Remote and/or flexible work arrangements have been in the news quite a bit lately. Most of the coverage explains why offering these programs are beneficial for employers, notably higher employee retention, increased productivity, reduced overhead, and decreased carbon footprint. However, do you recognize how this option could be a game changer for your employees?
Almost sixteen years ago I married into the military. While this has provided my family with a stable income and the opportunity to meet new people and see new places, it keeps my husband traveling around the globe for training, classes, field work and deployments most of the year. Because his schedule is unyielding, mine requires flexibility to allow me to be a full time parent and household manager during his absence. Balancing this flexibility while working full time has been a continuous struggle. The unemployment rate for military spouses hover near 26%, according to the National Military Family Association. This means that when I am lucky enough to secure a job, I’m so grateful for the opportunity that I’m more likely to work within whatever strict parameters is required, which leads to work taking precedence over family. Many employers promise to accommodate flexible schedules, but most of them fall short of following through, forcing employees to choose between facing backlash for taking time off to care for a sick child or finding alternate care so that they can be ‘present’ at work. Employees will acquiesce to the demand of work over family out of fear of repercussions. This type of situation is common, especially for military spouses, because military-friendly jobs are scarce. For me, this meant missing important school functions for my two sons, finding alternate care when they were sick, or coming to work when I was ill myself.
In November 2015 I was offered a job with a company who spoke at length about the importance of work/life balance and the company’s family first culture. One of the ways they assist employees with this is to offer remote capabilities and flexible schedules. I had heard these assurances before, but this company was genuine. I accepted the position with Boomer Consulting and have realized in the five months since just how genuine Boomer Consulting is. Their remote work and flexible schedule capabilities afford me the flexibility that my family requires in my husband’s absence and allow me to work around my children’s schedules, as well. As my husband’s schedule gets busier, I am able to work from home or adjust my schedule accordingly so that my family is always taken care of. I can now have a guilt-free, healthy work-life balance. And that has been a game changer.
A Long Term Career
Having a position with remote capabilities has given me the chance to have a career instead of an ad hoc job until we move again. In four years my husband will be retiring from the military. At some point between now and then, my family will be required to relocate. In the past, when we had to relocate, I would have given notice to my employer and started the job search over again in a new city/state. Remember that military spouse unemployment rate from earlier? This is a major reason why that number is so high. This process of leaving one job behind and beginning the search again brings more strain to an already stressful transition. However, with a remote-capable position, I am comforted by the thought of taking my job with me. For the first time ever, my family will not have to deal with the stress of anxiety of losing and trying to replace an income. Being a remote worker will allow me to focus on helping our children adjust to this major life change and get settled into a new place instead. Maintaining my current position in a remote capacity will allow me to continue on the career path I set when I first started at Boomer Consulting without having to start over at square one. The notion of having a career instead of a short term job has transformed our life plan after my husband retires. It will allow a range of freedom that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.
What This Means for My Employer
While I am enjoying the transformation that this causes in my life and that of my family, Boomer Consulting is reaping its own reward. Without the added stress of worrying about providing for family while maintaining a full time job, I am able to better focus my attention to work priorities. I know that when my family needs me, I will be there and, likewise, when my work family needs me, I am able to give them 100% of my time and talent. I am keeping my coworkers healthier by working at home when I am ill. I am able to work with less distraction when working at home while the children are at school. I am allowed the freedom to innovate and collaborate, whether it’s from my desk at work or the comfort of my home office.
What This Means for You
By offering the benefit of flexible work arrangement, your firm is creating loyal, more productive employees. Your firm will also attract a larger talent pool, including military spouses, single parents, older workers, and millennials. Your employees and your firm will reap the rewards.