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How To Negotiate A Work From Home Sitch

A step-by-step guide to winning over your boss!

Maybe you get more done at home, and the chit-chat at work drives you crazy. Maybe your commute is killing you. Or maybe you’re a night owl who doesn’t want to be bright-eyed at 9am. Whatever the reason, if you want to work from home, you’re not alone. Remote working (or “telecommuting”) is on the rise – in fact, the ABS says almost a third of Aussies work from their humble abodes on the reg. With the technology we have today, there’s no better time to ask – but you can’t just roll into the office and blurt the question to your boss. You have to be strategic.  

Make it easier for your boss to say yes by following these steps.

#1 Assess your position and what it involves.

Let’s be real. Some roles are easier to do remotely than others. And even with all the sophisticated technology, there are some roles that require face-to-face contact, collaboration or specialist software. For example, if you’re a writer or graphic designer, you may not need to be in the office as much. On the other hand, if you work in sales, PR or HR, you’ll have to present a more convincing case. That means compromising! Maybe you schedule all of your meetings and appointments on the 3-4 days you’re in the office, or maybe you set up video conferencing at home so you can communicate with your team.

#2 Check in with the HR department.

Before you pencil in a meeting with your boss to talk about working from home, chat to your HR rep. Your company may have a policy about remote working. They may be completely against it. Either way, knowledge is power. If they do have a policy in place, you can find out its success rate and ask about the rules and expectations for remote workers. You can go one step further and talk to your colleagues with flexible working schedules – how they did it, and how it’s impacted their work. Then, you’ll be able to present any positive feedback to your boss.

#3 Focus on the ways WFH would benefit your boss/business.

“Because I want to wear PJs all day” isn’t a good reason (unfortunately). When you’re trying to negotiate a remote working sitch, turn it back on your boss. Explain how WFH will make you a more productive, engaged, efficient and happy worker. Outline how it’s going to be a win-win for not only you, but your team/manager/department. Let’s say you have a 1.5-hour commute to an open-plan office. You could argue that by working from home, you’ll have less distractions, and more time and energy to tackle your to-do list. Finally, you can point out that remote working is linked to higher job satisfaction and employee retention, which reduces the cost of hiring and training new people. Boom.

If your company is new to teleworking, use Amazon and Yahoo as successful examples.

Remember, your boss will probably need time to think about your proposal and maybe bring it to the higher-ups. That’s ok! Thank them for considering it and opening up the conversation, and say you’re willing to be flexible.

#4 Anticipate your boss’ hold-ups.

What are all the reasons your boss could say no to WFH? Write them down, then think of a response for each. Here are some examples:

Work from home

#5 Suggest a trial run.

This is a test and you want to ace it! Start with one day a week for a month, and make sure you work your ass off and meet every expectation you said you would. Be super accessible, and prove that you have all the resources you need to do your job (like high-speed internet and up-to-date software). At the end of the month, sit down with your boss to assess the sitch. If everyone’s happy, you’ll be in a better position to nail down the details.

#6 Choose a mid-week WFH day.

Don’t blow it by asking to work from home on a Monday or Friday. Your boss will just think you’re trying to score a long weekend, every weekend. Start with a Tuesday or Wednesday, or a day when the office isn’t at its busiest.

The same goes for your company’s busiest months. Say you work in retail. Don’t ask to WFH 3 days a week over the Christmas period. Chances are, you’ll be shut down.

#7 Lay out a plan for your WFH days.

With your manager, map out how you’ll meet your deadlines, goals and responsibilities. How will you accomplish your tasks? What support will you need from your manager? What time will you be online? Can your boss or colleagues call you? What’s your preferred method of contact? Will you be willing to come to the office on a WFH day if something urgent pops up? The more flexible you are, the more likely the answer will be a yes. But be honest and set reasonable expectations. You don’t want to trap yourself into a WFH sitch that’s less flexible than the one you have at the office.

Katia Iervasi.

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