What do you want? Workplace flexibility! Flexible work-life balance is the number one thing asked for by my career coaching clients (it’s far more important than a raise!). Coupled with research showing 50% of the (US) workforce holds a job compatible with at least partial telework, and 80% of workers desire telework to some degree, then we can see workplace flexibility is a strong factor when many job seekers choose who they work for.
Flexible working arrangements may be job sharing, work hubs closer to home, shared workspaces, longer hours in exchange for shorter days or alternative business structures. And of course, it can mean working from home. Working from home offers benefits for both the employee and employer – spending 40 hours a week at an office is so last century, and with benefits like increased job satisfaction, improved work-life balance, and increased productivity, it is worth figuring out how to make it work. Read on to discover how to convince your boss or prospective employer it’s a good idea, and how to keep them believing it!
Jumping from Monday to Friday in an office to three or four days from home is a bit of a leap, so be realistic and start by asking for one or one and a half days per week. If that won’t work, here’s an alternate strategy: next time you’re plagued by a head cold or borderline on whether or not to go into the office, tell your boss you will keep your germs to yourself and work from home. And then work from home! Make it a productive day and make sure your boss knows it was. You need to establish confidence that you are even more productive than if you were in the office. Once your boss has the evidence that you do actually work at home and your productivity is higher than in the office, you can increase the amount of time you spend in your home office. Suggest a trial period, this takes the pressure off the company and gives you a chance to prove yourself.
This term is important. This arrangement will work for you, but what you need to present is benefits to the company. How you build this case will vary widely depending on your industry and role, but consider points such as travel time, privacy for focus and uninterrupted client conversations, availability after hours on email and phone etc. Present a well thought out solution that shows you are putting the company’s needs first and proposing a mutually beneficial solution.
When working from home stay involved in what is going on at the office. Show up to all important meetings, including team meetings. If situations require it, attend in person. You are still an active, important and engaged staff member.
Your job is to keep demonstrating that the agreement comes at no risk to the company. Always answer your phone, respond to emails quickly and be available for video calls. Beat deadlines wherever you can. Do whatever you need to do to demonstrate productivity and reliability.
Accountability is Everything
Prepare to be asked to account for your time. Keep a record of how your time is spent, so you can readily provide it if/when it’s requested. A common hurdle with working from home is overcoming the recklessness of predecessors and rebuilding trust – your boss has the right to ask you to account for your time. Make this as hassle free as possible. Show that you understand that your time is accountable and you’re willing to be audited on it. This is also good safeguarding for future renegotiation and for maintaining your arrangement if your boss changes.
For the Job Seekers
Use keywords such as “remote office” “home office” “telecommute” “work remotely” and “flexible” when looking for new positions. Discuss your preference for work from home flexibility with recruitment agencies so they can look for positions outside of your local area. If you’re in a recruitment process, use the interview as an opportunity to ask the hiring panel how the company views remote working, does anyone currently do it and what flexible working arrangements are available.
Working from home is a legitimate work style in the current workforce. Use the advice here and your professional sensibilities to take advantage of this flexibility and enjoy the benefits for yourself.