If given the choice, most of us would likely opt for a flexible work schedule, one that enables us to “balance” our busy, multi-faceted lives and do our best work in the hours that make sense for us. I know I would!
Thankfully, companies are listening. Organizations such as Aflac, Google, and Dell are pioneering innovative flexible work policies for large corporations.
As the co-founder of my own company, I’ve worked remotely since we began six years ago. When my business partner and I launched, we chose to build the team in Atlanta and commute there as often as possible from our home base in Charleston, SC. Apart from the one week per month I’m in our Atlanta office, I work from home.
And although many of employees do work in-office most days, several take advantage of our flexible work offering because of children, long commutes, or a simple desire to work a non-restrictive, micromanaged schedule. As long as they’re accountable and getting their jobs done, my partners and I see no reason to place a strict office-only policy on our team.
In fact, I think more managers would be open to allowing work-from-home days so long as this is the case.
If you manage to convince your boss to let you work remotely—whether for a random day you need to be home for the plumber or every Wednesday—here’s how to make sure he won’t regret it.
1. Honor Your Hours of Availability
The two main concerns for companies considering flexible work policies are efficiency and productivity. Is the remote employee getting as much work done as when he or she is in the office?
One of our employees told me she always emails her manager the hours she is working any day she’s not in the office. And if she needs to step away from her computer for a long lunch or appointment, she lets them know that as well. It’s key to have certain hours during which you can be trusted to work—and to work diligently during that time.
One of the advantages of working remotely, after all, is the opportunity to work free from office distractions. Use your (quiet) time wisely.
2. Don’t Be a Bottleneck
On the days I’m in Atlanta with my team, they can ask me a question, such as “What’s your favorite photo for this?” or “What subject should we use for tomorrow’s email?” and get an immediate answer. In turn, I expect the same kind of timely response from them when I seek input, regardless of where they’re working from.
It’s crucial to reply to emails and calls quickly when working out of the office, so you’re not acting as a bottleneck—which can feel frustrating for the people who aren’t in your position. Something concise that answers their questions sooner is better than a perfectly crafted response sent later or too late. In other words, respond ASAP to your boss and colleagues, and you won’t seem so far away.
3. Make Time to Socialize
Nothing beats in-person time for building camaraderie and a sense of team culture. Building friendships in the office also makes work more fun. Whether you work from home full- or part-time, try to schedule some in-office visits for coffees, lunches, or check-ins to foster personal relationships at the company. Your team will be more understanding when your remote situation poses challenges for them if they know and like you.
When one of our employee moved out of state due to her husband’s job, we were happy to create a remote position for her because we liked her and knew her capabilities—plus, we’d gotten to know her beyond the work she did, and this helped establish her as a member of our team.
My prediction is that flexible work schedules will only become more commonplace as companies continue to prioritize employees’ lifestyle and well-being. For you, that hopefully means no more fretting each time you request a non-office day and no more feeling bad or guilty about taking regular remote days (or even asking for a full week this summer so you can enjoy extra time at the your family’s lake house).
If you’re like me and really enjoy this type of flexibility, remember to keep your head up and prove to your boss and your team that you’re being productive. Working from home doesn’t mean slacking; it means working even if it does make it easier to take advantage of a midday yoga class in between revising the latest portfolio.