After much negotiation (and perhaps a little begging), your boss finally signed off on your request for a flexible schedule. Freedom is yours! From swearing off of business suits and wearing sweats all day to binge-watching Orange is the New Black, you’re ready to work remotely.
Not so fast, newly-minted remote worker.
Sure, having a flexible schedule is one of the best ways to achieve work-life balance. You can attend your kid’s football game, go get your annual physical, and even have lunch with your Mom and still get your work done for the day. Thing is though, unless you’ve worked remotely before, there is a definite learning curve when it comes to handling all the freedom that flexibility provides.
Here are four tips to make remote, flexible schedule jobs work for you—and your company, too:
1. Know that it’s not just about you.
Yes, you made a great case for why a flexible schedule job would be in your best interest. But it’s important to keep in mind that while your company does care about you, it also cares about its bottom line. By allowing you to work remotely, your boss is helping you better balance your life, but will also be interested to see how your flexible schedule will benefit him.
So before you begin working remotely, schedule a meeting with your boss to go over your new working arrangement. Discuss things like when you expect to be available, your specific duties, and how you plan to address any issues that might arise from you not being in an office. That way you can set yourself up for remote success from the start.
2. Keep the connection open.
One of the biggest fears that a boss might have in deciding whether or not to let an employee work remotely is if the person will be there when he needs him. Will you be reachable when you said you would be, or will he have to hunt you down? Since some bosses equate working remotely with people not taking their jobs seriously, it’s up to you to establish an open connection with your team—and in particular, your boss.
Determine the ways in which both of you prefer to communicate (for example, your boss might be a diehard email user while you prefer to dash off an instant message). Let your boss know when you’ll be “on”—and stick to that schedule when possible. Show up for meetings and participate in company events, like a Secret Santa or a meet-up with colleagues who live close to you. It will assure your boss that you are as dedicated to the company as ever—or even more.
3. Know thyself.
Some people spring out of bed each morning, ready and raring to attack their to-do list. Others get into their work groove at 9:00 p.m. It’s important for your own sake—and that of your productivity—to know which category you fall into, and then harness your power to be as productive as possible.
You might find that you work better when your day is broken up into chunks, or you might discover that working standing up keeps your creative juices flowing—and allows you to get in some exercise, too!
4. Be realistic.
Let’s face it: when you work remotely, there are going to be days when you just want to blow off work and stay in bed. While it’s totally normal to feel that way (and to have a hooky day once in awhile), it’s not a good idea to abuse your flexible work schedule. You will have to learn how to self-manage, and assess where your pitfalls come into play (i.e., you might start getting antsy in the afternoons and need a change of scenery).
If you realize that you’re spending way too much time on Pinterest or if you’re feeling lonely, look for solutions to help you iron out some of the kinks. You might need to go to a co-working space once in awhile so you can be around other people, or you might need to set some Internet blockers on your computer to prevent you from hitting up Instagram too often.
Acquiring one of the many remote, flexible schedule jobs isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal. Most likely, you’ll need to tweak your work style when you work remotely so that you’re as productive and happy as possible. But when you finally find what works for you, well, you’ll be amazed at the results—and at how happy you are working flexibly.