Career development and strategy can be a tricky science. How do you know when is the “right time”? How do you ask questions without “rocking the boat”? How do you phrase things without sounding ungrateful? Is there really a way to get from Point A to Point B? Am I risking my job with the questions I ask?
If you’re in need of a shift or pivot without wanting to incur too much risk, shifting to a flexible working arrangement within your current role can be an incredibly satisfying way to diversify your workflow, increasing your engagement and increasing both job satisfaction and productivity. Rather than “ripping the Band-Aid” all at once by transferring completely into a new role, new company, new location, and new way of working, an alternative can be to introduce an alternative to your current arrangement at your existing employer. If you’re hesitant or not in a position to shift into a completely location-independent role, a simple way to switch things up and “try on” this new environment and workflow could be to propose a one-day per week trial period within your current role and company. Based on the current standing within the organization, this could be contingent upon a 30, 60, and 90-day touchbase to confirm that it’s a good fit all-around. A focal point of the idea and conversation is to convey a specific value-add for both the effectiveness and engagement of yourself within the role and subsequently the team’s productivity and value as a whole. With data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggesting that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028, this may also be an incredibly timed introduction of remote work to your organization.
Below are a few tips and tricks for forming that conversation, getting things sorted (even if it’s just for yourself), and shifting into a new dimension of career advancement:
1. Building & Proving Trust: The Society for Human Resource Management has a blog post that talks about this and counters with “if you can’t trust your employees to work flexibly, why hire them in the first place?” Fundamental characteristics of teams tend to be universal despite the location requirements of the role in which you currently play–trust being a resounding characteristic throughout many industries. Having the opportunity to “try on” this new workflow provides an absolute advantage to anyone wanting to expand their locational variance and whose employer (or self) may be a bit hesitant on jumping into the new adventure full tilt. This provides an incredible opportunity for you to be able to grow the trust and autonomy of the relationships you have within the team at large and the individuals with whom you work.
2. Increased Employee & Role Engagement: According to an article from Sure Payroll: “When an employee is engaged, they tend to think along the lines of:
‘I’m excited to go to work today’
‘I’m looking forward to seeing my team and working together with them’
‘I know what my role in this organization is and I want to contribute to the success of the organization’
When an employee isn’t engaged, as you can guess, their thinking doesn’t align with these positive statements. They may be bored, confused about how their role brings in any value, and just uninspired by what they are working on. In a 2015 survey by Gallup, it was discovered that only 32% of workers were engaged in their work. For the Gallup survey, they categorized engaged workers based on responses to important workplace conditions, such as those who had the opportunity to do what they want each day or has someone in the office who takes their development and opinions into account.”
Contrary to popular belief, according to a recent article from Business.com, “remote workers are actually more engaged… Remote workers regularly meet and exceed objectives, identify new processes, and contribute to company culture just as much as anyone in a traditional brick-and-mortar setting. In fact, they tend to accomplish more.”
For delivery purposes, this article may provide considerations that will support your cause and proposal. For your own purposes, this article may provide a helpful prompt to reflect on your current job satisfaction and how the flexibility of location (even beginning at a half day, once a week) may increase your overall engagement, retention, job satisfaction, and work ethic within the confines of your current role.
3. Increased Productivity: A survey from Sure Payroll indicates that 86% of people prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity. As you’re structuring this “proposal,” data can be incredibly fruitful to back up your argument. A quick, easy fix? For a week, track how often you’re interrupted or your workflow is completely diverted due to being in an office environment. Tracking and communicating this data, as well as the goals, metrics, and results of your once-a-week-adventure could absolutely serve you well as you continue to massage and expand your professional locational variance.
Last post I touched upon taking advantage of existing, current opportunities and tapping into your existing network to see what could be out there. Additionally, tapping into these existing resources could be a great way to gauge the experiences of other people, gathering tidbits of wisdom as you’re brainstorming your next career move. Determining sound “next steps” can be difficult to sift through in the midst of turbulence, but no one is going to make these decisions and create forward momentum for your career with the same appetite that you will.
*This post was written in partnership with America's Future Foundation.