How NOT to request flexible working 

Asking for flexible working can be rather nerve wracking at the best of times. But with a little bit of planning, and by avoiding the main pitfalls, you’ll give yourself the best chance of negotiating the working days/hours you want.

Don’t make the request all about you

When you ask for flexible working arrangements, don’t make it all about you. Pointing out things like it will help you manage childcare better, or that different hours would be more convenient to you might well be true, but the key is to show your employer how flexible working arrangements can be beneficial to both of you. Therefore the best way forward is to explain how your request will make things better for you and your employer. Phrase it so that you say something like:

“Working from home will mean I don’t have to do a long commute to the office every day, which will allow me more time to work on my projects” or “Working flexible hours will allow me to do the nursery run in the morning and afternoon but still be available during core office hours for meetings”.


Don’t make it all about your children

They might be the centre of your world, for sure, but keep in mind that they aren’t the centre of your employer’s. Focus on you the value that you bring to the business and use that as your main tool of persuasion.

Bringing your children into it too much can be more than a little off putting to some employers. Avoid saying things like “Working reduced hours will help me manage my childcare better, and because I won’t have to worry so much about childcare, I can be more focused on my work when I’m in the office” or “my child’s going through a rough patch at school and I need to be at home more”. Of course these are very important and valid reasons, but they’re best kept to yourself as much as possible when asking for flexible working. Keep it professional and to the point.



Don’t forget to be clear about the benefits to your employer

Make sure you can speak clearly about why you want to work flexibly and how this will benefit your your performance at work and wellbeing.

Try not to get over emotional

Don’t cry. When you’re feeling nervous or have been up with your little one for the fourth night in a row sometimes emotions can well up inside and be difficult to fight. But it’s so important you remain calm and objective. By getting upset you’ll likely lose your train of thought and appear in a less than perfect light in regards to professionalism.

Don’t make the request solely verbal, back it up in writing

Without having your request written down, you – and your employer – run the risk of forgetting everything you’ve asked for. In fact, it’s likely that your employer will need it written down and will not accept a request which is only verbal as they will need to have it for their records. Also, by writing down your request you reduce the chances of there being a dispute later on if you believe you asked for something specific and your employer believes you didn’t.

Best of luck!