How to negotiate the flexibility you want in your job for 2021

Whether you’ve temporarily been working flexibly or trying to work out how you can create more balance in your life this year, negotiating the flexibility you want in your job can feel like a mammoth task – but it doesn’t have to be.

Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that the way we have been working for the last year is not real flexible working. Yes, working from home is often something people want to have more of, but when it has become the only option that’s not really flexible is it?

Home working and remote working are not the same thing but have often been muddled up in the last year. So, let’s just address that first.

  • Home working is the OPTION to work from home and is usually part of a working pattern that involves for example one day per week working from home with the other working days in the office.
  • Remote working is different – here there is not necessarily a physical office space that you can go to and is literally a ‘work from anywhere’ policy so that could be home, a co-working space, a company office if there is one, a coffee shop (remember that?!)

But Flexibility comes in all shapes and sizes – it could be home working, remote working, reduced or different hours, job share, or it could that you want more flexibility in the type of work you want to do.

Whatever type of flexibility you want and for whatever reason, here are my five top tips to negotiate it:

1. Evidence, Evidence, Evidence!

Show your company how working flexibly can work for them. If you’ve already been working flexibly during lockdowns then demonstrate how you have been able to achieve your targets, manage your team and perform effectively without being in an office 9-5. If you haven’t been working flexibly, how can you demonstrate that it will work? Are there others in your company or industry who are successfully working flexibly?

2. Do your research before you go into the negotiation

What are your options? For example, if you want to work 2-3 days a week, look for a Job Share partner either internally or externally (check out What impact will it have on the business? For example, how will your work be covered if you reduce the number of days you work. Who else in the company works flexibly? Talk to them to see how they manage, what impact it has had and any advice they would give you.

3. Provide solutions not problems

Changing working patterns is hard for employers. Remember they are a business that has to balance the needs of its employees with the needs of the business. Its not ok to say, ‘I want to work from home one day a week’ and not provide solutions to how that time might be covered if for example you are in a customer-facing role. Similarly, if you want to reduce your days, consider which would be the most appropriate day off for the business, not for you.

4. Be prepared to walk away

I don’t mean from your job! I mean from your starting position. If the company are not able or willing to accommodate your request, they may offer an alternative or even better, you could present an alternative which will work for them and for you because you’ve already thought about 2 or 3 ways you can have the flexibility you want.

5. And finally…

Have confidence in yourself. You have researched, gathered the data, presented solutions and are open to alternatives. You are in the best possible negotiating position and after all – what’s the worst that can happen?


If you want some practical help in how to successfully apply for flexible working, you can download my free workbook here –


Nicola Pease is The HR Consultant & Coach who is all about Flex!

Nicola is leading a #flexibleworkingrevolution, working with companies to create and implement flexible working strategies that work and Coaching Women in Leadership to have the career they want and the flexibility they need.


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