How can work from home (WFH) become a permanent arrangement with your organization?
The number of people working remotely has grown by nearly 400% between 2010 and 2020, according to a report from software discovery platform GetApp, published in January – and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions more into the work from home category pretty much overnight.
Nonetheless, there were still plenty of companies that had refrained from offering the work from home option, believing it would bring more challenges – in terms of productivity, communication, collaboration, and coordination – than benefits.
The global coronavirus pandemic, however, has ushered in the biggest shift to remote work in history, and many of those organizations that were late to the WFH table have found that remote work is indeed a viable option – and more and more employees are now looking to negotiate permanent work from home arrangements.
How Can Work from Home Become a Permanent Reality?
Major companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Google, Box, Slack, Salesforce, Coinbase – and many more besides – have announced plans to allow employees to continue working from home forever if they so wish. This will indeed be welcome news for the majority of the office workforce who report they’d like the option to continue with remote work arrangements beyond COVID-19 – numerous surveys indicate that those currently working from home would like to continue doing so to some extent when the pandemic is finally under control.
If you’re in this camp, but your organization is already planning a return to the office – or hasn’t made a decision yet – now is the time to make your case for why work from home.
So, how can work from home conversations begin?
Tips to Start the Conversation at Work
Find Out Your Organization’s Stance
As ever, knowledge is power. Your first step is to find out whether your organization has already taken a stance on whether employees will be returning to the office after coronavirus or not. While some companies have decided to put an end to office centricity once and for all, others are already planning to bring the workforce back to their desks post COVID-19.
Why do you want to work from home? Many CEOs have negative views on remote workers – and yours might, too. If so, think about where the resistance is – productivity drops, stifled creativity, communication, and collaboration issues – and consider the counterarguments to be formed to alleviate any concerns the C-suite might have.
Formulate Your Win-Win Case
Before putting yourself out there, map out exactly what you want to say to your boss. The emphasis needs to be placed on how remote working will benefit you, your co-workers, and the organization at large. Write down the points you want to address, focusing on the information that will be the most persuasive.
Some questions to consider:
How can work from home arrangements positively impact your productivity? Perhaps you’ve found you’ve been able to get more done without office distractions, or you’ve been able to dedicate more time to work without the morning and evening commutes. Use your recent successes as proof that you’re more productive as a home worker.
How can work from home arrangements make you more engaged with your job? If you’ve found you’ve been able to work more efficiently from home with the added flexibility to allocate your time in the most productive fashion, communicate how this is a win-win for both you and the company. Being more engaged helps you reach important goals, such as building deeper relationships with clients or simply completing more tasks in less time. To make the case, document all the best work you’ve done while telecommuting, highlighting your efficiencies specifically.
How can work from home help your organization save money? Do your research. As ever, if you can demonstrate a favorable ROI, you stand a better chance of winning your case. Office space costs your company – and a work from home policy could reduce those costs. Based on “conservative assumptions,” Global Workforce Analytics estimates that employers can save on average $11,000 per half-time home worker per year, primarily due to lower real estate costs, increased productivity, reduced turnover and absenteeism, and better disaster preparedness. Persuasive arguments, indeed.
Draft a Proposal for a Potential Work from Home Policy
How can remote working be a success? This is what your employer needs to know, and it will come down to the work from home policy you agree upon.
First, propose a specific schedule of the days and hours you want to work remotely. Your employer will likely want to see structure – not a loose arrangement where you can randomly change your routine. Clearly state that you will be fully available by telephone, email, instant messaging, or other communication platforms during these specific hours, during which you will be working.
Next, outline how you will manage your weekly tasks and how you will still be accountable and responsive. Think about how you will set goals with your manager, communicate progress and measure outcomes, as this will all need to be included in the final work from home policy.
Determine how you will manage communication and collaboration with both your boss and your co-workers. Will daily or weekly calls be necessary? Telephone or videoconferencing? Perhaps weekly summary emails can be sent to let everyone know your progress and what you will be working on next week. In addition, demonstrate your flexibility by saying that you will always be available to come into the office for important meetings.
What hardware and software will you need, and how will you ensure your equipment is safe from a cybersecurity perspective? IT security is a hugely important issue for remote workers. So, how can work from home be made safe? Suggest working with the IT department to get your home office set up securely. If your company has a secure VPN, explain that you will log into this for work so you can enjoy the same security benefits as if you were in the office. In addition, outline the steps you will take to secure your home router, as well as the firewalls and antivirus software you use on your personal devices. This will show that you take your organization’s security concerns seriously and that you’ve thought through every facet of the arrangement.
Start with 1 or 2 Days
Your proposal is more likely to be considered if you start off asking for a temporary, part-time work from home schedule – say, one or two days per week, to be revisited after 60 or 90 days. Even if you want to eventually work all your days from home, proposing a transition period will demonstrate that you want to ensure the new arrangement works for both you and your employer before committing to it long term.
During this period, if you can prove through measurable outcomes that you are just as productive working from home, that there are no security issues, and that communication and collaboration with colleagues is not a problem, you stand a far better chance of being able to extend the WFH arrangement.
How to Work from Home Permanently
How Can Work from Home Become a Permanent Reality? Major companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Shopify, Google, Box, Slack, Salesforce, Coinbase – and many more besides – have announced plans to allow employees to continue working from home forever if they so wish. Find Out Your Organization’s Stance. Your first step is to find out whether your organization has already taken a stance on whether employees will be returning to the office after coronavirus or not. Formulate Your Win-Win Case. The emphasis needs to be placed on how remote working will benefit you, your co-workers, and the organization at large. Cover how work from home arrangements positively impact your productivity? Also, remind them work from home help your organization save money Draft a Proposal for a Potential Work from Home Policy. Start with 1 or 2 Days. Your proposal is more likely to be considered if you start off asking for a temporary, part-time work from home schedule – say, one or two days per week, to be revisited after 60 or 90 days.