Flexible Working Hours: Definition, Types and How to Request

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many companies offer a flexible working schedule depending on their industry demands and the nature of the job. A flexible work situation helps improve productivity and can even increase your job satisfaction. Understanding this unique work arrangement can help you determine whether a flexible work style suits your personal needs and preferences. In this article, we discuss what flexible working hours are, the different types, the benefits and how to request flexible working hours.

What are flexible working hours?

Flexible working hours are work hours outside the standard Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. schedule. Depending on your employment contract or your agreement with your supervisor as well as your personal needs, you might work a night shift, part-time or during the weekends. Instead of this being a temporary situation, flexible working hours closely relate to your daily duties.

The traditional concept of flexible working hours is slowly evolving. Some employers offer flexible working hours as a benefit. This is becoming more common in creative industries, where writers and graphic designers may feel more inspired during the weekends or in the evenings. As a general rule though, flexible working hours highly depend on your job responsibilities, your industry and your employer's preferences or needs.

Types of flexible working hours

There are different ways to work flexibly. Here are some common flexible work schedules that you might see employers advertise on a job description:

  • Part-time: Part-time contracts are widely available for professionals who prefer to work a limited number of days or hours every week.

  • Job sharing: This occurs when two people perform one job, and therefore, split work hours.

  • Working from home: It's possible to work full-time business hours from home or anywhere else, however, the nature of these jobs usually means that you can be more liberal about your work times.

  • Compressed time: This work schedule allows you to work a normal 35 to 40-hour week but over fewer days. Professionals that often work overtime, such as pilots and doctors, work according to compressed time.

  • Flexitime: In this situation, the employee gets to decide when to start and end their workday within the employer's agreed limits.

  • Annualised hours: In this arrangement, you can work at any time you choose on the contingency that you complete the annual work hour quota assigned to you.

  • Staggered hours: This occurs when your work hours differ from those of your colleagues. It allows businesses to support operations when there might be a labour shortage.

  • Phased retirement: When you reach your industry's or company's designated retirement age, you can decide to continue working by reducing your work hours or by opting for a part-time contract.

Related: What is Freelancing?

What are the benefits of flexible working hours?

Flexible working hours benefit professionals with a unique set of goals and lifestyle habits. The following illustrates the major benefits of this work style:

Greater work-life balance

When you have a flexible work schedule, you feel more in control of your personal life. For example, regular business hours might force you to miss valuable time with your family. Sometimes you can get lost in your duties that you forget to pursue personal development goals outside your career. However, a flexible schedule helps you prioritise the things that are important to you, such as time with family, a gym routine or even a master's degree to enhance your existing knowledge and skills.

Improves productivity

When you set your own work hours, you can create a schedule that works best for you. Think about whether you prefer working in the daytime or at night. Determine if you can draw more inspiration from working outdoors or from a coffee shop. Tailoring your work style to suit your personality can increase your productivity. Flexibility gives you a sense of freedom in a way that makes your job feel less labour intensive.

Greater job satisfaction

Feeling in charge of your personal and professional life makes you feel more valued by your company. This, in return, increases your job satisfaction and motivation to perform to a higher standard. When you have a favourable outlook about your employer and your job duties, the desire to prove your potential comes intrinsically. Overall, this can lead to a decrease in employee turnover throughout the company.

Related: How to Practice Gratitude While Working Remotely

Avoid the bustle of the weekdays

When you don't have to follow traditional business hours, you can enjoy your time and maximise your workday. Simple benefits, such as avoiding rush hour traffic and relishing the outdoors on a weekday, can decrease your stress levels. It can also lead to a more fulfilling life.

How to ask for flexible working hours

If you believe you could be more productive with a flexible work schedule, consider discussing the possibility with your supervisor. The following is a step-by-step guide detailing how you can approach the topic respectfully:

1. Understand your job requirements

Before requesting flexible working hours, examine the nature of your job. Determine whether most of your duties require you to work independently or with a team. Ask yourself if your work is time-sensitive or your deadlines are more flexible. Check your motivations for wanting more control over your work hours to decide if you need a temporary change or a more permanent one. Answering these questions helps you get a clearer picture of whether this career move is right for you.

2. Research your company policies

Review your employee handbook to find any mention of a flexible work policy. To verify this information, ask your human resources manager for their advice. Find out the conditions of this policy to understand if it suits your needs.

3. Arrange a meeting with your direct supervisor

After gathering some research of your own, you may feel more prepared to share your points with your supervisor. Schedule a meeting with them and give them a rough idea of what you would like to discuss. This way, you can give them time to think it over, too.

Remember to come to your meeting with a plan. Create a list of your strengths and explain how a flexible work style would benefit your productivity. A comphrehensively thought-out plan helps address any of their concerns. The more confident you appear, the more likely they are to trust your judgement.

4. Negotiate a trial period

If your company doesn't have a flexible work schedule policy, consider asking them for a trial run before making this type of schedule official. For example, you can suggest a 90-day trial period. At the end of this trial, you and your manager can reassess how well the arrangement worked and determine whether it's worth continuing on a more permanent basis.

5. Demonstrate a good work ethic

During the trial period, show your employer that you are taking your responsibilities seriously. Continue delivering quality work, meet your deadlines on time and update them about your progress regularly. Being proactive about your flexible work schedule helps your supervisor feel more comfortable with this new arrangement.

6. Follow-up with your supervisor

As you adapt to a flexible schedule, work to make improvements. Inform your manager of what's worked and what hasn't. Show your transparency and willingness to make this work or make adjustments to your schedule as needed.

If your manager doesn't approve of your flexible work schedule, thank them for the time they spent talking to you about it. If you feel comfortable, consider how you can best address their concerns and follow up with them again.

Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care While Working from Home

Tips on discussing flexible working hours on a CV

When applying for jobs, you can share your desire for flexible working hours on your CV. Here are a few tips on mentioning your flexibility on a CV:

  • Highlight your flexibility in your personal statement. Your personal statement is the first section that a recruiter reads on your CV. Clearly, state your availability using a few key phrases to help recruiters determine whether you match their requirements.

  • Share examples of your work experience. If you've previously worked in jobs with flexible working hours, such as part-time or freelance jobs, list them in your work experience section. This shows recruiters you can handle responsibility with minimum supervision.

  • Emphasise your skills and work ethic. It takes a lot of trust on the employer's part when instilling a flexible work schedule. Describe your time management skills and organisational skills in your CV to show recruiters they can depend on you. This helps them feel confident in your ability to manage your duties independently.

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