How to Ask for Flex Time

3) Consider power in numbers, where appropriate. If other co-workers would benefit from a similar arrangement, join forces. There's often great leverage in numbers if you work together on a proposal that benefits the department and the company. With 16 employees at a Texas company, for example, a combination of long commutes, a craving for more time to pursue personal hobbies, and the demands of family life led them to dream of a compressed workweek with three-day weekends. That became the group's goal, and everyone was determined to work toward it.

4) Play devil's advocate. Anticipate the reasons why a boss might say no, and offer counterarguments. Before you present the proposal, figure out what the opposition might be -- and address it in the proposal. If you think the boss will be worried that you won't be available for key meetings that might pop up, explain how you'd be willing to alter your schedule as needed to accommodate such needs. If you're worried the boss will say, "If I do it for you, I must do it for everyone," then remind him or her that a) not everyone wants to work at home -- many are thrilled to get out every day and b) not every job can be done from home. The boss can offer other forms of flex to other staffers.

5) Be positive. Show enthusiasm for your job and be clear about how flex time will improve your ability to do it. Be positive about your work. Don't say, "The commute is killing me, so I must work from home." Instead, explain how working from home will give you more time to devote to work and less stress because you aren't sitting in a car for four hours a day. Be willing to compromise.

6) Suggest a trial. Suggest a trial period and benchmarks to measure the success of your plan. Explain how you think the proposal should be measured by you and by your employer. You both must be satisfied for this to work. It's often easier for the boss to say yes to a temporary arrangement than to feel threatened by saying yes to something that may be indefinite.

7) Put it all in writing. Write a formal proposal that presents the benefits from your and your boss's perspectives. This is a serious change from the norm that you're proposing; don't ask for it casually. A written document is also great if your boss has to ask his boss about your request. You'd rather have your words passed up the chain of command. Many people I've worked with have learned this the hard way; their verbal, spur-of-the-moment requests were rejected because it was easy for the boss to say no.

8) Be patient. Even though we all love instant gratification, don't expect an immediate answer. If your request is turned down, ask for feedback on why the idea was not accepted. Ask to establish a time frame for revisiting this -- and then be ready to go back with gusto. If you're rejected, ask if there are any particular concerns the boss has and see if you can help alleviate them. Work to see if there are compromises that can be reached. Ask for a time frame for revisiting the conversation.

Tory Johnson is the workplace contributor on "Good Morning America" and the CEO of Women for Hire. Join her free network at

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