Being able to work flexibly can be crucial, especially during difficult times like these. KK Harris is a Business Psychologist.
KK Harris is a Business Psychologist & Executive Coach Director at Talking Talent, who has helped leading organisations around the world. We asked her for some dos and don’t when asking for flexible working arrangements during a cost-of-living crisis.
You have to create and present a business case as to why you need this adjustment.
This can be particularly challenging for introverts and diverse individuals who might only be one of a few in that space and already feel like they’re more noticeable. That’s going to create a certain level of uncomfortableness.
So the first thing you need to do is actually know what the flexible working policy is. What are your rights? What stance does the business usually take? In a corporate space this may be found on an employee hub, but if you can’t find this information you’re going to have to ask the question.
Write down all the things that will make a strong business case for the flexible working arrangement you want.
It’s important to be prepared, especially if you’re more junior and you’ve never done this before. Your boss will ask you why you want to make this change, so make sure you have a good answer ready.
Does it mean working from home two days a week, or does it mean you need to work remotely for six months? Perhaps you want to reduce your days or hours?
You might be a parent, you might need to stay home to take care of a family member, you might be looking to make adjustments for your mental health. Have a clear idea of what you want in your mind and don’t be afraid to explain why.
Bosses like to know that the person making the request has thought about the impact their request could have on the business. You don’t need to have the solutions (although it’s great if you do!) but show that you’ve carefully considered the wider impact of your request and share any ideas you have on how to make the transition smoother.
This shows that you’re working with the business, you’ve considered everyone, and you’re much more likely to get what you want.
Not apologising, not lowering or minimising yourself. An awful lot of people do this, and it doesn’t help them at all, professionally or emotionally.
Respect yourself. Take your boss or manager off the pedestal. I know positional power exists and we respect our leaders, but at the same time for your own mental wellbeing, remember that you’re just two human beings having a conversation.
The impact of your job shifting may be great and require adjustment and planning time, even if you’re junior.
Try to plan it out and understand that it may take, for example, 60 days for the next budget to be approved or a couple of months to hire someone new. Don’t get upset if your request isn’t immediately honoured. You’ve got to give people a chance to adjust, especially if the impact is great.
You may find this challenging, but use it as an opportunity to let them see how professional you are.