Working from home is a dream for many. Most see this as the step to leading a better work/life balance, eternal happiness and a future smelling of roses. But how does the average Joe number crunching in the office persuade his ‘clock monitoring’ boss to agree to such an arrangement? For many it is hard but that’s because we don’t ask.
When I say ask Its much more work than rocking up to your boss and saying ‘Hey, can I start working from home?’. In most cases there is a need for some explanation for this. A rationale to why this decision should be granted and most of what the entire organisation will benefit from this.
My arrangement stemmed from my skills set and performance at a previous organisation. Hard work is evidently rewarded and I was hired on the basis of what I had showed previously. A combination of performing well, zero sick days and having a skills set which would benefit the organisation.
Ultimately you need to pitch your arrangement to your manager in such a way where he would be happy to consider your request. If you genuinely believe your performance would improve due to home working (which I maintain is true) then a company would be foolish to reject such a request.
It’s not easy for one person to change how a company thinks. Essentially you are changing the culture of an organisation so the basis of this has to be factual and benefitional to all involved. If you’re a valued member of the team then they won’t want to lose you and you have every chance of securing a remote situation.
Write a detailed proposal:
Proposal? For working from home? Can I not just ask? Well…..you can but your manager will say no. There has to be a benefit to the organisation first and foremost. It’s work, no play time. The arrangement has to be detailed so that it can be easily digested by a senior manager. What you need to remember is most senior managers are alien to this type of arrangement. It might not make sense to them so it’s up to you to make sure it makes sense.
Detail EVERYTHING and always think with the interest of the organisation at heart. You will get your benefit through an accepted home working arrangement.
Propose a trial:
Usually when joining an organisation you will be placed on a 3 month trial period. This is typically to assess your ability and how you adapt to the role. If the line manager makes the right choice at the recruitment stage then this is merely a formality.
Your manager will most probably want the same reassurances when it comes to working from home. At the end of the day if your performance drops significantly then the blame will fall at his feet. A manager is only as good as his team and if his team members are failing to deliver then crucially he will fail to meet his targets.
Trial periods are a great way for your manager to come accustom to the working from home arrangement. No mangers like change, especially those who have been used to a specific way of doing things for a significant amount of time. It’s up to you to reassure them through your performance. Always start with working from home on a trial basis. Suggest one day a week for a month and on that one day make sure you perform better than you do on any other day. Respond to emails INSTANTLY, have your phone within arm’s reach and make sure you complete all your deadlines without any prompt emails from your manager. Delighting your manager will easily change his perception on remote working.
Once the trial period is up you both have evidence of your performance when working from home. Given you have saved your best working day for this day then your manager should be open to this as a permanent arrangement. Of less of course you’re crap at your job K
Start small & scale:
The key to convincing someone to change structure is to start small and scale. Prove the concept, more than delight through the concept and then scale. This is the usual technique for many businesses and the same applies for convincing management that you working at home is the right thing to do.
Following a successful trial I recommend starting with a 1-2 day a week arrangement. Management will not agree to a full working from home change instantly. This is for two reasons:
: Their own legacy mind set
: Perception from the wider business.
The second point is the most crucial one. Management do not like negative perception from other areas of the business and by granting a worker full time remote working this change will be noticed by other areas of the business. Whether this perception is correct is irrelevant. A smooth transition into home working is best all around the suits both the individual and the management team.
Again in those days when you work home perform far better than you ever do in the office. If you want the freedom which comes with home working then you need to make it clear to the business that you will work damn hard when at home. What business is going to grant home working to an average worker giving a bog standard average performance? None that’s right….Prove this semi home working for a number of months. When you are in the office stress how productive you are when you work from home, how more awake and active you are and how you feel you achieve far more. This will of course be all true but you need to bring home the truth for all to hear. If you are not vocal about your home arrangement then your manager will think you are happy/content with the current arrangement.
As mentioned previously, perception is everything. Once you have waxed lyrical on how happy you are with your home working arrangement you can look to scale.
Describe your working conditions:
Companies spend millions and office spaces to enhance the working conditions of employee’s. This is actually one of the reasons why some companies are turning to remote workers. So should be give a crap about our working conditions at home? Of course we should.
A huge win in persuading your manager to agree to remote working is to have an incredible working space. If you are serious about wanting to work from home then you need to be prepared for it. A dedicated office space is a must. Who is going to let their employee work from home if they will be working from the sofa or from the dining room table? Sure it works but it hardly gives off the right image does it?
Be professional in your request and cover all boundaries. By creating a space for your home working you show your manager that you are dedicated in making the arrangement work. In the proposal describe your office or even insert photos of your space.
The manager needs to be aware that you have the home and the set up to deal with working from home. My personal home set up is better than anything I’ve had in any job. Everything from my chair, to my desk to my own personal white board. I have everything I have ever wanted in an office minus the distractions. Why wouldn’t want employee’s working in such an environment.
Reasons for your new working arrangement:
The initial steps are covered, the theory behind the proposal is written but now your boss is going to want some reasons for why this new working arrangement should be agreed. There’s no deal breaker or deal clincher; it essentially comes down to your value to the organisation. If you are a well valued worker then you may not even need some of these reasons as they will be desperate to keep you. Most organisations however will need some genuine rationale just to appease their HR department.
The economy. A buzz word even the stiffest senior management can’t stray away from. Everyone is feeling the financial strain and things are set to get worse. I stressed this within a recent post on the 2013 fuel duty rise. Companies DO NOT want to lose valued members of staff. Especially if you have a specialist skills set. Recruitment fee’s can cost up to 25% of your salary and there’s still no guarantee that the recruit will be any good. These are the risks which companies flirt with if they were to reject your working from home plea.
If you stress that financially you are struggling and the commuting costs are contributing to this then you have a genuine reason for home worker. Furthermore your manager might see this as an indirect threat that you may start to look at alternative higher salaried roles outside of the organisation. Home working is an alternative to losing valued staff members. By removing the requirement for office presence financially you will be better off and your need for more wonga may have been solved.
Less distractions = Increase in productivity:
Productivity is a huge sticking point for me and the reason why I believe home working should be considered by all organisations. My personal productivity has increased significantly since working from home because I am focused on my work and have fewer distractions around me.
How often in one working day do you have a conversation with the person sat next to you? 5/6/7 times a day? This doesn’t happen when working from home. Most office based individuals work within a dynamic environment, extremely fast paced and NOISY…..Very noisy. I can literally recite around 10 occasions where I have been mid thought and someone has bounced across the office floor distracting all in their path. Its productivity destroying.
Stress to your manager that you are struggling to work to your full potential in the office surroundings due to distractions. Mention how you are desperate to hit your targets and fulfil your day to day tasks to the best of your ability. Talk about how a trial period working from home will show how productive you can be without the office distractions.
A manager loves nothing more than a productive little bee. By showing passion to the role and a will to succeed your current deliverables you would have one strange boss who didn’t at least consider this request.
You will work more hours:
Wait a minute….doesn’t this defeat the purpose of working from home? Isn’t working from home about work/life balance and increasing productivity while on the clock? Well yes it is but at the same time losing the distractions of work colleagues will increase the amount of time you work. There’s sometimes nothing better than having banter in the office but is this banter a real effective use of your on the clock time? Nope.
You can use this in your favour when trying to pitch your working from home solution. It is estimated that if we were to use all the work socialising in one go then we wouldn’t actually start work until 11am. That’s 2 hours a day of wasted time and 10 hours a week. When you’re in the office make a note of the time you spend talking about last night’s TV, football or the gym with colleagues. Make a note of this and add it up for the week. You then have factual information to provide to your boss. Pitch this as non work interruptions when making the proposal. You will be stunned by the amount of time what is wasted within the office and your boss will too. Hopefully he’ll be so stunned he will agree to your request!
I have always hated commuting. Not only do I think it’s a HUGE waste of time but also it’s a waste of energy. Commuting makes me tired. I have never understood those people who commute over an hour to work a day. Why would you do this? Unless of course the role is financially essentially I have never understood a commute time.
If you are a heavy commuter then you have a valid reason for home working. Explain to your manager how the commute zaps your energy levels and it takes a strong coffee before you are ready to start work. Explain how this has a negative effect on your productivity. Commuting and more specifically driving makes you tired and by removing the commute you are ready to work as soon as you wake. Bad commuting experiences make the situation even worse. If you commute on a notoriously difficult stretch of road then you may cite the risk of traffic jams increasing your commute time thus decreasing your productivity.
Without this added stress you are ready to work, coffee in hand poised to tackle the day. Hell without that commute you may dedicate an extra 30 minutes to your work to make you a better employee.
The Business must benefit:
Before considering plucking up the courage to ask your boss if you can begin working for home you need to research extensively. First and foremost you must highlight the business benefit. Managers are hell bent on hitting targets and delighting their seniors. If you can justify a better performance through your home working then your boss would be a fool not to consider such a proposal. Justify your need, begin with a trial period and perform like you have never performed before. You will then be in a position to enjoy all the benefits of home working.
Do you have any tips or advice I have missed here? Any recommendations should be made through the comments box below. Thanks!