If your organization is like most, this pandemic launched you and your colleagues into a remote working environment almost overnight. With little time to prepare, there were minimal discussions on what successful teleworking involves and requires. In some cases, formal policies were not enacted. Mostly everyone figured out new routines and meetings, projects, and progress continued. Now, the economy begins to reopen and the gathering limits are increased. You may be asked to head back into the office. If you are interested in keeping some of the flexible work arrangements, now is the time to prepare for conversations with your boss. You should be ready to:
Ask about the continuation of flexible work arrangements.
To know what your company/organization is planning to do with flexible work arrangements, ask the question. They might be putting more formal processes and procedures in place. Perhaps they haven’t had a moment to think about it. Regardless, your supervisor will not know that you need or want to continue some version of your current arrangement unless you ask for information or their plan. Ask about continuing to telework. Teleworking is the most common flexible work arrangement being used right now. You could ask about compressed workweeks; i.e., working four ten-hour days or 80 hours in 9 days. Or, flextime; i.e., shifting your schedule up or back. Indicate that these arrangements better align with your needs. Take time to discover what progress may have been made in this area since the pandemic arrived.
Be upfront about your post-COVID needs and realities.
When you are about the continuation, be honest about your current work reality. You may be trying to home school your children during this time. Maybe you cannot conduct work meetings between 8 AM-10 AM because your child needs your computer. Maybe you now handle shopping for your parents or family member. So, you need to take an extended lunch break in the middle of the day. Whatever your needs are, be upfront. Unless you convey your current reality, you likely will not receive a work arrangement to meet your new day-to-day routine.
Offer what you can bring to the table to support your continued success.
During this pandemic, many organizations offered to cover workers’ internet, provided additional resources and equipment, and more. Yet, that likely isn’t sustainable. When asking to continue a flexible work arrangement, you should be able to articulate what you are bringing to the table in specific terms. For telework, this may include a few things. Outlining your home office environment to cover your employee for worker’s compensation liabilities. You may provide a list of resources that you are using at your home (internet, computer monitors, and more) that enable you to be just as productive in this alternative work location. Ensure that there are multiple ways for your co-workers to reach you in case of an emergency.
For adjusted work environments, this may include explaining how your change in hours allows you to work when emails or phone calls are fewer. Depending on your role and organization, there are many ways to justify the continuation of alternative work arrangements. Remember that flexible work arrangements are seen as an employee benefit. The more comfortable your employer is with the arrangement, the easier it will be to retain and expand on your work flexibility.
Set a time for reviewing your work arrangement.
You can further ease concerns around the continuation of these arrangements. Offer a time to review the schedule and mode in which you are working. You may have been teleworking for the past three to four months. Still, suggest a probation period. Suggest that you will re-evaluate at certain intervals. This allows for natural conversations to occur surrounding your effectiveness and efficiency when working in these arrangements. It also gives you the chance to update your supervisor on your needs. It is beneficial to the employer and the employee to set time-limits and deadlines for re-evaluation.
Think creatively and continue to be flexible when you can.
Flexible work arrangements require flexibility on both sides – the employee and the employer. When you add in a global pandemic, flexibility is the top name in the game. As you consider asking to extend, change, or continue your flexible work arrangement, be nimble. Your co-workers are likely in similar boats. No one knows what the next season will bring with COVID-19. Be a problem solver and think creatively. This is the only way for flexible work arrangements to continue. You don’t want to sacrifice productivity, customer service, and other important factors in your job.
Organizations have been thrust into this environment. To retain top talent, most organizations will need to keep some of the features they have been using in response to one of the most turbulent times in modern history. With work schedules and arrangements changing each day, now is the time to have your conversation. Prepare to discuss the topic. Advocate for your needs and be ready to share how successful you have been. Simply, be proactive, be upfront, and be flexible.