Dear Karen

August 2020

Ask PQ’s very own agony aunt Karen Young when you need advice from a real expert. Email your dilemma to, and he will pass on the best ones to Karen.


After working remotely over the past couple of months because of Covid-19 I’ve been told our office is re-opening and all employees are going back to work, as we were before. The only problem is I’ve loved the flexibility of working remotely and found that it’s been great for my productivity, morale and work-life balance. How do I bring this up with my employer and negotiate a flexible working arrangement?


The first thing to note is that flexible working shouldn’t be seen just as a ‘luxury’ available to a small minority.

Different working patterns have become more commonplace in recent years as their benefits are now widely established, so rest assured that it’s not an unreasonable or unusual thing to discuss with your employer.

Many leaders have been encouraged by the high levels of activity and productivity that have been largely maintained through remote working.

Even if this doesn’t appear to be the case at your place of work, you should still feel confident in having a transparent conversation with your employer about working flexibly.

Hopefully they are aware of its benefits already, but it’s worth bringing up some of the following points in your discussion to make this clear:

• You intend to continue progressing within the company and remain committed to your professional development.

• Costs associated with travel and office space may be reduced.

• You’ll be able to cover ‘irregular’ hours outside of the working day to meet demand.

Finally, remember that a discussion like this isn’t necessarily about walking out with exactly what you want. Flexible working is new for many organisations and can be complex to implement for various reasons, so compromising may be necessary. Aim to come up with a solution which works for both you and your company.

• Karen Young is a director at Hays. A recruiting expert, she is passionate about helping people to find the right job, and companies to find the right person.