Published on February 20, 2018, at 9:37 a.m.
by Darsey Norton.
The working culture in America is shifting as more workers make use of flexible employment opportunities. According to a report by Global Workplace Analytics, the number of employees working from home between 2005 and 2015 has increased by 115 percent. This growing trend could change the way public relations practitioners view their careers in the industry.
In the last decade there has been a major change in the way we communicate as a society. Smartphones and laptops have made staying in contact with family, friends and clients effortless. Furthermore, technological advances have made it easier for remote workers to stay connected even when away from the office. A 2015 PR Week Report found that 91.8 percent of workers surveyed had the ability to work from home.
In the field of communication, this means practitioners have a wider reach than ever. Millennials are more migrant than previous generations, and they are less likely to stay in a position that does not offer competitive benefits. To attract talent and maintain brand loyalty, employers are exploring more ways to incorporate flexible work schedules.
According to recent data, 3.7 million employees currently work from home; however, that number is projected to rise as more companies implement flexible work schedules. Kaitlin Jarvis, senior account executive at Brandware PR, works remotely from her home in Alabama while still maintaining a vast client list. Brandware’s flexible work schedule allows Jarvis to thrive in her industry without compromising her lifestyle goals.
“It used to be that if you wanted to work in PR you had to be in a big city. You have all these creatives that are great for PR but not all of us have that same lifestyle. To attract that talent, employers have to start allowing people to have more flexible work options such as working from home,” said Jarvis.
Taylor Moore is an assistant account executive at Brandware, who like Jarvis, takes advantage of Brandware’s flexible work options. Her ability to work from home allows her to juggle work and personal life.
“I’m not married and don’t have kids, but I am in a long-distance relationship with a guy in San Diego,” explained Moore. “Having the flexibility to work remotely is a total blessing on that end, because I can visit him without interrupting my work schedule.”
Pros and cons
While more work flexibility is ideal for some employees, it might not be for everyone. Working from home gives employees more control and flexibility. However, office culture and dynamics among employees could suffer as more employees utilize remote working benefits. Moore and Jarvis explained some of the pros and cons of working from home.
“It’s a lot easier for me to focus and be heads-down when I’m home,” said Moore. “When I’m sick and don’t want to contaminate my co-workers but I can still work, I don’t have to take a sick day and spend time trying to catch up. The con is that it can be lonely. I’m a very social person, and it can be a little maddening when you’re sitting at home without anyone to banter with or talk to. I think that’s why flexible work spaces are so important.”
“I can literally work from anywhere — not just from home, Jarvis explained. “I travel much more now that I’m telecommuting because I don’t have to take a vacation day when I’m not physically in the office. I’ll take a redeye to Orlando or New York or wherever, land in time to work my normal hours, and then I have the evening and weekends to spend exploring.”
Jarvis and Moore both emphasized the importance of gaining experience before making the leap to telecommuting. Jarvis secured several internships throughout college, which gave her the experience needed to manage the responsibility of working from home.
“I had multiple jobs and internships in the industry before I even graduated. I was really implementing communication tactics that I learned in the classroom outside of the classroom,” said Jarvis. “I can’t put into words how much that helped me in retaining information and taking it from the classroom to real life. It gave my employers confidence in my skillset upon graduation and transformed into opportunities such as working from home rather early in my career.”
So, how can you command competitive benefits in a position right out of college? Moore offered advice to young PR practitioners interested in a flexible work schedule.
“It’s a privilege that comes with experience,” Moore explained. “The more you show that you can handle tasks on your own and earn the trust of your supervisor, the more likely they’ll allow more flexibility with your work’s pace.”