Has all that talk of ‘flexible working’ made you keen to work from home? Here’s how to ask your boss…
Workplaces around the country are starting to wake up to the many benefits of offering flexible working to their staff. In fact, the LinkedIn 2019 Workplace Trends Report showed that the number of LinkedIn members who said flexi-working is very important when considering a job increased from 25% in 2013 to 31% by 2017.
That said, taking the plunge and asking your manager to work from home can often be nerve wracking. For many businesses your individual circumstances may be legitimate, but it may also then set a precedent for all employees – and that can make them less inclined to approve your request.
There are a number of things to bear in mind when broaching this topic with your boss, but above all, remember that if it doesn’t happen this time around, treat it as an ongoing conversation with your manager about how working from home could benefit both you and your company.
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Assess the situation
The first thing I’d advise doing is a bit of desk research to help make a really strong case to your manager.
Look through your calendar, check how many hours are taken up in meetings, phone calls and supervisory work that needs to be face-to-face. Then you can present this back to your manager to show that you can afford time out of the office.
It’s also worth checking your set-up at home, from the niggly tech detail like Wi-Fi speed and access to company files online, to whether you have a quiet space and a proper desk - chances are you’ll be quizzed on it.
There are also resources on LinkedIn which can help get you in the mindset for working at home, like a LinkedIn Learning Course on time management for those working at home and remote working more generally.
Identify why you want to work from home – and the benefits for your company
The vast majority of employers genuinely want you to be happy with your working arrangements, as this boosts productivity and helps with long-term retention. So turn the benefits on their head and think about how they are positive for your company, and don’t just list out all the reasons working from home is convenient for you!
Good examples would be reduced commuting time will mean you’re less tired throughout the week, and time away from the office to focus will mean your tasks could be done quicker and to a higher standard.
Consider your answers to the following:
- How would you do your job better?
- Would you be more productive in some ways, and why is that?
- Would you be better able to focus, and would you be able to drill down into projects without interruption?
- Would you be able to work hours that better accommodate your company?
- If you’re able to skip your commute, could you start working earlier?
If you’re asking to work from home due to family commitments, likelihood is your manager has gone through the same thing too, or knows someone who has, and will empathise with the challenges of balancing work and family life. The business case for flexible working for parents is something we’ve seen Anna Whitehouse, AKA Mother Pukka, share on LinkedIn.
Speak to your network
Chances are you currently know at least one person who takes advantage of working from home, so speak to colleagues, friends or connections on LinkedIn about their experiences and any hurdles they faced. Their insight will be invaluable but the support should give you a nice confidence boost before asking to speak to your manager.
Know your rights
The government’s rules and regulations on flexible working can be found here. It’s a good idea to give them a read and acquaint yourself with the finer details before making a request.
Arm yourself with a draft schedule
The devil is in the detail. If you are proposing to start the day earlier, end the day later, or another change from your normal schedule, work out how your remote work schedule will allow you to be available when needed. Note whether you’ll be in the office for regular meetings or, if not, how you plan to attend them remotely.
How will your boss manage you?
How will you communicate with your team? And, perhaps most importantly of all, how will you let your boss know that you are being productive? Suggest clear ways for your boss to monitor your performance, such as setting weekly goals and reports on your progress. This may help them to alleviate any fears that they will be losing control.
Ask in person, not via email
A working from home request should be made in person – and you should come armed with your research, to ensure that you’re ready to lead the conversation. Talk through your proposal and give them a copy of your drafted remote working plan to take away after the meeting.
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Listen to their concerns
Remember that it is natural your boss will flag concerns. It’s a good idea to consider what these may be in advance and prepare your response, so that you don’t feel blindsided. For example, your boss may worry that they will find it hard to monitor output while you’re out of the office. Suggest working from home on a trial basis, with regular catch-ups, to ensure you are meeting fear that if they allow you to work remotely, they will have to make the same allowance for all members of staff.
Or, if they fear that allowing you to work from home will mean they have to do the same for everyone else, remind them of the benefits of flexible working: happier employees, increased productivity, higher staff retention. Suggest that they – depending on the results of your trial – offer flexible working more widely as a perk to help employees feel happier and be more productive (and remind them that all requests should – as stated on the Gov.uk website – be considered on an individual basis, and handled in a reasonable manner).
Prepare for disappointment
It’s natural to be disappointed – but don’t allow your manager’s initial reaction to dissuade you just yet. Remember, negotiation is always uncomfortable and, if you don’t get what you want this time around, it should be treated as an ongoing conversation with your boss. And, if working from home is really important to you, it may be worth considering the fact that this company’s culture isn’t right for you. Keep an eye on LinkedIn for remote working opportunities, and you may find a company that proves a better fit.
Darain Faraz is a LinkedIn Careers Expert.