The dreaded day has finally arrived: your boss wants you to return to the office full time. You have been able to work from home since the start of the pandemic and perform above average. Returning to the office means long hours and a commute where you’ll spend more time in the car than with the family. Not to mention the fact that rising gas prices have dramatically increased the cost of commuting to and from work.
You’re not the only one resisting a return to the office. According to a 2021 FlexJobs survey, 65% of respondents want to remain full-time remote workers. And more than half said they would “absolutely” look for a new role if they couldn’t continue working remotely.
But before you consider quitting your job, it’s worth trying to negotiate with your employer. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the conversation to set yourself up for success.
Do your research
Before talking to your manager, find out about your company’s work-from-home policies. What were they before and after the pandemic? Has any of your colleagues been able to negotiate a permanent work-from-home contract, and if so, how? Having all the necessary data will give you extra leverage if you need it.
Focus on the benefits for the employer
Emphasize that remote work benefits the employer by reducing operating costs. This means eliminating overhead costs such as rental fees, office furniture, utilities, insurance and supplies. For example, statistics from Global Workplace Analytics reveal that IBM saved $50 million in real estate costs by allowing employees to work from home. On top of that, remote workers are also 47% more productive, according to productivity intelligence company Prodoscore. Some other employer benefits include improved employee performance, engagement and retention.
Prepare a proposal
Now is the time to prepare a written proposal. You want to be taken seriously and having a document shows that you put a lot of thought and effort into it. Although it doesn’t have to be very long, your proposal should include the following:
- A specific request, for example if you want to work remotely full time or a few days a week
- Work from Home Success Stories with Metrics
- How remote work will benefit the employer with statistics
- How will you manage regular communication with your manager and team
Practice your request
Practice what you are going to say before meeting your boss. This way, the meeting will be more effective and it will give you time to gain confidence. Also, try to anticipate any concerns your boss might raise and how you will address them. You will also want to prepare an agenda that you can use to guide the discussion.
Request a face-to-face meeting
If possible, negotiate a work-from-home arrangement in person. It’s easier to build rapport and allows you to benefit from verbal and non-verbal cues like body language, tone of voice, and eye contact. However, if that’s not possible, don’t neglect the first few minutes of conversation to connect on a personal level. Also, remove all distractions so you can focus on the conversation and perform at your best.
Release positive energy
Even if you and your manager don’t have the best relationship, maintaining a positive environment is essential. You can do this in several ways:
- Stay calm and unemotional
- Greet them friendly
- Smile when appropriate
- Acknowledge their concerns
- Use open body language
The more you assume things will go in your favor, the more relaxed you will feel.
It is important to support your proposal with measurable results. Let your employer know that you’ve been more efficient and happier working from home. Show how you maintained the quality of your work at a high level. If you can provide data showing how your productivity increased while working remotely compared to when you were in the office full-time, that’s even better.
Be patient and flexible with your manager throughout the negotiation process. For example, if you’re asking to work from home full-time and they aren’t comfortable with the idea, suggest a hybrid option. Another idea is to offer a trial period. That way, you can work remotely for a few months and then get together to reassess the situation.
Get it in writing
Whether you agree to permanent work-from-home arrangements or a trial period, get the agreement in writing. An easy way to confirm the details is to contact your manager via email. This way the arrangement is documented and will be implemented regardless of a change in management.
Be ready for a “no”
If you still get a no after following these steps, ask your boss what their concerns are. This way you can try to identify the obstacles and solve them immediately. At the very least, you can ask to revisit the discussion a few months later.
The remote work push is gaining momentum. And over time, more companies will commit to working remotely or offering employees a hybrid option. By presenting your case in a professional, confident and concise manner, there is a good chance that you will reach an agreement that will benefit both parties.
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