How To Negotiate A Flexible Work Schedule

One of the toughest issues to deal with when it comes to employment is scheduling. In today’s world it is more or less assumed, unless stated otherwise, that you are willing and want to work a standard 40-hour workweek, from 9 to 5 (or similar) each day. It is also assumed you want to work Monday through Friday. But let’s face it. Life doesn’t always fit into convenient 9-to-5 boxes, and a lot of us have lives outside of work. Whether you have health issues, a family to raise, other projects to work on, or simply want a different kind of life, you may not be keen on the 40-hour full time workweek. How do you secure a job with flexible hours?

The very best thing you can do is look for a job which already is offering hours you find acceptable. Look for part time or season jobs or jobs which specifically say “telecommute” or “flexible hours” on the postings. There are not a lot of these out there, though, so that can make it challenging to find what you need. If you cannot, you will have to find another way to negotiate hours.

If you are applying for a job that lists a range of possible hours, you may have some options when it comes to negotiating the terms of employment. Do not ask about scheduling during the job interview if you can avoid it. If it comes up, then you can address it directly, but otherwise, steer clear. Questions about hours often make you appear lazy. It is also easier to persuade someone to do something for you if they already want you onboard. Otherwise you just look like a high management employee who will be difficult to deal with.

The best time to talk about hours is after the job offer has been extended and after salary negotiations successfully conclude. Be warned that this is a dangerous business, and there is a good chance that the discussion will be a deal breaker—either for you or for the potential employer. Some workers will also wait until they are already working at the company fulfilling normal work hours to bring up flexibility in scheduling. The danger here is in getting sucked into a job you really cannot or do not want.

When you do propose flexible hours, be sure that your proposal includes plans for contingencies, necessary attention to compensation and benefits, and exact hours and days you would be working. If you can, make the arrangement sound like a boon to the company. Explain how your productivity will actually increase, and how you will be more committed to your employer’s success. A trial period may be a good idea.

Don’t expect to have an easy time negotiating flexible work hours outside a workplace where they are the norm. Remember to keep the discussion focused. Keep the attention off of your reasons for wanting the flexible hours, and instead keep the focus on how a flexible arrangement can mutually benefit you and the company you work for.

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