Work From Home: The Most Frequently Asked Questions, Answered
Image above: Live Session At The Opportunity Desk, during SHEROES SUMMIT, Mumbai
This is possibly the most searched and researched topic at SHEROES; the one that elicits the maximum queries, is most in demand, and has had reams, and bytes, of articles written on it.
Why would I want to write more on something that is so saturated? Possibly because every new interaction with the community throws up new facets about the idea of flexi-work. It is not surprising because, for me, this is a dynamically growing entity that will take on a definable identity in the years to come.
The Next Big Thing:
Most previous contenders for work from home were women from smaller towns who had no access to good opportunities, or women on a maternity or career break. This time, at Opportunity Desk, during SHEROES SUMMIT 2016, we came across a new category of women who wanted to opt for work from home: Tech professionals at the mid-career level.
There was a slew of queries from women who had already chucked their careers or were looking to catapult to the other side. Maybe tech companies and the software giants need to sit up and take note of this talent. There is a greater need for flexi-hours, and women need options. However, what I want to focus on here are the expectations.
Expectation 1: I need a work-from-home job at the same level at which I am working. I have 6-8 years of experience, and I want to work from home for a company which offers the same profile.
Reality: Work-from-home jobs are great levellers. While this a growing segment, it has not grown to such an extent that companies will risk having senior- or middle-level positions working flexible hours. We are still grappling with trust issues and remote workers being viewed as unreliable procrastinators who do not deliver. You can take up projects and look for profiles in training.
Pro tip: If career progression matters to you as much, do consider speaking to your employers about the need for flexi-hours; at least partly, to begin with. And stay on top of the efficiency game by delivering well, keeping deadlines and remaining connected with the office during work-from-home projects. Better yourself, and you will win more trust and flexi-time.
Expectation 2: My salary is X. I want a work-from-home job which pays me as much, or maybe a little less. How can I settle for such a salary cut?
Reality: Fewer hours mean lesser pay. Let’s face it: Even employers face a setback in terms of efficiency. Not being available in the office can lead to a lot of postponed decisions and delayed meetings. There is a price to be paid for everything. You save in terms of commute and a better work-life balance.
Pro tip: You can consider taking up different profiles and upskilling to take up well-paying projects. Or, if you are efficient enough, you can balance two projects at once.
Expectation 3: If I do decide to get back to full-time work, will my experience in work-from-home jobs count?
Reality: Be prepared for a scenario where you may not be viewed with the same professional approval when getting back to a full-time job after a stint at flexi-work. However, what matters is that you have remained connected to work; and that is better than being off the radar.
Pro tip: Use this time to hone your skills to get back into the game, and remember to stay connected with old colleagues and employers. You may need to put in an extra bit of effort, or may even have to settle for a lower profile. Face the reality and continue the good work. You will find your way up soon enough.
As this sector grows, there will be better options. Consider yourself the pioneers and game-changers who are laying the path for others. So sweat it out, work harder and win the stripes. Our women at the Olympics have shown it. Can we be far behind?
If you have more queries on working from home, please feel free to reach out to me at the SHEROES Helpline (#askmonica).