A more flexible career

By Felicity Dwyer | Career development

Jul 02
Flexible worker balancing files

Want to make changes in your working life, but can’t afford to leave your job? Your life may just have become easier.

From 30 June 2014, the right to request flexible working has been extended. This right used to be enjoyed by parents and carers, but is now available to anyone who has 26 weeks’ continuous employment with their employer. This could help you if you want to work towards a long term career change whilst staying in your current job, or just want a different work-life blend.

What is flexible working?

According the CIPD, it is “a type of working arrangement which gives some degree of flexibility on how long, where when and what times employees work.”

This can take a variety of forms, here are just a few examples:

  • part-time work, whether that be for a few hours each day, or one or more days a week
  • flexitime, where you can choose when your working day starts and finishes (within agreed parameters, for example there may be core hours when you need to be at work)
  • compressed hours, for example completing contracted full-time hours over four days instead of five
  • working from home for some of the week
  • a career break or sabbatical

Flexible working can open up opportunities that may not be available in a standard 9-5. You could spend a day a week studying towards a qualification or new career, spend more time on a hobby, or even start a part-time business. In the final example, you will need to be sure there isn’t a conflict of interest with your day job.

In my last salaried job, I was able to work flexi-time and this was a real benefit. It allowed me to avoid the worst of the rush hour and get to work feeling more relaxed and productive than I would have been otherwise. I have also worked part-time in the past, allowing me time to study.

How to request flexible working

Requests must be made in writing and must include: the date of your application, the change you are seeking, and when you would like it to come into effect. You need to consider the effect of the change on your employer and your opinion on how any such effect might be dealt with. You also need to state that it is a statutory request, and if and when you have made a previous application for flexible working. You are only allowed to make one request in any 12 month period.

In considering the effect of the change on your employer, you may want to demonstrate how it might help you to maintain or improve your performance at work. For example working from home can be really effective if you have a concentrated piece of work such as report to write. Research has shown that multi tasking is inefficient, and some home working can both increase productivity for your employer, and save you time and money on travelling to work that day.

Employers have a duty to consider a request in a reasonable manner and if they refuse, then this needs to be for a business reason.

Clearly some jobs lend themselves more easily to flexible working than others, and you might want to take this factor into account when you are job seeking.

Find out more

For research on multi tasking, see this summary from the American Psychological Association

For information on how to request flexible working, the ACAS website has advice and guidance.

You might also enjoy my article on portfolio careers

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About the Author

Felicity is a career coach. She help people who want to change career, start a freelance business, or build their confidence. Felicity writes about career and business development, leadership and personal effectiveness.

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