Achieving work-life harmony is a key priority for employees. In fact, research has shown that finding that elusive balance between career and personal life is one of the main motivating factors for individuals, when evaluating job options (2014 Kelly Global Workforce Survey). Understandably, employees may consider flexible working arrangements (FWAs) as a way to successfully manage work and personal responsibilities.
However, there are some key questions to ask yourself before you embark on a flexible working arrangement.
What are your work-life needs?
Before you explore the FWAs available, take a moment to identify your specific work-life needs. This will help you to find an arrangement that matches your situation.
For example, if you want an extra 2 hours in the morning to have breakfast with your children and send them to school, you may want to work on a staggered hours scheme — where you start and leave work later to fulfil the stipulated working hours for a full-time employee.
However, occasionally going on a flexible hours arrangement might be a right fit if you need to take an elderly parent for doctor’s visits. This allows you the time to accompany them for a few hours, then continue working from home later in the day. Know what your needs are, so you can address them effectively.
Know what your needs are, so you can address them effectively.
What is your work style?
Everyone has a unique workstyle, and each way of working has its own strengths and limitations. It is important to ensure that your workstyle and chosen FWA are well-aligned. Would you consider yourself a self-starter — an independent worker who can work well without any supervision for an extended period? Or do you require frequent communication with others, where the proximity to others and the ability to bounce ideas off gives you the energy to complete your work efficiently?
Being aware of your work style can help you to find a flexi option that will play to your strengths, or at the very least, give you an opportunity to address some areas of conflict that may arise when you work flexibly. For example, if you are used to frequent supervision, it can be jarring to suddenly switch modes and work from home.
Ensure that your workstyle and chosen FWA are well-aligned.
How will you communicate with your team?
When teammates work flexibly, face-to-face interaction can be significantly reduced. Take proactive steps to maintain strong communication ties with your team, even as you work away from them. Keep them informed of your working hours, and assure them that you will be available via phone and email, should they need to reach you. Ensure that you attend work-related team meetings; ideally, these would be scheduled on a specific day each week for consistency. Also consider making time to meet up with your colleagues outside of work; invest in your office friendships.
Take proactive steps to maintain strong communication ties with your team.
Where will you work?
Remote working is one form of flexible work, which refers to working outside of the traditional office setting. Besides working from home, other options can include co-working spaces, or even a café. It is important to ensure that you have a conducive working environment; be in a designated space that is quiet, has good lighting and all the necessary tools you will need, such as a laptop, internet connection and phone access.
Another consideration is how you will handle sensitive documents or information. If you work on confidential information on a regular basis, it would be advisable to work from a home office which offers sufficient privacy.
Be in a designated space that is quiet, has good lighting and all the necessary tools you will need.
How will your performance be measured?
If you opt to work on an FWA, you can expect less direct interaction with your supervisor, and less day-to-day guidance as well. Thus, having clear, transparent and measurable KPIs for your work performance is crucial. Have a candid discussion with your supervisor to understand the exact outcomes and deliverables you need to produce, and also identify timelines and deadlines for these, where necessary. This allows both of you to monitor progress and accurately assess your performance on the job.
Having clear, transparent and measurable KPIs for your work performance is crucial.
With careful thought and preparation, you can successfully leverage flexible working to manage your career and personal responsibilities, and create a win-win situation for yourself and your employer.
©2017 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved
Research shows that employees with empathetic bosses are more motivated, loyal and engaged. Meet My Boss is a work-life initiative for a more targeted ‘Bring Your Child to Work Day’, with a slew of suggested parent-child activities, a free parenting talk and other freebies. Find out more today!