Many working mothers are still struggling to juggle time at the office and at home.

The Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce in the United Kingdom describes flexitime as:”Part-time working and can include job sharing, flexible hours, compressed hours, term-time working and working from home, or varying start and finish times.”

For women, working flexible hours has a number of benefits, these include allowing them to be able to take care of their families, attend their children’s school events and look after their sick children.

Janice Hanly, a Johannesburg based Life and Business Coach, says flexible hours have now become necessary.

“In cities like Joburg and Cape Town, the traffic has become so crazy that you will spend sometimes two hours or longer  just commuting everyday. Which is really difficult if you’ve got children and so it makes sense to organise it so that you get flexitime… out of traffic hours.”

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Hanly adds that this affects children and parents alike. “Kids are left in creches after school and the caregivers there are waiting for parents to come and fetch them, which is really unfair on everyone,” she says.

According to a New York Times report, allowing women to decide their working hours is not only good for their peace of mind, it is also a tool that can be used to bridge the gender gap.

The reason women tend to earn less and don’t make it as far up the corporate ladder than men is due to the expectation that people need to spend as much time on their desks as possible the report says.

Because women have disproportionate responsibility for caregiving outside their working hours, it is not always possible for them to spend all that time in the office being seen to be ‘working hard’. Flexible working hours also work to reduce staff turnover and work-family conflict, according to the report.

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Despite the obvious benefits, many people are still reluctant to ask their bosses for working hours outside the traditional 9-5. The Family Friendly Working Hours Taskforce  released a report titled  Flexible Working: working for families, working for business which found that many people are scared to ask for flexible hours because they think that if they ask to work shorter hours, their employer will think they are not committed to their job.

Hanly says while there are some companies that are still rigid in their approach to working flexible hours, many more are starting to see the benefit.

“The more forward thinking companies are realising how important it is to have a happy person,” she says.

How negotiate flexible hours

Figure out what you are willing to give up

Hanly says if you are in the job market, it might be easier to negotiate for flexible time: “Often that means that taking a little bit of a knock on the career,” she cautions.  Some companies might negotiate that you get fewer benefits such as year-end bonus or a thirteenth cheque.

Write a detailed proposal

 The Balance recommends that you include things such as how you will maintain frequent communication with your boss, customers, co-workers and how you will accomplish the work and attain your goals. Hanly says it is important to make sure that your boss feels like the company will benefit from you getting flexible hours.

Do Your Research

Make sure you ask around and find out how people in a similar industry have made it work. If you have statistics and information, it might be easier for you to state your case. If you have been a good employee and you have build up enough trust with your manager, it will be easier to sell the idea says Hanly.

Be prepared to push back against resistance

According to Womensday, you need to be flexible and open-minded going into negotiations with your manager. You can be firm when asking but be willing to deal with concerns your boss might have and tweak your proposal so that it works best for the both of you. Be willing to ask to revisit the conversation until both you and the employer are satisfied with the agreement.

Hanly says the ability to work flexible hours depends on what type of work you do, however, technology has made it possible for people to work remotely because people are plugged in a lot of the times.

” We are so much more mobile now, so emails can be answered at home and work can continue at home. We are contactable by phone or via Skype,” she ends.