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Flexible Working: What Is It and How to Put In a Flexible Working Request

All you need to know about requesting a more flexible contract.

January is one of the most popular times for employees to take a closer look at their jobs, perhaps by asking for a pay rise, exploring a change in career, or even taking a sabbatical.

Yes, the start of the New Year is often a time for professional reflection, but that doesn’t necessarily mean packing in your job altogether. If you’re happy with the career you’re in but are striving for a better work-life balance, it could be time to consider flexible working.

Whether doing your job from home, rather than the office, or being able to have a little more control over your working hours, research has shown that flexible working can make employees more productive and happier.

Still, it probably doesn’t feel like the easiest conversation to have with your manager.

Martijn Roordink, co-founder and managing director of Spaces, gives his advice on how to go about putting in a flexible working request:

1. Do your research

“Understand your rights and ways around asking for flexible working before you speak to your employer”, Martijn advises. “There are two ways to apply for a change: a statutory request (made under the law on flexible working) and a non-statutory request (not made under the law on flexible working).”

According to studies, any employee has the right to make a statutory application for flexible working if they have been with the company for a minimum of 26 weeks. To do so, you will need to make a formal request in writing – there is a template you can use for this if you wish – and you can only make one request in any 12-month period. Find more info on how to make a statutory request here.

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2. Speak to HR

If you’re unsure on how the laws might apply to you, speak to your HR department for advice on your rights and the best course of action. Whatever route you go down, you should take the following into consideration…

3. Be confident

“Asking to work flexibly doesn’t have to be difficult”, Martijn says. “Be confident in your request and importantly, state why you want to work flexibly, emphasising howand when it will happen. You should follow up your conversation with an email stating your case too, so you have it all in writing.”

4. Show you’ve planned ahead

“Give your boss confidence by planning how you’ll manage regular calls and meetings, whether that be by dialling in, using Skype, or coming into the office for important face-to-face sessions”, Martijn advises.

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5. Show them it’s worth their while

Martijn explains that while some companies may think working flexibly means less productivity and a less structured working pattern, the reality is the opposite. In fact, “flexible working is being adopted by some of the world’s leading companies, with businesses seeing major benefits from letting their employees work flexibly.” He advises to show that you have considered the impact on the business by pointing to the benefits – “flexible working can save timeaid productivity and interestingly, can reduce levels of carbon emission by cutting down on commute distance.”

6. Ask for a trial period

If your boss doesn’t go for the idea straight away, or seems reluctant to agree, Martijn suggests asking for a trial period to see if working more flexibly will suit you and your company. “Alternatively, you could try to start with just one or two days a week and see how it works out for you and your boss. For example, many companies now have a ‘flexible Friday’ policy.”

7. Be realistic

As nice as working from home might sound, it may not be the best environment for you to work in for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s distracting, maybe you don’t have a comfortable work space, or maybe you prefer to be around people rather than in isolation. Spaces allows you to find a flexible workspace nearer to your home so that you can be in a productive environment without having to commute.

8. Be prepared for a ‘no’

Hopefully, your company will agree to the request and everyone will go on to work happily ever after. But this may not be the case. Prepare yourself for a ‘no’ and decide – do you still want to work here if they don’t agree to flexible working terms? If not, it may be time to explore other options.

This post previously appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk.

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