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Did you know that, according to a recent survey by WorldatWork and FlexJobs, the vast majority of companies (80%) offer flexible work arrangements to employees?
However, only 37% of these companies report having a formal, written philosophy to support employee flexibility options.
What does that mean for you?
The first is that a work-from-home/telecommute situation can certainly be negotiated at your next position.
The second is that, in all likelihood, you’re going to have to do your homework beforehand to broach it in the right way, and secure an arrangement that makes you (and your employer) happy.
Here are some tips:
1) Figure out How Important this is to You
Are you willing to walk away from a position if they can’t provide you with some leeway on how (and where) the work gets done?
Is a flexible work arrangement simply something you’d like to have, or is it crucial based on your particular circumstance (for example, you have a growing family and need to be more involved in their lives, can’t afford to be spending 10-12 hours a day, every day in the office, etc.)?
How you answer this question will play a big role in successfully advocating for yourself. There is no wrong answer here, but be honest.
2) Do Your Homework!
Put your detective hat on!
Start by researching real employee accounts of life at the company. If you know someone at the company you want to work for, take him or her out for a coffee to discuss. Sites like Glassdoor.com give staff a safe place to post honest, anonymous observations on how they work, company culture, and everything in between. Get a feel for what other experiences at a company have been like to inform your efforts. A company that isn’t willing to provide even an occasional telecommuting day is unlikely to be receptive to a more extensive work-from-home arrangement.
3) Prepare a Proposal
Let’s be clear: you’re not going to be able to “wing it” when it comes to negotiating an arrangement like this.
Once you have a clear picture of what’s possible at the company you’re considering, develop a proposal for what a fair flexible work arrangement looks like to you.
Do you want to keep a full-time schedule but work from home several days each week? Are you looking for a three-day workweek to help with childcare?
Whatever option you’re seeking, keep it SPECIFIC and leave a little extra padding for NEGOTIATIONS (this is a starting point, not a take-it-or-leave-it situation).
Expert tip: if you’ve worked out a similar arrangement in a prior job, highlight KEY WINS you’ve accomplished while sticking to it. This offers clear evidence of your ability to get the job done (and will reassure a company that you’re not just looking to slack off).
4) Present at the Right Time
Don’t pitch a flex working arrangement during a first phone interview.
In fact, hold off on broaching the topic until an actual job offer’s been made (until that point, your main focus should be on demonstrated outstanding FIT and EXPERTISE for the position).
Once a deal’s on the table, be specific, be passionate about why this is important to you, and be ready to compromise in other areas to make it a reality (reduced benefits or comp, etc.).
A great flexible work arrangement can have a MAJOR impact on how happy you feel at work. Fight for it in the right way and you’ll be set for success.