By: Chanell Alexander
You did it! You pulled it off! You landed a remote work gig. Go you!
This is excellent news, but be sure not to get so excited that you forget about one significant thing: your role within the company. We hear a lot of talk about salary negotiations (which are incredibly important and should happen), discussions about perks and benefits, and overall job responsibilities. However, as a remote worker — and employee in general —you should have some hand in how you accomplish your work tasks. Nothing is worse than sitting at your home office, feeling as if you are not being used to your creative potential. So, make it a point to work with your manager to not only improve your job but create new aspects to enhance it, i.e. job task flexibility. I did this in a previous position, and it worked out relatively well. Here are a few of my tips.
Discuss Job Task Flexibility During the Interview
I know we already discussed the fact that you got the job, but if you are still in the search process be sure to include a conversation about job task flexibility one hired. You may want to ask your potential boss the following questions (or variations of these inquiries):
- Would I have the opportunity to suggest new projects or tasks if in line with the company mission and vision?
- After a specific amount of time, is it possible to reassess tasks and discuss ways to deal with those that may have evolved?
- Is there a bit of flexibility in job task in regards to how I approach them or incorporate them into the day?
After you view the duties associated with your position, you will likely get an even broader picture of how you can alter tasks or create new ones that compliment your job role.
Start Out with Business as Usual
When I started my last position, before I begin critiquing my duties and finding ways to innovate, I made a point to go through the motions to see what works and what didn’t. There may be a process you are not fond of, but they are efficient, and it makes sense why your manager may want it done that particular way. Going through the motions also gives you the opportunity to see what you can improve upon. Trying out the way things have always been done gives you credibility when you begin to have the conversation of job task flexibility. Use this time to do recon on what works and what doesn’t.
Do Your Homework
This entry is best described using an example from my experience. I was a communications associate at a nonprofit, and I had just started a blog post for the organization (another job task flexibility I initiated). I realized that we needed to monitor the analytics of the blog post to see how it was performing with our constituents. Historically, the organization’s communications department handled this type of thing. However, I felt that we should keep a closer eye on this since we now had a blog that was separate from the organization’s. So, I spoke with the communications director and my supervisor about the benefits of us having our own Google Analytics account to monitor our data. It benefitted communications (they didn’t have this on their plate anymore), and I was able to add a task to my job that could propel my career in the long-run. So, do some homework and look at a problem that needs to be solved and how your creativity benefits everyone involved.
Negotiate the Mundane with the Creative
Now, as we know, there will always be a task we are not that excited about. This is normal, and the world would be ideal if we did not have to deal with them. However, you can use a mundane task to negotiate for ones you are excited about. When having a conversation with your boss about job flexibility, remind them of some of the grunt work you are doing (I am sure you can come up with a more eloquent word for it), and then express your interest in exploring other tasks that can help the company move forward and improve upon the drudge work. Many times, if a supervisor sees you can be trusted with less than desirable responsibilities then you have a better case to ask for something more advanced and innovative.
Conduct a Test Run
Let’s say that you really want to incorporate a new software program into your workday because you feel it could help you and your team better organize tasks. Why not take the time to try it out on your own (if a free version is available), and track the results? You can also do this with new ideas that do not take a lot of money or time to implement. If the task is too big, your boss may feel you are jumping ahead of them to do something they did not know about. So, use wisdom in how you choose to do this. I was in a situation where I built a lot of initial trust with my supervisor, and as a result, they took notice when I took the initiative to try out a task before speaking with them. Most of the time the results were favorable. If you feel your boss would approve, conduct a test run of your idea.
Final Thoughts – Build Trust
Trust has been a running theme throughout this article, but I just want to make it plain here. Before you can negotiate any flexibility within your tasks, you have to build trust with your supervisor and coworkers. They need to know they can count on you regardless of the circumstance. This means offering to help with projects you may not be a part of, always showing up and engaging in meetings, and optimizing processes and suggesting improvements when you can. The more you position yourself as someone that can be trusted the more influence you have to ask for what you want in your job tasks.
About the Author: Chanell Alexander is a freelance writer and content creator. Chanell has worked in nonprofit and business communications for four years, and her writing topics cover automotive industry practices, business and entrepreneurial management tips, and business technology. She is also the owner of The Remote Work Life, a blog that provides tips and resources for remote work professionals. Follow Chanell on Twitter @chanell_trwl for daily tips and insights on remote work and working from home.
Note: This article was republished by permission from the author.