A recent Catalyst survey of MBA graduates across different industries found that 50% of those surveyed said workplace flexibility was very or extremely important to them. 81 percent said their company offers some form of flexible work. In fact, more than three-quarters of U.S. companies have turned on to the advantages of flex time — which includes less stressed and happier workers and greater employee loyalty.
Yet the reality is that receiving flexible work benefits is not a slam dunk for women. Research shows that managers are more likely to grant these benefits to men over women, even ambitious women who have demonstrated a strong commitment to their careers.
So what is the best way to negotiate for flexible work?
Here are some suggestions:
Do your homework.
Find out what the company policy is regarding flexible work options. Telecommuting, reduced hours, early departure, virtual work, job sharing are some of the common offerings. Decide what would work best for you given your current situation.
Ask your colleagues if they know of people who have flexible work and reach out to those people and inquire how they negotiated their benefits. Get their advice on what works best and what not to do.
If the company does not have policies, be creative. Draft your own proposal.
Build your case.
Once you decide what options to ask for and you have collected your information about how this works best in your company, it’s time to craft your proposal. What is the best scenario for you? You can always negotiate for less if you get pushback.
Focus on how the company will benefit.
Be clear what you are requesting, then focus on how this will help your boss, department, or company. You need to answer this question in preparation for your negotiation. Increased productivity, more focus, less distractions from colleagues, could be considered. Keep the conversation focused on how you will be better able to perform better and get the job done.
Be practical, not emotional.
It’s critical for any negotiation to remain calm and confident. Leave your emotions and your ego at the door. It’s a business conversation and don’t take it personally if you get pushback initially. Be prepared emotionally to discuss different options.
Be prepared to give up something.
In any negotiation you need to be prepared to be flexible. Decide what you are willing to give up for the flexibility you want? If it’s less salary, than how much? If it’s working on a special assignment, are you willing to walk away?