How to ask your boss for flextime

To show you're still fully committed, be logged on, working and emailing during office hours. Credit: Monkey Business/ThinkStock
To show you’re still fully committed, be logged on, working and emailing during office hours.
Credit: Monkey Business/ThinkStock

Whether you have a toddler or an older child, it can seem like you never have enough time at home. Maybe you want to ask your boss if you can work from home in the afternoons so you can be there when your kids get home from school. Or maybe you want to be home one or two days a week to spend more time with your baby. Liz O’Donnell, author of “Mogul, Mom and Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman,” tells Metro that no matter what your work-home situation is, talking to your boss about flextime is worth it and can be done. Here’s how to do it.

Gauge your work culture
“A lot of companies boast about having flex benefits, but it might not be the true culture of the workplace,” O’Donnell says. “If you look around and no one’s doing it, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ask for it, but you could be frowned upon for taking them up on something they hoped nobody would.”

Whether you’ll be the first in the company to ask or not, O’Donnell says you should ask yourself how much equity you have in your career and how well-respected you are. If you’re new to your job, it might be better to wait. But if you have a reputation for being a good employee, your boss is more likely to hear you out.

Frame it as a win-win situation
Now comes the hard part: asking your boss. O’Donnell stresses it’s important to point out what your employer will be getting out of the deal. “If you ask to work from home on Wednesdays, tell your boss how fully committed you’ll be those days because it means not worrying about your kids being home alone, or whatever it is,” she says.

O’Donnell also points out that your boss might have questions that will take you time to answer, so it may take more than one conversation. “Your boss may want to know how it is going to work, especially if you have clients or meetings. It may take several conversations to answer his or her questions.”

Flexibility goes both ways
If your boss gives you the go-ahead, it’s important to actually work from home. “Marissa Mayer at Yahoo! pulled back her company’s work-from-home policy because data showed people who said they were working from home weren’t logged onto the server,” O’Donnell says. “If you are expected to work 9 to 5, be logged on from 9 to 5.”

O’Donnell also says you should be willing to come in for an important meeting even if it falls on a day you typically are at home. “You shouldn’t say, ‘Well, you had me come in on Wednesday, so now I’m going to switch my work from home day to Thursday this week,” she says. “If you ask an employer for flexibility, you need to [give] flexibility back.”

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence


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