Our lives, professional and personal, have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Many of our kids are at home trying to figure out distance learning. A lot of us are still working from home. And we’re trying to manage the extraordinarily taxing physical and mental health needs of ourselves and family.
For so many of us, this new reality has ruined our routines and undermined our plans and goals. It has also created enormous logistical challenges. Maybe you need to shift your hours to take care of a sick loved one. Or, you need to make adjustments due to your kids’ distance learning. Or, you’d like to pitch to your boss that it makes more sense for you to permanently work from home.
You should advocate for yourself. Ask for what you need to get through this. But how do you successfully make your pandemic-related “big ask”? Consider the following:
1. Be practical.
You have to ask for things you know your company can give you. For example, if you want to change your hours to overnight and your company doesn’t operate in the night time, this won’t work. I also don’t know a lot of companies giving out stipends for babysitting. In other words, be practical but innovative.
For example, can you shift your hours so you are working on the weekends so you can be more present for your kids’ distance learning during the week? Can you pitch working four long days instead? Figure out what’s really feasible.
2. Know exactly what you need.
Don’t make your big ask until you know exactly what you need. During this lockdown, there are a lot of moving parts. So, consider them all, and don’t throw away your ask by realizing later that you just want your old schedule back.
3. Don’t make it all about you.
So many times, women go to their bosses and ask for a change by explaining why “this is so hard for me. Me. Me. Me.” You need to change your thinking and frame your pitch to highlight not only why this is better for you, but why it’s better (or at least neutral) for the company. For example, would you be more productive if you had a schedule shift? Would you be more alert if you could start earlier and bang out more work before the kids are up? Would you be able to get the same amount of work done, or even more, with a small fix? If so, focus on the upside for the company as much as you can.
4. Don’t be discouraged if you get a “no.”
It can happen, and that’s OK. If you receive a “no,” you can always ask “Would you consider any other options? Can I come back to you with other ideas?”
The bottom line is every company is being forced to be more flexible. Focus on being positive, proactive and how your “big ask” will benefit the company. That’s a win-win for everyone.