It used to be that working from home — also known as telecommuting — was a luxury of luxuries. Fortunately, more and more forward-thinking employers are seeing the workforce management benefits of giving employees a flexible work schedule and environment. However, not all companies are an ideal fit for the category.
We’re going to be honest: It’s usually hard to negotiate a flexible work schedule in an interview, not to mention it might be risky to request such a perk at this stage of your job search. But it’s not impossible, either. If you do your homework and have perfect timing, you can come out with a successful interview.
Make sure the company is actually open to flexible work schedules
You should first determine whether bringing up the topic of flexibility with the company you’re interviewing for is worth it. Scout for clues about the company’s work culture and environment by doing the following:
- Start with the Careers page of their website and look for any mention of flexible work arrangements.
- Savvy employers promote flexibility because they know it’s a strong selling point. But some won’t actually practice it, which is why it’s important to check first with current and past workers.
The point is to do your homework — as with any other interview — to know if the company is receptive to work flexibility or not.
Negotiate with your employer in mind
The benefits of a flexible work schedule for employees are clear and easy to spell out. These include, among other things:
- A better balance between life and work
- More time with family
- More time to exercise
- Reduced stress from commuting
- More savings
Your employer will likely already know about these benefits, so focus on creating a detailed plan demonstrating why flexibility will work not just for you, but the company.
- Highlight business articles and studies showing why flexibility is beneficial to employers.
- Mention the potential real estate savings with letting people work from home.
- If you’re willing to take a pay cut or sacrifice other work benefits in exchange for flexible work hours, be sure to mention this.
- Employees with flexible work schedules are more productive (cite reports and surveys)
With some preparation and creativity, you can present the advantages of flexibility for yourself, into advantages for your employer.
Offer a trial basis
If you can get the hiring manager to warm up to the idea of work flexibility but they’re having second thoughts about it, you could ask to be placed on a waiting list or trial period before you can finally telecommute or work a non-traditional schedule. Some companies might prefer new staff to get a feel for their job and show reliability and performance before they give flexibility benefits.
Conversely, if you can actually get a company to offer you flexibility from the beginning but they want a guarantee of your performance, you could ask to be put on probationary status as a sign of faith that you’ll be putting in the work even from the convenience of your home.
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