On the Evolution of Work Systems in the Digital Economy
Tips for Employees Requesting an Alternative Work Arrangement
During a conversation about employee engagement consulting and promoting alternative work arrangements someone once asked me, “How does any of this help people? How can any employee use this information or call in consultants to help improve their working conditions?” My conversation partner asserted that a consulting business didn’t seem very helpful overall as employees have to wait around for leaders to decide to change everything around of their own accord. Back then, I was also under the impression that this kind of change tends not to happen from the bottom up.
Contrary to our beliefs, The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line, states that more employees than managers or leaders initiate new flexible work arrangement programs. Although, as depicted in these accounts of employee-initiated programs, the arrangement tends to be for the individual employee concerned rather than an organization-wide makeover.
Throughout The Custom-Fit Workplace, authors Joan Blades and Nanette Fondas provide detailed, qualitative accounts of employees successfully negotiating with their managers to implement such programs. That said, this book emphasizes hope and inspirational stories and does not provide quantitative information about the number of negotiations that succeed out of the number attempted. Moreover, all of the cases involve employees with a track record of providing value to their organization rather than employees who are new or performing below satisfaction.
Finally, the authors provide helpful guidelines on crafting an alternative work arrangement proposal and successfully negotiating the program’s terms with their manager. They also provide a specific, comprehensive (5-paged) template for a Babies-At-Work program covering the terms, policy, eligibility requirements, and liability concerns. If you would like to propose an alternative work arrangement program (e.g., flexible hours, virtual work, contract work, or Babies-At-Work), prepare your request as a formal, professional document that addresses the following:
- Highlight how the program will add value to the organization (as it should be a win-win solution)
- Provide a detailed plan that shows how you will get your work done
- Establish a trial period and an end date for evaluation (in order to provide an opportunity for the other party to evaluate and end the program if it doesn’t work out well)¹
In sum, showing that you sought out a solution that benefits the business should help make your proposal more palatable to your manager or leader. With that thought, I’ll have to get my daily brain activity imaged so prospective employers will see the extent of hyperproductivity they miss out on when I can’t work predominantly at night!
¹Paraphrased from The Custom-Fit Workplace: Choose When, Where, and How to Work and Boost Your Bottom Line by Joan Blades and Nanette Fondas (p. 54). Original source: James Johnson’s presentation, “Talent Troubles: How to Attract and Keep Good People and Control Costs, ” April 22, 2008