You work hard putting in additional hours, oftentimes outside the office. You may be putting in overtime from your home, or in the doctor’s waiting room, or on the road in airports, hotel rooms and sometimes late into the night. So, why can’t you gain approval to work outside the office during normal work hours? There are many times or days where you don’t need to connect with the team or be in the office to do your job, right?
Is this about location or productivity? What happens when your office or cube is just too noisy to concentrate for some tasks? Or, you have to be across town to meet a client and you end up spending more time getting back to the office instead of driving a shorter distance to home to finish that report on time.
Instead, you experience the “dreaded office tentacles”, those nagging strings lashed to your feet, thus requiring you to work from the office - time and distance requirements wasting your productivity.
“Flex Space” is when work is performed where the employee happens to be located during normal, designated work hours; any place where they are connected to, but outside the company office. Thankfully, the workplace is evolving. [See Jada A. Graves’: The New Concerns of an evolving Workplace]. Companies are finding that being flexible with their employees’ work locations and not having to commute or prep, increases their prime production time and availability – especially where people have to connect virtually in different time zones. This, and other positive spin-offs, like increased employee morale which leads to quality work, makes instituting a Flex Space policy a smart thing to consider.
Furthermore, employers are beginning to trust that their workers are equally concerned about doing as much as they can to stay productive; but that employees also want to have a healthy balance in life – they want to have the flexibility to produce by having better control of their work situation.
Even if your company doesn’t have a Flex Space policy there are ways to initiate one, or obtain a waiver, or set a precedent. These options will allow you to work from a place that contributes to your being more productive. If you can’t change your company’s policy, you may be able to change your own rules for work engagement. It’s worth a try.
Here are a few things you can do to renegotiate your work contract to include Flex Space:
- Know the policy. Go to your HR department and ask for a thorough explanation of the policy, including ‘exceptions’. If no exceptions are granted, ask about how to set a precedent. Remember, your supervisor and those who are the top decision makers set policy, so don’t be dissuaded. Once you know the policy you can decide how to change it, or manage it.
- Find your sponsors. Certainly your boss must approve and condone this change, but are there other, perhaps more sympathetic leaders to this cause that you can co-opt for support? The workplace will change as progressive leaders move into decision making places; those who understand your performance outcomes vs. traditional work practices. Look for those leaders and pick someone who will back you when the time comes.
- Prove it. Set forth a work plan to demonstrate just how productive you can be outside the office. Do something high profile, important to your project, or something that directly supports your boss, sacrificing some degree of personal hours for this cause. Document your productivity in several instances through email or some other form of delivery. You will later use this effort as an example of your level and quality of work when not in the office, physically. Choose how you want to demonstrate your productivity, making sure it fits the nature of your working relationship, but make it clear to your boss you were not in the office.
- Have the conversation. After you have built up enough ‘evidence’, schedule a time to discuss this issue with the right decision maker(s), starting with your boss. Gather all your evidence, sponsorships, knowledge from HR to ask for what you think you can get. You may not hit a home run the first time, but you may get one day a week, a month, or an occasional time where you can make that decision where to work, at your discretion.
Be flexible, don’t give up if your first response is ‘no’. Bosses change their minds, or bosses change. Keep at it and when your productivity and work quality speak for themselves, this conversation will be shorter and successful. Time is on your side as decision makers’ change along with the times.
Question: How have you approached this issue in your office? Is it a policy or not considered?