DOES YOUR BOSS TRUST YOU TO WORK FROM HOME?
As more businesses are adopting a flexible working culture, many employees are now able to work from home on a regular basis. But when it comes to the EA/PA role, we notice that there are still many hurdles to overcome before many of us are given this privilege.
The benefits to working from home are many – avoiding the daily commute during peak hours, spending more time with the children, focussing on a piece of work without interruption, putting the washing on while you get your work done, being at home during the day for maintenance work or deliveries – the list goes on. With technology being so advanced nowadays, we are constantly available and contactable while working at home and we are still able to complete all our tasks and responsibilities remotely, and the only real difference is the lack of our physical body in the office.
But does your boss trust you enough to let you work from home?
Unfortunately in many circumstances the downsides still seem to outweigh the upsides for many bosses when it comes to their EA/PA. Whether this is due to a lack of trust, or just because they simply prefer you to physically be in the office. There are many bosses who still see the role of their assistant as one of a physical being who will run around and do things for them like make them coffee, print their documents, or run their errands, rather than providing a higher level of value, thought & input.
As disappointing as it is, there are many bosses who won’t allow their assistant to work from home, despite all other employees being allowed the privilege. How unfair does that seem!? So how do you convince your boss to let you work from home?
Well you obviously need to have a certain level of trust and respect. These are not given overnight, but as with all good things, they are built and earnt over time. So start by proving yourself in the office before you go asking for privileges outside of the office. Then once you do have a level of trust and respect, ask for a one-off WFH day for a specific reason (not just because you feel like it!), and show them how productive you can be while working at home.
When working from home there are some boundaries that you should set in order to make your days productive:
Be structured and disciplined
You should be specific with them about what you’ll be working on while at home so they know you have a plan to be productive and are not just using it as a day off. Working from home can be super productive if you are organised and structured. Make sure you start at the same time you do on a day when you’re in the office, and keep to your usual routine. Take your to-do list home with you so you can keep track of exactly what tasks you need to focus on throughout the day. This is not only good to keep you on track, but it will keep you accountable to yourself and your boss, because you’ll be able to show them everything you’ve completed while working from home.
Be contactable & touch base
You can comfort your boss by explaining all the ways you’ll be contactable while you’re working at home – by mobile, email, messenger, skype, whatever technology it is that you use at your company, and make sure that you’re online throughout the day in case they need you. It’s also a good idea to organise to catch up by phone once or twice throughout the day (in the morning and at the end of the day are usually best), to touch base on anything that’s happened, anything you need to know from them and vice versa, so you can stay up to speed and they can still hand over tasks to you if they need to. Being easily contactable is key!
Dedicate a work space
You may be tempted to sit in bed in your PJ’s all day with your laptop, but this is not recommended. It is ergonomically not good for you, and it also means you won’t be in the ‘zone’ to be productive. Either set up a home office, or find a spot at the dining table or somewhere else in the house that suits you - having a designated work space will help increase productivity.
Try not to take personal calls or have guests during work hours
While it’s tempting to take personal calls all day, or invite friends or family over to catch up, you need to set boundaries and ensure you treat your work from home day as you would a day in the office. Take a quick personal phone call if you need to, but make sure you then refocus as you would in the office – you need to make sure you stay on track and keep productive.
Assistants at all levels deserve to be treated with the same level of trust and respect as all other employees, and we should absolutely be given the same opportunities as everyone else. We recognise that this can sometimes be a little more difficult given the nature of our roles and the closeness and support that we provide our bosses, but in a world that is evolving so rapidly, and with technology that is allowing us to be connected and available from anywhere, be it the train, airport, park, café or at home, there should be nothing to prohibit you from doing what you need to do, from wherever you are.
Hopefully some of the above points will help you with building a good foundation of trust and respect with your boss, not only to be able to work from home, but to enhance your working relationship and create a solid partnership for the long-term.
Nis & Sarah