Making the case for flexible working to your employer

So you want to carry out flexible working or teleworking but you are unsure as to how to convince your employer?

Maybe your employer is also looking at getting a superfast broadband connection, or has already done so, and so this is the ideal time to introduce flexible working?

Statutory right to request flexible working

Employees can apply for flexible working if they’ve worked continuously for the same employer for the last 26 weeks. It’s known as ‘making a statutory application.’ Further information is available here

The easiest way of exercising your right to request flexible working is to use a standard form which you can get from www.direct.gov.uk. On this site, search for flexible working right to request. However, you do not have to use a standard form and some companies have their own forms.

On www.direct.gov.uk you will also find information about the process regarding the right to request flexible working and timetable that your employer will have to adhere to, in responding to your request.

When you do not have a statutory right to request flexible working
If you do not have caring responsibilities and therefore are not covered by the legislation, there is still some value in following the overall approach outlined above, at least in so far as setting down your request in writing, clearly stating how you would like to carry out flexible working, from what date and detailing the impact it is likely to have on your employer together with an explanation of how any disadvantages of flexible working could be overcome.

Flexible working points to communicate to your employer
In addition, there are a number of other points about flexible working and teleworking it would be worth covering with your employer. Remember that with the arrival of superfast broadband, it is easier than ever to work flexibly from home at least some of the time.

1) The advantages of flexible working
Research has shown that many businesses experience a number of benefits when they introduce flexible working. This includes increasing productivity and the ability to reduce travel. Check out the business benefits and point these out to your employer (How can flexible working benefit your employer)

2) The type of flexible working you want
So that you communicate what you want from flexible working clearly to your employer, you should work out exactly how you would like to carry out flexible working. For example, do you want to change your hours and if so, how? Do you want to work from a home office or garden office part of the time, with remote computer access? Do you want compressed hours or annualised hours? There are many different types of flexible working and you should think this through in detail so that you make sure that the proposal you put to your employer really is the one that is likely to achieve the work life balance you are seeking.

3) How you will achieve your outputs
Set this scenario out for your employer and explain how you will manage to achieve the various outputs that are associated with your job.
When flexible working or teleworking, the main shift of focus is to see your job in terms of your specific outputs rather than time spent in the office.
Explain how you will achieve all the various outputs that are expected of you.

4) Cover off the concerns your employer may have.
For example, if you want to work from a home office or garden office, your employer will need to know that your home environment is suitable for the flexible working arrangements. This is both in terms of health and safety and freedom from other distractions. You should not expect to be able to care for young children whilst you are working from a home office, and you should stress to your employer that you understand this. Offer to carry out a Risk Assessment of your home environment, looking at health and safety issues.

You will also need to explain how you propose to maintain communications with your manager and other team members. Email will make up a lot of your communications, but ensure you also schedule in time for regular telephone and personal contact, as well as conference calls and maybe video conferencing. If you have superfast broadband, using Skype, for example, means flawless video calls, so you can still chat face to face. It will also help if you define core hours when you will definitely be available for telephone calls and face- to- face meetings, either in person or on Skype.

Your manager may be concerned to know that you will be able to be self disciplined and motivated and that you will not suffer from feelings of isolation. These are common for the lone worker. Lone working can be lonely. You need to think this through yourself, you know yourself best! If you genuinely feel confident that these issues will not be a problem and that you will have personal strategies for dealing with them if they arise, then say so to your employer.

5) Set out flexible working proposal in writing and discuss face-to face
You will find it helpful to set out your proposal in writing. Doing so, will also help clarify what you want to get out of flexible working. But do aim to accompany this with a face-to-face discussion with your employer.

Listen to any objections your employer raises and, if necessary, go back to him or her later with specific suggestions as to how any disadvantages of flexible working can be overcome.

6) Refer your employer to this flexible working toolkit
If your employer needs further convincing about the advantages of flexible working , ask them to take a look at the flexible working toolkit on this website and, in particular, the case studies which show increasing productivity.

7) Set up flexible working as a trial initially
Make sure that your employer sees it as a flexible working trial initially. This will seem less of an irrevocable commitment and less of a big step. You can suggest that you try out flexible working or teleworking for a trial period and then review how it is working out for both parties. Make sure you know in advance how you will judge if it is a success.

Good luck!

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