By Brie Weiler Reynolds
If you’re like a lot of professionals, you start your career with a roar right out of college, full of energy and willing to put work first. But after several years -- and perhaps several different jobs, or promotions, or career changes -- your priorities shift. How does one strike an increasingly important balance between work life and personal life?
Workplace flexibility, whether in your current position or a new one, is essential to find that balance. Five steps can help you achieve that goal.
Work from home
Otherwise known as telecommuting, remote work or virtual work, working from home is exactly as it sounds.
If you have a job that involves working over computers and phones most of the time, working from home is a possibility for you.
Jake Carney of Florida was tired of working in office jobs where he needed to schedule his personal life around his job.
"These are things everyone deals with on a daily basis, but I made a conscious decision to change my professional lifestyle,” he explains.
After searching for several months, Jake landed a job as a telecommuting marketing manager for a nonprofit organization.
Working from home with a flexible schedule, Jake enjoys being able to take advantage of the beautiful Florida weather during the day, or to entertain family and friends who come into town, without having to worry about taking time off or counting vacation days.
“Once I was set in my flexible role, I was more productive professionally and personally,” Jake says.
Schedule flexible hours
If you want or need to be in the office or on-site, but you’d like a more flexible schedule to better accommodate everything you have going on outside of work, flexible hours provide a possible solution.
Consider shifting your work schedule to start earlier or end later to avoid rush hour traffic and shorten your commute. Start early AND leave late, with a few hours off in the middle of the day to run errands, go to the gym, set personal appointments, etc.
For the ultimate in flexible scheduling, leave your options open to set a new schedule each week depending on what you have going on.
Try a compressed work week
This flexible work arrangement is a summer staple at many offices -- employees working 40 hours in four days, rather than five. Who wouldn’t like three-day weekends every week? If you crave longer blocks of time off from work, this option can help.
Some professionals take Fridays or Mondays off, but others find it helpful to take off Wednesdays to split the work week.
An option that many full-time professionals fail to consider, working part-time in your current profession is a possibility.
The benefits of working part-time for parents are undeniable -- studies from the Pew Research Center show mothers who work part-time rather than full-time or not at all are the most satisfied.
Combine several types of flexibility
Carol Cochran of Frisco, Texas successfully employs several methods to create flexibility in her current role as a Team Development Leader for a web-based company.
After being a stay-at-home mom to two young children, Carol waded back into the labor force by taking a part-time job and working from home in 2012.
Over the course of a year, she’s taken on more responsibilities and is now working a full-time schedule, but she’s still working from home and she sets her own hours.
“The combination of working from home and setting my own schedule makes it much easier to balance work and family,” Carol says.
Essential for implementing the type of flexibility best suited to you is to gaining your employer’s approval.
Schedule a sit-down meeting with your manager and go over your proposal with them. The idea should be fully formed and include proof that you will be just as productive, or more so, with your newfound flexibility.
If your manager doesn’t go for it right away, try again, or start looking for a job with one of the thousands of companies that already support work-life balance through flexible job options.