flexible measures—such as altered shifts, staggered hours, or some other non-traditional arrangement—be helpful?
  • If you must report to a location, will your company implement physical distancing measures, such as providing face masks, allowing 6 feet of space between work areas, and regular cleaning and disinfecting of personal workspaces and common areas?

Your organization has seen firsthand your ability to adapt and perform under extreme conditions but if you are still unsure about how to ask for consideration of your request for remote or flexible work arrangements, you can seek guidance from your HR representative or assistance program.

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