How to pitch a flexible schedule

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in Admins,Leaders & Managers,Office Management,Performance Reviews

When Debi Hochestetler's son started having trouble at preschool, she realized it was time to talk to her boss about a flexible schedule.

So the admin for Connell Purchasing Services in Naperville, IL, approached her boss about a flexible schedule so she could start and leave an hour and a half earlier.

Here’s how you can do it, too:

• Determine which flexible scenario you need: condensed workweek versus telecommuting versus job share. No one-size-fits-all.

• Think about your on-the-job performance before you approach your boss.

“Because my performance evaluations have always been complaint-free, it made me feel more able to ask,” Hochstetler says.

Prepare yourself for counterarguments. What reasons might your boss have for saying no? Address those concerns in your proposal.

Two things concerned Hochstetler: First, who would take over answering the phones, which is normally her domain? Second, what would happen if she fell behind on her work?

“I pointed out that we have two other admins who can answer phones, work on presentations, etc., even if I were to leave early.” She proposed staying late every Wednesday to catch up on work.

Suggest a trial period. In Hochstetler’s case, the trial was three months. Two years later, the arrangement still works.

To help make the plan work, she “trained” the people she supports. “I’d send out an e-mail saying, ‘Don’t forget I’m leaving early today, so get your work to me, and I’ll have it done in the morning.’”

• Don’t bank on hearing a reply on the spot. Instead, set a time frame for the decision.

• Make your request in writing, highlighting the benefits from your boss’s perspective. This makes it easier if your boss has to ask his boss about your request.

What Hochstetler highlighted: One of the top managers she supports is at the company’s headquarters in New Jersey, which is an hour ahead. Coming in earlier than everyone else gives Hochstetler time to tackle his work first.

These days, life is “not as stressful” for Hochstetler, but the change has had an impact beyond her working hours: Flex schedules have become more the norm at her office. “Now if the weather is bad or when people’s children are sick,” she says, “they can work from home.”

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