NEWS + ADVICE
Remote Work and Your Career
The pandemic brought changes for government contractors, as it did to many businesses, including some rapid starts to remote work last spring. Some in the cleared community have the ability to work remotely, while many do not. Whether you currently work remotely or want to, there are a variety of career questions to consider.
What goals make you want to work from home (WFH) or a location remote from your current one?
What are you looking for?
- Hybrid option where you can work from home some days per week and in office/on site the others
- Full-time WFH
- Remote work, i.e. where you live is different than where your job is
What business reasons could you use to show your company/boss that your request is a win-win?
Have you ensured you already are:
- aware of your goals and achieving them on time,
- an effective part of the work team,
- maintaining your presence so that others understand your contributions, and
- recognized as a trustworthy, productive employee?
Each of these requires both planning and communication to be successful. In turn, that offers you a better chance of convincing your boss and your company that you can be trusted to work remotely either part- or full-time.
WFH Climate Across the Country
Right now the business press is full of articles on what will happen as the pandemic is brought under control. Some think work is forever changed while opinions range down to no changes likely to stick. Surveys show a wide range in worker attitudes as well. In large cities more workers have already returned to offices than elsewhere. Companies which announced all employees could work from home forever are beginning to reopen their offices. No-one is sure how the rush to WFH will influence future work plans yet.
Studies show that remote workers lose out on promotions and pay raises. Whether this will change if more people work remotely is still in question. Are you ready to accept this in return for working remotely now?
During the pandemic WFH led to increased productivity early, but then it declined. Many managers prefer to see their employees anyway. This drop increased managers’ fears about allowing WFH at high levels. These concerns may or may not change as we emerge.
Remote work opportunities also enhanced inequity between workers who had to go to work and those able to WFH. Women were disproportionately hurt by job loss. Others, who could WFH, often also had to deal with childcare or eldercare demands and increased housework loads. Many left the workforce or went to part-time in response. These effects may take years to redress. One study recently estimates women’s pay equity also was set back dramatically and now will take nearly double previous estimates to achieve.
Younger people and new hires also were disadvantaged as it is harder to learn the informal rules and culture of their workplace and to build an internal network of support virtually. Companies are unsure how to address this effectively. Many people will not even think of the issues as they assume since the person has been with the company X amount of time they know all they need to.
Current Remote Workers
If you already work from home and want to continue to do so, now is the time to start talking with your boss about your interest in working from home fully or several days a week. Ask what your company is planning, or what your agency/contract will allow. Many company plans have changed repeatedly and there may not be a definitive answer for you yet. Still, you have ‘planted a seed’ and you may learn more about what is likely.
If you do not now work from home, now is the time to begin to plan how you can and how you can convince your organization to say yes to it.
Fully Remote Work
Some people have already temporarily moved or want to move to other locations. If this is you, there are a variety of factors to consider.
What will your company’s reaction be to your request for long-term remote work? A large corporation may already have people in or near the place you want to be so they will not need to change any pay or benefits options. A small or mid-size company may not. They may be less willing to go through the expense and legal issues related to adding an employee in a new state. The cost of adding benefits in your location may be prohibitive for them too.
Mid to large companies usually have pay schedules based on location. Are you willing to take a pay cut or lose pay raises if your chosen location has lower pay? Same with fewer benefits? While a few big tech companies have said that people moving to other areas will not lose pay, this is not yet a trend.
Do you have a company policy on remote work you will be required to agree to? Take a careful look at this. These are very common and generally include a variety of performance and behavior codes. You will often be required to set up a proper office space and certify that you have child-care arrangements so your work is not disrupted. You may have to meet specific work hours, core hours, or meeting availability rules. Many companies do not pay for office equipment or utilities or internet connections. Some do not reimburse your expenses to attend in person events at company facilities. As you face your decision, these factors often are important considerations.
An additional career factor is the availability of jobs in your field in your new location. This impacts your career development options locally from seminars/events/courses to professional meetings.
What will happen if you want to get promoted? Many companies require you to be at the location of the job instead of remote if you move into management.
What happens if your contract ends or you want to resign and thus need to search for a new cleared job? Perhaps you will be able to find another fully remote job, perhaps not. Being prepared is important if you plan to relocate. Choosing a location with options in your field is smart.
Remote work may or may not be ‘the future’ it was often predicted to be. Your goal is to decide what is right for you and how to make that happen. A solid work record supported by a clear action plan is vital to having such choices.
Patra Frame is ClearedJobs.Net’s HR Management Consultant. She is an experienced human resources executive and founder of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra is an Air Force veteran and charter member of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. Follow Patra on Twitter @2Patra.This entry was posted on Monday, April 12, 2021 1:00 pm