The dreaded day has finally come—your boss wants you to return to the office full-time. You’ve been able to work from home since the pandemic started and have above-average performance. Going back to the office means long hours and a commute where you’ll spend more time in the car than with your family. Not to mention the fact that higher gas prices have significantly increased the cost of traveling back and forth to work.
You’re not the only one resisting a return to the office. According to a 2021 FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents want to remain full-time remote workers. And more than half said they would “absolutely” look for a new position if they couldn’t continue working remotely.
But before considering quitting your job, it pays to try negotiating with your employer. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the conversation to set yourself up for success.
1.) Do your research
Before speaking with your manager, get clear on your company’s work-from-home policies. What were they before and after the pandemic? Have any of your colleagues been able to negotiate a permanent work-from-home arrangement, and if so, how? Having all the necessary data will give you additional leverage should you need it.
2.) Focus on benefits to the employer
Point out that remote work benefits the employer by reducing operating costs. That means eliminating overhead costs like lease expenses, office furnishings, utilities, insurance, and supplies. For instance, statistics by Global Workplace Analytics reveal that IBM saved $50 million in real estate costs by allowing employees to work from home. Besides that, remote workers are also 47% more productive, according to productivity intelligence company Prodoscore. Some other employer benefits include increased employee performance, engagement and retention.
3.) Prepare a proposal
Now it’s time to prepare a written proposal. You want to be taken seriously and having a document shows you put a lot of thought and effort into it. While it doesn’t have to be very long, your proposal should include the following:
- A specific ask—like whether you want to work remotely full-time or a few days a week
- Examples of work-from-home successes with metrics
- How working remotely will benefit the employer with statistics
- How you will manage regular communication with your manager and team
4.) Practice your request
Practice what you’re going to say before you meet with your boss. That way, the meeting will be more efficient, and it will give you time to build confidence. In addition, try to anticipate any concerns your boss may bring up and how you will address them. You’ll also want to prepare an agenda that you can use to guide the discussion.
5.) Ask for an in-person meeting
Whenever possible, negotiate a work-from-home arrangement in person. It is easier to build rapport and allows you to benefit from verbal and non-verbal cues like body language, tone of voice and eye contact. However, if that’s not possible, don’t overlook the initial few minutes of small talk to connect on a personal level. Also, remove all distractions so you can focus on the conversation and perform at your best.
6.) Exude positive energy
Even if you and your manager don’t have the best relationship, keeping the environment positive is essential. You can do this in several ways:
- Remain calm and unemotional
- Greet them in a friendly manner
- Smile when it’s appropriate
- Acknowledge their concerns
- Use open body language
The more you assume things will work out in your favor, the more relaxed you’ll feel.
7.) Cite examples
It’s important to back up your proposal with measurable results. Let your employer know you’ve been more efficient and happy working from home. Show how you’ve kept the quality of your work high. If you can provide data showing how your productivity increased working remotely compared to when you were in the office full-time, even better.
8.) Offer options
Be patient and flexible with your manager throughout the negotiation process. For example, if you ask to work from home full-time and they aren’t comfortable with the idea, suggest a hybrid option. Another idea is to propose a trial period. That way, you can work remotely for a few months and then come together to reevaluate the situation.
9.) Get it in writing
Whether you agree on permanent work-from-home arrangements or a trial period, get the agreement in writing. An easy way to confirm the details is to follow up with your manager via email. That way, the arrangement is documented and will be implemented regardless of a change in leadership.
10.) Be prepared for a “no”
If you still get a no after following these steps, ask your boss about their concerns. That way, you can try to identify the barriers and address them immediately. At the very least, you can request to revisit the discussion a few months down the road.
The push for remote work is gaining traction. And as time goes on, more companies will commit to going fully remote or offering employees a hybrid option. By presenting your case in a professional, confident, concise manner, chances are you will reach an agreement that will benefit both sides.