Mil Spouses: Convert Your Job Into A Teleworking Role

Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP

Like many military spouses, I have struggled with maintaining a career while married to the military due to frequent permanent change of station moves. Throughout my family’s military journey, I have been fortunate to find positions at each duty station. I have worked in higher education, government relations, program management, and currently for an IT company that offers telework opportunities for their employees. After seven years of marriage, this adds up to five different positions and four duty stations.

According to the Blue Star Families 2015 Lifestyle Survey, “on average, military families move seven times more often than civilian families and are more likely to move long distances, across state lines or overseas.”

In addition, according to the Military Spouse Employment Survey jointly undertaken by Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families and The Military Officers Association of America, when spouses were asked how many paid jobs they held in past five years, over 47% of the respondents said three or more. The survey results reflect that workplace stability is difficult to maintain for active-duty spouses due to constant PCS moves.

Although there are many unique barriers that determine whether a spouse stays in the workforce, resigning from your job might not be your only option as your family moves to the next duty station should you want to continue to work. Consider these five steps before resigning from your current position due to orders.

1. Update your job description.

This will allow your employer to visualize what you will do on a day-to-day basis moving forward. Start by reviewing your current job description. Ask yourself, what tasks can be successfully performed from a remote location? What aspects of your present position need to be physically executed at the office? Separate the remote and on-site responsibilities to create a clear distinction.  

2. Create a telework plan.

If your present organization does not have a telework or remote employee policy, it would be helpful to present examples. Start by asking your peers who work remotely if they can share with you their company’s policy. You should also review the “Guide to Telework in the Federal Government” as another example.

3. Stress your value to the employer.

It is important you express to your employer that the company will be retaining a trusted, proven and loyal employee who understands and is familiar with the company’s culture and processes. Also, since the employer will have continuity in the position, they will not have to go through the timely and costly recruiting process in an effort to find a suitable replacement.

4. Pitch it.

Armed with the right resources and foundational information, you will establish a clear case on why your company should retain you. Ask your boss to meet for an opportunity to pitch your telework proposal. If your boss believes your proposal has merit, inquire about the next steps to move the proposal forward.

5. Have a Plan B.

As soon as your family receives orders, and while you are pitching your telework plan to your supervisor, consider researching additional companies or organizations that offer remote work positions. Contact your new installation’s employment readiness center, research organizations on the Military Spouse Employment Partnership portal, see if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes career fair or networking events are offered in your area. If you are not on LinkedIn, create a new profile and start networking.

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