Is what I wanted. One day more a week is probably a little more accurate. One day more a week where I didn’t have to go to my 9-5 job. One day more to pursue my projects. The time had come to ask and I was indiscreetly terrified.
I work in finance (well the bit of finance where you don’t have enough), and it’s a hard job a lot of the time. The other part of the time it’s a fascinating job, with colleagues I get along with. We’ve become a weirdly (dis)functional little family, squabbling one minute and whipping our hair back with laughter the next.
But there it was. A big ol’ full time job where I couldn’t sneak off and write my future novel in between reports. I found myself writing my WOW Magazine copy in my lunch breaks, organising burlesque workshops when I got in from work, and sewing bunting until past 12am for weeks. I loved every minute of it, but surely something had to give before my hair started falling out in vast clumps from the sheer stress of viewing my Google calendar.
In the end, someone asked me for help, and I didn’t have the time to give it. Yet. But I promised I would ask my boss that week for one day more. It was planned. Now for actually doing it…
Professor Google stepped in. Google “how to ask for reduced hours” and you’ll get a multitude of self employment book recommendations available for only three easy instalments of £13.99. So Prof Google got the sack. Onto real people it was, those who had tried and triumphed, as well as those who had tried and failed.
You’ve got to make a business case for them
I heard this over and over, and I think it’s really true. Make it short, make it snappy, tell them how it’s going to benefit them. Don’t say what you’re doing with your one day more, but just say that the time they give you will mean you’re more focussed at work. Which needs to be true, obviously!
Oh yeah. A biggie. Hell, be over prepared. I was so nervous about asking, that I shook! I felt ill, and so I scripted out word for word what I wanted to say. I had clear points, because although 99% of the time I’m a confident communicator, this was the 1% I was not. I knew I’d lose track of my point, because I knew my boss. It had happened before.
Work out the benefits
I went the bullet point route. Benefits to them? Retention of a committed and trained employee. Reduction in wage outlay. Better focussed and less stressed employee.
Benefit to me? One day more a week. The precious gift of time.
What are you prepared to sacrifice?
Because you will have to compromise. I was prepared to lose a day’s wages, and had worked out that I couldn’t afford that right from the beginning (LOL – seriously, I’m going to struggle, but I’m prepared to deal with that just for one day more).
What I also had to give up was the idea of having a Monday or a Friday off. Two of my team members are parents and had reduced hours on Fridays, so it was never going to happen. Turns out the only day my most senior boss could commit to being in the office was a Monday. So….I guess that leaves the three other days of the working week. For me, Wednesdays worked best, as it split up the week a little for me, and it meant I was already in the habit of getting up and out of bed. So no lay-ins for me!
Get your timing right
Six months ago, I wasn’t trained enough. Six months ago we were running around like headless chicken trying to drown in the mountain of work accumulating. Now? Things have settled, I’ve carved out a nice place for myself in the team.
So I took a deep breath, asked my boss if I could see them for 5 minutes and almost cried as I followed her into the office. We sat down, I went bright red and launched into my spiel. The sentences “I like to think I’m a valued member of the team” and “I’m prepared to be very flexible” were uttered. Stammered, rather. We nodded. I said I didn’t need an answer straight away. She said she didn’t think there would be a problem, and my heart rose into my throat.
Two weeks later, I found myself sitting in coFWD, a local co-working space, during my one day more. Guess what I was doing? I was organising a cabaret, running a personalised bunting business, writing copy and hanging out with my friends.
|Love a bit of Seth Godin with my coworking!|
I’m so grateful to my work for being up for the change. I’m proud of myself for realising what I needed, and then making it happen.
If you want to ask your work for a reduction in hours, and want to run over anything, please feel free to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll do my best to help!