Following are some tips that can help employees have effective conversations about flexible work options with their managers.
1. Make sure you are well informed about the available options for flexible work before beginning a conversation with your manager.
If the policies are not easily accessible, you might ask your manager or contact the appropriate HR representative.
2. Talk with others who have taken advantage of these policies to see what worked for them and to help decide what would work best for you.
Also ask about any tips they have for having the conversation with a manager.
3. Set aside time where you can have a fairly detailed conversation with your manager and not be in a rush.
Be sure to also mention in advance to your manager that you want to talk about flexible work arrangements so that they can be prepared.
4. Ahead of the meeting, clearly outline your ideal flex situation and your primary needs.
For example, do you need to work remotely, be free certain times of day, and/or have a reduced workload? Identifying your primary needs will help you arrive at the best solution for both you and the team. If your ideal solution is not possible, think about what other options might be acceptable.
5. During the conversation, clearly state your ideal situation, but also clearly indicate that you are open to exploring other possibilities.
Like any negotiation, begin with your ideal “ask” but indicate your willingness to work together to come to a mutually beneficial solution.
6. Make it clear that you have the team’s best interests in mind and that you will be conscientious about maintaining communication and productivity.
Ask what concerns your manager might have and indicate that you want to do your best to alleviate those concerns.
7. If your manager cannot make your ideal situation work, ask what other options he or she thinks might be possible.
Beginning with a “tried and true” method to flex work can be a good starting point. After “proving yourself,” you might be able to negotiate conditions that move closer to your ideal situation.
8. Be sure you and your manager are clear on how performance will be measured given these new arrangements.
Ideally, you can agree in writing about if and how your performance criteria will change with this new working arrangement.
9. Come to an agreement about the best ways to communicate with the team.
For example, some teams make sure to schedule team meetings only during “core hours” of the day. Or you and your manager may want to think about what kinds of meetings can be held virtually and which need to be in person. If needed, you may want to schedule regular “check-ins” with your manager to communicate any necessary updates and/or to assess how well the flexible work plan is working for both parties.