Personal Finance

Amid a return-to-office push, it's still possible for workers to get flexible schedules. 'Think about it like a salary negotiation,' expert says

Key Points
  • Most workers — 89% — want flexibility when it comes to their work schedules.
  • Companies are striving to get workers back in the office, but that doesn't have to end flexibility completely, experts say.
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Most workers are hoping that flexible Covid-era work policies will stay in place.

A new survey from Bankrate found 89% of full-time workers, or those looking for full-time work, are in favor of remote and hybrid work or four-day work weeks.

More than half of workers — 51% — said they would be willing to switch jobs or industries to get their desired schedule.

The results of the survey, which was fielded in July, come as a remote work reckoning may be brewing.

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Meta plans to require its workers to return to the office three days per week starting in September. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs is pushing for a full return to a five-day-a-week in-office schedule.

Just over 8% of job postings on Indeed offer some form of remote work, down from a high of more than 10% last year, according to Nick Bunker, director of North American economic research at the job listings website.

Most sectors are more likely to advertise remote work than they were before the pandemic, Bunker said.

But the sectors most likely to be open to remote work then are more likely to advertise those kinds of positions now, he said. That includes roles in software development, marketing, information technology and data science.

It's important to be clear about the 'why' when mandating in-office work, says Medley's Edith Cooper
It's important to be clear about the 'why' when mandating in-office work, says Medley's Edith Cooper

For workers who want to keep their flexible schedules, the good news is that a job or industry switch may not be necessary in order to get the schedules they want, according to Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster.

"Employers don't want to lose top talent," Salemi said. "It costs them money and time to replace you."

Whether you're a job seeker or an existing employee, the key is to know how to ask.

"Think about it like a salary negotiation," Salemi said. "Do your homework first."

Look for leverage in your current job

Set up a time to speak with your boss and do your research ahead of time, particularly with regard to your company's work-from-home policy and where there may be exceptions, Salemi said.

If you've already been working from home, think of examples when you worked remotely, absolutely aced your work and received excellent feedback, Salemi suggested.

Also think of concrete reasons why working remotely will be beneficial both to you and your boss, she said. That may include higher productivity and time and money saved from commuting.

If you have not had a meaningful salary increase amid high inflation, you may have a more compelling argument for saving money by not traveling to the office, she said.

Additionally, be prepared to offer a trial run so you and your employer can test the arrangement.

"It's a matter of knowing exactly what you're looking for ... and to prove yourself and show an established pattern where you have worked well working remotely," Salemi said.

If your boss is not open to offering flexibility, you may update your resume and start looking for other positions elsewhere, she said.

Be upfront about what you want when job hunting

When looking for remote or flexible positions, experts say it's best to be upfront about what you want.

In an executive summary at the top of your resume, highlight your skills and experience and state up front whether you are looking for a 100% remote position or hybrid work, Salemi suggested.

Treat remote and flexible work as a negotiation, much like you would salary, she advised.

"When you're talking to employers, know what you're willing to walk away from," Salemi said.

At the start of the position, you may negotiate how many days you are in the office to start, with a plan to revisit that arrangement after several months. Importantly, that arrangement should be documented in writing, Salemi said.

"You really want to be on the same page from day one," Salemi said.