Negotiate Your Way

All moms are looking for ways to spend more time with their families, and having a flexible work schedule can really help. Before you approach your boss with the idea, do a little research and get prepared.

Woman talking to boss

If you pine for a work schedule that enables you to bypass that commute to work in traffic, that saves you money by transforming lounge pants into a work wardrobe, or that compresses your work week into four days, then it's time to sharpen your negotiation skills and approach your boss.

Get background information

Be sure to check with your HR representative if flexible scheduling benefits are already in place. If not, ask around to determine if any other employees have flexible arrangements. Find out what they did to negotiate the schedule and use their tips for making your schedule work.

It's all about them

Plan to negotiate your flexible work schedule with your employer -- not you -- in mind. It's not about you this time and what works best for your family, but rather how this arrangement can benefit them. Most companies that offer family friendly benefits do so because it makes sense, not because they are being kind and charitable.

Note the advantages

The advantages of a flexible work schedule for both employees and employers alike are well documented. Those employers who implement these schedule benefits understand that it is an incentive to recruit and retain the best talent, of which many are working mothers. Additionally, employers realize that it helps improve productivity because, according to studies, people are happier at their workplace when they receive accommodations, emphasizing their importance on the job and boosting morale.

Pros and cons

Take a hard look at your life and situation before you begin the negotiation process to work from home. There are definitely those people who cannot work from home because they are too distracted by, well life! Laundry, bills, and the phone doesn't stop, so you have to be ready to disconnect during the time you are dedicating to your job.

Here are few drawbacks of working from home:

  • The line between home and work gets blurred
  • You don't have visibility from management
  • You give up the social interaction with coworkers

All of these items, plus any other personal distractions should be considered if you are contemplating whether or not to work from home.

Create a blueprint

You should present your proposal for a modified schedule in writing. The key points to address in your proposal are:

  1. How your flexible schedule will benefit your employer
  2. Provide an outline of the work arrangement you want
  3. If asking to telecommute, describe your home work station capacity
  4. Describe how you plan to maintain communication with the office (i.e. weekly reports, daily emails)
  5. Detail how you and your manager can regularly review the effectiveness of your work schedule
  6. List any needs you have specific to your position and job responsibilities
  7. Ask for their support

Be flexible yourself

If your workplace does not have a formal scheduling policy, you'll need to approach the discussion with flexibility in mind. Be open to suggestions from your boss on how they envision the schedule working. This will help ensure you consider all possible scheduling options, even if it's a small change to start. If your boss seems only lukewarm about your proposal, suggest a trial period of three months. This trial period is good for both of you.

It will take some work but, in most cases, a flexible work arrangement will be given the consideration it deserves.

More ideas for working moms

How to be happily employed in a tough economy
Getting along at the office: Adapting to change
Four stress-less tips for working moms


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Comments on "6 Tips to approach your boss about a flexible schedule"

John January 06, 2013 | 2:30 PM

Hi, I am starting a new job & go to night school 3 times a week. The classes are in the US & I work in Canada. I would like to ask my boss if I could only take 1/2 hour lunch versus a 1 hour lunch & leave at 4:30 pm versus 5:00 pm. Leaving work at 5:00 pm will make me late for my night classes? What should I do?

Karen December 12, 2012 | 8:28 AM

This is a tough one. As a single working mom, I've lost a few jobs over the years because of employers that just weren't willing to be family-flexible. I've learned to ask the right questions BEFORE I take a new job and I make sure that it's a good fit for that employer too. It is about them since you're joining their team. Up-front and on-purpose communication is definitely the key!

Amy November 29, 2012 | 8:52 AM

Great read! I think it's great if companies start allowing more people to work from home some of the time. It's all about proving yourself and having a plan. It's worth it to ask, though...worse thing that will happen is your boss will say no.

Elizabeth November 21, 2012 | 12:26 PM

Great article! Many of us will need flex time at our jobs at some point so these tips on how to negotiate with your employer are very helpful. I agree with what everybody else has written so far. Employers are more likely to be flexible when you have a proven track record to stand on, so make sure you do a good job at your work before asking for special accommodations. If an employer grants flex time, also be willing to return the favor by taking on extra projects and assignments. This is what I did when I had flex time after giving birth to my son and it worked out well.

Jessica November 16, 2012 | 4:08 PM

Yup, it's totally about them and you have to remember to accommodate them so you're not replaced. I think being prepared is key. Have a plan in place. Even if your boss rejects it, maybe you can tweak it together to find a balance that works for you both.

Amanda June 20, 2012 | 5:24 AM

I agree with Marissa - do a great job at your job, even better than before. Let your boss see your increased results and productivity. If you are happier and not spending hours in traffic, you will be able to focus more on the job at hand, which is ultimately what the employer wants.

Suzi Says January 21, 2011 | 9:10 AM

Marissa - you are absolutely right! The negotiations go WAY smoother when you already have set precedent and have a track record of success!

Marissa February 17, 2010 | 8:13 PM

Yes, yes! And, do an AWESOME job, preferably for awhile before asking for a flexible arrangement. I am so blessed to have job flexibility - and I think a lot of it has to do with delivering results. Like Suzi says, it is about them, not you. So, show them you get the job done and done well - and if they're hesitant at first, ask if you can try the arrangement for a month and see how it goes. During that month, did I an AWESOME job!

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