Are you thinking about working flexibly? Here are our top 10 flexible work tips for professionals.
1. Know what you mean by “flexible”.
At Work Evolution, we define flexibility based on any combination of:
- time (part time, flexible schedule, set your own hours, etc.)
- location (100% remote or a combination of home and office)
- duration (seasonal, temporary, contract)
In this way, both a “full time 12-month contract” and a “part time permanent” role would be considered flexible.
There are also many other terms that describe flexible work that you should be familiar with.
2. Communicate your plans with everyone who needs to know.
This includes your manager, your coworkers, the people who work for you, your clients, your customers, your family, your childcare providers, etc. If you have a structured schedule, you may want to include it in your email signature. If it varies, communicate it regularly (E.g., set and share your schedule for the upcoming week on Friday afternoons).
3. Set your boundaries and stick to them.
Have a plan in place for things that come up when you aren’t working. The plan will be dependent on your role. To help get started, think about the following:
- Are you going to regularly check your email from your phone and reply only to emergencies?
- Are you completely offline when you’re not working?
- Who will cover for you if a client or customer needs something urgently?
- Will you triage activities while you’re not working?
- Will you change your schedule or location to accommodate a client request or other meeting?
Share your plans and be consistent in your follow-through.
4. Know what type of social interaction you need and plan for it.
Decreased social interaction can be a drawback of remote work. Some professionals are fine working from home all the time and others get lonely and miss the interactions of an office. If you are the latter, you may choose to set up a schedule that balances your time between an office and home. If working in an office isn’t an option, explore working in locations such as coffee shops, the public library, or a co-work space.
5. If you work from home, have a dedicated space.
This is listed on every list of “how to work from home” and we can’t emphasize it enough. You need a space that you can walk away from when you aren’t working that is also separate from the other goings-on in your home. This was also recommended by our guest blogger, Tracy Fortin, in “Working from Home, a Designer’s Perspective“.
6. Get your technology and communication devices in order.
The need for technology and communication devices is critical. Depending on your situation, they may be handled by your employer or you may need to set them up yourself. These are some things to think about:
- Will you use your own computer or a company-issued one?
- Depending on your location, how do you connect to the network?
- Do people need to reach you by phone?
- Do you use other technology to communicate with a team (e.g., Slack, Jira, Trello, Skype, etc.)?
7. Be proactive about everything.
Do you have a question? Ask it. Do you anticipate an issue? Resolve it. Do you have an idea? Share it. Do you need support? Request it. Engaging in communication first sends a signal that you are contributing and will help build trust. It also reduces any reservations that others might have about your arrangements.
8. Have a plan for document and records management.
Many organizations have policies about how corporate information needs to be stored and used, particularly if you are working off-site and/or using your own computer. Some of the questions you should ask:
- Can you take printed materials home with you?
- Can corporate information be stored on your own computer?
- What about information sent to your personal email address?
If you are self-employed, you will also need a plan. You may consider items such as:
- How is your information backed up?
- How long do you keep client records for?
9. Plan financially for your flexible work.
Depending on the circumstances of your flexible work, you may want to consult a financial advisor or seek the services of an accountant to make sure that you have a strong personal budget and/or are taking advantage of tax-savings opportunities. The financial impacts will differ between circumstances – a part time permanent worker is different from a self-employed consultant so advice cannot be one-size-fits-all.
10. Communicate your plans with everyone who needs to know.
Yes, this is a repeat of #2, but it is worth mentioning again. Communicate, communicate, communicate. You do not want to catch others by surprise or be a victim of their assumptions. Communicate.
Are you ready to take the plunge and find a new flexible job? At Work Evolution, our job board is dedicated to flexible jobs for professionals.