Working Flexibly? Make it Work

Flexible work is mainstream now – at least it is supposed to be.  We now have a legislated right to parental leave, and a legislated right to request a flexible work arrangement and have it considered.Working Flexibly

Getting a proposal request right and approved is one thing, but making your arrangement work once it is approved takes hard work and lots of communication.

Here are some tips from those who have done it successfully:

  • Make sure you understand what the impact will be on your budget and be clear about your career development expectations while working flexibly.  A conversation now may save misunderstanding later.
  • Have a communication plan to ensure it works for you and everyone in your team – who will be responsible for contacting clients.  Are you prepared to answer urgent emails and phone calls when not in the office?   Your ‘out of office’ message should state who should be contacted in your absence.
  • Are you able to change your days or hours if you are needed – if so make sure your supervisors know what you can and can’t do – for example if you have dependents you may be limited by the days of care that is available.
  • If you do work additional hours or days, then assuming your billable hours targets are being met, ask how will this be remunerated?
  • Talk to people who are working flexibly and successfully – they will be able to help you if you have issues to address.
  • Find someone to take responsibility for your matters when you are not in the office – and use this as an opportunity to develop and mentor that person.  This will be to your mutual advantage.
  • Over communicate  – remind people when you will be away from the office, when you will not be available, when you can be available if you are not normally available, what needs to be done between periods at work.
  • If problems arise – with communication, expectations of workload, disappointments – don’t obsess and worry about it.  Start a conversation, however difficult, at the earliest opportunity before the problem gets bigger.

The key to any successful flexible working arrangement is open communication and support.