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How to Get a Flexible Work Schedule

How to Get a Flexible Work Schedule

What tips do you have for getting the shift you want?

Francesca Di Meglio | Monster Contributing Writer

Men and women are feeling the squeeze: on one end from child care, for which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 15 percent of workers had access to employer assistance in 2006, and on the other end from elder care as demographics shift toward an aging population.

With these dual responsibilities in mind, some are looking to flexible work schedules to allow them to have it all – time with family members and a competitive career.

For the most part, women are still shouldering much of these obligations. In a 2006 study of 1,755 working parents by Catalyst, a research and advisory organization for working women, nearly 80 percent of the women respondents reported having the main or total responsibility for child care in their households.

“Women are still the main caretakers of home and children,” says Karen Noble, senior consultant and practice leader of the Everywhere Workplace at WFD Consulting in Newton, Massachusetts. Studies also suggest that women are more often responsible for elder care.

Given these realities, it’s not surprising that a 2001 Catalyst survey of people born between 1964 and 1975 found that women were more likely than men to report they’d like flexible work arrangements or that the later Catalyst study of working parents found that flexibility was among the top ways working parents felt employers could ease their stress.

If you’re among those – man or woman – who’d like a more flexible schedule, here’s how to rally coworkers and make a persuasive case to the boss.

Assess the Culture

Look around you. Does anyone else have a flexible arrangement? If so, talk to them. If not, find out if others are interested in such programs. Experts, including Noble, stress that work/life balance is not just a women’s issue.

Next, go to HR. Are flexible work schedules in the menu of benefits? Not knowing what you’re entitled to is a big mistake, says Karen Sumberg, assistant vice president of communications and projects at the Center for Work-Life Policy in New York. Many company programs go unused. If your company does not offer such a program, consider creating one.

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