Flexible Work Arrangements

Flexible work arrangements seem to be all the rage, and many employers have seen great success offering remote work and/or staggered scheduling for their employees. I am fortunate enough to have the experience, and the flexibility to be able to work for myself, and it works for me. I end up spending more time working than not as I tend to be completely focused when I am working. And when I want some me time to go fishing or skiing when the stars align that I want some time away – I’m offline and living life. It’s a terrific situation. For me.

However, for most people, flexible work arrangements are an earned privilege, not a right. And while we all have busy schedules, not everyone requires a non-traditional program. While we all want to have more flexibility in our lives, it is important to remember that some positions, and some companies, are unable to offer flexible time. For most of us, a flexible work arrangement is a “nice to have.” And employers generally aren’t required to accommodate a flexible schedule. However, many have found that offering their employees more freedoms to control their schedule results in happier, more productive workers who are more likely to go the extra mile when they are really needed.

However, we get it; life is different. It is not always possible to be onsite. Sometimes life gets in the way. Some parents have children who need specific accommodation, medical or school related, and others have parents or family members who require special care. Some folks juggle the demands of multiple jobs which is a tough but realistic situation.

So how do you go about establishing flexible work arrangements in your next position?

In many cases, it is best to start working a set schedule. As you gain trust and demonstrate your value as an essential part of the team, you can begin to see where there might be an opportunity to request some more flexibility. Some managers have seen great value in providing flexible work environments once they have established this level of trust.

Start by asking questions about flexibility before and during the interview process—rather than approaching the employer with your demands. Learn if flexible work hours are even possible – before thinking about how an employer can accommodate a variable schedule. Ask questions regarding the company culture, and how they view a healthy work-life balance. In some environments, set hours mean predictability, efficiency, and effectiveness. For example, a manufacturing plant must have all-hands-on-deck when machines are operating. The same would go for an office admin role, with no one manning the front desk or answering calls, business will suffer. In these types of positions, onsite work is the norm. However, some jobs like those held by salespeople often offer the most flexibility, as they know they must take calls nights, weekends, and whenever clients find time to speak to them.

One of the best ways to ease into flexible work is to speak to your manager about your future goals – explain that as you gain respect and responsibilities, you would like to incorporate flex time. It is important to your managers to have a clear vision of the type of work arrangement you are looking for and a detailed plan for how you would make it work while still meeting your obligations to get the job done, right.

If you do choose to go the remote route – be sure your tools are in order. There are many software packages designed specifically for the size and type of business you work with. A good overview of such tools can be found here. Personally, I think #Slack is a great product, and I also like Asana for project management which is a streamlined took for managing projects more collaboratively. Learn more about using Asana in Cloudwards’ Beginners Guide to Asana.

When speaking to recruiters, be sure you make your schedule demands are clear so that we know what roles you might excel in, and which positions will not work for you. This way we can help you find the opportunities that best meet your needs. The same is true for employers – never dangle flexibility as a perk if you know the role cannot accommodate it.

Rich Collins, of Thirst Productions, is a former IT technology recruiter who still keeps his eye on the recruiting scene. If you need website development, SEO, writing or blogging for your recruiting firm, let me know. I have a wealth of experience in this area and bring a refreshing voice to an often tired medium.