“Working 9 to 5, what a way to make a living” – Dolly Parton, 9 to 5
Dolly Parton sang it and for a while there we all believed that having a proper 9-5 job (or really 8.30 to 5, but that doesn’t rhyme as well) was what it took to be a proper grown up.
Now a trend seems to be emerging among those of us in our 20s and early 30s against the traditional work week.
Before I launched my business, I worked only a four-day week for a year. I was actually going to quit my job completely and go and find a part time job while I built up my businesses, but my boss offered to let me work reduced hours as a way to retain me.
It worked out really well for me too. I got to remain in a job that I enjoyed for longer without the pressure of finding part-time work, and had a steady pay to boot.
But there were also obvious benefits for my employer too. They got to retain an awesome employee (that’s me ) who already knew all the systems, and probably completed more work in four days than a new hire would have done in five (at least in the short term).
There are also other benefits for employers who offer flexible work arrangements.
According to Halley Bock, CEO of Seattle-based Fierce Inc., a leadership and development training company, “flexible work hours have become a powerful incentive for millennials.”
“More than a perk, greater time flexibility is also good for productivity. Some employees work best at different hours of the day and can be more productive in certain aspects of their job when they have the freedom to choose when to work,” said Halley.
So how do you go about negotiating flexible work hours?
The first thing is to ensure that you are meeting (or exceeding) your goals at work. Your boss needs to be confident that you can work without having someone checking up on you all day.
“Before I made the ask, I ensured I was doing stellar work and making myself an invaluable team member for the company. I wanted to prove I was responsible and capable of self-management before I approached my boss to ask about working outside the office,” explained Kali Hawlk, a now-solopreneur who made the transition to freelancer easier by working remotely part-time for her existing employer.
You also want to get clear on what your reasons for flexible/remote work are, and how this benefits your work. Do you work more productively at the end of the day and so would to better work if you could start after lunch? Or is your commute quite long, and so removing the need to come into work a few days week mean that you get more done?
Basically, highlight the benefit to your employer, instead of how this benefits you.
Finally, have a think about the possible objections and how you can get around this. Maybe your boss is worried that you’ll miss important meetings – if so, assure them that you’ll come in for all staff meetings even if they are scheduled on your ‘remote’ day.
Your boss also might worry that you’ll slack off if you are working from home – so perhaps include a clause for regular assessments of your work output and an agreement that you’ll go back to standard hours if things aren’t getting done.
Really, with the improvements in online technology and apps it’s now possible to do almost any job from anywhere (and sometimes at anytime). Sure, there’s something nice about hanging with your colleagues in the break room, or ducking into your boss’ office for a chat, but there are also plenty of benefits to being able to set your own schedule and work when and where you are most productive.
And as the younger generation push back against standard working norms (and I’m not just talking the 9-5 work week, but also rejecting the idea of long tenure and a career for life), employees will need to adjust if they want to attract and retain the best of this generation.
Have you negotiated with your workplace for flexible hours (or maybe you tried and were told ‘no’)? Would having a flexible workplace make you more likely to stay with the same employer for longer?
Share your stories in the comments. I’d love to hear them!
Original image: Flickr/Dollen