How to Clearly Communicate Your Need for a Flexible Schedule

How to Clearly Communicate Your Need for a Flexible Schedule

The world is now shifting towards sustainable work schedules, driven by a quest for greater work-life balance and the evolving demands of today’s workforce. Beyond these factors, a flexible work schedule also offers significant benefits to employees with disabilities. If you’re aiming to make your work schedule more accommodating but are unsure how to approach your employer, this guide is tailored for you. 

Exploring Flexible Work Arrangements 

Unlike traditional jobs, which confine you to certain times and environments, flexible work arrangements are unstructured work schedules. With a flexible schedule, you would not necessarily need to work during typical work hours or even leave the comfort of your home. If you’re fulfilling personal quotas, meeting your organization’s goals, and generally functioning optimally in your role, you can work anytime and from anywhere. Being flexible at work allows you more autonomy, a greater work-life balance, and more control over your time. 

There are many kinds of flexible work arrangements, and here are some of the most common: 

Flexitime 

This arrangement allows you complete flexibility over your starting and ending hours. You can work flexible hours if you complete the number of hours that constitute a full workday. Instead of beginning work at 9:00 AM and ending it at 5:00 PM, you could choose to work from 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM or from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Flexitime is a fully adaptable schedule as it all depends on your preferences and what is convenient for you. 

Part-time Work 

Part-time work is a broad term used to describe work that does not consume as many hours as a full-time position would per week. The typical work week is 40 hours long in most countries, and a part-time role would not require these many hours, with most jobs requiring between 20 and 29 hours a week. This frees up much more time for workers and is especially useful for individuals who are in school or raising young children. 

Condensed Work Week 

A condensed work week is a working schedule that compresses the amount of work hours stipulated into a smaller time frame. This usually involves compressing five 8-hour workdays into four 10-hour workdays. However, it can be much less, depending on your flexibility goals. 

Remote Work 

Remote work, which allows you to work from home or anywhere else outside the office, is one form of flexibility that may be considered a reasonable accommodation. The best part is that it holds benefits for both employees and employers. 

For employees, it helps in reducing both the risk and the cost of transportation to and from work. Research by the Irish Wheelchair Association shows that 77 percent of individuals with physical disabilities cannot access public spaces, services, or amenities because of a lack of diversity and inclusion in their construction.¹ This difficulty may also extend to transportation services. Remote work demolishes these barriers, which not only reduces the cost of movement but eliminates the risk of injury while doing so. 

On the side of employers, studies have shown that the average U.S. employer can save over 11,000 USD annually on each part-time remote worker, and remote workers themselves work 55 percent more from home than they typically would at the office.² In fact, a mammoth share of the world’s workforce considers hybrid work an ideal arrangement, which means that companies are likely to tilt more towards creating more remote work options for their employees. 

However, even if a more flexible schedule isn’t considered a reasonable accommodation at your workplace, it’s still a good idea to ask — especially if your role allows you to work from home, such as roles like administrative assistant or data entry clerk. 

How To Ask for a More Flexible Work Schedule 

Here’s how to request flexibility in your work schedule for the best chance of it getting approved: 

1. Highlight the Benefits of a Flexible Work Schedule 

While employers may wear various hats, at the end of the day, their job is to ensure the organization’s goals are being met, employees are productive and satisfied, and the bottom line doesn’t become a concern. Anything they think could disrupt the ecosystem they’ve worked hard to cultivate could be seen as a red flag. 

For traditionalists, flexible work may be seen as a threat to productivity and, by extension, profit. That’s why it’s important to highlight the benefits of implementing greater flexibility in your work week. While your reasons for seeking this request are personal, of course, it’s a good idea to prepare some concrete, objective “selling points. ” 

Will you be more productive with greater flexibility? For example, you’ll be away from your desk less because your physiotherapist does house calls, and you can get right back to work after treatment. Will greater flexibility align with the organization’s purpose-driven goals? Will it fit in with their commitment to being an equal-opportunity, socially conscious employer? 

2. Be Specific with Your Request 

While you may know what you mean by “flexibility,” it could mean a variety of things to your employer. You might want a half day on Friday to go to your regular medical appointments, but your employer may think “flexible” means you suddenly want to be part-time; or you might want to work from home three days a week to take a break from the office’s environmental triggers that may be contributing to your migraines, but your employer might think “flexible” means working from home only one day per week. 

When framing your request, be specific about what exactly you want and try to prioritize what’s most important. After all, it will be harder to sell your boss on “working from home every day” than “working from home on Tuesdays only.” It’s also a good idea to offer a trial period. It’s harder to say no when the change isn’t permanent. Plus, you can prove the benefits that you outlined previously. 

3. Make the Request in Person (If Possible) 

Did you know: making a request in person is 34 times more effective than asking via email?3 While the ability for you to request in person may not always be possible—due to things like movement restrictions or mobility barriers—it’s a good idea to make your request as close to in-person as possible. A video call is your next best option, and a phone call is your third. Try to avoid email if you can, as it is more impersonal and provides a greater opportunity for rejection. 

4. Manage Employer Expectations 

As previously mentioned, your employer may have concerns about flexible work, including communication, connectivity, productivity, or company culture and morale. You already highlighted the benefits to them, so they should be on board, right? Well, not always. 

Like any new change, there will be questions. By anticipating these questions and potential concerns from your employer, you can better manage expectations. 

For example, if they say something like, “If you want to work from home two days per week, then everyone will want to work from home two days a week,” you could respond by saying something like, “By allowing me to work from home two days a week, you are simply fulfilling my request for an accommodation that will help me be more productive. Working from home, I’m not receiving the perks available to in-office team members, but will still be an equal, active member of the team.” 

It’s also helpful to remind your employer of your loyalty, reliability, and great work to date by including quantitative results (i.e. sales made). It may also help to provide a road map of how you plan on implementing your flexible work schedule so they can visualize it. 

5. Know What to Say if You Get a “No” 

While it may be frustrating to get a “no” from your employer on your flexible schedule request, it doesn’t mean the conversation has to end there. If you’re refused workplace accommodation, it’s important to find out the reasons why. Receiving a concrete reason helps open the door to addressing concerns and continuing the conversation in the future. 

LET GALT HELP YOU FIND FLEXIBLE WORK 

Looking for flexible work? At Galt Foundation, employee flexibility is built in. Galt is one of the world’s largest temporary staffing organizations for individuals with disabilities. If you’re currently searching for a new job, check out our latest employment opportunities. 

With over 20 years of experience, we’ll support you through the employment process and match you with the right job opportunity. Feel free to contact our expert team

References 

1 “Survey Reports Poor or No Access to Public Spaces.” Irish Wheelchair Association, Accessed 7 Feb. 2024, www.iwa.ie/survey-reports-poor-or-no-access-to-public-spaces/

2 “Remote Work Statistics: 50+ Key Facts to Know in 2024.” Notta, 30 Nov. 2023, www.notta.ai/en/blog/remote-work-statistics

3 Bohns, Vanessa. “A Face-to-Face Request is 34 Times More Successful than Email.” Harvard Business Review, 11 April 2017, hbr.org/2017/04/a-face-to-face-request-is-34-times-more-successful-than-an-email

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Let’s start a conversation! Are you a person with disabilities searching for a job or an organization with temporary or long-term employment needs? We look forward to helping you realize your potential.

Contact Us

Let’s start a conversation! Are you a person with disabilities searching for a job or an organization with temporary or long-term employment needs? We look forward to helping you realize your potential.