This Guide Will Explain How to Ask Your Boss for More Flexibility at Work

two women working together in an office
Rawpixel/Getty Images Businesswomen

Here at The Penny Hoarder, we read job posting after job posting from companies desiring workers who are flexible.

They want employees willing to work changing schedules, who can simultaneously balance multiple projects and who can sometimes carry out work outside their job descriptions.

But sometimes those companies are a little, well… rigid themselves.

So what do you do if you wish your workplace were more flexible for your benefit?

Thankfully, 1 Million for Work Flexibility, the advocacy arm of FlexJobs, has laid out a plan for you to approach your boss to get the work flexibility you crave.

“[1 Million for Work Flexibility] wants to give workers guidance around how to approach the issue of flexibility in a way that will hopefully get them the change that they need, and also in a way that will help that change be most successful,” said Emma Plumb, the director of 1 Million for Work Flexibility.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Asking for a Flexible Work Schedule

The organization has created a step-by-step guide with three phases: preparation, proposal and discussion.

During the preparation phase, you’ll want to ask yourself questions to figure out what your ideal working situation would look like. The guide suggests rehearsing your pitch with a friend during the proposal phase and asking your boss to implement a trial period for the new flex schedule during the discussion phase.

The resource also includes suggestions for what to do if your company doesn’t respond exactly in your favor. Getting a “no” doesn’t necessarily mean giving up completely on the thought of work flexibility at your job.

“Going to your boss with any request can be difficult,” Plumb said. “But it’s especially hard when you’re asking for something that could be interpreted as a sign that you are less committed to your job.

“That’s why in the 1MFWF guide, we stress how important it is to emphasize all the ways that your employer will benefit from offering flexibility. Work flexibility isn’t a perk or an accommodation, it’s a strategy for ensuring that workers can [get] their jobs done most effectively. There’s nothing less committed about that.”

Plumb said all types of workers — parents, people caring for aging relatives or ailing partners, people with physical or mental health issues, military spouses, people living in rural communities, people who have volunteer commitments, night owls, early birds, hobbyists and more — have the need for more flexible work options.

“The traditional, rigid workplace model makes it impossible for the majority of workers to succeed at their jobs and also succeed in their personal lives,” she said. “And that disconnect is not only unfortunate, it’s also unnecessary. We have all the technology we need to change the way work gets done for the better.”

If you’re looking for a new job altogether, check out FlexJobs’ employment listings which show openings from companies known for their flexible work practices, and bookmark The Penny Hoarder’s jobs page, which continuously features jobs that give you the flexibility of working from home.

While you’re at it, like The Penny Hoarder Jobs page on Facebook for more fun and interesting job opportunities!

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She really appreciates work flexibility.