Ask Annie

How to ask your boss to work flextime

November 16, 2010: 11:07 AM ET

Many big companies allow employees to work flexible hours, but what if yours doesn't? Here's how to make your case.

Dear Annie: I hope you and your readers have some suggestions for me, because I'm just about at the end of my rope. My 89-year-old mother, who has what her doctor calls "moderate" Alzheimer's disease, came to live with us a few months ago and needs constant supervision. We are lucky enough to have a licensed practical nurse who comes in on weekdays to be with her, but the nurse leaves at 3 p.m., which is right around the time my two teenaged kids get home from school. They've been great about pitching in, but I don't feel it's fair to ask them to give up extracurricular activities in order to keep an eye on my mom. The long and short of it is I really would like to be able to work from home in the late afternoons and early evenings.

The problem is my company expects everyone to be at his or her desk from 9 to 5 (or later), no exceptions. With the technology we have now, I could work more flexible hours without any problem, but my boss says there is no policy allowing this and that it would be "disruptive" to the office routine. How can I convince him otherwise? -Frazzled

Dear Frazzled: You surmise correctly that many other people share this dilemma, or a similar one. According to a raft of recent surveys, the so-called sandwich generation -- made up of people like you who are trying to care for children and parents at the same time -- is under more pressure than ever these days, partly due to ever-lengthening workdays brought on by the recession.

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About This Author
Anne Fisher
Anne Fisher
Contributor, Fortune

Anne Fisher has been writing "Ask Annie," a column on careers, for Fortune since 1996, helping readers navigate booms, recessions, changing industries, and changing ideas about what's appropriate in the workplace (and beyond). Anne is the author of two books, Wall Street Women (Knopf, 1990) and If My Career's on the Fast Track, Where Do I Get a Road Map? (William Morrow, 2001).

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