Telecommuting 100% of the time is by far the most desired type of flexible work arrangement among job seekers. However, despite workers being more productive in home offices and the bottom line benefits of remote work to employers, many companies are still hesitant to embrace it. For workers interested in convincing their bosses to let them work remotely, 1 Million for Work Flexibility (1MFWF), the first national initiative creating a collective voice in support of flexible work, has outlined seven unique strategies to approach managers about a remote work arrangement.
“Research continues to confirm that workers without flexible options are less happy and more likely to leave,” said Sara Sutton Fell, Founder of 1 Million for Work Flexibility. “As employers face a tighter labor market and the potential of losing great workers, they need to recognize what their employees truly value — such as the opportunity to work flexibly so they can better meet the demands in both their professional and personal lives,” Sutton Fell concluded.
Employees who give a straightforward, fact-based presentation about how working from home will benefit the company, as opposed to requests based on personal issues or needs, have a greater likelihood of having their requests met. Below are seven suggestions to help employees convince their bosses to let them work from home.
Present the data:
Prepare a presentation focused on statistics that prove the business benefits that can come from virtual work. There are numerous studies and surveys that demonstrate how flexible work benefits the bottom line.
According to a FlexJobs survey of over 5,000 workers:
- 79% said having work flexibility would make them more loyal to their employer
- 98% believe they would be as or more productive working in a home office.
- 70% say they’d be less stressed from commuting, leading to better focus at work.
Suggest a test:
A manager’s concerns may be based on his/her unfamiliarity with how remote workers operate. Suggest starting small with a test run. Set up a plan to work from home one or two days a week for a month. Some suggest that Wednesday might be the best work-from-home day for a manager’s comfort level. Closely track tasks and productivity on those days, communicate regularly throughout the day, and then discuss the results of the test so managers can see the return on investment in a remote work setup.
Provide examples of existing policies:
If the test goes well, take the next step and present managers with some sample work flexibility policies from other companies and organizations. Showcase how other businesses are making these plans work.
Take a working sick day:
If bosses are resistant to a test run, call in sick but say you’d like to get some work done from home. That day, prove efficiency when working from home is higher than working in an office. The next day give specific examples of the efficiencies you experienced and try pitching a short trial run again.
Offer incremental options:
If managers are presented with an all-or-nothing request, they’re likely to opt for nothing. To avoid this problem, scale back and ask to work three days in the office and two full-time days at home to start. If productivity is higher on the work from home days, it’s more likely the arrangement can convert to working from home, full-time.
Communicate your communication plans:
Managers might be wary of remote work because they are unfamiliar with the communication tools workers use to stay connected virtually to their in-office co-workers. Demonstrate familiarity with communication tools such as Skype, Google Chats, FaceTime and other videoconferencing. Lay out how when, how and how often he or she can expect to hear from you during the week.
Managers may need time to process something new, so be sensitive to that reality. Keep working toward the goal, but always show patience and be respectful. And look for opportunities to prove your ability to efficiently work from home–during inclement weather, when you need to be home to meet the electrician, or when you take work home to finish at night or on the weekends, for example. The increased flexibility of remote work is worth the wait.