The pandemic has not only impacted how we work but also where we work. A global study by the Limeade Institute indicated that only 6% of participants were working from home before the pandemic. Fast forward to today, and approximately 39% are working from the comfort of their home office.
Despite Zoom fatigue, employees want to continue working from home. They value the flexibility and have concerns over going back to the office before everyone is fully vaccinated. According to a new Harvard Business School Online survey, most Americans enjoy working remotely and want the option to continue doing so after the pandemic. In fact, 81% either don’t want to go back to the office or prefer a hybrid schedule going forward. Another survey from Hibob shows that only 13% of employees said they wanted to go back to working in the office five days a week.
Yet many managers worry about employee productivity when working remotely—mainly because they feel a loss of control. So, how do you approach your boss to negotiate permanent work-from-home arrangements? Here are some key strategies to keep in mind.
Organize your thoughts
Whether you share it with your manager or not, an excellent way to organize your thoughts is to create a written proposal. Put yourself into your boss’s shoes and try to anticipate their concerns. Also, include as much detail as you can. Explain the potential impact on clients and coworkers and how you will manage it. You can even develop a sample schedule with anticipated work hours.
Demonstrate your productivity
To be allowed to continue to work from home, present your manager with examples of your productivity. Rhiannon Staples, CMO of Hibob, suggests that you “come armed with samples of your past successes while remote so you can explain how you could continue or replicate that behavior. Many employees have been remote for more than 14 months, so showing how well it worked will help give them peace of mind.” Show measurable results like how you exceeded sales goals or saved the company money. Another example could include helping develop solutions to the challenges that work from home has caused. Ultimately, you want to show how remote working arrangements will benefit both you and the company.
Start with baby steps
According to Staples, “saying that you want to work from home ‘permanently’ or ‘forever’ may be a turnoff to leaders who are already skittish about allowing people to work from home any longer than necessary.” Instead, consider suggesting a trial period for post-pandemic remote work. That way, your employer will feel more comfortable, giving you a chance to build trust. Show your boss that you’ll be accessible when they need you by being available as needed throughout the day. Another idea is to propose a communication plan incorporating regular touchpoints with your team to ensure projects stay on course. Establishing guidelines will reassure your manager that you will remain on top of things.
Be persistent and flexible
Persistence, when you’re negotiating, is key. Staples adds, “Understand that you may have to ask more than once. Negotiations in general aren’t easy and often take time and energy to achieve the outcome you really desire. But it’s important you don’t see the lack of immediate approval as a reason to give up.” Be sure to listen to your manager’s concerns about working from home and try to address them. If the company doesn’t agree to full-time remote work, ask if you could come into the office one or two days a week instead. That way, you show your flexibility and can turn the negotiation into a win-win situation.
Get it in writing
Whether you get the go-ahead for permanent work-from-home arrangements or a trial period, get the agreement in writing. An easy way to confirm the details of your understanding 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. If you’ve been offered a new position and successfully negotiate for an option to work remotely, be sure that the language is reflected in the offer letter. If it isn’t, ask the person formalizing the offer in writing to add it.
Just know that 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. Present your case in a professional, concise manner, and chances are you will reach an agreement that will benefit everyone involved.