Know your flexible working rights (cheat sheet included)

It will come as no surprise that this year has seen a huge shift in people working remotely. Slacks Future Forum research of 9,000 knowledge workers found the vast majority (88%) never want to go back to the old way of working. In this article, we will help you know your flexible working rights and get your boss to say yes to your new-found freedoms.

With an influx of solutions now available for everyone from Freelancers, to Startups and large Enterprises to better work remotely, and a years’ experience for many doing so successfully now is the time to make the request.

Just imagine yourself living that new life, enjoying the freedoms of not having to commute to a fixed office, working from the beach, spending quality time with loved ones – now use that feeling of excitement to kick-off the process.

1. Know your rights (UK)

In 2014 the UK Government extended the law on flexible working for any employee, with 26 weeks’ continuous service, to make an application to work flexibly for any reason. The revised law dispenses with the statutory procedure for consideration of flexible working requests, replacing it with a duty on employers to deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.

What your employer must do:

  • assess the advantages and disadvantages of the application
  • hold a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
  • offer an appeal process

The basic steps:

  1. write to your employer with your request (download template)
  2. your employer considers the request and should make a decision within 3 months – or longer if agreed with you
  3. if your employer agrees to the request, they must change the terms and conditions in your contract
  4. in the instance your employer disagrees, they must write to you giving the business reasons for the refusal
  5. you may be able to complain to an employment tribunal … ummmmmm let’s try not to do this!

Now no-one wants to end up at step e here, so the rest of this guide has been put together to try and make you get your yes at step b!

2. Be upfront on your “Why”

While it is not a requirement to explain why under the legal procedures, you might find it helpful for your boss and team to understand why you took this choice. We will start by saying don’t forget there are others, a lot of others, who also want this way of life – probably including your boss, peers and HR team.

For me, it was all about my general quality of life. I commuted 4 hours a day, just to sit and email people in Tokyo, India and Valencia. This made me tired, unproductive and unhappy, but enjoyed my job. I felt like without a change I would surely leave the company and this felt like a loss for everyone.

Your reason is personal to you, and there is no right or wrong answer here. My business partner Arnaud for example chose to remote work so he could also focus on his passion for surfing. What’s important here is to be upfront even if it’s that you want to explore the world or live in a different city than where your office is.

3. Prepare your plan

Not only is this part a legal requirement of your application but being prepared for any questions your boss might have can go a long way to easing their anxieties. We split this into two sections:

The how

This should be a section in the initial communication of your request to your employer, detailing when you want to start and the duration, where you will work from with what frequency and even the hours you will do.

The challenges and solutions

To show you have thought through the full effects you should assess what effect your flexible working will have on the business and how this could be dealt with. Common ones can be physical meeting participation, staying in the loop on key topics and what will happen to your desk. Having clear deliverables and expectations can help limit concerns on you not working full time, but trial periods and even offering to be available in a virtual office during the working day can ease concerns.

“Put yourself in their seat,” says Emma, a freelance SEO analyst who successfully requested to travel and work. “What concerns would you have and how can you address them?”

Here are some of the questions we ask ourselves at Othership when planning where we will be working from next.

  • When will we be available to the team?
  • Where will you be working from (home, free workspaces, coworking spaces, a hybrid-office solution)?
  • How we will join and participate in meetings (think time zones here too)?
  • Ways to keep 1-2-1s and general coffee chat flowing between the team?
  • How we can handle the big challenges we have faced in the last year or so?
  • What sort of equipment do we need to work remotely such as VPNs, home desks, access to workspaces?

To make your life even easier, we created a free downloadable template to help you make the ask.

4. Start the conversation

The time has arrived and you now need to send your request. We have made an easy download that you can use to do this, otherwise, make sure to include:

We also recommend suggesting a time that might work to catch up, possibly in the next two weeks, where you can cover any questions.


Making the leap from being in the office most of the time to enjoying the new freedom of life is a big change. Making sure you don’t suffer from the loneliness that can often come with this transition is just of the challenges might face personally. If you find this is the case or you just need a great local workspace don’t forget to check us out at Othership.

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