Well if 2020 thought us one thing, it was that we can achieve amazing things and adapt to change really quickly when we have to. Never was this truer than in the case of flexible working, when thousands of workers were forced to work from home during lockdown.
Of course it’s not possible for all roles, but if you could do your job at home, would you like to keep the ‘remote working’ option? It may well be on the cards for many people as companies realise the massive real estate and general overhead savings involved. Take for example the news that Google are not proceeding with original plans to rent a massive office in Dublin city, obviously they don’t feel that they need office space for over 2000 workers going forward with everything that’s happened over the past six months. The reality is that businesses have also copped on that workers are more productive while working remotely. So it’s a win, win situation all round.
Covid-19 lockdown pushed a lot of organisations into working remotely, some were ready for it making the transition easy enough, but for others it sent shock waves down the spines of management as they ventured into a whole new way of working. We all know the type of businesses or business managers that have been rejecting flexible remote working for years. They somehow feel that employee contribution can be measured by getting in early and leaving late. They like to call random meetings and have quick chats face to face to get updates. They may lack the technical skills to embrace modern day technologies and are just not comfortable using video conferencing or collaboration platforms like Slack, Zoom or Skype. They may have trust issues. Hopefully Covid-19 changes will have dragged them into the 21st Century, albeit reluctantly, but at least they will have had the opportunity to experience a new way, learned new skills and gained some confidence that will change the old way of doing things.
Remote working won’t be for everyone, even if it is possible. Some people miss the social aspects of being in the office, working in a team. Video calls and online group chats can’t replace the office craic and the camaraderie. Culturally it’s a big shift.
Right now as it’s temporary, a lot of people may not have the most professional set up at home to continue remote working on a long term basis. Space could be an issue, particularly if they share the home with flatmates who are also working from home. For families the reality this year is that college students could well be receiving lectures remotely also. So will everyone have to work from their bedrooms?
Working from the kitchen table with kids passing by may not be ideal either. Security and data protection could also be a major issue never mind the background noise, procedures and policies will have to be amended and further training will be required.
For a more permanent arrangement to be successful professional headsets, comfortable chairs, desks, monitors, lighting and faster internet will also be a necessity. Remote working doesn't always mean that you have to work from your home, some workers may also decide to work at a local shared workspace or co-working environment sparing themselves the long commute to their business office but at the same time it provides them with a nice place to work where they can use all the facilities that modern co-working spaces have to offer.
So, as a lot of companies embrace this new way of working during these strange times, some business owners and leaders may find it difficult to continue with remote working for the long term, even if you’re happy to remain working remotely. What can you do about this situation? Be prepared to make your case and ask for a more permanent arrangement. The following steps will help you to persuade even the most skeptical boss.
Make a list of the benefits of remote working for the company. You want to clearly show how successful it was during lockdown. You could explain that because you didn’t have to commute to and from work, you were able to work a little longer on the busy days. So, while it was also more convenient that you didn’t have to commute, the company also gained. You could explain that you were less tired and therefore you were able to give 110% to every task that you had to do.
Were you able to focus more on projects because you had less disruptions? You could show how you were able to complete tasks more quickly. By presenting this information, you can show how productivity was higher.
Look at other organisations in your field. Do they have remote working and flexible arrangements with their employees? Check out how it’s working for them. Put a document together outlining how you think it will work going forward and by providing examples, you can show how common remote working actually is, how it works for competitors and how it could work in your organisation.
Meet half way
Be willing to accept a mutually acceptable arrangement. For example maybe there is an option to work one or two days remotely and the balance at the office or maybe your employer could agree to extending a trial run, with an official review after a set period of time.
You don’t want to overload them with too many statistics, but it might be beneficial for them to hear some facts, encouraging them to get onboard the flexible remote working trend.
- 70% of global employees work remotely at least one day a week
- 50% do so for half the week or more
(Source; International Workplace Group)
Anticipate barriers, provide solutions
Think about potential challenges and barriers. Research the type of technologies that can be used. By coming up with solutions you will make it easier for your boss to agree.
Create a Plan
Start with an introduction for example; “I am proposing to work from my home office each Wednesday and Friday, so that I can have interruption free time to work on the following projects.
Working from home will save me over 3 hours of travel each way to work and will also enable me to be there when my children return from school (or you may want to explain how your Pet really enjoyed having you around). I will then be able to work later, see full details of my proposed schedule below. This schedule will enable me to meet and exceed all my work responsibilities.”
Outline how you expect the arrangement to work. Include your proposed schedule, the days and times that you will work remotely and the days and times that you will be in the office.
Provide a summary of how you will communicate with your team and manager and how you will track your work. Include details of the software tools available that will help with project management and remote communication.
Roles and responsibilities; List all your job functions and duties and how you will accomplish each of your responsibilities while working remotely.
Performance evaluation; suggest how you and your manager will assess your performance while working remotely. This could mean sending a weekly report or email providing updates.
Your home office; describe the set up that you have at home. List the equipment, internet speed etc., and list any other equipment or software that you may need.
Security; show that you understand the importance of security and that you would be willing to work with the IT Department or Manager to ensure that the security policy is still adhered to while you are working remotely.
Choose your timing wisely, it always helps if you bring up a suggestion like this after you have successfully completed a project or when you know that your boss is particularly impressed with your work. Ensure that you make an appointment, don’t just spring the request on them. Suggest that you would like to have a meeting to discuss some ideas about improving your work and how you work.
Suggested template to request the meeting;
Hi [Your Boss’s Name],
I wanted to see if we could schedule a meeting to discuss some ideas I have for improving my work environment and making it more conducive to accomplishing my job responsibilities.
In the next two weeks I’m free [insert specific dates and times]. Looking forward to talking with you in more detail.
At the meeting walk your boss through your plan. Ensure that you have rehearsed responses to any objections that you anticipate.
Cost Savings & Benefits
Outline the cost savings for the company, if there are any. Maybe your desk could be used for another person who is required to work at the office. For some businesses space was becoming a problem for them. You want to assure your boss that working remotely is a good idea not just for you, but for the company so make sure you get the balance right.
If you are turned down
Be prepared for the fact that they may not want to let employees work remotely or they may not be ready for a long term commitment. If they refuse, be sure to thank them for their time regardless. It’s important that you keep a good working relationship with your employer. If you are adamant that you would like more flexibility and you feel they will never change their minds, maybe it’s time to start looking for an opportunity with an organisation whose culture is more accepting of change.
We’ve found some great remote jobs to get you started, see links below, but there are many more opportunities coming on board as the trend grows.
Some companies are leading the 'Work from Home' revolution so could also be worthwhile following, for example Jack Dorsey, the dual CEO of both Twitter and Square, has informed employees at both companies that they can continue working from home “forever", Facebook also announced that they will allow workers to work from home.
Shopify, Coinbase, Upwork, Lambda Schools and others have also permitted their people to work from home, while most have committed to this arrangement for the next year to come, it is envisaged that working from home will become the norm due to the cost savings on real estate and the impact on the environment as less people will have to commute.
Shopify announced that they are now a digital by default company. "We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality. And after that, most will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over."
Upwork CEO, Hayden Brown, tweeted “Building on our 20 years of experience as a remote work company, we are now permanently embracing a ‘remote-first’ model.”
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said he’s planning for the future to look different, in light of the coronavirus pandemic. "Over the last two months, I have come to believe that not only is remote work here to stay, but that it represents a huge opportunity and strategic advantage for us." Employees will still be able to work in an office, but they will now have the option to work remotely or split their time between time working in and out of the office.
Lambda School the online classroom that uses interactive technology to teach people the tech skills have rolled out a permanent “work from anywhere” policy. CEO Allred tweeted that employees are free to work from home, from an office or from anywhere.
Google, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Capital One, Zillow, Slack, Amazon, PayPal, Salesforce and other major companies have extended their work-from-home options, according to the largest human resources organization, SHRM, and other sources.
Best of Luck Everyone
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