Like clockwork, every two years, I was reinventing my career due to frequent permanent change of station moves required by my husband’s Army career. Even though I knew what I signed up for when I married into military life (as more seasoned spouses often reminded me), it didn’t make leaving my career behind any easier each time we moved. My typical PCS related job-hunting routine went like this: Job-hunt, find great job, work hard, get promotion, receive PCS orders, pitch remote-work, get turned down, and repeat cycle.
On our fourth PCS, I once again found myself in the PCS job-hunting routine. We were wanted stay in our new location for three years, an eternity in Army time, but only four months into my new job we received orders to move at the end of the school year.
My husband urged me to ask my manager if I could work remotely from our new location, but since I had only been in my position for four months, and because of my previous telecommuting pitch failures, I decided not to ask.
After I broke the news to my manager, she later came back to my office and asked me if I would be interested in working remotely when I moved in the summer. I could hardly believe what I was hearing, had I found the magical unicorn of military spouse jobs?
Things to Accomplish, Before You Pitch
You might be wondering what advice I have for military spouses thinking about pitching a remote work opportunity to their employers when my remote opportunity basically just fell into my lap. However, looking back, I can identify several things that I believe helped my manager to consider a remote work option for me.
- Build relationships
Develop authentic connections and relationships with your management and co-workers. It’s easier for your manager to sympathize with your nomadic lifestyle if they know you and your family and understand the challenges you face.
- Be a reliable employee
Whether it’s getting to work on-time or turning in an assignment when it’s due, be reliable in your performance. If your manager can’t trust you 100% where they can physically see you, why would they trust you to work in a remote location with no supervision?
- Be a Self-Starter
Show your management team that you like to hit the ground running, perform your work with limited supervision, and ask for more work when you need more. This will show your management that in a remote setting, they won’t have to worry about holding your hand through the completion of an assignment.
- Know What You Do and Do It Well
Add value for your manager by becoming an expert in your field and be an employee that they don’t want to have to replace. That doesn’t mean hoarding all your knowledge either. Do your work well but also be a team player and share your knowledge. Good managers will see that you are someone who adds value to their team and that is valuable to them.
Prepare for the Perfect Pitch
Go into your pitch meeting with confidence and have a well thought out plan. Put yourself in your manager’s shoes, what concerns might they have? Don’t forget to give both you and your manager ample time to figure out a plan before your PCS, especially if you will be the test case for virtual work.
- Handle the logistics
Prove to your management that you will be productive in your position from home right from the start. Identify the internet and telephone providers you would like to use and assure your manager that you will have a dedicated office space to work from, not a loud coffee shop. If you will be in a different time zone than the rest of your team, talk out the benefits of staying in the same time zone as your team. Alternatively, if you work on a different schedule, your company could benefit from having an employee available for customers past the traditional work day.
- Have a Communication Plan with Your Manager
How will you communicate with your manager? Will you need to travel back to your home office periodically? Will you have the capability to handle voice, chat and video calls at your new locations? These are some of the communication questions that you should think through in preparation for your pitch.
- Have a Communication Plan with Your Co-Workers and Customers
Initially, I had a lot of guilt about being able to work remotely while my co-workers went to the office every day. I wasn’t sure what they thought about me working from home. Reassure your team that you will be available for them as well as your customers just as if you were in the office. Let your co-workers know that your virtual work will not be a burden on them.
- Suggest a Trial Period
If your manager is still on the fence about remote work, suggest a trial period. Ask for 60 days, six months or even one year to show your manager that you have what it takes to work remotely. After the trial period is over, you and your manager can review your results together.
Hopefully, your pitch achieves the outcome you were looking for, but if it doesn’t get your Plan B in gear. If your pitch doesn’t work, remember that this PCS doesn’t mean the end of your career. My two failed attempts at pitching remote work eventually led my career in the direction of my current position.
By Christine Maxwell, blogger at Her Money Moves