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7 steps to getting a flexible work schedule

There’s no doubt about it: The workplace of the future is flexible. A flexible workplace boosts motivation, improves work-life balance and productivity, and retains talent. Multiple surveys have shown that flexible hours are one of the most important factors when it comes to job satisfaction.

No wonder companies across the world are offering flexible work and telecommuting programs. However, a recent survey revealed that Malaysian workers are less likely to ask for flexible working arrangements as compared to workers in other Asia-Pacific countries. The relatively low rate of employees engaged in flexible work is an opportunity for the Malaysian business community to improve workforce participation and improve productivity.

If you’re looking for a more flexible schedule, with your current employer or in a new firm, these seven steps may help you get it:

1. Begin by prioritizing your needs

The workflex format will work – for you and your company – provided you know what you are aiming for. Is it the chance to reduce the commute, spend more time with family or be able to focus on hobbies? Once you know why you’re going for this rejig, you’re be more focused and better able to build a case.

2. Figure out the kind of work flexibility you want
There’s no one-size-fits-all format when it comes to flexible work. You need to figure out what works for you: Telecommuting, a flexible / alternative schedule, a condensed work week, or your own schedule that involves giving up vacation days and taking time off later. Decide what your ideal flexible work format will be before you work on it.

3. Evaluate how receptive your employer is to workflex

If your company is a traditional work environment with strict do’s and don’ts, chances are they won’t be quick to embrace flexible work. But if they allow you to work from home once in a while and talk about how amazing remote working is, they may be ready.

4. Build a case for a flexible work arrangement
Create a formal pitch that specifies the type of flexibility you are looking for and how you will put it into place. Ask your employer for time and never begin this conversation by e-mailing the request.

5. Focus on the “we”, not on the “me”
You need to have a clear picture of how you plan to sustain – may be even boost – productivity. When you make your pitch, never focus on yourself or your needs. Use “we” instead of “I” and “me”. You have to convince the boss that the new plan is in his and the company’s best interest.

6. Ask for a trial period and work on your output
No manager is likely to give in to a flexible work request easily. Ask for a trial period to dispel fears and show how flexibility can work. Keep track of all quantifiable achievements. Make time for closer communication to make sure your boss trusts you and flexible is the “new normal”.

7. If nothing seems to work, look for other flexible pastures
Flexible work works, we all agree. But if the higher-ups in your company don’t agree, there’s little you can do. Look for other options; there are plenty of firms now willing to accommodate flexible working hours as a perk.

The right technology, regular communication and a disciplined attitude can ensure that a company and its employees can find the right fit between remote and office working hours. So go ahead and ask for your flexible hours!

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