No matter how hard your business has been hit by the coronavirus (and some have been more adversely affected than others), there’s no doubt it’s had an impact on your business practices. One of the changes you’ll need to face is likely to be working remotely, or working from home. This will take a different form for everyone, but broadly speaking, you’ll be carrying out duties and performing tasks from a home computer or workstation in your home office.
According to UK government guidelines, all businesses that can feasibly offer remote work to their employees must be strongly encouraged to do so. There may be some businesses left which still aren’t working remotely, either because they can’t or because management staff don’t feel like it’s the right path to take. If you’re an employee thinking of asking your employers to work remotely, we’ve got a guide for you on how to do just that. This guide works outside of the coronavirus pandemic, too; if you feel you can work remotely at any stage, here’s how to ask for it.
Know exactly what your job entails
Obviously, if you’ve been working at a company for some time, you will probably already have a fairly intimate knowledge of exactly what your job entails (although, of course, there are some for whom that is not the case). Still, if you want to work remotely, it pays to know what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis so that you know exactly how you could perform your duties from home. You need to come to your employers with a full knowledge of what your job description asks of you.
Research your industry
Are there other companies in your industry that are allowing their employees to work from home or to work remotely? If so, you need to research them thoroughly. Find out which positions people are occupying when they work from home. If those positions are similar to yours, then that gives you an extra bargaining chip when you’re asking after your own situation. You’ll also gain valuable insight into your industry while you research which can be useful for further discussions with managers.
Build a comprehensive case
Your request to work remotely likely won’t be taken seriously unless you can present a compelling and engaging case for why you should be allowed to. In a time like that of the novel coronavirus outbreak, this pitch is likely far easier to make, but when the outbreak subsides, you’ll need to think seriously about why you should be allowed to work remotely. Include examples from outside your company (and inside, if they exist). It’s a good idea to rely more on statistics than on persuasion, because numbers don’t lie.
Try working from home (if you can)
We’re not in any way advocating overwork or doing unpaid overtime. You should always know your worth. Still, if you think you could feasibly work remotely, it’s a good idea to try and work from home for a while to see how it feels. It could be that you’ve fallen in love with the idea of working remotely but that you don’t actually want to do it. Conversely, you could find that working from home actually suits you perfectly. If you find the latter, you can use that example in your argument to persuade your manager.
Draw up an extensive pros and cons list
Before you make the jump, you should know exactly what you’re getting into. Once you’ve tried working from home (if you can), draw up a list of everything you enjoyed about it and everything that presented a significant challenge. Remember that if one list outweighs the other in terms of sheer numbers, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should go with that option; some list items may carry more weight than others. Either way, it’s important to know exactly what your feelings are on the matter.
Frame your argument for the company
Your manager may well like you as a person, but they aren’t going to be thinking about that when they evaluate you working from home. If you want to be given the opportunity to work remotely, you need to frame your argument as positively for the company as you possibly can. Try to explain the benefits in terms of productivity or turnover for the company. You could factor in reduced travel time, for example, or a reduced need to take breaks.
Nobody likes change, least of all the managers of companies. Change is an unknown quantity, after all, and if a manager thinks that the workflow in their company is perfectly fine, they won’t want to change it for no reason. As such, you should come prepared with effective counter-arguments for things your bosses might say to dissuade you. Common refrains might include “it’s too risky”, “it’s too much effort”, and “it’s unproven within the company”. If you have answers to those questions, you will seem that much more prepared.
Be prepared to be rejected
There’s every chance that your boss will reject your proposal. If this happens, don’t take it personally and don’t think it’s a reason to give up asking full stop. It might just be that now isn’t the right time for the company. Perhaps your business has fallen on hard times, or maybe this is a trying time in terms of customers. Whatever the reason, your boss has authority over you, so you can’t push back too hard. Go back to the drawing board and think of ways you could bring it up again without simply rehashing the same arguments.