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'How Do I Ask For More Flexibility at Work?'

Working Mother logoWorking Mother 10/8/2017 Joseph Barberio
If you were promised flexibility, don't hesitate to speak up when you aren't receiving it. © Photo: iStock If you were promised flexibility, don't hesitate to speak up when you aren't receiving it.

A mom wants to regain her flex options after a change in management.

When I started my job, I was allowed to come in earlier and leave earlier than my co-workers to pick up my kids from school. But I have new managers who insist on holding important meetings in the late afternoon. How do I explain my situation to the new bosses and ask for more workplace flexibility?

First, kudos for not asking whether you should bring up your prior agreement, but how. If your old manager was fine with your flexible schedule, then you should absolutely explain your previous arrangement with the new bosses. They might not realize that the late-afternoon meetings are a major inconvenience for you, and potentially for others on the team.

Step 1: Find out if there are other parents in the office who have a problem with these new meeting times, suggests Joyce E.A. Russell, Ph.D., Dean of the Villanova School of Business.

Step 2: Arrange a sit-down with your manager (or whoever schedules these meetings) and bring up that these times are inopportune for multiple co-workers. Even if you’re the only one, it’s still worth speaking up. Nancy Mellard, executive vice president and general counsel for CBIZ Employee Services and leader of CBIZ Women’s Advantage, a women’s career-development initiative, adds that you should stress that you have achieved your previous results and accomplishments under a flexible schedule, so prepare some examples of your successes or data to make your case.

"Most great leaders today recognize that employees are trying to balance multiple parts of their lives, and they are willing to make these adjustments once they are aware of them," says Dr. Russell. If you're still not able to get the meetings permanently moved, then talk to your HR department, and let them know about your former setup and how it’s not being honored by new management.

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