1. Give flexible working a good name

Monitor what impact your new ways of working are having on your productivity and work relationships as well as the impact on colleagues. Feed back in one-to-ones with your line manager how it's working and any adjustments you think you could make or have made to make it work better for others. Doing this reiterates your commitment to being productive and being respectful of colleagues and clients' needs.

"You have to demonstrate you are able to work from home in a disciplined and effective manner. Ask if you can trial this early in your pregnancy. If you have extra curricular activities, eg working on or chairing a Law Society of Scotland committee, you can use this to demonstrate your ability so to do."

Janet Hood, solicitor, Janet Hood consulting

"Prior to having my first baby I had experienced a colleague who took a very inflexible approach on her return to work and saw first-hand that it didn't work and not only created resource problems for the partners but also created a bad feeling amongst the team. I was very keen to ensure that the partners knew I was not intending to behave in this way so it was really important to me to have considered what my contingency arrangements were for periods when work was busy and I perhaps had to do overtime/full-time and for periods of child sickness. I took the decision to pay for nursery cover on my day off so that I had the comfort of knowing the cover was there should I need it. I am also very fortunate that my husband is supportive and can also work flexibly. In my experience, it is this flexibility that is key to the arrangement working for both employee and employer - it cannot be all one way traffic."

Fiona Scott, senior associate, CMS Cameron McKenna

2. Be an advocate for a flexible working culture

If you're a flexible working good news story, be confident to share how it's working and the positive impact it's having, for example, at a team meeting, in conversation with peers, with your line manager's manager or via a more formal internal communications channel. What could others learn from your team's approach to flexibility? Is there someone else who's seeking to work more flexibly that you can be an advocate for? Social media might also be a platform to be a brand ambassador and sing about your employer.

Over to you

The following prompts are designed to help clarify your thinking and support you in making a compelling case for your flexible working request. Writing a few notes in response to each could be the beginning of a written proposal to put to your line manager.

  1. What's the bare minimum of flexibility you need to be able to make your role work and still meet family commitments?
  2. Are there any problems at work that could be solved or improved by you working flexibly? 
  3. What reservations might your line manager have (stemming from the potential impact on clients, him/her or other colleagues) and how could you mitigate these or demonstrate they're non-issues? 
  4. Who else's opinion matters? Who could you get onside or use as a reference point to convince your line manager?
  5. When do you need to have submitted your request to be sure of an answer before your return to work date? And what does that mean for the timing of a prior discussion with your line manager?
Further Resources