COVID-19 has forced many employees to work from home for the first time in their lives.
Now, as companies are putting together plans to slowly reopen their offices, some employees may be wondering how they can continue working from home.
Moving forward, it's likely that companies will be more flexible with work from home policies. In fact, some companies are allowing work from home to be permanent. Twitter recently announced that its employees will have the option to work from home forever. Other technology companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook have also expressed a willingness to extend work from home policies for the long term, and many more companies had entirely remote workforces prior to COVID-19.
While all of this background information could potentially work in your favor, asking to work from home permanently is still a major step that requires a serious conversation with your boss. While some bosses may be more receptive to it than they would've been five years ago, you still need to make a strong case for it.
If you're going to make this pitch to your manager, here's what you need to do:
Be Prepared To Talk About Productivity
Businesses want to be efficient and profitable, so they expect a certain amount of productivity from employees. When you ask to work from home permanently, the first two things your manager will want to know is why and how it will impact your productivity.
The "why" could be for a host of reasons—better work-life balance, flexibility, and to reduce commute time, to name just a few. In asking "why," managers just want to make sure you're not losing interest in your job or the company. Ultimately it's the question about productivity that will carry the most weight.
If you've been working from home the past few months because of COVID-19, you're fortunate in the fact that you'll be able to have concrete examples of what your work from home production looks like. Be prepared with specific examples of how you not only met production goals, but exceeded them.
If a manager sees that an employee is not only meeting their goals while working from home, but exceeding them, it not only strengthens that employee's case for working from home, but it could change the manager's entire outlook on remote work policies.
Work Out An Agreeable Schedule
While the reasons employees want to work from home more may vary, schedule flexibility is usually near the top. This is understandable! Life is not "one size fits all." People need flexible work schedules to take care of their families and themselves.
If you're going to take advantage of this flexibility, you need to communicate with your manager on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis on what hours you're going to be working and how you can be reached.
It's important to remember that flexibility works both ways.
There could be occasions when your manager needs you to be available during certain hours, or may even need you to come into the office for a company-wide meeting or initiative. Both sides should be open to some give and take.
Make A Plan To Be Seen And Heard
Working remotely doesn't mean you should be out of sight, out of mind. In fact, you need to be as engaged as ever.
Coming up with a strong communication plan is a good place to start. Plan out how many video meetings you think you'll need to have on a weekly basis with co-workers and supervisors to discuss tasks, long-term projects, and strategy. You should also be active in group chats and Slack groups.
While communication flow may change on a weekly basis, a good rule of thumb is to never go a day without talking to someone.
In addition to building a strong communication plan, tell your boss how you will continue to add value to the workforce.
Are you one of the first employees to go remote permanently? Perhaps you can lead the way in shaping the policies in the remote work community that will allow your co-workers to work from home.
If you're joining an already established remote workforce, pitch ideas on how to promote camaraderie within the remote workforce and between the remote workforce and the office.
Being active like this not only keeps you engaged, but it positions you as a leader.
Show A Willingness To Be Patient
You know what they say about the best-laid plans?
Work from home plans may hit some speed bumps along the way, so don't be afraid to make adjustments or try new things. What you learn can also be important lessons for the company.
You may also find that over a longer period of time, working from home permanently isn't the right fit for you. That doesn't mean you were wrong for trying it. Every unique experience helps you grow as an employee.
Ultimately, if you want to be successful at working from home it will take a combination of patience, flexibility, and good communication.
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