Three Foolproof Tips for Flexible Work Success

(These tips originally appeared in Keppie Career’s post “Are Flexible Work Environments Inevitable?“)

In honor of the first annual National Telework Week  (February 14-18), I thought I’d share some of my top tips for flexible work success and ask you to share some of yours:

Tip 1: Don’t expect your manager to come up with a solution. Start the conversation with him or her by presenting a clear flexibility plan that specifies the:

  • Type of flexibility you are proposing
  • How the work will get done (not “why” you want flexibility—it doesn’t matter)
  • How the business will benefit from your plan, and
  • When the plan will be reviewing (e.g. initially 90 days; annually thereafter)

(For a step-by-step guide to create a win-win flexibility plan guaranteed to get a fair hearing, check out my book: “Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You”)

Tip 2: Remember that it’s your job to (over) communicate with your boss, your team, and your clients.

When you are out-of-sight because either you work from home or work flexible, non-traditional hours, be mindful of consistent accessibility and reliability:

  • If you aren’t immediately reachable, make it a priority to check messages regularly and respond in a timely manner.
  • Initiated a “check in” by email, IM or phone once or twice during the day with your team or your manager to see if there is anything you need to be aware of.  Most likely there won’t be, but they will appreciate the extra effort.
  • Each week, put together one-page of highlights of accomplishments.  In today’s economy, we should all have a record of what we’ve done…not just flex workers!  It comes in handy when negotiating for a raise or promotion.

Tip 3:  Be flexible with your flexibility.

Nothing causes a manager or a coworker to lose patience with your flexibility faster than a consistent unwillingness to periodically “go the extra mile.”   If there’s an unexpected deadline and it’s your time to leave, offer to stay now and then.  If you’re scheduled to work from home, offer to come into the office if it’s the only day a client can meet.

Taking the initiative, being conscientious and going the extra mile, from time to time, are small actions that go a long way to making your flexibility work for everyone.  What else makes flexibility a success?

For more, I invite you to visit my Fast Company blog, and to join me on Twitter @caliyost.

4 thoughts on “Three Foolproof Tips for Flexible Work Success

  1. I think this is a very interesting point that it is important that the teleworker make sure to communicate progress and accomplishments back to the employer. I have been involved as co-founder in developing, which automatically tracks progress on tasks and reports it to both the employee and employer. Transparency is great, as is effective communication. Maybe your readers could suggest using a solution like RWorks as part of their proposal.

  2. Cali’s insights as to accountability and reliability are spot on – regardless of any business role or flex time arrangement. This is a two way agreement of give and take. If one is always giving, then the likelihood of that arrangement continuing will be short lived. This premise applies to any employment relationship. That’s also why people leave organizations. When they think they are giving and reciprocity on the part of the company is absent, they leave. Yes, even in “this economy”. So read the surveys and get in tune with how our workforce and the way we approach delivering our responsibilities at work have changed. Partnering and collaborating to develop the reciprocal solution for all is primary to the success of any flexible arrangement.

    Looking forward to seeing Cali present at the New York State SHRM Inaugural Diversity Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY on April 5, 2011. Each time I’ve seen her present the energy in the room is just amazing! SHRM’s VP of Diversity, Shirley Davis, will be a keynote – a conference not to be missed!

    1. Sherrill,

      You’re terrific! Looking forward to presenting at NYS SHRM Diversity Conference with you. Your work with the military and their families is amazing.


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