My husband and I dated long distance in the months leading up to our engagement and wedding; I was in Charlotte, NC while Jim lived in Greenville, SC. As our relationship became more serious and it became obvious that someone was going to be moving, we talked a lot about who would move where and what made the most sense for both of us. We factored in finances, careers and proximity to our loved ones and played out what would happen in either scenario. After weighing our options, we quickly realized that it made much more sense for me to move. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have some mini panic attacks in the months leading up to our move/wedding/home purchase/everythingallatonce. Let's face it - we love big life decisions and we weren't afraid to make a bunch of them at the same time.
One of my biggest concerns in the whole process was what I would possibly do about my job!? I was in the midst of wedding planning, purchasing my first home, working on moving out of state and quite frankly the thought of starting a new job at the same time was daunting. Not to mention that I really loved my company and my job and didn't want to leave it!
In October of last year I made the move from full time in an office, to a full time "virtual office" position with my company and my husband thankfully survived the train wreck that was Moving From Charlotte and Buying a House and Planning a Wedding in 3 Months and Going Crazy in one piece. A win all the way around.
In the past few months I've had time to reflect over the transition and the conversations leading up to it. While it's not for everyone, I know there are many situations where a remote position might work and I thought I'd take the time to share the most important takeaways and advice from the process for those who may be interested in "work from home" opportunities on a full or part time basis.
Research // Comb your company's HR website or give them a call. Are there references to opportunities for remote positions or alternative work schedules? Many companies are realizing the benefits not only to employees but to themselves by allowing their employees to work from home, not to mention there's so much technology available that these arrangements are becoming easier and easier. Look for examples within your company of people already doing this successfully and reach out to them. Arm yourself with as much information as possible about your company's take on the arrangement so that you are prepared to have a conversation with your boss.
Gain Support // Do you have partners/colleagues/mentors that would be on board with such an arrangement? If so, enlist their support. If you are a rockstar colleague (which I know you are), they won't wont to lose you. Let them know why you want to have discussions about such an arrangement. They can be a great advocate for you when its time for your boss to make some decisions.
Put together a proposal // This is quite possibly the best thing I did for myself in this process. Before I spoke with my boss about working from home, I took the time to put together a thought out proposal so that when I walked in to have the conversation, it was clear that this was something I was taking seriously. It consisted of a summary of my experience with the company, including details of promotions and accomplishments, a proposal for a work from home arrangement, a 30, 60 and 90 day action plan, and lastly an "acknowledgments" section that included emails I had saved since I started working with the company full of praise and accolades for a job well done. I organized my proposal into sections, created a table of contents, and presented it to my boss in a binder with a cover page, and even offered multiple copies should approval need to go "up the chain." Showing such great effort and professionalism goes a long way in establishing trust and dedication which is vital for remote work. My boss was impressed, and in his own words "it set the bar high" for any future requests.
It's time! // Talk with your manager. Go into the meeting relaxed. If you are proposing a full time remote arrangement, be ready to counter offer with a few days a week or a "trial period." Consider any objections your boss might have and be prepared to address them. Luckily, preparing your proposal really helps get you ready for objections and you can use it to show that you've already considered the difficulties and are prepared to tackle them in your action plan.
And there you have it!
Does your company offer work from home opportunities?