Tips for Asking for an Alternative Work Arrangement

by Kirsten Ross,
What alternative work arrangement would help you balance your work and family obligations? What would you like to do with your current role? Set some goals. Do some research. If you want to go part time, how will that impact your take home pay? Remember, there are variables other than paid hours that you need to consider. Will your dry cleaning bill go down? What will happen to your transportation costs? We have a great tool on our site that we have developed to help you determine what your current “Real” take home pay is and what it would be working an alternative work arrangement. Go to the Wage Comparisons tool to calculate some before and after wages. You may be pleasantly surprised!

Once you know what you are looking for, start putting together a presentation and formal written proposal (if you think you will need it).
Start by anticipating what the issues will be for your boss. Make a list and address each item in writing prior to the meeting. Be very specific. These items will become your proposal. I would not reference having children at home in the proposal. You can, however, talk about your desire to balance your rewarding career with your outside responsibilities.

Here are some topics to keep in mind when thinking about potential issues.

Purpose: retention, increased productivity, decreased burn-out, increased effectiveness

Schedule: Outline the days you plan to work from home and what hours and/or what your total schedule will be (full or part time). If job sharing, who will work what hours?

Communication: How will your co-workers and customers contact you while you are working from home? How will you communicate the change? Will your regular e-mail be available to you from home, phone, fax, cell phone. If you will work part time, will you be available for emergencies? Or, if you will job share, how will you and your partner communicate to provide seamless full time work?

Physical Set-up: What will your home office set up be? Will you have a separate room away from home and family distractions? Do you have a computer, fax, printer, etc. available? Do you have a separate phone line? What kind of access do you have to the internet if applicable, how will you access digital work files...can you dial in?

Evaluation: Set a timeframe during which you and your boss can re-evaluate whether or not the new schedule is working. 3-6 months with time scheduled for interim evaluation with opportunity to discuss any problems and resolve them. Indicate that either party can terminate the arrangement at the end of the trial period.

Job Duties: Make a list of the job duties that can be performed seamlessly from home. Provide details of how it will be transparent to customers where applicable. Or, if you will go part time or job share, how will work be redistributed?

Conclusion: List examples of any departments in your organization who already allow telecommuting, part time, job share, flex time. Indicate that you feel that you have the same work ethic, etc...and are committed to making this a success. Discuss that many organizations are now using this kind of work arrangement for recruitment and retention of high quality employees. Discuss the decreased stress and added productivity that will result from working from home (think of examples of distractions at work that will not be present at home).

Kirsten Ross is the mother of 2-year-old Eric and 4-month-old Daniel. She is a certified Senior Human Resource Professional who works from home to help others do the same at