How to Negotiate from Full Time to Flextime

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Posted by The Editors on May 9, 2011
How to Negotiate from Full Time to Flextime
Developments in computing and communication have made it easier than ever to plug into the office from home. If you've got skills your employer needs, chances are you can negotiate a flexible job that enables you to work the way you want.

You won't find flextime jobs in the newspaper, but you can negotiate them with your employer (or prospective employer). Here's how to do it successfully.

If You Don't Know What You Want, You Won't Get it
If you're locked into an eight-to-five office job and desperately want out, you need to think clearly about what would make you happy. Do you want a flexible full-time schedule, or a part-time schedule with a corresponding loss of pay? Do you want the freedom to decide where and when to work, as long as an agreed-upon deadline is met? Finally, how much risk can you take on?

Your answers to these questions will help you identify what you want to do and how you'd like to do it. You'll need this information when you negotiate a different work plan with your employer.

Anticipate What the Company Needs
By thinking carefully about what your employer needs, you can anticipate concerns and address them up front. Note that if the work doesn't lend itself to flextime, you won't be able to negotiate your way into a flextime job, regardless of your skills. Is the work modular, or does it involve large, indivisible projects? Do you spend a lot of time talking on the phone or working alone—things you could easily do from home? If you work in a team, could you effectively interact with team members from home?

The bottom line is your productivity. Think about how your employer will be able to evaluate your work— you don't want your employer wondering what on earth you do all day. Share the risk. Your employer should know that if you don't produce, it won't pay you. Concrete deadlines, sales targets, and billable hour totals are all ways to assure your employer is getting its money's worth, even if if your supervisor can't see you hard at work.

Does Management Support Flextime?
When seeking job opportunities with an eye toward flextime, look for a company that values families and which already has some flextime policies in place. Some people warn that asking about these policies during an interview is the kiss of death—but if that's the case, do you really want to work there anyway?

Don't Tip Your Cards too Soon
Still, you shouldn't broach the subject until you have a firm offer. Then, when they expect you to negotiate for more money, negotiate for time instead. Now that they've decided they want you, that's what they need to give you to get you. If they refuse to negotiate flextime, try to negotiate a reevaluation of that policy in six months or a year.

And remember: Don't feel guilty about asking for flexibility. Structuring a job that allows you to make a happy long-term commitment is to everyone's advantage.

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