When the global COVID-19 pandemic resulted in lockdowns throughout the nation last year, millions of employees made the shift from entirely in-person work to performing their job tasks online. Although many companies had to overcome several obstacles to support this new approach, they quickly discovered remote work’s numerous benefits, both to employees and boss of the company. Even while juggling home and family life demands, employees remained fully engaged in their work and experienced equal or higher productivity levels than before the pandemic.
Workers in all industries grew to appreciate the comfort, flexibility, and autonomy offered by remote work. Most of them are now hesitant to return to a system that seems incredibly outdated and inefficient. Some companies across the country have responded by making remote work a permanent option from now on, but others insist that their employees return to the workplace and give up the benefits they have grown accustomed to.
If you have enjoyed working from home and want to continue doing so, but your boss wants you back in the office, take the following steps to negotiate for permanent remote work:
1. Do Your Homework
Research the company handbook to determine what kind of remote work policies your employer had in place before the pandemic. Then, talk to your colleagues to find out if anyone on your team had engaged in remote work before the office closed and ask them about the details, such as whether they worked remotely full time or only a few days a week and how they received approval to do so.
Read the policies your company established during the lockdown and how they plan to adjust working arrangements in the future. For example, suppose your company plans to gradually phase employees back into the office. In that case, you could volunteer to be in the last group, giving your employer more time to discover the benefits of continued remote work and giving you more leverage when it’s time to negotiate.
2. List the Benefits
Remote work offers multiple benefits not only for you as an employee but for the entire company. Researchers at Stanford School of Business found that working from home increased worker performance by 13%. By eliminating travel delays, long lunches, office parties, and other time-consuming distractions that result in workers spending less time on the clock, workers were better able to concentrate on their tasks and more likely to work an entire shift.
Limeade Institute’s global study compared employee experience before and during the pandemic and revealed that focus (79.35%), engagement (75.93%), and productivity (81.35%) either stayed the same or increased since making the shift to remote work. In addition, in a study from Upwork, 56% of hiring managers reported that remote workers exceeded their expectations, and 32% saw an increase in productivity among their teams.
Remote workers also report higher levels of job satisfaction, which further improves performance and productivity and reduces the chances of resignation. In addition, a survey conducted by recruiting agency Robert Half found that 60% of remote workers have found a better work-life balance, 43% have become more comfortable using technology, and 20% have developed stronger relationships with colleagues.
Finally, draw attention to the fact that most companies will continue offering remote work due to these benefits and that failure to adapt could put them at a disadvantage. A survey completed by research firm Gartner found that 82% of company leaders plan to allow their employees to continue remote work for at least part of the time after the pandemic ends, and 47% intend to allow their employees to work remotely full time. According to Global Workforce Analytics, 25-30% of the US workforce will be working remotely several days per week by the end of 2021.
3. Prepare a Proposal
Create a written proposal that requests a permanent remote work arrangement to show you have seriously considered this option and feel it would benefit all parties. This proposal should include:
- The flexibility you are looking for (100% remote work or a hybrid of in-person and remote work).
- A sample schedule that shows your expected work hours.
- Specific details about how you will accomplish your work tasks from home.
- How remote work may impact your managers, coworkers, or clients and how you plan to manage these impacts.
- How you will handle communication with your team, including when you will be available, how they can contact you, and how often you will be in contact with on-site employees.
If you have already been working from home, you can use evidence of your success to demonstrate your value and serve as leverage to negotiate permanent remote work. Gather quantitative facts about your performance and productivity to prove that your work’s quality has either stayed the same as what you produced in the office or increased due to the benefits of remote work.
4. Request a Meeting
After preparing your proposal, request a meeting with your boss to approach the subject, provide your proposal, and discuss your options. Bring a list of talking points, use data to create a strong argument for your case, and be clear about your ideal working arrangement. Make sure to consider any potential questions or problems that may be raised and be prepared to provide answers and solutions.
5. Stay Flexible Yet Persistent
If your boss does not approve your proposal at the beginning, do not give up hope. As we often cover in our negotiation training, to be successful in this area takes time and energy, so persistence and discipline are vital. If they do not agree to fully remote work, you can request to come into the office only a few days a week instead or offer a trial period in which you continue working remotely for a predetermined amount of time and then undergo an evaluation. This gives you the chance to demonstrate your performance, build trust, and support your case for full-time remote work.
We hope these five steps helps you negotiate with your boss to work remotely, and good luck!