As offices start to reopen, you may have found that working from home suits your lifestyle. We’ll take you through how you can negotiate working from home, and why you might want to consider it.
COVID-19 has changed a huge amount for employees across the world. From making them consider the best digital tools for remote working, through to the different ways that you can keep your team connected and continue collaborating creatively. Though it’s not only been how people work that has been affected – it has also affected where people work.
Hybrid working, home working, flexible working, working from home – whatever you want to call it, the home has rapidly become the office for many of us. While it might not have worked so well for some people, for others, it has been a welcome and productive working environment.
As offices and industries slowly rumble to reopening once again, some employees will be eager to have those watercooler moments and get back in the office, but others might not want to be so hasty and could want to continue working from home.
So how do you convince your workplace that working from home is beneficial to both you and them? Let’s take a look at how to negotiate working from home.
What is remote working?
You may hear the terms working from home and remote working being interchanged. While they may seem like similar concepts, they are actually quite distinct and different from one another. It’s important to note the difference, as your employer may end up confused by what you’re trying to negotiate and achieve.
Remote working is when the job you do can be done anywhere in the world. It requires a very different set of abilities and skills to do properly and isn’t necessarily suited to every job type – though there are some jobs that are best for remote working. Remote working requires you to set up your own home office as well, and to also have excellent communication and teamwork skills.
On the other hand, working from home is often seen as what you do when you work from your house or place of residence some or all of the time. You might work in an office most of the week, but complete your work at home on the Friday, for instance. You still have the structure and the framework as dictated by your office – you’re merely replacing the business premises for your home office (or kitchen!)
Working from home is often meant to be a temporary measure, whereas remote working is an entirely different approach to getting things done. However, owing to the events of 2020, working from home has come to the fore and is the ‘new normal’ for many. So, if you have found that remote working suits you better, you can consider negotiating with your employer.
Why should you consider working from home?
While working from home certainly isn’t for everyone and doesn’t suit every industry, there are some benefits that people have noted. Let’s go through some of the reasons why you might want to consider working from home.
Working in a busy, noisy office can cause stress, which affects productivity. Being at home, on the other hand, can sometimes alleviate these stressors. There is also a level of stress attached to the daily commute and the fear of being late – at home, you’re ready to go. However, on the flip side of this, you may end up working longer hours than normal.
Some people prefer the office environment for productivity purposes, whereas some might be more self-starting and can crack on in their own time and on their own. Knowing how to be productive when home working is undoubtedly a process, though – but because you’re not surrounded by colleagues, you may end up with fewer distractions.
Working from home gives you a huge amount of flexibility as to when and how you work. You can start as early as you like and finish as early as you want – as long as you get the work done. And by taking the initiative and working alone, you’ll build your self-esteem and confidence, as you take precedence on projects that you might have had to ask for help on before.
With reports that more than half of employees feel that stress follows them from the office to the home, having a good work-life balance is important. Working from home means that you’re around your family much more – but it also means you could be expected to be on call a lot more than if you were in the office. Establishing your own working hours will counteract this.
How to negotiate working from home – a step-by-step guide
So if you think that working from home will be beneficial to you, how do you communicate with your employer that it is the best path for the both of you? The most effective way of negotiating with your employer is by doing plenty of research into the different aspects of home working and demonstrate how you and they would benefit from it.
They may not be as open to it as you might have hoped, but you should always aim high when communicating what you want to achieve and make sure that you have honed your negotiation skills so that you can cover every angle of what you want.
Research the landscape of your industry
If you’ve been working from home for the past 18 months, you may well already be in an excellent position to discuss the prospect of continuing to work from home. You should also find out the industry’s history of remote working and whether the competitors in your field also offer it. You may end up surprised at some of the sectors that do offer home working opportunities.
Find out if there are any other teams or departments in your company that already have a home working arrangement in place as well. There may even be a remote, work-from-home policy that you didn’t know existed. These will give you concrete examples of how and where working from home can function successfully.
Consider the benefits to the company and you
In years past, employers may have balked at the idea of home working, as they don’t necessarily have all the tools to see how it will help them as well as you. As part of your negotiation, you should think about the benefits of working from home to you and the company. These could include reduced costs, improved mental health, longer working hours, and higher productivity levels.
Make sure you outline just how you’d end up doing your job better at home as well, and how you’d end up being more productive. Would you be able to focus better with fewer extraneous distractions? Would you be willing to start work earlier due to the lack of a commute? All these things will make your employer see the benefits of continuing to work from home.
Demonstrate past successes
If you’ve been working from home since March 2020, then you’ll already have a good workflow in place, and you will have been able to prove that you can work efficiently and productively from home without any need to go into the office. Use examples of when you might have worked collaboratively in a remote team or successfully completed a project.
Highlighting these successes will encourage your employer that you have delivered high-quality work in the past and will also give you a basis on how to prove to your employer that you can continue to be committed, successful, and productive if you are given the opportunity. Consider your goals and how you’d measure your progress too.
Prepare a proposal
Creating a written proposal for your employer to consider will give you the chance to debunk any myths that they might believe about working from home. These include things like employees being less productive and that they miss out on face-to-face time with co-workers. Demonstrate how you can keep your team connected when hybrid working.
When creating your written proposal, you need to consider a few things. What sort of flexibility are you looking for – will it be 100% remote or a few days a week? How will you continue to accomplish your job from home and demonstrate your leadership skills? How will working from home help you reach your goals? Can you prove how you’ll solve problems digitally?
Prove that it can work
If you’re concerned about going back to the office, it’s a very important conversation to have – anxiety can cause more problems to productivity, mental health, and general wellbeing than employers can imagine. They may accept a trial period of working from home, or you could set out a timeline. Perhaps suggest that you work remotely through the summer and have an evaluation in autumn, for example.
It’s vital that you end up with measurable outcomes and goals during this period and that you can show that you are just as productive working from home as your colleagues are working from the office. If the results are there, then there is little reason for your employer to deny you the opportunity to work from home.
Pros and cons of working from home
Now that we’ve considered the benefits that working from home could present to your employer, what about the pros and cons that working from home can offer to you? It can seem like a really appealing and desirable career move, but depending on your own personal work style and priorities, it could either be a great move or a regrettable one.
- Increased independence. The opportunity for autonomy and independence when working from home is vast, and it is something that could be missing from your office.
- Improved communication skills. Working from home will require you to constantly communicate with your team and the managers you report to. You’ll end up with vastly improved communication skills as a result.
- Enhanced digital skills. You will be more reliant on various pieces of technology if you work from home, so your digital skills will be significantly enhanced.
- More flexibility. By not having a commute, you’ll be able to potentially work earlier in the mornings or later in the evenings if it is required of you. You’ll also be able to sort out things in your personal life, such as doctor’s appointments.
- Better collaboration opportunities. If you work in a company with offices and divisions across the world, working from home will give you the flexibility to collaborate creatively with these teams, as you can adjust to their time differences and the like.
- Increased isolation. Working at home, day in, day out can lead to feelings of isolation. The way to circumvent this is to arrange to have outings with friends and family.
- Disconnection from the company. You may not feel part of the company culture by working from home, and you may miss out on essential pieces of information as they come up. This could lead to feelings of disenfranchisement.
- Distractions at home. Distractions like the TV, pets, or chores that you suddenly remember could all get in the way of your working day. These could affect your motivation and productivity, so finding ways to limit these is really important.
- Risk of overworking. Not having to go into the office every day will end up blurring the working hours, so you could inadvertently put yourself at risk of burning out.
- Costs of running a home office. When you work in an office, things like the internet bill and electricity bills don’t affect you. When you work from home, they can creep up on you. You may also be required to get a desk, office chair, and monitor too – all of which can add up.
Working from home might be a really great fit for you, especially if you’ve found your flow during the past 18 months. However, as offices begin to reopen, employers will look to make use of the spaces that they’re renting and want to make them worth the money.
Approaching your employer and carefully negotiating your desire to work from home is really important and will require you to undertake a lot of research about why it would be a good fit for them and you.
At the end of the day, even the negotiation process will prove to your employer that you have a creative mindset and a confident outlook about your role, so you’ll be sure to gain confidence from this process.