Simara James is a mother of two, mindfulness coach and consultant, author, podcast host and flexible work expert looking to improve the lives of women across the globe by sharing tips to creating more balance and design a live that's full of fulfillment. 

Assessing Job Duties for Remote Work

July 10, 2018

 

Taking a good look at how your tasks are performed and creating an in-depth break down will be helpful initially for determining whether remote work is a possibility for you and down the line for determining which type of schedule allows you to maximize your performance.  

 

There are 5 steps to take that will help you create this detailed breakdown of your duties.  

 

Step 1 – List Your Core Responsibilities  

 

Create a high level list of all of the tasks you're expected to complete. It might be helpful to break these tasks into a few categories: Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Annually, Occasionally, and As-Needed. Understanding these tasks will not only help you create a more detailed remote work proposal, but give your supervisor a fresh look at your contribution to the company.  

 

Break down these tasks into areas like the following: 

 

Writing/Typing/Editing 

Data Entry/Data Analysis 

Reading/Researching 

Planning/Evaluating 

Making Phone Calls 

Email 

Field Visits/Travel 

 

Step 2 – Estimate Time Investments 

 

Once you've broken down the tasks, estimate the percentage of your time (or number of hours)  you spend completing each task. The more detail you include and the more accurate these estimates, the easier it will be to determine the percentage of your time that can be spent telecommuting, especially if you're planning to propose a split schedule.  

 

Step 3 – Divide Face-to-Face, On-Site and Virtual Tasks 

 

For each task, determine whether this task in best performed face-to-face with colleagues, on-site,  or can be done virtually with little to know interaction with team members. Later in the process of drafting your proposal, if you're aiming for a 100% telecommuting agreement, it will be important to explain in detail how you plan to manage the tasks that require interaction with team members. For example, if you're company offers a video conferencing service, you'll need to ensure that you have access from home and can easily schedule face to face meetings or attend meetings with larger groups using the service. If you have tasks that are required to be performed on-site, you'll need to create an arrangement that allows for you to be there 

 

Step 4 – Detail Equipment Needs 

 

Think in detail about all of the equipment you use to complete your tasks. Sometimes we take all of the supplies available in the office for granted and we don't even consider how things would be different without such easy access. For example, you may use the printer in your company's office every day and print dozens and sometime hundreds of copies of documents. You may have a printer at home, but it likely runs out of ink after printing less than 100 documents. There are a few ways you can get around the issue. You could create a schedule that has you in the office part time and make sure to print all necessary documents while you're physically in the office. If you're determined to get home 100% of the time, you could invest in a laser printer and take into account that it will require personal investment to maintain. The other option is to ask your employer to cover the equipment cost. Having a detailed list of all the equipment you'll need regular access to provides a basis from which to negotiate these details.  

 

Step 5 – Honestly Evaluate 

 

Once you've laid all of this out, ask yourself the following questions: 

 

1. Can the tasks and time required to complete them support a remote work arrangement? 

 

In my experience, even if 90% of your duties require you to be on-site, some sort of flexible arrangement can still be made. A little creativity can help you determine the terms that best support you and your company's goals.  

 

2. Can the duties be modified to support remote work and how? 

 

With today's technology, the possibilities are endless when it comes to figuring out how to connect remotely with team members and internal and external customers. As employers see the savings that can be realized by sending employees home, they are investing in technologies such as skype for business and other tools that allow you to connect with any team member inside or outside the company at any time. Understand what tools are available through your employer and figure out how to use them to maximize your productivity from home.  

 

3. How will my relationships with clients/customers relationship support a remote work arrangement? 

 

This can be a tough one. As mentioned in other chapters, sometimes relationships with internal and external customers flow better in person. You're able to make better connections and have a greater influence face-to-face with certain temperaments. If your supervisor or some of your customers respond better to in-person meetings, get creative about how to make that happen. If you have a manger that loves impromtu meetings, consider proposing a schedule that allows you to be in the office during the times that he is most likely to walk up to you for one of those off the cuff meetings. She'll hardly notice you're not there if you complete this step in a creative way.   

 

4. What type of remote work agreement would best support the tasks I complete on a daily basis? 

 

Once you've completed an honest evaluation, you can refer to the chapter that outlines the different structure options. You may find that your tasks and need to be in the office currently vary from week to week and even day to day. The truth is that having a set structure allows your supervisor and team members to have expectations about when you will be available to them and how. If you're schedule and duties are all over the place, consider pushing the issue when it comes to making things more set in stone. This could be an opportunity to find areas where you may be losing productivity due to a lack of structure.  

 

 

Additional Considerations 

 

Exempt vs Non-Exempt 

 

Because exempt employees are not eligible for overtime, it's typically easier to negotiate flexible work arrangements. Performance is typically measured based on results and not hours worked which makes it easy to create methods for measuring performance remotely.  

 

This does not mean it's impossible to create a remote work agreement if you're a non-exempt employee. It does mean that you'll have to take a closer look at the systems you and your employer have in place to measure performance and determine whether those systems can continue to be used in a remote work environment. Some companies have systems that allow employees to log in and hours are measured that way. In most cases it's easy to determine whether those systems can be accessed remotely.  

 

If you're in a situation where you have to clock in or manually enter hours worked, current systems to monitor performance can be evaluated and in most cases an agreement can be reached on how to achieve accurate time recording without physically being at the workplace.  

 

Security issues, VPN (Virtual Private Networks)

 

One thing I failed to consider before my first remote work arrangement was the IT (Information Technology) maintenance component. When in the office, if I had an issue with equipment or connection to online tools, it was as simple as walking my laptop down to the IT area and asking for help. When I started working from home, fixing issues quickly and efficiently because a little more tricky. If I was having issues with hardware, sometimes I had to put off certain tasks that required the use of my company laptop until the next day. Fortunately, most IT requests are handled through work order systems and require you to submit a ticket from your desk, which means no in person contact is required. Most companies also allow IT teams to remotely connect to your machine to perform updates and quick fixes to software issues as well.  

 

The other consideration when it comes to technology is VPN access. Again, most companies offer this access to its employees, but if there are issues with connection, which happens occasionally, you need to have a mitigation plan for how you're going to access company systems that require a VPN connection.  

 

One of the most important keys to successfully transitioning from a full-time office employee to a part or full time remote worker is a willingness to make adjustments and even take unexpected trips to the office when necessary. No technology is perfect and when it fails, you may have to make quick adjustments to ensure that you complete your necessary job duties.  

 

Download a template here to help you sort out the details of your remote working needs and present them in an organized way. 

 

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