How to Negotiate an Adjusted Summer Work Schedule

Top ways to ask for flexibility to accommodate your duties at work and at home.

Published: Jun 2, 2021

Patricia’s employer offers “summer Fridays” every year, and she has always enjoyed the early start to the weekend. But this year, she’s splitting childcare shifts with her husband and a neighbor. Instead of signing off at noon on Friday, she’d like to leave work one hour early every day to accommodate her needs.

A 2021 PwC study found that while 81% of executives say their company has successfully extended benefits for childcare, just 45% of employees say the same. This statistic underlines just how hard it is to be a working parent right now. And it’s likely to be another difficult summer, with many summer camps and other kids’ activities still closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

If you’re feeling the pressure of doing it all, here are our tips to make your summer schedule work for you.

It’s likely to be another difficult summer for parents, with many summer camps and other kids’ activities still closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

Just ask.

If you’re nervous to quibble over a benefit like summer Fridays for fear that you’re asking too much, career experts say that trying can’t hurt. “The answer is always going to be no if you don’t ask,” says Stacey Perkins, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance. Think about your boss’s priorities and present your case in a way that shows you want what’s best for everyone.

Approach your boss with a plan.

The good news is that your company has had to flex in new ways throughout 2020 and 2021, so your ask won’t be totally out of left field. “The best approach is clear communication around needs and expectations, both on the part of the company and the employee,” Perkins says. She suggests having a plan put together when you approach your boss that details your proposed schedule and your commitment to getting your work done.

Uphold boundaries.

If you aren’t careful, cultural pressures within the workplace can limit your ability to actually benefit from your adjusted schedule. Most people understand the importance of setting and upholding boundaries around your on and off time, but it’s especially difficult to do at a time when the lines between work and life are more blurred than ever.

“Make a schedule in collaboration with all the people who will be affected, both at work and at home, then keep it as consistent as possible,” Perkins says. “And, though it’s hard to step away, log off at the end of your workday just like you would if you were leaving the office.”

Proactively communicate your productivity.

Most companies value output over time spent working. If you’re working slightly fewer hours this summer, it’s important that your output remains the same or even increases, which can happen when you’re more focused during a shorter amount of time. Career experts say to make sure your boss knows how much you’re contributing (and that your coworkers do, too). Stick to measurable metrics and consider sharing occasional reports or progress updates.

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