Talking flex: Top tips for employees from Working Families

Sometimes the most difficult thing can feel like starting the conversation. Here are some tips on what to consider.

There's no wrong way to ask for flexibility in your role. There's no wrong time to ask. It's all about starting a conversation with the people you report into (your employer). When you're starting your conversation, keep it human. It's likely your conversation will be an exchange of ideas.

Looking for flexibility in an existing role

Think through your current working pattern and what you're looking to put in place. What impact will this new pattern have on the organisation? Think through the concerns your line manager, colleagues and service users may have. How do you think your new pattern could work on a daily basis? You might draw on examples of other people who do a similar job to you and how they have been able to do it flexibly.

There are a number of different ways of working flexibly that you might want to suggest: a job share partner, agreeing an allocation of work with another colleague so that you are the point of contact for each other when the other person is not there.

For example, this might work if you were to work 08.00–16.00 and your colleague worked 09.00–17.00. You could offer to help train a job share partner, and perhaps a job share partner could contact you at home if required to clarify any issues.

If suggesting working from home, then think about the activities of your role and if it is something you want to do. Do you have the necessary home environment and work equipment so you can work effectively from home? Can you cange your weekly work pattern or have part-time cover during holidays?

How will your new work pattern work in a crisis situation? You may want to offer being available by phone to deal with emergencies or urgent requests.

Remember to point out the benefits to the charity: two heads are better than one (job share positives), flexible work helps keep employees happy and retains them, and it doesn't cost the business anything more.

When talking to your line manager, suggest giving your new pattern a try. What looks good on paper, might need some changes and if you agree a trial you'll both be able to make the changes you both need, and you'll give the new pattern the time it needs.

Looking for flexibility in a new role

You've seen a job advertised, and it's a role you want, but there's only one issue: no mention of the flexibility you need.

Right now, there's no legal right for anyone to have flexible working. But there's no harm in asking at any point in the recruitment process. Always start with a conversation and follow all the tips above.

Maybe even focus your job search on recruitment agencies specialising in ethical recruitment.

Source: Working Families

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 10 February 2022