Bill Gates Gave Some Brilliant Management Advice on Hiring the Best People. Here It Is in 2 Sentences

Traditional brick-and-mortar companies will cringe, but the research doesn't lie. And Bill Gates agrees.

Traditional brick-and-mortar companies prefer everyone “in the office,” where people can work together, bounce from meeting to meeting, and slog in Dilbert-style cubicles.

While there’s nothing wrong with the status quo, these same companies, with offices in expensive cities, where housing is exorbitant and commuting is costly and time consuming, are losing talent to companies with remote work and work-from-home options.

And Bill Gates saw this coming. He prophetically stated:

“The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area.”

Why Bill Gates nailed it.

First of all, who wouldn’t want to work from their bedroom, finish work at 5 p.m., and have a seven-second commute to the dining room table, as opposed to sweating away in a high-rise and schlepping home on an hourlong commute to a rental pad you can no longer afford?

We already know working from home has great benefits, like putting more money in your pocket. As I wrote earlier this month, the average person can save between $4,668 to $5,688 per year by working remotely. The study I highlighted broke down the savings in six areas:

1. Gas: $686 saved per year.

2. Car Maintenance: $767 saved per year.

3. Dry Cleaning and Laundering: $500 to $1,500 saved per year.

4. Lunches and Coffee: $1,040 saved per year.

5. Professional Wardrobe: $925 saved per year.

6. Tax Breaks: $750 saved per year

FlexJobs, the premier job service for telecommuting and remote job listings, conducted the study, and executives and HR heads should pay close attention. FlexJobs is blazing the trail by disrupting the traditional workforce while proving that working remotely is the future of work. Here’s a glimpse of what their annual surveys have found in the past few years.

What workers really want.

From FlexJobs’ fourth annual Super Survey on Millennials.

  • 84 percent want more work-life balance.
  • 67 percent indicate family is the reason for their desire for flexible work.
  • 60 percent want to save more time.
  • 49 percent want to save money.
  • 48 percent are looking to ditch commute stress.
  • 85 percent want to telecommute 100 percent of the time.
  • 54 percent want to work a flexible or alternative schedule.
  • 83 percent cite the need to pay for basic necessities as the main reason for working.

Typically we stereotype Millennials as the pampered generation demanding flexible work options. Not so fast. In another survey of more than 5,500 work-at-home respondents, FlexJobs found most were Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Gen-X (41 percent)
  • Baby-Boomer (31 percent)
  • Millennial (21 percent)
  • Silent generation (6 percent)
  • Gen-Z (1 percent)

In another startling illustration that FlexJobs references, Yoh, a staffing and recruiting company, released a survey of more than 800 employed U.S. adults and found that, excluding money, 42 percent would leave a job for a flexible work environment.

Seven ways to convince your employer to let you work from home.

If working from home is the best solution for you and your family, but your employer has not embraced flexible work options, I have a powerful resource for you. It’s 1 Million for Work Flexibility, started by FlexJobs’ founder and CEO, Sara Sutton.

This is the first national initiative creating a collective voice in support of flexible work. To support you in your pursuit, they have outlined seven unique strategies to approach managers about a remote-work arrangement.

When making your pitch, don’t make it about your personal needs; be fact-based and present the business case on how working from home will benefit your manager and the company.

Follow this guideline for your one-on-one conversations with managers, straight from 1 Million for Work Flexibility.

1. Present the data.

The research is overwhelmingly in your favor. Consult FlexJobs and Remote.co to lock and load with data. They offer up numerous studies and surveys that demonstrate how flexible work benefits the bottom line.

2. Suggest a test.

If your boss pushes back (many traditional managers will have a fear reaction because they don’t understand how remote workers operate), simply suggest starting small with a test run, like working from home one or two days a week for a month. Make sure to track tasks, be visible and check-in throughout the day, and then discuss the results of the test so managers can see the ROI.

3. Provide examples of existing policies.

If the test goes well, take the next step and present managers with sample work flexibility policies from other companies and organizations. Showcase how other businesses are making these plans work.

4. Take a working sick day.

If bosses are resistant to a test run, call in sick but say you’d like to get some work done from home. That day, prove efficiency when working from home is higher than working in an office. The next day give specific examples of the efficiencies you experienced and try pitching a short trial run again.

5. Offer incremental options.

If managers are presented with an all-or-nothing request, they’re likely to opt for nothing. To avoid this problem, scale back and ask to work three days in the office and two full-time days at home to start. If productivity is higher on the work from home days, it’s more likely the arrangement can convert to working from home full-time.

6. Communicate your communication plans.

For managers unfamiliar with virtual communication tools like Google Chats, Zoom, and Skype, make it easy: lay out where, when, and how often they can expect to hear from you during the week..

7. Finally, just be patient.

Let your manager process everything, and give them time to think things through as some of them may have to run it up the chain and convince their superiors. In the meantime, keep looking for opportunities to prove your ability to efficiently work from home–during inclement weather, or when you take work home, for example.

Originally published at www.inc.com.

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