Three Tips for Negotiating Job Flexibility

[Tom: I’d like to welcome TheBossMD today. He writes for physicians, but I think this post applies to most high income earners that want to negotiate more job flexibility for a variety of reasons. Take it away BossMD!]


So you’ve landed your dream job, huh? Congratulations! It’s now time to talk specifics about what this job will look like. If you’re like most people, then your paycheck is the most important thing you will discuss during your negotiation.


If you are a reader of High Income Parents, however, then you’re going to want some job flexibility. Money is important but family is really what makes life worth living. Am I right?


To do this, you are going to have to sit across the table from somebody like me and convince me to make a deal. This does not have to be as intimidating as it sounds. If you want to be successful, then you need to get inside my head and figure out what I’m thinking.


What runs through my mind when you ask to telework on Tuesdays and Thursdays? What is negotiable and what is not? Let me pull back the curtain and give you three tips for negotiating your family life into your job.

Equality Matters


If your boss is a good one, then they try to treat everyone fairly. You need to remember this when negotiating job flexibility. It may seem simple to say that I will just take a huge pay cut to work a lot fewer hours. However, the organization’s business model may not allow for everyone to do that.


If I can’t allow for everyone to do something, then I’m going to avoid letting anyone do it unless I have a really good reason. Avoiding questions of inequity will definitely make my life easier as a supervisor.


This means that you need to communicate why it is worth it for me to create special circumstances for you and provide a potential explanation I can give to others that may ask me about it. Solve my problems for me so I have no choice but to grant your requests.


Preferably, this should be something beyond “I’m awesome so I want to come in late on Thursdays,” though you’ll see in my next tip that being awesome does help. Let me give an example.


Let’s say you’re a physician who just got hired by a local clinic. You want to work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Your kids have karate on those days, and as a current black belt yourself, you want to be there for that. The clinic wants you seeing patients five days per week.


I would propose doing telemedicine on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are a myriad of companies hiring doctors to do phone or video visits, and if that isn’t enough, then you could also start doing chart reviews for additional revenue. Ballpark some numbers to see how much revenue you could bring in this way and present it to your new boss.


If you can show that you are going to bring in just as much revenue as someone physically in the clinic and diversify the clinic’s revenue sources by adding additional revenue streams, then you’re well on your way to helping your kids earn their black belt. The clinic will be better off by letting you work from home two days per week, and your boss has great ammunition to use when other employees start complaining about your “special” work schedule.


Be The Best

I’m going to keep this tip short and sweet. Let me be real with you. If you’re marginally qualified or a marginal worker, then I’m not going to be very forthcoming with work life concessions. If you’re one of the best I’ve got, though, then I am ready, willing, and able to keep you happy in your job.


Good help is hard to find as the truism goes, and I doubt that will ever change. I will do whatever I can to retain star employees, including granting them flexible hours or additional vacation.


I have no problem doing this because I know I can count on them. A star employee will get the job done whether they are sipping coffee at their own breakfast table or physically in the office. As long as the job is done with excellence, then I don’t care where they are.


Ironically enough, a good sign that you’re one of these star employees is if you can propose and execute a plan similar to the telemedicine plan I outlined above. Employees don’t get perks by creating little value and asking for the world. Employees get perks by creating so much value that I want to give them the world.

Be Flexible with Your Flexibility

I know, I know. That heading is a little confusing, but let me explain. As a manager, one of my concerns is making sure I get a consistent productivity for the resources I devote. If I devote full-time money and benefits to a position, then I expect to get full time work.


Most bosses have the same attitude, and you can get a lot more from your boss if you are willing to work with them. Let’s return to our physician trying to work from home that we discussed early.


As your new boss, your telemedicine is intriguing. It would definitely add a new revenue stream and could be a great new venture. However, the clinic already has too many patients that need to be seen. Teleworking on Tuesdays and Thursdays doesn’t help that problem.


To help with this, I may counter this way.


I’d say,”Sure, I can do the telemedicine proposal for Tuesdays and Thursdays, but why don’t you also agree to work the after hours clinic on Wednesdays so you can help us see all the patients that need to be seen?”


This is negotiation 101. You have a problem, and I have a problem. Let’s come up with a solution that solves both our problems. As someone asking for concessions, you must be ready for this and be ready to give something yourself to make the deal work.


If you are really committed to finding a good solution, then think about this in advance so you can be ready. If you know your business well, then you can probably anticipate what the organization’s needs are. Determine what you’re willing to compromise so you can make decisions on the spot about what you will or will not agree to. Once that’s done, you’re just a handshake away from sealing the deal.


There you go, High Income Parents readers. I hope this post is helpful for you as you continue to build great families and great careers. Personally, I work for an organization that allows for healthy work life balance, and it’s been a blessing. Good luck, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have in the comments. The boss is out!

Tom is a doctor, husband and father of five with a passion for parenting and finance. When he isn't skateboarding, riding BMX, or jumping on the trampoline with his kids, he is reading and writing about personal finance. He helps high income parents educate and mentor their kids to become financially, emotionally, and intellectually self sufficient.

4 Responses to “Three Tips for Negotiating Job Flexibility

  • Interesting post. In two years time, I am going to be faced with a similar discussion, but will most likely have an offer in hand because although my CEO is fair, he can be too principle-based (i.e. the job is here in the office).

    I enjoyed the post. Will be taking your points into consideration in due time!

    • Great to hear! Definitely can be helpful if you already have an in. Start the negotiations now by showing how good you are!

  • I have negotiated a few things and the start is always being an excellent employee (yes many of us docs are employees) for a few years before even approaching a task. Finding good soldiers to come in, work, and not complain is hard to do. If you are one of these soldiers then you can make a lot of progress quickly in an organization.

    • Agree 100%! I meant what I said when I will move heaven and earth for a good employee. If you get your work done and don’t complain, then you’re worth your weight in gold. Good help is indeed hard to find, even when hiring physicians.

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