Many working adults have no choice but to report to the office at a preset hour each day and leave at a specific time, regardless of the amount of work they actually have on their plate. But a growing number of U.S. employees are shunning the notion of being locked into a rigid schedule, and are instead pursuing flexible work arrangements.
Flexible jobs these days run the gamut from those with the option to telecommute to those offering condensed workweeks. And employees are willing to sacrifice other benefits in exchange for a greater amount of flexibility. In a recent Flexjobs survey, 17% of U.S. workers said they'd be willing to forgo employer-sponsored health insurance in exchange for the ability to telecommute. And 62% of workers have actually left or considered leaving a job that wouldn't offer flexible work options.
If you've yet to fight for more flexibility at work, you should know that there are many benefits to getting some leeway from your employer. Based on the aforementioned study, here are three common reasons employees seek flexible arrangements -- and what they (and you) stand to gain from them.
1. Health or disability concerns
It's an unfortunate fact that health or mobility issues limit some workers as far as the jobs they're able to accept and the wages they're able to bring in. If you have a medical condition that makes working in an office difficult, but could easily perform similar tasks from the comfort of home, finding an employer that offers such flexibility might not only help you grow your career, but improve your finances.
Similarly, going from a standard job situation to a flexible one might help improve the health condition that plagues you in the first place. Imagine you have chronic back pain that makes commuting and sitting at a desk for prolonged periods difficult. If your job is one that can be performed from your couch or bed (say, all you need is a laptop and Internet connection to get it done), working from home several times a week might help alleviate some of the physical strain your body is otherwise subject to.
2. Avoiding a horrible commute
A terrible commute isn't just aggravating; it can impact your mental wellbeing and physical health. Think about the last time you got stuck in traffic, and what should've been a 30-minute drive took well over an hour. Couldn't you just feel your blood pressure rising?
Not only can a bad commute affect your health, but it can also make you grow to dislike an otherwise enjoyable job. That, in turn, might impact your performance and cost you raises and promotions down the line.
On the other hand, if you can avoid that lousy commute at least on a part-time basis, you'll be better positioned to give your job your all. Just as importantly, you won't come to dread going to work, which is a much more ideal way to live.
3. Better work-life balance
Given the expectations some companies have, it can be difficult for workers to manage employer demands without letting their personal lives fall by the wayside. Imagine, for instance, that you're a working parent with school-aged kids whose plays or activities you can never seem to attend because you're forced to be at the office. With a flexible arrangement, your employer might allow you to work from home as necessary to be present at such events, with the promise that you'll get your work done in time to meet deadlines.
Working from home can also lead to a better work-life balance by virtue of allowing you to tackle certain tasks during the daytime, as opposed to solely at night. For example, we all have laundry to do -- it's a part of life. But if you work from home, you can throw in a load in the morning, stick it in the dryer sometime during the afternoon, finish your workday at 5:00, and have that laundry put away well before dinnertime. On the other hand, if you get home from work at 6:00 or 7:00 and then have to first start that process, there's a good chance you'll be folding when you'd rather be unwinding or sleeping.
Of course, this is just one example, but the point is that having flexibility on the job can help make life's other responsibilities more manageable. And that's something that could end up being critical to your overall happiness.
If you feel that you'd benefit from a more flexible work arrangement, it pays to broach the topic with your manager. If you're a solid employee with a strong track record, your company might be surprisingly willing to comply.