The so called ‘privilege’ of working from home has just been blown wide open. Covid-19 has catapulted us into the WFH future.
Many people have swung from one extreme to the other - from no working from home to complete out of office. I’m interested in looking at what worked, what didn’t and how you can maintain a level of flexibility that will work for you.
For a lot of people, it’s been difficult, lonely, with increased workloads while juggling family demands. Out of the morass, is there anything that inspired you, that you want to hang on to, or that you could make work with a little more balance?
Positive things people mentioned:
- The time (and money) saved by not commuting, getting back 1-3 hours per day; sleeping in or having breakfast with the family
- A shifting priority to being comfortable; less time spent on appearance; hair and makeup, dressing smartly. The relief of not wearing a bra all day!
- Time slowed down, noticing or feeling more, hearing yourself think
- Priorities shifted away from work, a balancing and ease, a change of routines
- An ability to mix personal and work tasks, a feeling of independence and increased responsibility
Some of the bigger problems like a lack of motivation, missing colleagues, competing with the family, inadequate home office set-up, too much time in virtual meetings, will be mitigated with some good planning and time spent back in the office.
Permission or Negotiation?
Working from home has been a ‘hard to put a price on’ perk and now it just got a whole lot more accessible because if you made it work, if your team made it work, how do the old arguments stack up? No CE or Manager can now say; We don’t do flexi, we are not set up for it, it’s an earned privilege, I need line of sight etc.
I keep reading that the objective now is to use the aftermath of this global pandemic to deliver a more productive, better skilled workforce enjoying improved work-life balance. We all know that working from home is precious and desired. In a 2016 UK Investors in People’s Job Exodus Trend’s poll, a third of respondents (34%) chose a more flexible approach to working hours over a 3% pay rise.
The struggle has always been in negotiating the level of flexibility you want in line with how far family friendly policies will stretch. There is a preference for verbal agreements that are at the discretion of your manager - what is the reluctance to formalise arrangements into contracts? Once a person is in a 40hr commuting routine it’s difficult to negotiate flexibility or even have the capacity to contemplate change.
How can you hold some ground? (some home ground)
Can your manager demand you go back to how it was? 40hrs in the office and no flexie? Or reduced hours and income? Yes, they probably can, if this is what you were doing before. Any changes to your hours or pay will have to be discussed, signed off and a new employment agreement issued especially if you are currently doing more hours on less pay.
Right now, you have the most power to negotiate for the flexibility you want, don’t blow it by going back to the office full-time without discussing your options.
If you know that you are going to have to go into battle over this, then start working on your case right now. It could have more impact if the whole team presents a unified front (with a plan) rather than giving management the opportunity to pick off and negotiate with one person at a time. I know someone whose whole team worked from home on a Monday, they put the idea to management and explained how and why it would work.
Make a Plan, gather your evidence:
- Challenge the rhetoric around being a family friendly workplace, what actually is the offer, where are the yes and no points?
- Prove that you can be more productive at home (did hours and workloads increase over the lock-down time? Factor in 5 min conversations that became booked-in 1/2hr Zoom calls and the difference it will make with children back at school)
- Be clear about what you want and that you want it to start right now; how many days from home, definition of flexi hours (start and finish times)
- Cite Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage - relaxed employees with brains in positive mode are 31% more productive (for you this may mean no commute, having breakfast as a family, an earlier start/finish, doing some life admin mid-week)
- Consider and use the evidence and benefits from 4 Day Week Global written by Andrew Barnes, founder of Perpetual Guardian,
- What improvements would you need to be more productive at home? Better tech, OSH equipment, a well set-up work space or a dedicated/improved space. What would your employer be willing to contribute?
Don’t miss this Opportunity
This lock-down WFH may have been a completely chaotic pain for many, but decide what you want to keep and what you want to discard. It’s not too late, even if you have gone back to the office full-time. You can still start on this now - discuss it with your family and colleagues, gather your evidence and put a plan together, be clear about what will work for you.
This is a huge opportunity for positive change. If you can prove that with less distraction, better tech, more planning and balance that you personally, your work and family would benefit from you working from home for two days per week then now is the time to demand it.
Kia kaha for creating a more balanced and happy life and get in touch if you need support with your proposal. firstname.lastname@example.org 021 42 7183
Tilda Bostwick lives and breathes the NFP sector, she is compassionate, a great match-maker and a Fellow of FINZ.
Fundraising Talent Recruitment is Tilda’s national agency which specialises in recruiting professional fundraisers.