When an employee knows that they want to work remotely, the next step is figuring out how to get the go-ahead from management. Before approaching leaders, however, thoroughly examine what would be necessary to make such an arrangement successful.
Properly knowing how to ask to work remotely could bring more flexibility and balance to your life. But you must consider multiple perspectives and detail the benefits closely.
The following step-by-step guide provides assistance on how to ask to work remotely:
Establish yourself as a top performer.
Bosses often view remote work as a leap of faith. A solid track record boosts their confidence that you’re a diligent worker with the skills and professionalism to maintain high performance without close supervision. Strive to achieve an admirable reputation prior to asking to work remotely, even postponing the conversation until a later time if necessary so more accomplishments can get showcased.
Focus on the value to the employer.
“The biggest mistake people make is they frame remote work as a perk for themselves—and second as a benefit for the company,” says Wayne Turmel, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute. “Ask anyone why they want to work from home and you’ll hear the usual: no commute, child care or the home situation is easier, fewer interruptions. And those are great for the worker, but why does the CEO care about that?”
If you want to really convince your boss to work remotely, Turmel suggests putting on your sales hat and creating value statements about why permitting remote work is a win-win. For instance, point out something like, “You know that we have trouble getting those reports done in the office because it’s so loud. By letting me have one day a week at home, I can really concentrate.”
In addition to mentioning the improvements to daily operations, do your homework on how remote work might fit into the company’s larger objectives. Businesses concerned about their carbon footprint may find the environmental benefits of telecommuting attractive. Firms touting support of work-life balance may come to see remote work as a way to decrease employee stress. And a company worried about recruitment and retention may be impressed by stats on how flexible arrangements attract a larger, stronger talent pool and boost staff loyalty.
Play devil’s advocate.
If you were your boss, what would your thoughts be if somebody was asking you to work remotely? Consider potential objections and prepare appropriate responses. Maybe the manager had a bad experience with a remote worker in the past. Presenting your stellar track record and discussing your mastery of time management and independent work may convince management to try the arrangement again. Or, if leadership views telecommuting as too much of a hassle, remind them of collaborative tools such as chat platforms and cloud documents that the staff already uses.
Managers often worry how an action may affect the company as a whole, so also think beyond your own role when asking to work remotely. For instance, someone may fear granting your request to telecommute may jumpstart a flood of others. You can gently mention that flexible work has moved beyond the trend stage into an issue all companies need to confront sooner or later. By allowing you to work remotely (at least some of the time), the firm can begin to see what works and what doesn’t based on first-hand experience—and you’d be happy to offer feedback and assist with guideline development.
Suggest a test run.
A manager may be impressed by your presentation but could still have reservations. To convince your boss to work remotely, a trial period allows both of you to work out the kinks and offers the security of an “escape” clause.
Besides collaborating on a schedule, examine other issues critical to address from the get-go. These might include:
- Communication (i.e., daily check-ins, method of contact, staying available to colleagues)
- Equipment needs (especially in terms of technology)
- Measurable goals (quantitative “proof” of productivity)
- Distribution of hours (set work times vs. emphasis solely on results)
Maintain flexibility yourself.
While it’s good to go into a discussion of remote work with a solid idea of what you’d like to have happen, keep expectations in check. For example, a willingness to telecommute two days a week instead of your desired three, to come into the office for certain meetings or trainings, or to submit a detailed weekly to-do list every Monday morning shows commitment to making everyone comfortable with the arrangement. Get the ball rolling, and the momentum may carry you far!
Knowing how to ask to work remotely can be the difference between getting what you want or getting your request turned down. Hopefully you’ll be on the path to working remotely, at least some of the time. And soon your employer should see that it’s a win for both sides.
That said, it should be remembered that some companies prefer an old school mentality that can’t be changed. If you’re still looking for remote work, we can help! All of our jobs are fully remote and are with companies that range from startups to household names.
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