1 Million for Work Flexibility director Emma Plumb recently wrote a piece on LinkedIn called “Fixing Uber’s Failings with a Lesson from Its Successes” that generated a boisterous conversation on work flexibility, tech, gender equity, and business design. In this “Busting the Myths” series, we respond to some of the concerns voiced by readers in the comments section about the practicality of work flexibility.
“It is possible to transition to a home-based, even part-time position for a company where you’ve worked for a significant time and demonstrated yourself to be a consistent self-starting superstar. But virtually nobody will hire a regular employee in such a capacity. It’s just too risky; any position that only requires a part-time/remote commitment can be filled much more easily and practically by a 1099 contractor.
“The only way to truly work on one’s own terms is to work for one’s self. That is no easy feat, and it generally requires more than a part-time commitment. Alternatively there are sites you could use like TopCoder to find coding gigs on your own terms, but you’ll be competing for projects with coders who live in very low-cost places like Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. But it would get you coding, and it could potentially lead to better opportunities down the road.”
It is true that in-office employees can have the ability to transition to working from home. But it doesn’t just happen because they’ve worked at their companies forever and have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they can work from home without being supervised. That type of thinking perpetuates the belief that working from home is a perk, and that managers are suspicious of anyone who wants to work outside of the office. That’s simply not true.
Companies hire part-time workers all the time. They do so because tapping into a part-time resource can mean accessing a much broader talent pool. It can also mean getting top-quality work at a lower cost.
And more to the point, companies also hire remote part-time workers—and these workers often, although not always, reside in the U.S. To classify hiring a part-time work-from-home worker as “too risky” is completely false. It connotes the belief that people who don’t (or who don’t want to, or who are unable to) work in a traditional workplace from 9-5 aren’t to be trusted. In fact, remote workers can be more productive and more loyal than their in-office counterparts, not to mention save companies money.
Right now, part-time workers comprise 15% of the total U.S. workforce. Of this group, the majority of part-time U.S. workers (18.5 million) work part-time for non-economic reasons, according to the FlexJobs piece, “Top 20 Companies Hiring for Part-Time, Work-from-Home Jobs.” This means that although these workers could choose to work a full-time job, they opted not to.
And if you think that companies that are hiring for part-time remote jobs are sketchy, think again. The FlexJobs piece highlights top companies such as Kaplan, Stride, Inc., Walden University, Appen, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that have all increased their hiring of (you guessed it) part-time, remote workers.
To truly work on one’s own terms doesn’t have to require being an entrepreneur—it is also possible if you have a flexible job. When your job is flexible, you can control your own schedule, giving you the ability to marry your professional life with your personal life. It’s not an all-or-nothing, work in an office or work for yourself deal.
What it really comes down to is helping people understand that flexible work options have benefits for both job seekers and employers. You shouldn’t have to work yourself into the ground to prove that you would be a safe choice to work from home. Nor is it the case that the only way you can have flex is to work for yourself. Part-time work is thriving, as is remote work, and more and more companies are seeing the benefits of hiring professional part-time workers, remote workers, and remote part-time workers. Flexible work is a workplace strategy, and not a workplace perk.
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