The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred digital transformation faster than any policy, executive, or technology could have ever done alone. The situation could drive a long-term shift towards the remote office.
After all, the tech is already there. Companies just needed a reason to become more flexible with how they work. The Coronavirus pandemic has forced them to try the remote office.
This could turn into a good thing for employees!
For those who spend the bulk of their time in the office, they’re now beginning to see the benefits of working from home. For instance, a friend of mine, who has worked at Fortune 200 company for 10 years, finally got the chance to work from home. He’s loving it.
“Once COVID-19 started to spread, we quickly implemented a work-from-home strategy. I’ve been surprised by the great results. We have a morning meeting that sets expectations and responsibilities, and we remain in communication throughout the day. My team has been more efficient and everyone has more time for themselves,” he says.
My friend’s findings are backed up by professional research. Remote employees are more productive than office employees, according to a study by Airtasker. The study even found that remote employees work an average of 1.4 more days per month than office employees. That amounts to three more weeks per year!
If you’ve seen the benefits of working from home, both professionally and personally, you probably want to keep working from home, even after the Coronavirus passes. How do you convince your boss to work remotely?
We’ll show you in this guide.
But before we continue, let us say:
We hope everyone is staying healthy and optimistic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hearts go out to anyone affected by this crisis.
We especially want to thank the healthcare workers on the front lines. You are the true heroes. We also want to thank everyone who’s risking their health to maintain our food supply chain. And finally, thank you to everyone who’s doing their part to stop the spread of Coronavirus.
Stay safe! We will get through this.
Why you should want a flexible workplace
Because everyone should seek a work-life balance!
One of the biggest benefits of working remotely is the flexibility it offers you. You have greater control over your time and location.
Feeling the winter blues? Take a workcation on a beach.
Need to see family? Make the trip without having to ask off of work.
Given the personal advantages of working remotely, it’s no surprise 97% of people believe a more flexible job would improve their quality of life. Being able to work from home can go a long way in reducing stress—something 80% of workers experience.
Additionally, working from home eliminates parts of the day that derail productivity or don’t add much value, such as:
- Your commute
- Office politics
- Interruptions from colleagues
When you work remotely, you also can completely personalize your office space. Yes, your dog can sit next to you. And yes, you can play your favorite tunes really loud.
Furthermore, working from home can benefit your career. With a personalized workspace that’s free of distractions, you can get your tasks done more effectively. And that will certainly help you move up the company ladder.
Since you have more autonomy and can work more efficiently, you’ll have more time to engage in activities that enhance your personal life, such as travel overseas. You can exercise more, learn new skills, spend more time with family, and become more active in the community.
Simply put, working remotely can improve your life in every way imaginable. There’s no reason not to consider it.
Show your boss the benefits of working from home
Want to know how to ask your boss to work remotely?
Highlight the following benefits:
A more productive workplace
Keep this in mind: The main purpose of going remote is to increase work efficiency and enable the company to achieve its goals.
It’s not so you can put your feet up and watch Netflix (though you’ll have more time for relaxation when you work from home). By the way, what’s the next show you’ll binge-watch?
When you ask your boss about working remotely, come equipped with data and evidence that shows the benefits of working from home. You can use personal experiences as well as industry research.
A simple Google search will tell you all about how a company can benefit from a work-from-home strategy. Here are 10 stats that show the advantages of remote work:
- 86% of workers believe they hit maximum productivity when working remotely, according to a SurePayroll survey.
- Research done by Scott Mautz, a corporate executive, shows that working from home boosts employee productivity by as much as 50%. It also increases employee retention by as much as 50%.
- Having a flexible workplace, one in which people can work from anywhere, can reduce employee attrition by 50%, according to a Stanford study. Say goodbye to burnout!
- Implementing a remote office reduces employer costs. After all, rent accounts for around 20% of a company’s expenditures. Working remotely boosts profit margins!
- With a flexible workplace, you can attract and retain top talent. 79% of employees state they would have greater loyalty to their employer if they had more flexibility in where and how they work.
- Having a remote office can increase workplace diversity, enabling your company to bring in fresh perspectives and spur innovation.
- Job flexibility boosts employee engagement. And, according to a Gallup poll, employee engagement leads to 41% less absenteeism and 21% higher profitability.
- Those who work remotely are eager to learn and develop. For instance, an UpWork survey of freelancers found that 55% engaged in skills-related education in the past half-year, versus just 30% of office workers.
- The remote office eliminates distractions and negative aspects of the office environment. For example, a FlexJobs survey found 69% of workers believe they’re more productive working from home because they don’t have as many meetings (which can turn into time wasters).
- 82% of workers say telecommuting reduces stress. This is vital. Stress kills employee morale and productivity. Reduce stress, and your team will achieve more.
Do you see all the benefits of working from home?
Show your boss how a work-from-home strategy will lead to better business outcomes. You’ll have a greater chance of them agreeing to try it.
A more resilient company
Think about those companies who are used to the remote office. From an operational standpoint, they’re naturally more prepared for emergency situations, such as a health pandemic or natural disaster. Emphasize this to your boss.
Once your supervisor sees how a functioning remote office could benefit the company in a crisis, they should invest in a more long-term strategy. Because it will make the business more agile and resilient.
When companies invest in technology that empowers team members to work from home, success should come. That will build a greater sense of ownership and trust. And, as Daina Hazel, a therapist and lawyer, writes, this will enable teams to adapt and overcome whatever the 2020s throw at us, even after the virus passes.
Happier, healthier employees
A good boss places high importance on employee wellbeing. First and foremost, they should do so because it’s the right thing to do. They should have strategies to enhance worker happiness and health.
Second, every company depends on employee wellbeing. How can a business survive if the team is burnt out, sick, and/or unhappy? The answer is they can’t.
When you ask your boss to work remotely, stress how working from home boosts job satisfaction and personal well-being. And prepare hard evidence, such as:
- This report from Owl Labs that shows team members who get to work remotely are 24% more likely to feel happy with their job.
- This University of Oxford study that found happy employees are 13% more productive on average.
In addition to everything we mentioned, from fewer distractions to a more personalized space, there’s another reason why the remote office helps employees achieve higher productivity: the freedom to tailor their schedule.
Perhaps you work best in the early morning, like many famous entrepreneurs. Imagine having all your work done before noon! Your boss would be happy. And you’d have time for family, exercise, and fun.
Show you have what it takes to work from home
If the COVID-19 pandemic has you logging in from home, now’s the time to show what you got as a remote employee. Keep track of your tasks and productivity over this time. Later, when you ask your supervisor about implementing a long-term work-from-strategy, you’ll have data on your performance to support your case.
Chances are your supervisor is also tracking how you perform while working from home. As an article in The Atlantic stated, the Coronavirus pandemic has caused many companies to launch a massive work-from-home experiment. If it goes well, they’ll be more likely to set up a long-term flexible workplace plan in the future.
That means you must:
- Complete your duties on time and effectively.
- Actively communicate with your team and superiors.
- Ask for feedback on how you can improve.
- Provide solutions to issues affecting the company.
To put it plainly, become the go-to person on the team. When you ask your supervisor about working from home permanently, they’ll remember how you came through for the company during a challenging time. And they’ll be more receptive to your ideas because of it.
Explain the “why” of working from home
You can talk about the benefits of working from home at a general level. But most supervisors will want you to get more personal. They want to know why you want to work from home.
Of course, they know it’s not only because working from home makes you more efficient. It’s also because it makes your life more convenient.
For example, you could want more workplace flexibility so you can take your kids to school. Or, you may have to care for an older relative. It could even be that you live far from the office and want to avoid the commute a few days each week.
Don’t be afraid to tell your boss any personal motivations you have. If they’re the type of boss that’s good to work for, they’ll understand.
Make a work-from-home plan
What concerns may your supervisor have about working from home? Why would they be hesitant to allow a more flexible workplace?
You have to put yourself in their shoes.
One common concern you’ll find is the fear that communication will suffer, as Monica Torres, a work-life reporter, writes. Another is the worry that productivity will suffer.
The best way to address such concerns is to make a plan. The Federal Government’s Guide to Telework lays out how to do this quite well.
To summarize, the United States Office of Personnel Management states all work-from-home strategies should focus on:
- Defining work expectations and objectives.
- Providing employees the tools to get the job done.
Furthermore, you should have an idea of whether the telework will center around a regular work schedule or vary on a case-by-case basis (i.e. whatever suits team members best). Depending on the type of work you do, you may need workers on at certain times.
For example, a remote call center would have set work hours. A digital marketing agency may not.
This is why any work-from-home strategy should be adaptable. Detail what sort of events would require coming to the office. For instance, meetings with clients certainly necessitate being in the office. Some internal issues may have to be handled in person as well.
Before beginning a permanent work-from-home strategy, each team member should agree to all the responsibilities they have. And processes should be in place to hold each other accountable.
To ensure all goes according to plan, you’ll also need the following:
A statement of purpose, goals, and expectations
This should identify the desired outcomes and intended benefits of remote work, as well as clear definitions of how it is to function. The statement should break down duties for each remote team member too.
For instance, some companies and agencies can’t go fully remote, such as health clinics. In such situations, the organization should state which work can be remotely (paperwork, billing, telehealth consultations, etc).
A training program
They say that preparation is the key to success. Show your boss how you can prepare workers for success in the remote office.
Note: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many organizations to work remotely with little preparation. This is a good time to note any obstacles your team has faced. Address those challenges when you show your boss how a permanent remote strategy would work.
An employer-employee agreement
This should clearly state team members’:
- Necessary equipment (and what the company will cover)
- Information security (you have to go over how company data will be protected)
You could use Slack to monitor project progress, Skype to chat, Zoom for video conferences, and Google Docs for work collaboration. The choices are nearly endless.
The point is this: There are lots of great tools to facilitate brainstorming, collaboration, and communication. Show your supervisor how they can improve the efficiency of your team.
A performance review system
Let your supervisor know that any flexible workplace should hold workers to the same standards as a traditional office. The good news is, with tools to monitor work productivity, there should be even greater transparency when it comes to performance reviews.
Ideally, you have someone on the team that could monitor individual teleworkers. This doesn’t have to be a dedicated role, but it will ensure accountability and fairness.
Start the conversation with your boss today. Work from home tomorrow
Now is as good of a time as ever to talk with your boss. Ask for time to discuss it, present your plan, and highlight the value of working from the home. Your boss should get the sense that working from home will make their job easier and benefit the company greatly.
Just remember: Be patient and tailor the plan to your supervisor’s needs and concerns.
Finally, even though your supervisor can test working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are you’ll go back to the office for a little bit after lockdowns end. Let this time serve as a trial run for your supervisor. And work on a more long-term plan in the meantime.
Now you have all the data and talking points. There’s only one thing left to do: Talk with your supervisor.
Best of luck. And stay safe and healthy.
By this time next year, we’ll all be working remotely in our dream destination.