How I negotiated flexible working with my boss

In this posting from the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program, Havas Media Group's William Chung explains how new employees should go about securing extra office perks.

Flexible working is something I negotiated for myself once I went from an intern to a full-time employee.

As a junior, I am incredibly blessed to have negotiated flexible working conditions. I hope that you can take something away from this to negotiate with your boss or bosses.

Havas Media Group’s William Chung

Here are six things I considered:

Find out your boss’ interests

No I don’t mean what they do on their weekends or what their hobbies are (although that’s important too). Find out what your bosses are interested in getting out of you as an employee.

We should understand that every boss is different, and what matters to some bosses might not matter to others.

For my bosses, it was about driving value for our clients, but equally, as important they wanted to be seen as good managers by the team and by their bosses by having a high retention in the team and happy, productive employees.

So that’s what I did. I drove value for our clients, which drove value for our team.

Drive unique value

When I first started out as an intern, working four days a week whilst studying part-time, I tried to absorb as much information about my work as possible. I did what was asked. I listened to my manager. I didn’t complain (for the most part). I listened to my more experienced colleagues, and I spent time on the way to and from work reading up as much as I could about SEO.

Learn to build on your strengths. For me, I learned on my strengths as a more technical thinker to start building myself as the SEO technical lead in the team. For others, they are great writers, others may be great at bonding the team together. What matters is that you use your personality strengths to make yourself extremely valuable to the team.

Build trust

Trust is always such an underrated part of long-term negotiations. One of the big arguments against flexible hours is “how do we know you actually came into work at the time you said if you come in earlier than everyone else?” Well, we joke that you can check the CCTV, but I don’t believe many managers go to that extent. And even if they do check the cameras, it doesn’t exactly empower employee morale when they feel how distrustful their bosses are of them.

What matters more is that you can build trust.

Have a time-sensitive activity

Whilst some managers don’t mind just having employees get home earlier so they come to work every day with more energy, it doesn’t help justify this to their bosses. What works better is having somewhere you have to be at a specific time as your interest.

For me, it was having dance practice for crew performances. For others, it may be related to their family needs, their studies, or a certain gym class you want to go to. Have something that helps your managers justify this to their bosses. Every company cares about having a supportive work culture of happy and productive employees. Because those employees, even after they leave, will be the company’s biggest brand ambassadors.

Start small

In negotiations, and in other parts of life. Asking someone to do you a small favour will lead to a higher chance of them doing you a bigger favour. This is what we call the foot-in-the-door strategy.

When I first started, it was two days of flexible work days a week with a half hour leeway. Once you get your foot in the door and you have built that trust up, then you can negotiate to the terms you are actually happy with.

Most importantly of all though:

Never abuse that trust

Having flexible work conditions continues to be a privilege, not a right.

If you are one of the first few employees that are actually getting flexible work conditions at your company. Don’t ruin it. This is not only just for your benefit. You set a precedence for everyone else in your team and the wider company to also ask for the same thing.

If you do ruin it, it is so much harder for everyone else in your company to ask for the same thing. All the manager will remember is how you broke their trust, not how long you were trustful for.

What other advice would you add to this list? I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

William Chung is a junior performance executive at Havas Media Group

This article is part of the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program. See more from the program by clicking on the banner below.


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