The age of working remotely is here—and here to stay. Over the last 20 years, remote work has shown steady growth, and research suggests that remote work will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. Part of the reason why working remotely is on the rise is people with the option to work remotely are far more likely to love their jobs than those who don’t have the option; remote workers enjoy the freedom to create flexible schedules around work, family responsibilities, and other activities. And according to Global Workplace Analytics, millennials in particular desire the freedom that remote working offers.
However, while remote work continues to grow, with proven benefits for both employers and employees, a large portion of the U.S. workforce doesn't have the option to work remotely—even part-time. So how do you convince your employer to let you work remotely if you aren’t already? Below is a step-by-step guide for doing just that.
1. Is It a Possibility?
First, you need to ask yourself some questions: Is working remotely possible for you in your position? Is your position one where your work could be done remotely with no adjustments, hassles, or cost to your employer or clients? Could you work from home without compromising internal security? If the answers to these questions are yes, then working remotely might be possible for you.
And to help you answer these questions if you're having trouble with them, try creating a list of the things in your position that you could do remotely with no adjustment on your employer’s part, as well as the things that you couldn't do without an adjustment. Reviewing the list should help you quickly determine if remote work is possible for you or not. It's important to be realistic about this first, crucial step.
Note that positions in some fields that are highly-regulated or need high levels of security might require that you work in an office environment. Maybe you can only access documents and email on site.
2. Make Your Case the Right Way
If you’ve determined that the possibility of working remotely is an option, and you want to try it out, you'll want to present your case in the best possible way. Don't toss the idea out to your manager over lunch. Your request is a significant one and should be handled respectfully while observing all protocols.
For best results, request a face-to-face meeting with your manager for your request. In doing so, you establish a block of time for your manager to give their undivided attention to your request. And don't be vague about the reason you want to meet. Many business professionals will not establish a meeting or return a phone call without knowing the topic of discussion.
3. Make a Plan
Once your meeting is set, the worst thing you can do is go in without a plan. You need to go into the meeting with a fully-realized plan. You need to think about the questions your manager will ask and have answers ready. Be prepared to explain how the remote working arrangement would work and how it would benefit the employer. So, be prepared to have answers to these question before your meeting:
- Do you want to work remotely full-time or part-time?
- Would you offer a trial run? Starting when and for how long?
- What, if any, equipment or special access would you need to work from home/remotely?
- What hours would you work remotely?
- How and when would your manager, coworkers, and clients be able to reach you?
You may even draft a written proposal for your request that gives your manger something to review and consider later, as your manager might not be in the position to give you an answer right away.
4. How Does the Arrangement Benefit Your Employer?
If working remotely didn't benefit you, you wouldn't be asking your employer to allow you to do it. Not having to deal with traffic, distractions, and not being away from home are just a few of the benefits you would enjoy. But how does the arrangement benefit your employer?
When you first applied for a position with your current employer, you had to convince them how their business would be better by hiring you. It's the same principle when it comes to remote work arrangements. If you want to work remotely, you need to be able to convince your manager why it would benefit the company to allow you to do so.The good thing is there's a lot of information available to help you here. A recent Stanford University study detailed how productivity increased among employees allowed to work remotely and how employers saved money because of it.
Do your research and put together a list of reasons how and why working remotely will benefit your employer—and have the list ready for your meeting.
5. Patience Really Is a Virtue
If your situation is one where you'd need to work remotely right away—maybe your spouse is being transferred to another city and you want to keep your job when you move—then you might not have time to be patient. Otherwise, it’s in your best interest to be patient. You might not get approval to work remotely right away, or you might get a “yes, but” answer. Maybe remote work isn't common in your field or industry. Or maybe it’s not common (yet) at your company.
If you don't get the answer you were hoping for at first, politely ask that your manager to keep it in mind for the future. And then revisit the topic in a few months.
A Final Note
Even when you eventually get the green light to work remotely, move slowly; be prepared to compromise. If, for example, you develop apps for a luxury brand, maybe you can work remotely most of the time and only come into the office to review your projects with your manager and clients once they're completed.
In any event, if and when you do manage to convince your boss to allow you to work from home, do your best work. You'll want to prove to your manager that they made the right decision.
Irina Sidorenko is lead content and marketing manager at yalantis.com. She has many years of experience in the IT and business industries, which include establishing and running her own small business.
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