A leading global futurist has clear advice for those looking to embrace more flexibility in their work – seek out this balance within your current job first.
While many of us assume that change is something that can only be achieved in our next role, global futurist and workplace specialist Alexandra Levit says that this assumption ignores the very real opportunities in front of you right now.
“Instead of trying to find a flex-work position, if you've already proved yourself and you are already known as a contributor and someone who gets results, why not try to start something where you are now,” suggests Levit, speaking to PageGroup from her home base of Chicago. “I would first try to negotiate within the context of your current organisation.”
Levit is a former adviser on workplace issues to the Obama administration. Her eighth book, Humanity First was released in 2018, and addresses actionable ways to embrace the future of the workplace as we see it evolving now. In addition, she recently contributed to PageGroup’s Tomorrow’s Talent series.
Given she often gets asked by people how they should pursue a flexible role, her suggestion in your current role is to track down those who’ve already achieved flexible arrangements within your company: “Even if you're the first person in your group, you probably are not the first person in your company. Look at what other people are doing in other departments, and model that.”
“If your company doesn't have a flex-work policy, which is basically what I’m telling people to get, then create a contract around it,” she urges. “Create a trial period: create the results that you're going to get, and say that they can evaluate you based on it.”
This draft contract with your manager should outline the granular detail of the arrangement, ranging from the technology you will use, through to what your working hours and clear deliverables will be. “So that there's essentially no risk for the manager of the business. Why not try it: that's what your message should be.”
The good news, Levit adds, is just that unlike a decade ago, flexible arrangements are much more commonplace. And while she shuns the terms work-life balance (“I don't think there is such a thing”), she suggests a different ambition – involving seeking to make a job and specific life priorities coexist. “So it’s work-life integration – which means having a life, caring for people, having hobbies, having a side gig.”