If you’ve been reading along with our series on remote work, by now you know the many benefits of a flexible work schedule, for both employers and employees alike: that remote work can boost productivity, improve employee morale, and even cut costs. You might even be thinking that it’s time to try a remote work schedule for yourself. If you’re in this camp, the next step will be to convince your boss that remote work will benefit the company. If you’re currently working in a company that doesn’t offer remote options, making the switch to a hybrid schedule might require a little finesse. Here are some tips on how to ask your boss about remote working, and some suggestions for setting a good company precedent.
Know Who You’re Talking To
Be strategic. Asking to work from home four or five days a week may take some managers by surprise. This is a great time to take stock of their character. How do you communicate now? How do they process information? What are the key metrics they use to gauge employee productivity? How do they measure success? For example, if they pride themselves on making data-driven decisions, then you’ll know you’ll want to take a specific, statistics-based approach in to convince them.
Be prepared for some outdated stereotypes your manager or HR people might have about remote work, so you can address them head on. Does your boss see working from home as a way of slacking off? Do they value face-to-face meetings over Slack messages, emails, or video calls? Compile a list of potential grievances, so that you can make sure that you’re anticipating any issues they might bring up.
Know The Value of Your Work
Before you broach the topic of remote work, take a good look at the work you’ve been doing. How’s your performance? Try to give yourself an honest review. The more detailed and unflinching you can be in your self-assessment, the more likely your boss will trust you to monitor yourself outside of the office.
If you find that you’ve been slacking off a little—or skating by on the minimum—try to raise your game for a few months before approaching your boss. Keep track of your productivity and find ways to exceed expectations. Then, when you finally do ask for a flexible work schedule, you can show evidence of your effort. If you have a solid track record, it’ll be easier to convince your boss that you’re not actually stepping away from the job, you’re just changing your routine.
Arm Yourself With Some Remote Working Stats: Here’s Ten of Them
There’s a ton of research and evidence to show the positive effects of remote work. Here are ten statistics to share with your boss:
- In the last five years, remote work has grown by 44%.
- In 2019, 4.7 million people in the U.S. work remotely part of the week. That’s 3.4% of the population.
- About 40% of global companies are hybrid, offering both remote work and in-office options to their employees.
- 52% of all employees globally work from home at least once a week.
- A long-term study out of Stanford School of Business showed that workers had a 13% performance increase when they were allowed to work from home.
- Remote workers report being more focused and productive than their in-office counterparts.
- Working remotely increases morale and lowers stress, leading to greater employee happiness and engagement.
- Companies with remote working options report significantly less turnover.
- Companies that offer remote options have access to a larger talent pool.
- Companies can cut down on overhead costs—including electricity usage and office space, etc.
The more you stress that offering remote options can actually help attract talent in the long run, the more an employer will see the benefits. Remember: you’re not just starting the conversation so that you can have your ideal schedule—you’re setting a precedent for the whole company, so that future employees can benefit, as well.
Start With a Remote Work Trial
Start with a small adjustment. Suggest working from home one day a week for the first month. Spend your time out of the office monitoring your productivity—that way, you’ll have controlled data to share with your boss at the end of the trial.
When you’re suggesting a remote schedule for the first time, it’s important to keep in mind that the schedule itself shouldn’t be all that flexible, at least not at the start. Make a plan for how the day is going to go—and plan to stay in touch with your manager throughout it. If you can, try to keep it tightly aligned to the schedule that the office already runs on. That way, it won’t be so difficult to integrate your schedule changes.
Expand Remote Work Options Slowly
If the trial goes well—let’s hope it does—then you’ll have the chance to expand your remote options from there. But once the trial is over, you will still have to work to maintain your boss’s trust. This means taking your productivity seriously and being willing to adjust your schedule to reflect everyone’s needs.
If your boss is amenable, expand your hybrid work schedule by including more days of remote work to your week. Another option would be to experiment with making your time more flexible. That means testing different ways to organize your day. Maybe you and your boss agree to let you work offline for the afternoon—or maybe you get to choose which eight hours in a day you’re on call, regardless of when the office is open. You could even experiment with a compressed workweek, adopting a three-day weekend.
Whatever remote work model you choose, just remember that while it doesn’t have to be permanent—this is all in the spirit of exploration—it should definitely be mutually beneficial. The point is to try to find a remote solution that works for everyone.
Be Transparent and Flexible
There are endless ways to build the flexible schedule of your dreams. The important thing here is to be as transparent as possible about your productivity and your needs. While it won’t always be necessary to be this diligent about your time, at the start, it really helps if you’re willing to go a little out of your way.
Let your team know where you’re working from, share as much information as you can about how you’re spending your hours, make adjustments to your time or your job responsibilities as your boss sees fit. Don’t forget that they’ve agreed to try something new for you. Once you find the right flexible schedule for you, then you can reap all the rewards of remote working.
This story is part of our new series on remote working. Like what you’re reading? Check out The Top 10 Benefits of Remote Working!