Flexible working has been on the rise for some time, helped along by a change in the law in 2014 which allowed any employee to formally request a more flexible working pattern, provided that they had worked for their company for a minimum of 26 weeks.

Before this change, only employees with children below the age of 16 or registered carers could make a formal request. Now, any permanent employee can ask to be considered for a flexible working arrangement, for any reason they like, and their employer is legally bound to consider it.

What does flexible working mean?

Flexible working can mean a range of things, depending on the employee and their circumstances. Usually, it means a change to your days, hours or place of work.

Before you make your request

Before you leap into making a formal request for more flexible working, it’s a good idea to plan ahead. Here are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of a successful application.

  • Consider the impact on your employer and try and offer solutions and reassurances in relation to what they might perceive as challenges to your requested changes.
  • Try to tell your employer in plenty of time so that you’re not putting them in a position that will mean their decision and the switchover will be time-pressured or rushed.
  • Outline a plan which shows your employer how this change will benefit the company as well as you.
  • Be confident in your decision, if you’re not sure that the new arrangement will work, you can’t expect your employer to be.
  • Offer more reassurance by letting them know you’re prepared to be flexible on their behalf when it comes to your new working arrangement; be prepared to move things around now and again to accommodate important meetings or offer to make the occasional on-site visit to catch up with people if you need to.

Making the transition

If your request for flexible working is successful, it’s time to prepare yourself for a change to your working lifestyle that may be quite alien to what you’re used to.

For those who are starting to work from home for the first time, finding a way to switch off and setting boundaries between work and home life will be important to the success of this transition. Whether that means making use of local coworking spaces, sticking to set working hours or enforcing regular breaks that get you away from your computer for five minutes every now and again, setting yourself up with these good habits will help you establish a healthy and rewarding way of working that will benefit both you and your employer.