Many employees who've been able to work remotely for more than a year have discovered the benefits of the arrangement — and a lot of them are hoping to continue doing so. But that doesn't mean their employers are on board.
If you count yourself among those advocating for remote work and could use some advice on how to approach the conversation, you've come to the right place. TMRW asked several workplace experts to share their tips to help you head into a discussion with confidence about continuing to work from home.
How to ask to work remotely full-time
Whether you enjoy not having to commute, love that extra hour of sleep in the morning or just simply find that you're more productive from home, it's totally normal to prefer to work remotely. If your company wants you back in the office, but you're not on the same page, you can still try to negotiate your own unique working arrangement with the following tips:
- Do your research: "Was remote work part of company's policy pre-pandemic? What are your job functions and how do those interplay with the rest of the team/company? How was communication during the pandemic? Make sure to include the good and the bad!" SoFi career expert Ashley Stahl suggested asking yourself and others.
- Focus on the benefits for your company: "Employees should discuss how working remotely will positively impact their performance. They should highlight any increases in productivity, efficiency and other key work areas they’ve experienced as a result of working remotely to highlight how this will benefit the company as well as the individual employee," said Massimiliano Tirocchi, co-founder and CMO of Trafilea, an entirely remote e-commerce group.
- Start the conversation early: "Schedule a meeting with your manager and have your research ready. It’s not ideal to wait for this conversation until (people begin returning to the office), when many will also be having it. Approvals for these are very much so in purgatory, and that is an opportunity for you to grab approval before any more rigid policies come into place," Stahl said.
- Mention any environmental benefits: "Have you experienced an environmental savings in decreased emissions and energy consumption? Office equipment consumption is twice as much as home office equipment. Note these benefits if your company has an environmental platform," Stahl said.
- Toot your own horn a bit: "List all of your accomplishments and come up with a case for how your work is better for the company as well when you’re remote," Stahl recommended.
What if your manager says no?
If your manager isn't completely sold on the idea of you working remotely full time, the conversation doesn't have to end there. You can continue the negotiations in a respectful manner by taking the following steps:
- Ask for a trial period: "Ask if they’re open to exploring a 1-3 month trial of working solely from home. At the end of the trial period, if things are going great, reopen the negotiation to make working from home permanent," Stahl said.
- Schedule a follow up: "Ask to revisit the conversation in one month while also negotiating a partial work-from-home situation (three days at home, two days in the office)," Stahl suggested.
- Keep your options open: "Be prepared to leave your job, but do not threaten this in your negotiations. Remember, things are changing fast. It just might be that employers revert to working from home after bringing everyone back to the office," Stahl said. "You never know and you don't want to burn bridges. Only let an employer know you’re willing to leave if you’re actually prepared to go right then and right there."
How to make the most of working from home
If your manager is open to you working remotely full time, congratulations! Now that you're officially a permanent member of the working-from-home club, there are a few ways you can make the most of your working arrangement and stay engaged with colleagues.
- Be visible: "Just because you work from home, doesn't mean you can keep your head down. Be sure to interact daily with colleagues at the office. Ask colleagues what problems they are having and how you can help," Stahl recommended.
- Take interest in your coworkers: "Make a point to set aside that extra time to get to know your colleagues," Stahl said. "Stay connected using virtual communication tools such as Zoom. Even a quick 5-10 minutes of face time goes a long way."
- Let your work speak for itself: "If there is an objective system in place to measure performance, the company is transparent enoug, and the leaders are actually aware and in charge, they will notice. Good performance is always noticeable. Make sure to utilize all of the amazing benefits working remotely provides to your advantage and work as efficiently as possible," Tirocchi said.
- Ask your manager for help: "Engaging remote workers requires that the particular challenges related to working off-site be addressed. Specifically: possible isolation of the employee from other team members, challenges in communication, obstacles to meaningful collaboration and opportunities for optimizing the remote worksite," XpertHR legal editor Marta Moakley, J.D., said. "An employer should proactively address the situation by investing in health and wellness programs, supervisor training and collaboration tools, as well as ensuring compliance with wage and hour laws for remote work."