Flexibility in the workplace exists, but you may have to create it for yourself. You can do it! We’ve put together some tips that may help you get there.
ASK FOR A REDUCED WORKLOAD or WORK FROM HOME OPTIONS…
Be clear about what it is you want. Take some time to think through why you are asking for this new schedule and what it is you really need or want. IS it the ability to work a day or two from home? Are you seeking a reduced work load (three days per week)? What are some things you are willing to give up in exchange for this setup? Pay? Promotion? These don’t have to go but it’s good to think about what you are willing to offer in your negotiations.
Research what others in your company have done and how they did it. Do you know anyone who negotiated a flexible schedule internally? Talk to them and learn about what worked or didn’t work for them. Talk to peers or friends externally. Ask for tips and advice from one of our career coaches.
Build the business case for yourself. Remember it’s all about them — not you. What contributions have you made so far? How will this be affected if you go part time or work from home, if at all? What goals and milestones will you continue to work toward and how can they be measured? How will you stay in communication with your manager and team on the days you are not there? What ways can you be flexible with the company in return? What are the benefits to the company for allowing you to go part time? Think this through like a business presentation — problem, solution, results. Read how one mom did this.
Hang your freelance shingle: In short, it’s a great time to work for yourself
- It’s estimated that 60 million people will be freelancers by 2020
- The Affordable Care Act and technology have significantly reduced the barriers to working for yourself
If you go this route, consider the initial steps and put the building blocks in place: 1) What can you do that will “keep you in the mix” should you want or need full-time work again? What skills should you keep sharp that will help you down the road? 2) Float the idea of what you want to do with advisors and champions; Maybe get your first client before leaving your current job? 3) Edit your online presence, from LinkedIn to Facebook and beyond, and edit your resume; 4) Set goals for what you want to accomplish personally or financially, and by when.
Sell something online: Do you have a passion or a hobby that could make you money? Etsy.com, ebay.com and Zaarly.com make it so easy to take those hobbies and passions to the bank. Even Whole Foods takes online submissions (now and then) for new products to put on their shelves. As one wise career advisor told us recently, “Nurse your passion while you toil. Then switch it up.” In other words, keep your day job while starting to sell online, then make a change. Forbes wrote a good summary on turning hobbies into jobs.
CHANGE JOBS OR CAREERS
Seek out companies that have good flex policies already in place — there are many. Our job board is a good place to start.
“Work it” into a flexible job. Some industries and careers offer a higher degree of flexibility than others. Check out this chart and research by Harvard economist Claudia Goldin.
There are many ways to find the right fit on the flexibility path for yourself. It takes some elbow grease and willingness to keep trying until you find what works for you. As my mom likes to say, “if you don’t have yourself, you have nothing at all.” You owe it to yourself to ask for what you want, or go find it. Be confident. Raise your hand. Be aggressive. “Sit at the table,” as Sheryl Sandberg says (definitely read her chapter on negotiation in “Lean In” if you haven’t already). Recognize your value in the workplace. Go after what you want and get people to listen to you. And believe in yourself.
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