4 steps to get the work flexibility you want and deserve

Flexibility in the workplace exists, but you may have to create it for yourself. The experts at Maybrooks put together some tips that can help you get there.

1. Ask for a reduced workload or work-from-home options.

Be clear about what you want. Take some time to think through why you are asking for this new schedule and what it is you really need or want. Is it the ability to work a day or two from home? Are you seeking a reduced workload, e.g. three days per week instead of five? What are some things you are willing to give up in exchange for this setup? Money? Promotions? These opportunities don’t necessarily have to go, but it’s good to think about what you’re willing to offer in your negotiations.

Research what others in your company have done and how they did it. Do you know anyone who negotiated a flexible schedule internally? Talk to them and learn what worked or didn’t work for them. Talk to peers or friends outside your company, too. Finally, ask for tips and advice from a career coach.

2. Build the business case for yourself.

Remember that it’s all about them, not you. Answer these questions:

—What contributions have you made so far? How will those contributions be affected if you go part-time or work from home?

—What goals and milestones will you continue to work toward, and how can they be measured?

—How will you stay in communication with your manager and team on the days you’re not physically present?

—How can you be flexible with the company in return? What are the benefits to the company for allowing you to go part time?

Think this through like a business presentation: problem, solution, results. (Read how one mom did exactly this!)

3. Go solo.

Go freelance.

It’s a great time to work for yourself. Technology innovations and policies like the Affordable Care Act have significantly reduced the barriers to working for yourself. In fact, it’s estimated that 60 million people will be freelancers by 2020.

If you go this route, consider the initial steps and put the building blocks in place:

1. What can you do that will keep you in the mix should you want or need full-time work again? What skills should you keep sharp that may help you down the road?

2. Float the idea of what you want to do with advisors and champions. You can overlap by setting up your business and landing your first client before leaving your current job.

3. Edit your online presence, from LinkedIn to Facebook and beyond (time for your own website?), and polish your resume.

4. Set goals and deadlines for what you want to accomplish personally and financially.

Sell products or services online.

Do you have a passion, hobby or skill that could make you money? Websites like Etsy, RedBubble, eBay and Zaarly make it easy to earn for everything from designs to yard work. Even Whole Foods takes online submissions for new products to put on its shelves. As one wise career advisor told us recently, “Nurse your passion while you toil. Then switch it up.” In other words, keep your day job while starting to sell, and then make a change. Here’s a good summary from Forbes on turning hobbies into jobs.

4. Change jobs or careers.

Seek out companies that have good flex policies already in place. There are many. Our job board is a great place to start.

“Work it” into a flexible job. Some industries and careers offer a higher degree of flexibility than others. See, for example, this list of 25 flexible jobs.

There are many ways to find the right fit when it comes to flexibility. Figuring out what works for you requires some research and a willingness to keep trying. But as my mom likes to say, “If you don’t have yourself, you have nothing at all.” You owe it to yourself to ask for what you want or go find it. Be confident. Raise your hand. Be assertive. “Sit at the table,” as Sheryl Sandberg says (definitely read her chapter on negotiation in Lean In if you haven’t already). Recognize your value in the workplace. Go after what you want and get people to listen to you. And believe in yourself.

Maybrooks is a career resource for moms. Search jobs, research family-friendly companies and find tools to navigate your career.

Maybrooks is a career resource for moms. Search jobs, research family friendly companies, and find tools to navigate your career.

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