Catherine Conlan’s spent her fair share of time in offices. These days, though, the rural Minnesota writer clocks in from home to a content marketing agency in Baton Rouge, La. Still, many of the work-life balance challenges are the same.
“There are days where I’m still rushing around to pick up the kids or the laundry just doesn’t get done, because I’ve put a priority on my work productivity,” Conlan says. “But working remotely, especially with an employer who embraces a project- or results-based approach to work and is dedicated to supporting employees’ lives away from work, can make finding a sense balance a lot easier.”
Conlan’s part of a growing trend that has overwhelming support from American workers, and even some companies. According to a FlexJobs.com survey, only 7% of office workers feel like they’re most productive at their workplace desks.
We’re in a technology sweet spot right now: more workers can stay connected through high-speed internet connections and ubiquitous wi-fi. We’re also at a cultural tipping point, in which Millennials are paving the way for others to work remotely, says Brie Reynolds, a senior career specialist at Remote.co. “As Millennials grow into managerial roles, it makes sense that companies are becoming more comfortable with remote work. And along with that, more people are knowledge workers, meaning that they work with ideas and information, rather than with machinery, and the knowledge economy naturally supports jobs that can be done from home. … Another critical point is the “snowball effect”– the more people work remotely, the more companies become comfortable with the concept and therefore allow more people to work remotely. It’s a cycle that supports growth,” she said.
Workers cite the following reasons for wanting a more flexible remote arrangement:
- work-life balance (79 percent)
- family (52 percent)
- time savings (48 percent)
- commute stress (47 percent)
Conlan says twice-weekly conference calls and semi-annual in-person retreats keep her team feeling like a cohesive workforce. Employees cross-train in each other’s jobs so they can cover for vacation and sick time; they also liberally message and call each other when necessary. And productivity takes a combination of the right technology and self-discipline.
Conlan’s company uses project management software, which she checks regularly to stay on track, and production work is cloud-based to avoid unnecessary versions and correspondence. Her own tricks for getting things done efficiently include:
- sticking to a routine
- setting alarms and reminders for scheduled interviews and calls
- keeping more than one calendar for backup
- setting deadlines throughout the day.
“I set a time to be done at the end of the day; once work creeps into the evening, you lose the benefits of working at home. At the end of each day, I sketch out a schedule for myself for the next day’s work, so I can hit the ground running the next morning,” she says.
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Categories: Money Matters