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May 8, 2023

How Workplace Flexibility Made Jen’s Job Work for Her

Have you ever felt stuck in a holding pattern? As if you were waiting for your life to begin, but did not know how to make a change or move forward?

Jen found herself in this position in 2022. Due to major life changes, infertility, and the impacts of COVID-19, she felt stuck. She was living in Chicago without her family and knew she did not want to put down roots. She was not receiving optimal healthcare and her husband was flying to Virginia every week for work. She was lonely and exhausted and knew she needed to make a geographical change.

However, she loved her job. She loved the work, the people, and the culture. When an opportunity opened for her to receive better healthcare in Virginia and be near family, she knew it was time to make the ask.

Jen wanted to stay with her company, so she decided to ask for her position to become remote. Here’s how she approached the negotiation:

She prepared.
She talked to friends, mentors, and people in similar positions. She created bullet points with the rationale behind her request. She outlined thoughts on how she and her team added value over the last two years while working from home during the pandemic. 

“I had been working from home for nearly two years and both my productivity and results, as well as my team’s, had been strong,” she said. “I wanted to show them I could maintain my output and connection to my direct reports regardless of my location.”

1. She set a meeting – with pertinent details included.

She knew she needed to make her presentation in person but didn’t want her boss to be blindsided. The night before, she sent an email explaining what she hoped to cover.

2. She took a collaborative approach. – She explained why this would be good for her, as well as the company.

“I made the argument that my productivity, happiness and mental health would be better near my support system and family,” Jen said. “I took a symbiotic approach to explain why it would be best for all parties.”

3. She offered a carrot.
“I committed to coming back to the office one week per month at a minimum. It is a lot of travel, but they appreciated the gesture, as it showed my level of commitment.”

4. She was honest.
She spoke from her heart about why she and her husband needed to make this change. When they asked her if she would move to Virginia either way, she told them the truth.

“The negotiation was, by no means, an ultimatum,” Jen explained. “But the truth was, we were moving either way.”

Today, she is happier, healthier, and thrilled with her job.

“To be honest, it probably would have been easier for me to find a new job and not have to travel back and forth to Chicago,” she said. “But I love my job and knew I could make it work if given the chance.”

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