As the world starts opening back up and things start to ease back into more normalcy, it’s time to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve learned since the COVID-19 pandemic began and how it can help foster a better future. Now, I know reflecting on a major global disaster doesn’t sound that appealing, but if anything, one positive thing we’ve gained is a new perspective on life—especially on work-life balance.
Work benefits that might have seemed impossible or inconvenient before are now the norm. Although you might be ready to run back to your pre-pandemic work-life, let’s not forget those benefits. It’s time to merge the old with the new. Let’s dive into three work benefits that you should negotiate into your contract as COVID-19 restrictions ease in 2021.
1. Flexible Work Locations
If your employer hasn’t discussed this with you yet, this is your cue to pitch it to them. For many people who worked in offices pre-pandemic, it’s likely you’ve been working from home since March 2020. As I’m sure anyone who’s worked from home knows, there are pros and cons to working remotely. Dogs barking, the doorbell ringing, kids interrupting your Zoom meetings—the list of cons seems endless. But no matter what life stage you’re at, there are pros to being at home, too. Spending less time commuting, sleeping in, and the ability to do laundry in the middle of the workday are just some of the things that people wished they could indulge in pre-pandemic.
Both these pros and these cons remind us that we’re human, so don’t give them up! Sit down with your boss to discuss what options are available for flexible work locations. Here are a few ideas to consider:
• Working entirely from home
• Working a few days from home and a few days from the office each week
• Working half days at home and half days from the office
• Working mostly from the office, but having the option to work from home as needed
• Working mostly from home, but coming into the office as needed
• Working mostly from home, but gathering with colleagues at a workshare space in your neighbourhood once a week
Every person and every workplace will have a different idea of what will work best, so before discussing this with your boss, make sure to have a plan A and a plan B in case your first choice doesn’t work out. Plus, all of these opportunities are benefits that won’t cost your employer much, if anything, but they do have big rewards!
2. Flexible Work Hours
If you’ve been working from home successfully, it’s more likely that your employer will be open to flexibility around where you work, but what about when you work? You’ve proven to your employer that you’re able to get your job done outside the traditional office space, so what better time to see if you can deepen that flexibility to include the time of day when you work?
If you’re not getting up early in the morning to commute to your office, then maybe you’d like to start your workday before the traditional 9 AM start time. Perhaps you’d like to start your day later or end your day early so you can shuttle your kids to or from school. Is there a workout class you’d absolutely love to attend, but it’s in the middle of the afternoon?
If there’s a non-traditional schedule that would make your life better, then now is the time to ask for it. Over a year of staying home and isolating has shown us the importance of taking care of ourselves whether it be physically, mentally, or socially.
Again, when pitching this to your boss, have a few options of schedules that would work for you. Make sure that you’ll still be working the appropriate number of hours, and that you’ll be available for any core meetings that you need to attend. If your team meetings are every Monday at 9 AM, then you might not want to suggest starting your Monday at 10 AM.
Be courteous, flexible, and come prepared to defend your case that you can still excel at your job with your new schedule.
3. Flexible Work Schedule
Flexible work schedules have become more and more popular over the years, but the concept isn’t entirely new. Nurses, firefighters, and other essential workers all work full-time jobs outside the traditional workweek. When you remove the constraints of working 40 hours every week, Monday-Friday, from 9 AM-5 PM, there are countless combinations for how you can restructure your life.
Would working longer hours, four days a week, then having every second Friday off be beneficial in your life? Perhaps you need childcare on Wednesday afternoon, so instead, you work Sunday mornings.
Depending on the industry you work in, a flexible work schedule might not be an obvious option, but start small and see where it leads you. If you work one extra hour each day for one five-day workweek, then one extra hour for four days the following week, then you have nine extra hours banked that you can use to take a day off every second week. And that’s only one extra hour each day.
Thinking bigger, maybe Monday-Friday doesn’t work for you, and you’d prefer to work Tuesday-Saturday and have Sunday-Monday as your weekend.
Before you pitch this idea to your boss, make sure to consider your company’s operating hours. For example, if you work in the beauty industry, it’s likely you’re open on the weekend, so even if your position doesn’t necessarily need to be working on the weekend, perhaps they’d be more open to it. When preparing for the negotiation, think: What can be gained from this change? What would be lost from this change, and how can I make up for that?
When walking into that negotiation, remember, if you’ve been working from home, your boss probably has too and will understand the pros and cons themselves. Approach this discussion as honestly and openly as possible. The COVID-19 pandemic has been life-changing for us all, so adapting your work life to better accommodate you as a human being makes sense for both you and your employer.
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By: Catherine Gautreau – Catherine is a communications and fundraising professional in Vancouver, BC with a passion for storytelling, the arts, and giving back to the community.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock