Jeremy Anderson works fully from home for FlexJobs.com, a website that matches job seekers looking for telework opportunities with flexible employers. He was nice enough to talk with me about his career, the benefits of working from home, and the state of telework in the US.
Can you briefly describe what FlexJobs.com does and how the company operates?
FlexJobs is a professional jobs service to help candidates find the best flexible jobs available, safely and easily. We find flexible jobs (jobs that offer telecommuting, flexible hours, flex schedules, FT, PT, freelance and contract), screen the jobs and companies, and then only post legitimate positions. FlexJobs itself is a purely virtual company. We have staff members from California to Colorado to Florida. We even have one FlexJobs staff member living in Germany!
So, seeing as you have an entirely virtual company with all work-from-homers distributed around the country, how does the company manage and coordinate itself?
We have a small staff of 28 people currently as you mentioned we are distributed around the country. We have weekly staff meetings, which are by conference call. Also, each team will have a weekly team meeting. We use IM to communicate with each other, as well as email. We also use Yammer for the entire company to post messages back and forth. We also have different interest groups set-up through Yammer. One is a fitness group, another a healthy eating group as well as a ‘Pay it Forward’ group.
How did you begin working at FlexJobs?
I started working for FlexJobs in December of 2007. I had a corporate marketing job and happened to read an article in the Denver Business Journal about this new company, FlexJobs.com that had just launched and I love the idea of flexible, professional work. I reached out to the CEO and the rest is history.
Part of your job is to find companies looking to hire people to work for them in a flexible work arrangement. This gives you a good perspective on trends in hiring and in telework. What can you tell us about what employers are looking for, and how this has changed over time?
Some companies have been hiring people to work flexibly for some time and others are new to the idea. We promote our site to these employers as having a very flexible, educated and experienced group of candidates who are using our site looking for flexible, professional work. A lot of telecommuting jobs that we see will have a city or state location requirement. Companies do this for many reasons. Sometimes they have weekly or monthly on-site meetings, it could be only a partial telecommuting job, or they want people local because they are a big part of the local community.
Yahoo! and Best Buy recently came under scrutiny for coming down against flexible work arrangements. What’s your perspective on what those companies did, and what it may mean for telework more generally?
With what Yahoo and Best Buy did was bring the conversation of telecommuting and working remotely to the forefront. It has brought up a lot of discussion on how and why companies have people working from home. It has also shown the need to manage employees who work from home in a similar way you would manage an employee in the office by measuring performance and having measurable goals.
You work entirely from home. Can you describe what your workday is like, and how working from home works well for you?
In one word, working from one to me means: freedom! I’ve been working from home for the past 5 1/2 years and it has been life changing. I’ve eliminated a 45 minutes (each way) commute. I’ve been available to coach my daughter’s softball team and attend my sons cross country meets. I have a dedicated office in my home, so I’m able to close out any distractions going on in the house and really focus on my work and be productive. I’ve been able to pursue my own fitness goals. I’ve completed 3 marathons and over 25 half marathons over the past 5 years. Having a flexible job means I can get up early to work, get the kids to school, go for a mid-morning run and still get in a full day of work.
What would you recommend to working dads who are trying to better balance work and family? (who may be considering switching to a work-at-home position, or who would like to get their current company to allow them some part-time telework?)
I’d first take a look at my current job. Is there anything that could be more flexible with what I’m currently doing? Could I work from home a day or two a week, could my hours be more flexible? Then, put together a proposal for your manager and begin the discussion. I also recommend taking a look at what companies and what types of positions offer the flexibility that you are seeking.
Jeremy Anderson is the Director of Client Services at FlexJobs, the leading career website for telecommuting and flexible job listings, where he works with both job seekers and employers. Before joining FlexJobs in 2007 shortly after its founding, Jeremy spent 15 years in corporate marketing in Colorado and Oregon. He currently works from his home office in Denver. Learn more about Jeremy and FlexJobs at www.FlexJobs.com. A while back, Flexjobs was nice enough to interview me for their site (see here).
What do you think about telework? Have any work-at-home experiences to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.