Career Advice

How to Persuade Your Boss into Flexible Working

flexible working

When you first start out on your career from college or university, you will put your heart, soul, time and all of your dedication to nurturing it. However, after few years your life will probably change and you will want more flexibility in your working career to allow you to do everything else you need to do.

Most companies will give some leeway to employees needing a flexible working approach, especially for parents with caring responsibilities for their children, or carers needing to look after older relatives or disabled family members. But despite there being a need for more flexibility in the workplace, some employees have to battle with their bosses to get the hours they want.

Working reduced hours, or having the option to work from home can be an ideal solution for many workers, but persuading their boss can be difficult in practice.

Flexible working is the future

With 90% of companies in countries such as Germany and Sweden offering flexible working hours, the Equal Opportunities Commission are hoping that other countries such as the US and UK will catch up eventually. But this still leaves many millions of workers having to continue to push for more flexibility while having to balance their caring duties privately.

In many cases even if you are entitled to ask to work flexible hours, your boss doesn’t have to agree with you or accept your request. A lot of this can come down to how you word your demand and how you approach your boss. A lot of workers put a request in with their boss without really thinking it through correctly.

Think about the negatives

While you can see the obvious benefits of how flexible hours would better suit you and your needs, for your boss, they may only see the negatives and issues it would cause for them and the company.

What you need to do is see the situation from both sides. Work out the potential problems it would cause your boss, your co-workers and the company should your hours reduce, or you perform more of your work from home.

Try to work out how many issues could be resolved and be sure to include your suggestions and solutions in your request to your boss. Going in to see your boss with a balanced approach will be much better than going in unprepared.

Seeing issues from both sides allows you to counter any arguments against your request with a sensible solution. You need to make it as difficult as possible for your boss to turn down your request.

A lot of bosses like to stick to a routine and follow a set procedure. Because of this, some bosses do simply say no because it would be seen to be too complicated to accommodate any other way of working. By making sure that you explore all the options available to you and by coming up with some very sound solutions, you are saving your boss any difficulty and will make it hard for them to reject your request.

You could make a case about how building flexibility into the company working hours can be seriously useful for them instead of being a negative thing. Look around at your co-workers. Even though we have achieved greater equality between the sexes, it is still the case that most women have to manage most of the family caring duties with work. If the staff are mostly female, then it would be in the interest of the company to build in flexible working hours to retain female staff that may also go on to be mothers, or already are parents and find it a struggle to balance their work and home life.

Retaining skilled and experienced staff is a huge cost-saver, this is why large companies such as the banking industry offer flexible working hours to help preserve more staff with families. Lloyds TSB banking group have had a flexible working policy in place since 1998. Flexible working means that they can employ workers on a part-time basis who will then work during the busy periods. This means they are not a burden on company costs during quiet hours when less staff are needed. You could use this scenario as a great example of flexible working.


So, if you are thinking of asking your boss for flexible working hours, make sure you do your homework first. Put yourself in their shoes and work out what negatives they can use to refuse your request. Come up with some robust workable solutions and go into your meeting fully armed. If your boss is particularly stubborn, don’t take no for an answer and take your request and workable solutions to a higher authority.

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