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7 steps to ask for – and get – a flexible working arrangement

7 steps to ask for – and get – a flexible working arrangement

It’s never going to be easy for women to have fulfilling careers and raise families in today’s business world. But employers can make it easier for them by creating more flexibility in the work place, which allows women to accommodate work on top of their responsibilities outside of their job.

Offering flexible work schedules is the need of the hour across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. A recent report titled ‘Power Women in Arabia: Shaping the Path for Regional Gender Equality’ from A T Kearney, a global management consulting firm, reveals that participation of women in the workforce in GCC countries remains one of the lowest globally. And while several companies are offering incentives like free nursery services and flexible work schedules, more needs to be done. A survey conducted in Abu Dhabi last year found that most women felt that more flexible hours in the workplace would help them significantly.

It’s not always easy to find a flex-friendly employer, so asking for a flexible schedule at your current job is the fastest way to get it. Follow these seven steps to successfully negotiate the arrangement:

  1. Begin by prioritising your needs
    The workflex format will work – for you and your company – provided you know what you are aiming for. Is it the chance to reduce the commute, spend more time with family or be able to focus on hobbies? Once you know why you’re going for this rejig, you’ll be more focused and better able to build a case.
  2. Figure out the kind of work flexibility you want
    There’s no one-size-fits-all format when it comes to flexible work. You need to figure out what works for you: Telecommuting, a flexible/alternative schedule, a condensed work week or your own schedule that involves giving up vacation days and taking time off later. Decide what your ideal flexible work format will be before you work on it.

  3. Evaluate how receptive your employer is to workflex
    If your company is a traditional work environment with strict do’s and don’t’s, chances are they won’t be quick to embrace flexible work. But if they allow you to work from home once in a while and talk about how amazing remote working is, they may be ready.
  4. Build a case for a flexible work arrangement
    Create a formal pitch that specifies the type of flexibility you are looking for and how you will put it into place. Ask your employer for time and never begin this conversation by e-mailing the request.
  5. Focus on the “we”, not on the “me”
    You need to have a clear picture of how you plan to sustain – may be even boost –productivity. When you make your pitch, never focus on yourself or your needs. Use “we” instead of “I” and “me”. You have to convince the boss that the new plan is in his and the company’s best interest.
  6. Ask for a trial period and work on your output
    No manager is likely to give in to a flexible work request easily. Ask for a trial period to dispel fears and show how flexibility can work. Keep track of all quantifiable achievements. Make time for closer communication to make sure your boss trusts you and flexible is the “new normal”.
  7. If nothing seems to work, look for other flexible pastures
    Flexible work works, we all agree. But if the higher-ups in your company don’t agree, there’s little you can do. Look for other options; there are plenty of firms now willing to accommodate flexible working hours as a perk.

The right technology, regular communication and a disciplined attitude can ensure that a company and its employees can find the right fit between remote and office working hours. So go ahead and ask for your flexible hours!

Are you looking for a flex-friendly company? Find a Contract Job here

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