Around 80 percent of technologists would like to continue working remotely for the foreseeable future. However, some companies are determined to bring virtually all their employees back to the office for at least part of the week. If that’s your workplace, how do you convince your boss to allow you to work from home?
Here’s a look at your boss’s possible concerns or objections to you working remotely, as well as the facts and information you will need to address them sufficiently.
Reaffirm Your Top Performer Status
First, adjust your expectations. According to a survey by Gartner, only 32 percent of employers will let employees continue to work remotely full-time, while 49 percent will let employees work remotely only on certain days. You’ll need to be persuasive to obtain the remote schedule you want, and you may not succeed.
Your ability to keep pace is likely to be one of your boss’s main concerns, especially if they’re looking to ramp up productivity once everyone returns to the office. Research from consulting firm Bain & Company reveals the extent of the problem: Companies that were highly productive before the pandemic continued to shine during the transition to remote, Bain found, but the rest struggled to adjust.
Assuming that you and your company have stayed productive, begin the process of allaying your boss’s fears by proving that you have consistently exceeded expectations while working from home.
“Provide evidence of your activity and deliverables before and after the lockdown using data and standard KPIs for your role,” advised Steve diFilipo, strategic advisor and fractional interim CIO for Just Right Strategies LLC. For instance, developers should be prepared to present cycle times, throughput, completed or closed tickets from the last 15 months.
If your company suspended formal performance reviews and 360-degree surveys during the pandemic, your boss may be unaware of your personal impact and value. If that’s the case, make sure to cite anecdotal evidence of your achievements, including feedback from stakeholders and clients.
Reaffirm Your Commitment
Clearly and enthusiastically restate your commitment to the company and the reasons why your productivity will increase with remote work, suggested Milena Berry, co-founder and CEO of PowerToFly and a former CTO. Consider any changes to your duties and responsibilities going forward and have a plan to meet them.
“Be sure to address the communication piece,” she added. For instance, explain how you intend to establish rapport with new co-workers and stay connected to teammates, business managers and users while working from home.
Also, commit to specific response times, office hours and availability for video conferences, and have a plan to attend project kickoff meetings or maintain sprint cadence even if you’re at home when others are in the office.
Permanent work-from-home requires more than a makeshift office. Commit to having a dedicated, ergonomic office space, complete with a sufficient internet connection, state-of-the-art gear, and tools. If your company is offering a stipend or allowance for home-based workers, explain how you’ll spend it. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need a plan to deal with personal obligations (including childcare) to meet the challenges of a post-pandemic workplace.
Anticipate emergencies or situations when you might need to head into the office, such as deskside operational support or disaster recovery. For example, some companies are letting technologists continue working from home, providing they reside within 30 to 60 miles of the office, diFilipo noted.
Proactively offering to help implement tools and BYOD policies for remote work will also position you as an unselfish player who is committed to supporting the company going forward.
Let’s face it: Your boss is bound to ask why you want to continue working from home. How you answer might make or break their decision. “Don’t say something like: ‘I want to continue working from home so my husband can go back to the office,”’ Berry warned. Instead, center your request on you and your needs.
Focus on your happiness at work and how that will impact your performance and the success of the organization. For example, point out that spending less time in your car or having the flexibility start early or stay late can make you more productive and less stressed.
Propose a Trial Run
If your boss is still not sold on the idea, suggest a trial period with benchmarks to prove that you can still produce the same amount and quality of work.
Ultimately, you need to decide if this is still the right company and boss for you. A lot has changed about the way we work over the past 15 months. If your boss can’t guarantee that work gets done without micromanaging or sitting in the next cubicle, you may need to consider whether another employer can offer the flexibility you need.