If working from home is something you want to do moving forward, now is the time to start negotiating how that might work.
While some employers like Twitter have embraced remote working as a permanent option, others are far more conservative in their thinking and somewhat resistant to creating a ‘new normal’ way of working.
Take comfort in the knowledge that there is research out there to back your claim that working from home could be a more effective option for you and your employer. For example, Stanford Professor Nathan Bloom embarked on a 2 year study to assess the impacts of remote working on productivity. The results were clear. Bloom reported “astonishing productivity boosts from working from home”.
Don’t just sit back and wait for your employer to come forward and offer you with the opportunity to change the way you were working pre CoVid19. Know what your preferences are and have the courage to engage in the dialogue needed to explore and hopefully implement at least some of what you want.
Know what success looks like
Begin by having a very clear view of what success in your role looks like. Understand the key outcomes you need to deliver on, and contemplate how you will be able to achieve each, to the standard needed while working remotely. Take for example the need to meet with customers and your employer’s preference that these interactions happen in person. When faced with these types of scenarios, enter into the conversation having already given serious thought to what concerns your employer may hold about customer meetings online, and what steps you can take to mitigate against those fears becoming reality.
To support or approve work from home arrangements, most leaders will need to feel confidence in your ability to remain engaged, productive and accessible when needed. Go into the conversation ready to talk about what steps you will take to ensure the job gets done, when it needs to and to the standard expected.
It is especially important that you can articulate how you will ensure you are collaborating with the stakeholders you ordinarily would if working in the office. Demonstrate commitment to maintaining strong relationships and working effectively with other people including how that could prove challenging at times.
Recognise and acknowledge any and all potential roadblocks to your success. There really is no point trying to convince your employer that there are no issues with you being able to be ‘on duty’ and available whenever needed during business hours, if they know that simply isn’t the case.
For example, if you are working from home with young children in your primary care be upfront about the hours that will mean you need to keep to make the arrangement work for both parties.
Be reasonable and flexible. Recognise the operational constraints that may make it difficult for your employer to accommodate work from home as a permanent arrangement. Look for ways in which you can meet your employer part way in the first instance. With evidence through success they may well be willing to expand the arrangements in the future.
Create your own ‘new normal’
Work from home and blended ways of working are rapidly becoming the ‘new norm’ so any employer who is unreasonably closed minded is likely to struggle to attract and retain top talent. Many more are recognising the mutual benefits remote working can bring for both an employer and their workforce.
As a spokeswoman for Twitter sister company, Square recently told Forbes magazine “We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive. Over the past several weeks, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes for people to effectively perform roles outside of an office, and we will continue to learn as we go.”
So if despite your best efforts to present a fair and reasonable argument for working from home, your employer remains closed to any possibility of flexible work practices now or in the future, consider if they are the right employer for you. Of course, the answer will depend on how important it is to you to avoid heading back into the office full time. If you love the benefits gained from working from home, help your employer to see what is possible.
Karen Gately, founder of Corporate Dojo, is a leadership and people-management specialist. Karen works with leaders and HR teams to drive business results through the talent and energy of people. She is the author of The People Manager’s Toolkit: A Practical guide to getting the best from people (Wiley) and the host of Ticker TV’s Black Belt Leader. For more information visit www.corporatedojo.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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