If you’re saving lives, waiting tables, teaching students in a classroom or working the overnight shift at the factory, any talk about remote working options will likely send you to a “must be nice” place. That is, until AI makes some major advances and you’re directing robotic arms in surgery… oh wait, that’s already happening?
If you find yourself in front of a computer like 86% of Americans for 8+ hours a day, then remote options either already are or could be a reality in your near future.
And, considering all the benefits of working from home, the days of punching in and punching out your time card when the whistle blows will soon be gone.
Autonomy Matters… it’s Science.
In a Gallup report, 43% of Americans reported working remotely. Research consistently shows that flexible scheduling and work-from-home opportunities play a major role in an employee’s decision to take or leave a job. According to Global Workplace Analytics:
- Over two-thirds of employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters.
- 95% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee retention.
- 36% of employees would choose agile work options over a pay raise.
There are many benefits of working from home. For mothers (especially those without adequate maternity leave), fathers and caregivers, flexible work options empower a greater sense of time-management and autonomy. You get to set your hours and priorities for the day.
“I’m currently allowed to work from home once a week, I probably would have quit my job if my boss hadn’t approved that. It is the only thing that is keeping me all together at this point.”
–Kathryn K., 34, Higher Education
Flex time also decreases inefficiencies that cut into your schedule on a regular basis. For example, instead of wasting 15 minutes waiting for a delayed bus or train, you’d have 15 minutes to tackle the pile of dishes in the sink or share a quick bite with your kids before school or, I don’t know, just breathe for a hot second.
For mothers especially, the ability to work from home is a lifesaver. Otherwise, most moms can’t afford childcare and are forced to make the decision to take a break from their careers.
Telecommuting Should Be a Possibility, Not a Privilege
However, many employers and supervisors still consider remote options to be a privilege rather than a modern working style.
“Our president is pretty outspoken about not offering more flexibility in general because she does not feel people actually work when they are at home.”
–Alexandra M., 31, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals
Granted, the remote life is not for everyone. Sometimes office culture is the only socialization we get! Some people thrive in a collaborative setting or their position requires a certain level of face-to-face interaction.
More often than not, though, there are tech tools that enhance team collaboration and project accountability without needing to pop your head over the office cube.
If leaders treat remote working options as a privilege rather than a possibility, then an uncomfortable power imbalance weaves its inconsistent, un-trusting face into the underbelly of your work culture.
How to Build Trust On Your Remote Team
- Start (actually) trusting your team–take a chance and let them show you how autonomy deepens commitment and enhances their performance.
- Understand your strengths and your team’s strengths–knowing your working style along with your team’s talents and preferences will help you navigate to a smooth, productive rhythm. (#ToolTip: Gallup Strengths Finder)
- Open up your communication–deconstruct the hierarchy, and have real, honest conversations with leaders and colleagues about your work values.
- Make tech accessible at all levels–whether it’s establishing a secure VPN connection or subscribing to collaborative digital apps, show that you’re ahead of the curve and using technology to increase efficiency across the board. (#ToolTip: Slack, Asana, Google Hangouts, Zoom Video Conferencing)
Seeking Balance When Working from Home
Even remote workers have a hard time “shutting it off” or decompressing, particularly when the work follows you home.
Without knowing when to take space or give it a break, you fall victim to the chains of time and the never-(I repeat, never)-ending to-do list. If it makes your life more stressful, those benefits of working from home don’t really benefit you.
While flex time offers you the opportunity to practice work/life balance, you actually have to practice it in order to feel the benefits. This applies to all working styles.
You own your time. You determine your time’s worth. You understand the value of space. And you know the weight of burnout.
So many working women are doing what they need to do to survive, living paycheck to paycheck, as the bills pile up and they struggle to keep themselves and their families afloat. What if, instead, our mindset and work culture shifted to helping women and families thrive?
“I hope to see our society continue to move toward allowing more flexible schedules and focusing on the value of work/life balance. It seems like America still has a long way to go on that front, compared to the rest of the world.”
– Kathy G., 32, Finance
For employers: how would a flexible, trusting work-culture change your business model for the better?
For employees: what does thriving in your job look like for you… what’s stopping you from asking for it?
Alyssa helped to launch LiveYourDream.org back in 2012 and has combined creativity and all-things-digital to develop a fun, meaningful, connected space for you to get inspired and take action. Her passion for women’s empowerment drives her day-to-day work, but also her own volunteer experience – from art-service exchanges abroad in Tanzania to helping families in domestic violence shelters in the states. For fun, she loves live music, yoga, dancing, traveling and pretending to be a food critic at new restaurants!