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We’re all after more time.  Time to feel like we’re winning.  Time to stop.  Time to breathe.  Time to live.  Time to spend with our kids; our families; our friends.

One way to help establish a better balance is to try flexible working.  Anyone who has worked for a company for 26 weeks or more is entitled to ask for it. Studies have shown it increases productivity, loyalty and happiness. But how do you ask for it?

Revising how you work – giving the traditional nine-to-five a shake-up – might take a little persuasion, especially if you’re the first in your organisation to request it.  So make sure you have a plan. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want your flexible arrangement to be.  Flexiblity doesn’t just mean reduced hours. It’s not necessarily about doing less.  Perhaps you want to work in a different location outside the office. Maybe start a little later to be able to drop the kids off at school? Or finish a bit earlier to collect them? You might even want a little of everything. Be upfront and honest about your needs as this might help you get closer to your ideal arrangement.  And be open about why.

Make sure you have an informal chat with your line manager to test the water.  Does your organisation already actively support flexible working?  If not, why not?  Make sure you have plenty of questions ready and try to find out about any existing flexible working policies.  This will all stand you in good stead when you put your request in writing.

Next, think about the practicalities and put together a clear business case.  Flexible working isn’t yet the norm and so it’s important to reassure your managers and your team while eradicating any nervousness by coming up with a thorough plan.  Illustrate how your revised hours will affect your team and demonstrate an understanding of any impact it will have.

Suggest a trial period with an open and honest review.  Be it three months, six months – make sure you put a date in the diary and stick to it.  But be prepared to be flexible.  If your initial plan hasn’t worked for any reason, don’t be afraid to suggest alternatives.  Get feedback from your team and your clients to see what worked well and also what might work better for them.  Remember to revisit your initial plan.  Why are you doing this? Why did you request flexible working in the first place? Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve and make sure you’re delivering against your goals. Anything is possible if you give yourself enough time!

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