HOW TO GET A WORKFROM-HOME JOB AT THE BEST COM­PA­NIES

Ninety-nine of the 100 Best Com­pa­nies of­fer the option of work­ing re­motely full-time. But un­like flex­i­ble sched­ules or oc­ca­sion­ally work­ing from home, daily telecom­mut­ing isn’t wide­spread; we asked some of the com­pa­nies on our list how real moms can trans

Working Mother - - 100 Best Companies - by ellen lee

Full-time re­mote work is be­com­ing more com­mon—but you have to know what to look for.

On a typ­i­cal day in the At­lanta sub­urbs, Carly Wil­liams drops off 9-year-old Luke and 7-year-old Morgan at school, re­turns home and hops on the phone to start her day as PwC’s na­tional cam­pus re­cruit­ing leader. If she’s train­ing for a half marathon, she’ll squeeze in a long run dur­ing lunch. In the af­ter­noons, she and her hus­band take turns shut­tling the kids to base­ball prac­tice or gymnastics classes.

Carly’s po­si­tion is de­mand­ing and ca­reer-ful­fill­ing. Her job is also com­pletely re­mote, giv­ing her more flex­i­bil­ity to vol­un­teer in the class­room or pick up an un­ex­pect­edly sick kid from school.

More and more com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing al­most all of the Work­ing Mother 100 Best Com­pa­nies, are of­fer­ing or ar­rang­ing these kinds of work-from-home po­si­tions. A 2017 Gallup re­port on the chang­ing work­place found that, among em­ploy­ees who work re­motely at all, the per­cent­age who do so full-time rose to 20 per­cent in 2016 from 15 per­cent in 2012. Jobs with flex­i­ble, re­mote op­tions have be­come a valu­able tool for re­cruit­ing and re­tain­ing tal­ented em­ploy­ees. And let­ting em­ploy­ees work from home can be good for busi­ness.

Still, work-from-home jobs with good pay and ben­e­fits tend to fly un­der the radar. Most of these po­si­tions aren’t ad­ver­tised as re­mote jobs, though some com­pa­nies might use lan­guage such as “lo­ca­tion flex­i­ble” (see “Get­ting Hired as a Re­mote Worker,” page 78) or ex­pect you to ne­go­ti­ate for work-from-home sta­tus. But while per­ma­nent, full-time re­mote po­si­tions might be hard to come by, they are out there— that’s why we dug deep at some of our 100 Best Com­pa­nies to find out who the re­mote work­ers are, how they got their jobs, and how you can get one too.

PwC

Six years ago, the ac­count­ing firm in­tro­duced a flex­i­ble-work pol­icy, al­low­ing em­ploy­ees to choose their own hours and locations. The sched­ule and work site have to work for their man­agers and clients, but to take ad­van­tage, “you don’t have to be here for a cer­tain num­ber of years,” says Anne Dono­van, PwC’s peo­ple in­no­va­tion leader. “You just have to be able to do your job from wher­ever you are.” The prac­tice has paid off: Em­ploy­ees are more sat­is­fied with their jobs, and the com­pany has saved 30 per­cent on real es­tate—de­spite rising prop­erty costs—be­cause it no longer needs as much of­fice space.

TIP: Don’t be afraid to ask.

PwC had not yet rolled out its flex­i­ble-work pol­icy when Carly re­turned from ma­ter­nity leave in 2010. She had just taken on a new na­tional role as PwC’s

diver­sity and in­clu­sion re­cruit­ing direc­tor. Her boss was based in Wash­ing­ton, DC, she was based in At­lanta, and her col­leagues were spread through­out the United States. She re­al­ized she was com­mut­ing 40 min­utes each way to the of­fice only to con­nect with her team by phone and email. A few months into it, she raised the pos­si­bil­ity of work­ing from home full­time to her boss, who agreed. “There are a lot of pros that peo­ple might not see, so don’t be afraid to ask,” Carly says.

TIP: Do your home­work.

When Carly re­turned to the of­fice after ma­ter­nity leave, she reached out to other work­ing moth­ers at the com­pany for ad­vice. Her col­leagues used a va­ri­ety of flex­i­ble sched­ul­ing and lo­ca­tion poli­cies, which en­cour­aged her to ask her boss about al­ter­ing her work setup.

TIP: Start small.

Of­fer a trial pe­riod, and take baby steps. Both you and your man­ager need to ad­just to not in­ter­act­ing with each other in the of­fice reg­u­larly. “It’s all about trust in the be­gin­ning,” Carly says. She be­gan work­ing re­motely a few days a week be­fore ramp­ing up to full-time.

TIP: Pay it for­ward.

If you land a re­mote job, be open and share your ex­pe­ri­ence with oth­ers. One of the most pow­er­ful forces in in­creas­ing the ac­cep­tance and avail­abil­ity of re­mote and flex­i­ble jobs is know­ing that your man­agers or col­leagues have done it too. “Peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate the hon­esty,” says Carly, who now over­sees a team of about 100 re­cruiters, some of whom are also re­mote. She will of­ten share with them if she’s, say, step­ping out to at­tend her child’s art show in the mid­dle of the day. She likes to show “we have a life out­side of what we do.”

Hori­zon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ

This health in­surer shifted to a more flex­i­ble strat­egy about five years ago, up­grad­ing its in­fra­struc­ture so em­ploy­ees could ac­cess data se­curely and re­motely. Now, 25 per­cent of staffers work from home part-time, and 15 per­cent do so full-time. Many of its nurses, for in­stance, re­spond to mem­ber calls from home, and can start do­ing so once they’ve gone through the com­pany’s train­ing program. “They feel it gives them the abil­ity to be re­ally fo­cused on the mem­ber be­cause they don’t have the dis­trac­tion of the of­fice around them,” says a spokesper­son from Hori­zon’s hu­man re­sources depart­ment. The bulk of its claims are also pro­cessed by em­ploy­ees off-site— to the tune of 20 per­cent more vol­ume since the tran­si­tion.

TIP: Build a strong re­la­tion­ship with your man­ager.

Of­ten, it will be your direct su­per­vi­sor’s call. She or he must feel com­fort­able with a re­mote ar­range­ment and, if nec­es­sary, seek the ap­proval of those at higher lev­els.

For Wash­ing­ton, DC-based project man­ager Laura Lawlor, it was her boss who pro­posed a re­mote setup. Laura was mar­ried in 2005 and needed to re­lo­cate be­cause of her hus­band’s work. She planned to quit her job at Hori­zon, based in Ne­wark, NJ, and find a new po­si­tion. In­stead, her man­ager sug­gested that she work re­motely part of the time, and com­mute to Hori­zon’s New Jer­sey of­fices on the other days. Be­cause they had a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship, Laura’s man­ager knew that she could com­plete her work no mat­ter where she was. About two years later, after she had a baby (son Dono­van, now 10; she also has a daugh­ter, Casey, 7), Laura ar­ranged to be com­pletely re­mote and to work part-time. “We had a level of trust and un­der­stand­ing, which helped,” she says.

TIP: Present a con­vinc­ing busi­ness case.

Laura had years of in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge and a deep network within the com­pany. By keep­ing her, the com­pany wouldn’t have to train a new em­ployee and risk dis­rup­tion.

“I laid out to my man­ager what I could bring to the ta­ble, and how it would ben­e­fit Hori­zon,” she says. “I high­lighted how I knew the project, and that I wanted to make sure it kept go­ing.”

Her boss agreed. Since then, Laura has in­creased her hours to al­most full-time as her re­spon­si­bil­i­ties have

in­ten­si­fied. But she con­tin­ues to work from home. “If you’re do­ing good work, you’re do­ing good work,” she says. “It doesn’t mat­ter if you are down the hall or in an­other state.”

Zoetis

Elis­a­beth (Misha) Castillo’s re­mote in­side sales po­si­tion at Zoetis was made pos­si­ble be­cause both her direct man­ager and her re­gional man­ager wanted to find a way to keep her at the an­i­mal­health com­pany. In late 2015, her hus­band, who is a mas­ter sergeant in the U.S. Army, was trans­ferred to Fort Bragg, NC. At the time, Misha had a field-based sales po­si­tion, in which she was re­spon­si­ble for about 100 clients as the se­nior ter­ri­tory busi­ness man­ager for Tampa, FL. “My of­fice was my car,” says Misha, mother of Yas­meen, 5, Lenin, 3, and new­born Lin­coln. That changed after she and her fam­ily moved. Her man­ager ar­ranged for her to trans­fer to a new in­side sales po­si­tion, and to al­low her to work re­motely from her new home in North Carolina.

Cur­rently, five of the depart­ment’s 30 sales­peo­ple work re­motely, and Misha is one of them. “Now I work at a desk in my home of­fice and speak to cus­tomers on the phone,” she says.

TIP: Be known for do­ing good work.

Network with oth­ers in your com­pany, and make sure they know about your ac­com­plish­ments. Their support for you could help sway your man­ager or your com­pany’s top brass to give your pro­posed full-time at-home work ar­range­ment the green light.

Zoetis’ man­age­ment made the ef­fort to ac­com­mo­date Misha since she had a strong track record, hit­ting her sales goals year after year. Dur­ing her ten­ure— al­most a decade at Pfizer and its An­i­mal Health busi­ness unit be­fore the lat­ter be­came Zoetis in 2013—she had got­ten to know the com­pany’s ex­ec­u­tives.

“They knew my work ethic. They knew what I was able to ac­com­plish.” The com­pany didn’t want to lose her, so they found a new role for her that could con­tinue to tap into her sales skills. Says Rox­anne Lagano, chief hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer at Zoetis: “Our phi­los­o­phy is if we’ve got good peo­ple who are do­ing a great job for the com­pany, we will make ar­range­ments so they can con­tinue work­ing for us. If that means hav­ing these re­mote ar­range­ments—and this hap­pens most fre­quently for work­ing moth­ers—we will ac­com­mo­date those.”

Astel­las

At this phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany, re­mote em­ploy­ees and their man­agers cre­ate a sched­ule aligned with their per­sonal goals and the com­pany’s per­for­mance goals, which are eval­u­ated semi­an­nu­ally. That way, both the com­pany’s ob­jec­tives and the em­ployee’s needs are met, says Rod Christ­mon, Astel­las’ se­nior direc­tor of hu­man re­sources and diver­sity and in­clu­sion of­fi­cer.

TIP: Show how you’d make it work.

Set up met­rics that can demon­strate that you’re stay­ing on track. This will give your man­ager con­fi­dence that you will con­tinue to hit your goals, be avail­able for meet­ings, and re­spond to calls and mes­sages. (That in­cludes mak­ing sure you have de­pend­able child­care lined up.)

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Amer­i­can Ex­press listed 1,200 re­mote jobs among the more than open­ings it had dur­ing the sum­mer, and Boehringer In­gel­heim USA, Gen­eral Mills, MetLife and Syn­chrony Financial all listed at least two dozen such po­si­tions in July.

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