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Proposing a Flexible Work Arrangement

by Larry Allen

Would you like to join over 30 million U.S. workers that have flexible work arrangements? Its not impossible, but you'll have to have a well thought-out plan to make it a reality.

Before you start developing your plan, it important to understand the most common alternative work arrangements. Deciding which one may work best for your situation is the first step in developing a convincing proposal to your current/prospective employee.

For additional information on this topic, see the report titled Alternative Work Arrangements.

Starting the Process

Unfortunately, most American companies have been slow to embrace flexible work arrangements for employees. That means you'll have to propose it to get the discussion started. It's important to keep in mind that flexibility is not an entitlement! The company will look at your position as an expense -- regardless of work arrangements

Contact someone in Human Resources or speak with your client. Find out what types of flexible work arrangements they permit and what guidelines, if any, there are. If there's a written policy, review it and learn how benefits, compensation and career track are affected by flexibility. If not, you'll probably be asked to submit one in writing (you already knew that).

If you're currently employed or developing business, the steps listed below will prove helpful in targeting the companies/clients that offer workplace flexibility.

Proposing a Flexible Work Arrangement

Now that you've gotten an idea of which type of work arrangement will be best, lets move on to developing a flexible work arrangement proposal. Your proposal should include the following:

Introducing Your Proposal

• What is your current role in the organization?

• Who are your customers and what are your deliverables?

• How will you tailor your job responsibilities to fit your schedule?

• What will be your schedule? Be very specific (i.e. days, hours, seasonal changes or crunch period changes).

• How will you meet your performance goals on this schedule? Will they require revision?

• How will daily issues be resolved?

• How will the department be effected by your new schedule? Will some responsibilities have to be reassigned?

Operational Issues

• State your flexibility. Be prepared to address how your schedule can meet staff meetings, busy work periods and other business needs. Start by formulating your worse case scenario plan (i.e. sickness, car trouble, etc.).

• Set boundaries. If your off time is constantly interrupted, your flexibility, in essence, is non-existent! Make sure there is a clear understanding of what is to be considered as "acceptable notice" for staff meetings, return calls and other office "emergencies."

• Equipment/tools you'll need. Will you need a laptop, fax, or an additional phone line? If so, will the company/client reimburse you for any out-of-pocket expenses?

• Schedule more frequent review periods. If this is a new concept for your employer or client, make sure their needs are being met. During the first year of your arrangement, schedule quarterly reviews to provide opportunities for modification.

• Consider your compensation. You may want to suggest your new pay reflects a percentage of your current compensation. For example, if you have four-day workweek, you recommend being responsible for 80% of deliverables (i.e. billable hours, current projects, etc) and in return you'll be paid at 80% of your pay. If you are ineligible for benefits, adjust your total pay accordingly.

Timing Issues

• Don't present your proposal unless your have your supervisor's undivided time and attention. Present it to them and allow them a reasonable time for review and comments. Keep in mind any discussions about your arrangement should treated confidentially until they are officially announced.

• Put yourself in your supervisor's position. If your boss feels your arrangement will result in more work for him/her, there's little chance it will get approved! Cover every issue that could be a concern to your boss!!! Make a strong and convincing case that this can and will work for all parties involved. Role play with someone and practice answering the tough questions you will probably be asked.

• Be flexible and know your limits. Your supervisor will probably make a counter proposal. Be prepared to know which concessions you'll make and those that aren't negotiable.

• Don't justify your request. It's very important to keep your personal issues and emotions out of your proposal. Things such as child care or recreational pursuits should not be discussed. Instead, focus on how this flexible arrangement is a smart business decision.

• If you've made valuable, consistent contributions to your company's business, it will cost your employer far less to grant your flexible work needs than to replace you. With that in mind, you should never offer flexibility as a "concession" in your negotiations.

Lawrence Allen has over 15 years experience as a marketing professional and a successful real estate investor.

Copyright - Lawrence Allen