June 5th, 11:40 am
Remote work is not a new trend. Before Covid, some companies promoted once-a-week telecommuting practices to their employees. It’s an understatement to deny though the pandemic was a dramatic force in the spike of on-site to remote work transitions for most organizations.
Now that restrictions are starting to loosen, some employers consider calling their employees back to the office space. While some may find this a breath of fresh air after a long lockdown period, some may be reluctant. A study showed that 76% of global employees surveyed want to work from home after Covid.
While some organizations now are even considering work options remotely permanently, your organization might need some pushing.
Specifically, this list includes:
If you’re a part of this percentage and want to keep working from home, we’ve gathered some tips on initiating that talk with your manager and being able to work from home permanently successfully.
So, here is the list!
You probably started working remotely in a troubled state. With everything shutting down, you felt cooped up within your homes: no more coffee runs, lunch-outs, and pantry run-ins with colleagues. Now, over a year later, you’ve relished in virtual space, and you’ve decided it’s the best thing that happened to you.
You now have dinner with your kids and your husband every time. You no longer had to face the dreary and long commute hours. You have control of your workspace. Working remotely certainly has its benefits in terms of flexibility. When you need to be somewhere at a particular time, you don’t need to file time off and negotiate with your boss. You need to bring in your laptop and make sure there’s a secure internet connection, and you’re good to go.
While it’s undoubtedly an idyllic situation for you now, take the time to imagine how it would pan out for you when everything starts restructuring back to normal. If schools re-open, your kids may need to go back to their classrooms. Your roommate’s employer may ask them to report back to the office.
Before you barge into your boss’ office, evaluate yourself first and make sure this can work for you in the long term.
On the other hand, look at how working from home permanently will benefit your employer.
Factor in your company’s why and make your case, not just about you. Find some convincing reasons and adapt them to your team.
Negotiation is a two-way street. Once you’ve sorted out how beneficial remote work is for you, think about how your manager will see it in his position. An excellent way to do it is to ask yourself questions from your manager’s perspective.
Questions are like, “How will you define your work hours?”, “How will you stay involved and updated on regular communication?” or “How will you stay true to the company culture while being apart from your team physically?”. These mainly revolve around time management and productivity.
According to an HBR 2020 survey, 38% of managers who participated in the study believed that remote workers have lower performance than traditional office workers. In addition, 41% mentioned that they are not assured that remote workers can stay motivated for a long time.
Although a minority voice, we all know the numbers don’t lie. This data still speaks that not all managers are convinced about remote and only see it as a temporary solution, given the times. However, you can always prepare for a rebuttal. When you’ve gathered these possible questions from your manager, answer them with your manager’s voice in mind. Be prepared for your stance and work out how you’ll come across your immediate superior.
There can be many aspects to look into when gathering facts about remote work, but you can zoom in on the two major concerns for both employees and management. These are productivity and engagement, the two most talked-about concepts when it comes to the workplace.
There’s a long stance about productivity in remote work. Before Covid, many employers opposed it, with some seeing no foreseeable future that they’d venture into the virtual workspace. Then, the pandemic happened, and businesses had to reevaluate their decision about the physical work environment.
In a recent study by McKinsey, 45% of employees said they were more productive working remotely than in the office. After a long time of being in a remote-based setup, more and more employers have become confident that a remote environment works as much as the physical space.
In another study on a global scale, productivity also takes on a positive note. 70% of the respondents felt that they are productive while working from home as much as in the office. However, more are much satisfied when collaboration happens face-to-face.
Engagement is the second primary concern in remote work. Managers fear that remote workers will be less motivated and less collaborative. A Forbes 2020 study, where most of the respondents are US workers with a mix from top management to middle management and up to the rank and file population, says otherwise. 90% of the respondents felt they positively connected with their supervisor even while working from home.
Debunking your management’s fears about a permanent work from setup involves not just your reasons. Research is probably your biggest ally when it comes to negotiations. Learn what the data is telling you and use them to your advantage.
Find out tricks to best apply work-life balance techniques for distributed teams.
Make a proposal that is well-planned and structured. It’s okay being spontaneous, but in negotiating, you have laid down your proposition in order. When you constantly jump from one idea to the next, your manager will see how distracted you are and sense that you’ve come unprepared. You can start with your reasons and how advantageous working from home is for you and follow up with how the company will benefit from your remote setup.
Before your manager can butt in, answer his questions ahead. This move shows that you’ve been proactive by choosing to include the company and your manager in your thought process, not just about yourself.
Some examples of questions:
Lastly, present the facts that you’ve gathered and show your boss that you've not just based your proposal on opinion but instead took your time to be educated before coming up with a decision.
You can also suggest a trial run in cases where you know your management is leaning towards on-site work or is not entirely convinced of a permanent remote-based position. A trial week or two also gives you and your manager opportunities to see what adjustments can work for both of you. Don’t come empty-handed and ill-prepared.
Sure, there are many ways to communicate, and with the different platforms available, it’s easy to choose convenience over a gut-wrenching live interaction. However, if you’re thinking of just sending a long email to your boss detailing your plans of working from home, chances are you’re not going to get that big yes.
Allotting the time to talk with your manager in person, or at the least through a video call, is your best option. During the talk, stay professional. Be open-minded about the questions being asked. In some cases, you might not get their response instantly. Respect their request to take more time to consider your proposal and agree on a schedule when you’ll be able to follow through.
Make sure to have techniques to conversate with your manager on efficient ways to deal with virtual teams.
Suppose your manager granted your request; congratulations to you! You’ll now be working from your home, a cafe, or just about anywhere that’ll work for you. However, this is not the end of the negotiation road. Remember that you’ve made commitments to your manager.
Since you’ll be working apart from almost everyone:
Don’t forget to work on those commitments and prove to them that you can walk the talk. You will need to build up the concept of physiological safety to be truly decentralized.
Less to Zero Commuting: We spend most of our time going to and from the office. Honestly, a big chunk of our time gets eaten by the long commute hours, not to mention being stuck in traffic. It takes a lot of our productive and personal hours.
Decreased Daily Living Cost: Who else found their pockets fuller by the time they started working remotely? When working on-site, you have to set aside a budget for commuting, such as your bus tickets or taxi rides, lunchtime food, and sometimes the occasional coffee run. At home, you can save money by preparing your food, walking just from the bedroom to the home office, and brewing your cup. Just make sure to stick up on your groceries.
More Control and Flexibility on Your Workspace: Let’s face it. Not all of us are fine with the office cubicles and office atmosphere. Some love to work on a nook or a corner with a broader office table. Some like it dead silent, while some work better when the music is blasting through the wall. At home, you’re free to sit and work wherever you feel comfortable, whether locked up in your room, couched in the living room, or getting cozy at the breakfast table: your workspace, your terms.
Fewer Office Distractions: Ever had that officemate who comes to you asking for a quick question, then 20 minutes later, you still haven’t to the question itself? At home, that colleague can’t come to you unannounced. He’ll have to send you a chat and schedule with you before a full-blown conversation can happen. There’s a less uninvited interruption and more purposeful chitchats.
You can forget to have fun as well! Check Zoom Games to connect with your team.
We’ve also listed some benefits of remote work if you’re reading this as an employer:
Increased Work Presence: This is especially true for businesses operating in different geographical regions. If your team is spread out across the globe, remote work works for you. Because people are working from home, they can adjust their schedules according to the needs of the business. For example, some countries work at a later time so they can fit another country’s time zone. Some come in earlier so they can catch up with other colleagues halfway across the globe.
Fewer Office Costs: Based on a survey, employers save $11,000 a year per half-time telecommuter, rounding off to $22,000 per full-time remote worker. Lesser real-estate costs, less absenteeism rate, attrition, and increased productivity contributed to these savings.
A recruitment advantage: Nowadays, having a remote work option is leveraged by most employers from others. With the benefits of remote work for employees, more and more job hunters prefer employers who allow work-from-home options than others who don’t. As employers, your talent pool source is not limited to your local area, and you’ll have more chances of getting a suitable hire when you cross off a permanent address in the list.
Remote work opens vast work opportunities within or outside your organization, irrespective of your geographical location. Your home address no longer limits you, and you can work with people across the global space.
After a large cloud of talk about remote work, its bottom line is simple yet accurate logic - it still works. Not having to come to the office is not a precursor to a vacation. Some remote workers even tend to overwork more, blurring the lines of work and personal space.
When considering working from home permanently, know first if your reasons are substantial and carefully thought through. If remote work is not for you, you might end up lonely and disengaged.
However, if it fits your working style and your circumstances, then you can have a rewarding work life as a result.
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