Telework or flexwork: Which one is right for you?

On the Job

Telework or flexwork: Which one is right for you?

It’s no secret that employees at every level of the organization are craving more work/life balance. While technology offers some stress relief in terms of being able to step out of the office and still monitor work, it can also be a contributor. Many people feel technology means “always being on” where work is concerned.

But there are ways to bring a little balance to your work and personal life. Both managers and employees can take advantage of telework and flexwork arrangements.

Eric Tracy, vice president of Unum’s customer contact centers, says these arrangements can be great for the employee and the employer. “These flexible working arrangements allow the employee to create a schedule that works for them, resulting in a better work-life balance. And in some cases, it even yields more productivity due to fewer distractions.”

And there’s a benefit to the business too. Employers can expect more productivity and higher quality work because of fewer workplace distractions. The organization will use less space and there will be less demand on the internal infrastructure.

It’s important to note that telework and flexwork are often used interchangeably, but they’re slightly different. Telework (also known as telecommuting or remote work) is when employees work from home or another location because they’ve eliminated their daily commute. According to Gallup, telecommuting has risen to 37 percent.

Telework involves being out of the office, so having a bit of “MacGyver” ability may be necessary — teleworkers often had to figure stuff out on their own. In addition, there are five critical skills you’ll need to be a successful teleworker:

  • Able to work independently
  • Self-motivated
  • Self-managing
  • Willingness to seek help and ask questions
  • Good written and verbal communication skills

If you manage teleworkers, you have to be equally prepared to manage under these same circumstances. The old days of walking around the office to see who’s working are over. Teleworkers are managed by results.

Flexwork (also known as flextime) is when employees have the ability to adjust their work hours, although there might be core hours when everyone is required to be in the office. Eighty-six percent of the 2014 Best Companies to Work For offer flexible schedules.

Exceptionally good communications skill is the key to flexwork success because you’ll need to let others know what you’re doing. Here are five essential skills for flexworkers:

  •  Being proactive
  • Planning and organization
  • Flexibility
  • Responsible to the team
  • Good written and verbal communication skills

If you’re considering a telework or flexwork arrangement, take a moment to consider which one is better for you. You should have already demonstrated to your manager that you have the ability to work independently. If you want to try one of these working arrangements, here are a few tips:

  • Know what it would take for you to work effectively at home or outside the office. That includes making the equipment and technology work, such as high-speed Internet if that’s needed for your job.
  •  Have an appropriate place to work where you won’t be distracted. Working at home isn’t a substitute for child or elder care.
  •  Offer to supply a daily or weekly update outlining what you’ve accomplished. Explain that you’ll be able to do as much or more work or that it will be better quality because you’ll have fewer distractions. Consider if there are additional tasks you can take on with your increased productivity.
  •  Be willing to be flexible and come in for meetings or regular check-ins, if needed.

Flexible working arrangements such as remote work and flextime can be valuable for you and your company. It involves being very self-aware of your working style and a heightened need for regular communication.

 

 

 

 

 

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