I Discovered I Like Working from Home: How to Talk to Your Boss about Making It Permanent
With thousands of people forced to work from home in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID-19, many workers are experiencing for the first time what it is like to turn a living room into an office—and discovering that they like it!
So, when offices are finally able to allow workers to return, what’s the best way to talk to your boss about making your work-from-home situation permanent?
Draw up a plan
There’s nothing “usual” about the situation most workers are finding themselves nowadays. But it’s important to try and envision what working from home during normal circumstances would look like for you. Are you aiming to work from home 100 percent of the time? Commuting to the office just one or two days per week? How would that logistically work if all your coworkers do go back to the office? Imagine what your ideal scenario would look like and remember the most important thing: Be flexible. The last thing you want is to approach your boss with what she could interpret as a list of demands.
After reviewing your plan, brainstorm any and all objections your boss might have to it—along with possible solutions to those objections. One of the biggest concerns he might have is how (and how often) you will keep in touch with the rest of the office. Harvard Business Review suggests you give serious consideration to “the optics” of working from home: In other words, you need to make sure your boss and fellow coworkers don’t view the days you work from home as additional “off” days, but instead are able to see the progress you’re making from home (whether via phone, email, or some other method of communication).
Use the current situation to your advantage
Many workers have found themselves unceremoniously thrust into a working-from-home situation, so use your personal experience as evidence of your home-based productivity. Keep track of projects completed, reports written, etc. during this tumultuous time. Then bring that up as proof you’re capable of being an efficient and focused worker even when you’re not coming into the office—or, better yet, that you’re an even more efficient and focused worker when not coming into the office. After all, no commute means more time for actual working!
Suggest a probationary period
While normally a trial run of working from home would be helpful, chances are that in the midst of this quarantine, you already are performing a trial run. Therefore, you can instead suggest to your boss you continue working from home even after the government mandates are over and revisit the topic in one or two months to see how your performance has fared. This will give you an opportunity to assess what working from home will be like when other people are back in the office and adjust as needed. In the meantime, Forbes suggests “presenting your boss with a list of what you accomplished last week and your to-do list for the coming one” in order to reassure her you’re sticking to your normal schedule.
Don’t demand an answer right away
The situation is going to be a bit hectic once people start returning to the office, so don’t pressure your boss into an answer as soon as you broach the topic of permanently working from home. Approach them with your plan and anticipated roadblocks, then back off for a bit. He may need time to think it over or perhaps get approval from higher ups in the company, so don’t push your agenda too hard.
When all is said and done, have confidence you made your case well—and patience to allow the idea to take hold. Working from home has already seen a sharp increase in popularity within the last few years, so it is possible to turn this highly unusual situation into your new normal.