How to Ask for More Flexibility at Work

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Envious of that friend who spends half his workday at Starbucks or that co-worker who takes off every other Friday? These days, flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, working shorter workweeks and clocking in nontraditional hours are becoming increasingly popular among employees.

According to a recent survey of working men and women conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of Mom Corps, 75% of respondents reported having "at least a little" flexibility in their job, and 73% of respondents agreed that flexibility is one of the most important factors they consider when looking for a new job or deciding what company to work for.

Think you'd benefit from a flexible work arrangement? Don't be afraid to talk to your boss. "The best way to ask for more flexible working arrangements is by asking—change rarely comes if you don't initiate it yourself," says Charley Polachi, managing partner at Polachi Access Executive Search in Framingham, Mass.

Of course, sometimes a bit of artful negotiation is required to convince your boss that you deserve a better schedule. Here are five tips from career experts to help you prepare for the conversation.

Do Your Research

Before approaching your boss, research a variety of print and online publications to see what type of flexible arrangements are common in your industry, says Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam, a staffing service with locations worldwide.

Hosking also suggests reviewing your company's employee handbook to familiarize yourself with the guidelines about flexible scheduling options. "Determine which option—compressed workweek, modified start time, telecommuting—fits best not only with your own needs, but also with those of the company," he said.

If you're looking to work from home, Mom Corps founder and CEO Allison O'Kelly suggests researching recent workplace studies on productivity levels of remote workers, which you can refer to during your meeting to help build a convincing argument.