To some people, “working remotely” sounds like a code word for sitting around in your PJs watching Netflix all day.
But many professionals, managers and otherwise, recognize the value of the flexibility and independence that comes with working from home occasionally.
Depending on your role, your commute, and your personal life, benefits of working from home could include:
– Reallocating commute time into productivity. 45 minutes each way means an hour and a half of wasted time – and you’re probably already tired by the time you get to work.
– Uninterrupted periods of focused work. Coworkers are a wonderful resource for collaboration, and even friendship, but even the most awesome people can be annoying when you really, really, really need to focus.
– Energizing quiet time. Introverts often underestimate how much they mentally need this, and everyone can use a reset once in a while.
– More time to spend with kids/spouse/friends. Again, you can save time on your commute, and often you can rearrange your schedule to work a few hours after the kids have gone to bed/the movie is over/etc.
If you’ve already made that list of benefits in your head a thousand times while knocking your head against your office desk, a work arrangement that includes remote work days is definitely something you should try, if your organization and your manager will agree to it.
But for many potential remote workers, getting the boss onboard seems like an unsurmountable barrier, and they may have even made the request in the past but been denied. This article is designed to help all those interested in remote work successfully navigate that daunting process.
Before we get into the details of potential concerns your boss may have, you should establish a clear reason (or reasons) why you’d like to transition to a schedule that includes working from home.
If you can’t articulate this fundamental point, your boss will be much more likely to suspect that your motives are less than pure. Both personal and professional reasons are totally valid, but being totally open is the only way to set yourself up for success.
With these motivations in mind, develop a proposal for your boss that focuses on how working from home will benefit your organization, not you. Your boss knows that you’re asking for this flexibility for yourself, but a happier and more productive you is way better for the company than a miserable, exhausted you.
Your proposal should include a schedule or plan, and you should probably start slow with the work from home days.
If your goal is to work from home two days a week, suggest spending one day at home every two weeks for a set period, like two or three months, so that your boss will have a built in trial period to agree to.
A couple of pro tips: aside from ensuring that you’re in the office on important regular meeting days, you should avoid Friday as your work from home day to be sure it doesn’t look like you’re after three day weekends. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are ideal, because they’re in the middle of the week, and you may often have a lot of tasks and projects coming to a head on these days that you’ll need to focus on for completion.
You also need to go out of your way to make sure your boss understands that your flexible schedule would work both ways; that is, even if you’re scheduled to work from home this Wednesday, you’ll come into the office for an important meeting or check in.
Go the extra mile without being asked and your boss will have no reason to worry about flexibility.
Finally, the best way to prove the value of remote work is to actually work better remotely. That means you’re in regular contact with your team and your boss, whether you’re asking questions or just sending status updates on your projects a couple of times a day.
Over-communicating is important here.
It also means accomplishing a little more than you might at the office, or digging a little deeper. If you finish something early, ask coworkers over chat or phone if they could use your help for an hour. Make yourself available, just as you would in the office, and no one will be left wondering what you do all day.
A dedicated workspace in your home can do wonders for your productivity – it’s hard for anyone to do hard, concentrated work on their sofa with a lap desk.
As the end of the established trial period approaches, it would be prudent to present your boss with a summary of your remote accomplishments over the past few months.
If you’re sending regular updates, this should be easy to determine.
And no matter how sure you are that you’ll love working remotely, you should be mindful of any loneliness or feelings of isolation, and address them by staying in contact with coworker friends over chat, or scheduling lunches with them once in awhile, especially if you work from home the majority of the time.
If, after careful preparation and thoughtful presentation, your boss still isn’t having it, don’t be afraid to ask again in a few months. And in the meantime, you could bolster your case by taking a day or two of unscheduled time off and just working from home unasked.
If you can show your boss what the company gets out of it, they’ll be hard pressed to say no.