Careers | You Don’t Need to be a Parent to Ask for Flexible Working

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I’m going to let you in to a little secret: if you’ve worked for your employer for more than 26 weeks you’ve got the right to ask for flexible working. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get it but your employers reason for turning you down should not be based on your reason for applying but the decision should be on the impact the change would have on the business.

Types of flexible working

There are different options when considering applying for flexible working, some of these such options are below but it’s not a definitive list. 

For some people it is about doing part-time hours, which can mean working less or shorter days. This obviously means a cut in pay so for some this may not be viable for financial reasons. The good news is that there are lots of other options available.

You could try compressed hours – this is when you work all your contracted hours but over less days. Some people compress their hours to 4 days, but this does mean working quite long hours. Another option is to work a nine day fortnight. This is where you build up enough hours over two weeks to have a day off.

Another option to consider is flexible start and finish time. So you may start an hour early and finish an hour early; it may not sound like much but finishing at 4pm can make your evening feel a lot longer.

Or how about working from home a couple of days a week? If you’ve got a long commute this can be a really valuable option. You’d be amazed the difference it can make.

If you’re looking for ideas on what type of flexible working could work for you I’d recommend doing a bit of research and talking to people who already do it. You want to get your request right as you can only apply once a year. However, some employers may agree to trial different options to see what works for you and the business, particularly if you’re asking for a working pattern no-one else in the business does.

Why you might be interested in flexible working

There are lots of reason to consider flexible working, Lis who blogs at Last Year’s Girl decided to go part time this year so that she could use the extra time to focus on her blog, freelancing and some leisure time, she now works four days a week in her corporate job.

Other reasons people apply for flexible working includes fitting in studying or hobbies or just because they can. Of course your reason for applying might be because it helps you balance your work and family life.

And let’s not forget this applies to all the men out there too, this is a great blog from a dad who applied to work from home two days a week so he could spend more time with his kids.  

Me, myself & flexible working

I’ve been working a nine day fortnight for a couple of years now and I love it. I’ve done a bit of a combination of reducing my hours (by 2.5 hours across the two weeks) and taking a shorter lunch.

It works well for me as I’ve got a really long commute (sometimes over 3 hours a day), which is pretty tiring so it is nice to get a longer break from it. But it also makes fitting in seeing my friends & family, running an Airbnb and attempting to get my blog started that little bit easier.

Advice for applying for flexible working

Start by having an informal chat with your line manager about your desire to do flexible working and the work pattern you think would work. Basically put the feelers out to see what they think and if they’re leaning towards one suggestion or if they’ve got a different idea that could work.

When applying for flexible working remember it isn’t just about your needs you’ve got to think of the businesses needs too. So if you think that flexible working would help improve your productivity at work or what you’re planning on doing will improve your performance in your role by giving you different skills or more confidence it is definitely worth mentioning.  

You can feel a bit uncomfortable about asking for flexible working, particularly if you’re the first person in your organisation to ask. But remember the worst that can happen is they say no, so just go for it.

And remember flexible working isn’t your only option to finding the balance you’re looking for. When Pamela, who blogs at Life with Munchers, was made redundant she went for an even bigger change going freelance, which she has found gives her the flexibility she needs.

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