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How To Negotiate Flexible Work Arrangements

Ever since the pandemic struck, flexible work has become the talk of the town. According to Deloitte, ‘up to 47.8 million people in the ASEAN-6 nations could shift to working remotely’ over the next few years. Singapore was singled out as one of the member states projected to face a huge growth in its resident remote workforce 

Yet, not everyone is sold on flexibility. Despite the efforts of many governments to ease the transition towards remote work systems, many employees have still found themselves dependent on the benevolence of middle managers with regard to flexible work arrangements. 

Concerned with productivity, team synergy and administrative ease, many managers have demanded that their employees return to the office full-time in spite of the Covid-19 crisis. In return, frustrated employees have demonstrated their willingness to quit or take pay cuts to secure work flexibility.

A flexible work arrangement is nothing short of a two-way relationship, particularly for traditional companies that are new to the flexible work movement. Employers need to start hearing their employees out, and employees ought to play their part in demonstrating the feasibility of remote work. 

If you’re looking to bring up flexible work arrangements to your boss during your next meeting, here’s a step-by-step guide for negotiating flexibility!

Do your research

Flexible work isn’t feasible for all. Some jobs (e.g manufacturing, food handling) can’t be done remotely due to practical or legal reasons. Take some time to research your company’s flexible work policy and find out whether a flexible schedule is workable for your position.

Understanding how the existing flexible work policy relates to employee benefits, local labour laws and internal work assessments and promotions will help you to propose a realistic flexible arrangement aligned with your company’s domestic regulations.

Formulate a detailed plan

Synchronising with your colleagues 

Team meetings and joint projects are a crucial part of every workplace. Naturally, your managers will want to know how you are going to synchronise your workload and communications with your fellow colleagues. 

Start by asking yourself which tasks can be conducted fully online, and which require on-site meetings. For example, can brief morning check-ins be done via video conferencing? Does it make more sense for lengthy brainstorming sessions to be settled face-to-face? 

You’ll also need to take into account the individual needs and preferences of your coworkers as well. Consult your coworkers on which virtual conferencing platforms they are most comfortable with and how they can reach you directly during the days you’re away from the office. Applications like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are some of the leading communication tools perfect for small teams. 

Performance assessment 

As explored, some managers may be apprehensive about not having a physical line-of-sight when it comes to monitoring their employees. Despite more than a year of remote work, some managers still feel that remote work creates more opportunities for employees to slack off. 

Assuage your manager’s concerns by drafting up clear and objective performance measures. For example, planning daily checklists and scheduling routine check-ins throughout the day helps managers feel more connected to their remote employees. Most importantly, thorough remote-friendly performance measures help managers to track your work progress which helps to build trust – an essential element of effective flexible work arrangements.

Back up your proposal

Ask yourself: What’s in it for your company? Some managers may need a bit of convincing when it comes to taking the leap towards flexibility. If managers are trading off in-person office hours, they want assurance that employees are putting the extra time to good use. 

Try keeping a record of your successes and achievements while working remotely. For instance, meeting more targets and finishing off projects before stipulated deadlines could be a clear indicator to your manager that remote work results in higher productivity and efficiency. 

You can also try to note down some of the important interpersonal and time-management skills picked up from remote work. Being able to communicate objectives clearly and concisely over meetings and learning to accommodate the virtual needs of your colleagues are practical skills valued by organisations!

Strategise and think about how to present your plan

Lastly, identify who to approach regarding your flexible work plan. You can start by talking to teams or coworkers who have had extensive experience working remotely to find out how they went about coordinating a flexible work schedule. 

Also think about when to ask for flexible work arrangements. Busy periods may disadvantage your request for flexible work since bosses are more focused on ensuring the team meets upcoming deadlines. Try giving your manager a little more downtime and space to think about your request (e.g. over a weekend or public holiday).

Finally, try starting small with your requests. For example, you can propose a trial period so that your manager feels that he/she is well-positioned to evaluate your remote work performance before agreeing to a permanent shift towards remote work.

About Deskimo

Deskimo is the flexible work platform of choice that helps businesses navigate the new future of work. With us, you and your business can adapt to flexible work, and pay-as-you-go across dozens of spaces in Singapore and Hong Kong. 

*Our workspaces are currently safe, open and ready for your return. Do adhere to local Covid-19 safety measures to keep yourself, and other workspace patrons safe.

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