Flexible work is all the rage lately, with employers allowing, or even encouraging workers to telecommute, shift hours, split shifts or share jobs. Benefits for employers and workers are widely documented. Employers benefit when employees work hours and times when they can get the most done. Employees who avoid challenging commutes and have the opportunity to easily handle situations at home without interfering with work are generally happier and more productive. It's a win-win.
However, you don't want to get complacent, even if you work most of the time from home or come into the office at odd hours. Keep in mind, even though more and more employers are embracing flexible work arrangements, it's still up to you to manage your career. You don't want to be "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes time for promotions or special opportunities you may welcome as part of your professional development. Keep the following tips in mind to maintain effective communication so you remain visible on a flexible schedule and can move forward with your professional goals.
Even if you don't see your colleagues or supervisor in the office or socialize around the water cooler, make a point to keep in touch and keep up with information you'd be privy to as a regular in the office. This will take extra effort on your part. Make a point to pick up the phone and speak to your colleagues, even if it isn't necessary for work. If someone is celebrating a special event in the office, consider making a trip in to attend. You'll help keep yourself top-of-mind when people see your face at events.
Work Regular Hours
Even though your work arrangements may be technically "flexible," make sure you keep teammates posted so they know what hours you are available on a regular basis. They need to know when they can expect easy access to you, even when you are working from home. Keeping regular hours that your colleagues can count on will make it easier for them to schedule meetings you can attend remotely. If you're working a chaotic schedule, don't expect your teammates to make the effort to arrange meetings or events around you.
While you benefit from flexibility, ironically, your best tool to make sure the arrangement works and doesn't derail your career is being flexible yourself. This can be challenging, as you'll likely set up your outside of work life around your scheduled hours. However, there will be times when you may need to inconvenience yourself and work outside of those hours to accommodate an event or important call or meeting. If you don't want to find yourself in a dead-end job, do it willingly, and expect your colleagues will be more likely to work harder to accommodate you another time.
With online tools and applications, you can almost make your colleagues feel like you are a part of their daily interactions, without leaving your remote office. If they are not already using video conferencing and teleconferences, make it your business to keep abreast of new tools that could help make it easier for you to maintain your flexible work arrangement while keeping plugged into what's going on in the office.
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