In a tight talent market where top technical candidates are highly sought after, you may find yourself in a position to negotiate for more opportunities to telecommute with a prospective employer. According to Robert Half International, more than 55% of employees want the ability to telecommute, while fewer than 14% of respondent companies offer this perk.
Although telecommuting is not universally embraced, with research for and against, a case can be made for companies to expand opportunities for employees to telecommute. According to research by the Harvard Business Review, telecommuting can increase employee retention by 50% and productivity by as much as 24%. That’s because research is showing that employees find today’s office environment distracting, and the majority feel they are more productive working away from the office.
In addition, your health may benefit from telecommuting. Employees working from home reported the following statistics: 82% of telecommuters described lower stress levels, 80% commented on higher morale, and 69% reported lower absenteeism.
Telecommuting is not without its own set of challenges, however.
Working from home can be isolating. You might miss the collaboration and brainstorming of ideas that occur through everyday exchanges with co-workers, whether in the lunchroom or in formal settings. The balance between working at home and time spent with family can blur until you can’t see the difference.
So how do you make the most of the current climate and the opportunity to negotiate telecommuting for your work situation? Very carefully!
1. Be Careful What You Ask For
A 2-year Stanford University study tracked two groups of 500 employees, half who volunteered to work from home for nine months, coming into the office one day a week, and half who worked only from the office. The study tracked several dimensions of performance.
While productivity soared by 24% and attrition declined by 50%, at least half of the test group asked to return to the office at the end of the study period, citing a lack of social stimulation.
If you’re someone who thrives off the energy of others, working from home may not be an ideal choice, regardless of the benefits. Stanford researcher Nicholas Bloom suggests that the ideal telecommuting scenario is one where 2-3 days each week are allocated for remote work and the other days in the office, depending on the individual’s preference.
2. Adapt and Excel
If you do choose to telecommute, you will need to be adaptable and recognize that without social initiatives, working from home can damage some of the social benefits of the traditional office. This is where online tools can be useful. Today’s technology makes it possible to maintain involvement in meetings, discussions, and overall office culture over video or via forums and social media. Between Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, and countless other services, video conferencing has introduced unprecedented opportunities for telecommuters.
3. Prioritize and Organize
Be sure to use all the tools available that make telecommuting productive in today’s technological environment. Make rigorous use of online calendaring, centralized project info shared in Google Docs or through online project management systems, and tools such as Slack to share info about schedules and work progress.
4. Make Time for Face Time
Whether using a tool like Zoom or scheduling frequent meetups, be sure to connect with project teams visually when possible to foster a stronger bond and to maintain communication. This will help you stay in the loop and feel connected to your workflow. Of course, creating in-person days at the office is the best way to “make time for face time.”
5. Guard Your Work-life Balance
Some employees go into overdrive when working remotely, and neglect work-life balance. Use good time-management to optimize the telecommuting experience, setting start and stop times. Create a physical boundary between your work and your home life. And don’t forget to take a nice sunny walk or work remotely from a coffee shop now and then to keep things interesting.
Are you searching for a new role where you can negotiate more remote work? Talk to the team at Phoenix Partners.