The last 18 months have seen seismic changes to working patterns across the UK. Throughout the pandemic, remote and at home working became the norm as employers everywhere responded to government-mandated restrictions.

However, as we emerge from the depths of the pandemic, research suggests that employers are likely to see a rise in flexible working requests from employees.

What is flexible working?

First things first. Flexible working is not remote working. Throughout the pandemic, the media has used these two terms synonymously; it’s important to understand that the two are not the same.

Remote working is one facet of flexible working, but there are many other forms flexible working can take.  The term ‘flexible working’ is a broad definition covering situations that offer varying degrees of flexibility over the duration, location, and times you work.

two casually dressed women sit talking across a table

Flexible working may also look like:

  • Part-time working
  • Compressed hours
  • Flexitime
  • Job share
  • Staggered hours
  • Hybrid working

How do I ask for flexible working?

Many business leaders anticipate conversations around flexible working, and will already have plans in place to either discuss or meet individual requests. If you are one of the lucky ones, and you work in an industry that supports flexible working this is great. However, things may not be as simple if your boss isn’t as accommodating, or if on the surface, your role doesn’t appear flexi-friendly.

Here are some tips to help you formulate your flexible working request.

The first step is to submit a formal request to your employer. This is normally followed up by a meeting to discuss your request in more detail.

Before the meeting, try to do some research to provide the rationale behind the type of flexible working arrangements you are proposing.  These arguments could be both focussed on you as an individual or the whole business.

For example, if you have worked remotely or a compressed week throughout lockdown, focus on what worked well during that time.

Never experienced flexible working?

If you have never experienced flexible working before but want or need more flexibility in your role going forward, you may need to come up with a solution to your request for your employer.

Think about the solution that would work for you before you approach them. This solution-based mindset will be welcomed and will show you are committed to making the arrangement work.

Here are some ideas you may like to think about.

Flexitime.

Think about tasks you must do within business hours, and tasks you could do outside normal business hours. Have a system worked out before you make the request.

Job share or part-time.

How could the wider team share or cover your current responsibilities without losing productivity?

What if I’m met with resistance?

Of course not every sector or industry has the luxury of being able to offer all forms of flexible working. Remote or at home working isn’t applicable everywhere, for example.

As we said before, remote working is just one option and perhaps there are other manifestations of flexible working your employer could offer. If you are met with resistance or your employer is hesitant, perhaps you could suggest a trial over a set period. This will allow you and your boss to see how things are working. You will also be able to identify problems and experiment with the arrangement before they are made permanent.

Note your value.

Your experience and skills are an asset to your employer. When you go to them with a flexible working request, make sure you highlight your skillset and include all you bring to the role and the organisation.  There is a significant war for talent at the moment, so employers are recognising the need to be more adaptable and accommodating when it comes to reasonable employee requests.

Flexible working. Making it work.

The pandemic has changed the face of employment; perhaps forever.  Flexible working options have become part and parcel of job descriptions. Candidates have come to expect to see this as the standard arrangement. It is no longer a Nice to Have. For many, flexible working arrangements have become a standard, non-negotiable feature of a role.

Remote working is just one form flexible working can take, so even if yours is not a sector that can support remote working it doesn’t mean flexible working is off the table.

Flexible working is possible. It just requires creative thinking and a solution focussed, progressive mindset from all involved.

Reach out.

Are you a tech, digital or data professional and would like to work for an employer who can offer flexible working? Many of our progressive clients are offering remote working, hybrid arrangements and other flexible options to suit the needs of today’s job seekers.

Get in touch to hear more about our tech and digital job opportunities today!

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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