Depending on the employer and your needs, a flex time schedule can mean you simply show up and leave an hour early. Or, that you spend a portion (or even all) of your time working from home. Either way, the key is that your job duties may not necessitate that you be in a traditional office for the traditional 9-to-5 hours.
The Benefits of Flex Time
A well thought out flex time policy benefits you and your employer.
Since it’s likely you’re a parent, I don’t need to tell you how difficult it can be to arrange dropping kids off at daycare or shuttling them to sports practices. A flexible schedule gives you the ability to attend to these needs.
For employers, flexible schedules can allow them to retain valuable employees who may have difficulties working a so-called “normal schedule. Plus, the employees may be more content and motivated.
Asking for Flex Time at Work
If your company doesn’t already offer this benefit, you may want to prepare before you ask for it.
Take a close look at your workday and your personal needs to understand what accommodations you seek and how you can make them work for the employer.
Discuss the idea with other workers, and be prepared to make a case to your boss that it’s in her benefit and that you can make it work.
Managing Flex Time
If you do work flexible hours, make sure you and your employer have set the terms for it. For instance, you’ll want to know what hours you will be coming into the office and who will provide any computer equipment used outside the office.
If you plan on working extensively outside your office, establish with your supervisors the hours they can rely upon you to be available by phone and how often you need to communicate with them. I’ve used tools like T-Mobile wireless internet , Skype, and Dropbox to stay connected at all times.
It may help all parties involved for you to have clear work objectives. That way, the focus isn’t on when or how you do things, but that you get them done.
Making it Work
Whether you’re a flex time or telecommuter, one of the keys to making this work is to have the right attitude. Yes, being able to pick up the dry cleaning or make a child’s doctor’s appointment is a perk of a flexible schedule.
However, I recommend you maintain clear lines between your personal and professional life. One tip is to not do personal errands or chores on a whim during work hours; make them part of a to-do list that includes work tasks.
And don’t expect to be able to get much of anything done while you’re watching over your sick (or healthy) child. Some employers require that employees verify their children are in child care. If watching over your child is a one-off event , consider taking a sick day or whatever accommodation you normally would.
Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for Apron Addicts, a website about kitchen fashion and home style. She also writes about mobile technology and self-improvement. When she’s not writing, she takes care of her two small children, finds new ways to organize and decorate her home, and takes immense pride in her killer cheesecake brownies.