Working from home can actually increase your productivity. Getty Images / Karen Hatch While there is a very logical argument to be made in favor of working from home, many people equate remote work to a lack of productivity and laziness.
It’s a tricky subject, and a little preparation before presenting the idea to your boss will go a long way.
Contrary to popular belief, the switch from an office to working from home can actually lead to significant increases in productivity.
Working via a remote model carries the extra advantages of enabling you to do everything from spending more time with your family to having the freedom to travel the world.
Regardless of your motivations, here are some tips for breaching the subject with your boss.
1. Ask yourself: Am I prepared?
Working from home sounds ideal, but it is actually not for everyone. Some people crave the structure of an office environment, and if so, self-management can prove difficult. Before breaching the subject with your boss, you want to decide if the option is really a good one for you personally.
Although you can always switch back into the office, a poor experience with an at-home employee can cause your boss to hesitate before giving others the same option. Additionally, not all jobs are suited for remote work, so you will have to take your specific role into consideration.
Before considering your argument, ask yourself the following questions:
- How much time do you spend in work meetings?
- Are you capable of performing all of your duties from outside of the office?
- Would you have all the equipment you need in your home office?
- Can your company accommodate employees who work from home?
- Do you have a strong track record of reliability and high work ethic?
2. Give the right reasons
The reasons you want to work from home might actually be travel flexibility or more time with the kids, but you don’t necessarily want to give those to your boss. If you have a legitimate issue, such as a sick spouse, a long or expensive commute, or an ailing parent, that might be fine, but do not simply argue that you would be happier in a home work environment.
Instead, try to highlight the beneficial parts of working from home to your boss. For instance, remote workers turn out to be more engaged in their work, according to Harvard Business Review.
It also helps to focus on results instead of action. With fewer office distractions, you might be able to reach more goals and be more productive without necessarily coming into the office every day. And that is what they hired you for, right?
3. Suggest a trial period
If your boss is still on the fence after this conversation, suggest a trial period. This will give you the chance to prove your argument, and once your boss sees how productive you are, it will be hard for them to deny future work from home.
If your boss does grant you a trial period, the responsibility then falls on you. Once you’ve been given the green light to work from home, show your boss that you will complete more projects, achieve better results, and accomplish more tasks through your at-home work.
4. Be flexible
Although many employers are becoming more open to working from home, each company seems to have a different system. If you want to work from home full-time but your boss won’t budge, try suggesting two or three days a week where you work from home. Like a trial period, this will give you the chance to prove your effectiveness in an at-home environment.
Another possible arrangement is to work from home primarily, while continuing to attend any required in-office meetings. This can be a huge help to those with long commutes, since rush hour traffic can be avoided by going into the office at odd times during the day.
You can also propose the option of attending meetings virtually. With communication tools like Skype and Google Hangout, you can tune in to meetings while sitting almost anywhere in the world. If your employer is still skeptical, try citing successful companies like Toptal or Auttomatic that operate on a completely remote model.
5. Go into the argument from your employer’s perspective
As mentioned before, your goal in this conversation is not to convince your employer that you will be happier working from home. Instead, you should concentrate on your employer’s interests first.
By focusing on the following reasons, you can convince your boss that working from home is just as beneficial for the company as it would be for you:
- Working from home increases productivity.
- Working from home reduces overhead office costs.
- Working from home helps businesses retain top talent.
- Employees who work from home take fewer sick days.
- Without a commute, employees who work from home can work longer.
6. Prove yourself
This is the most important piece of advice, so I will say it again: Prove yourself. If you are given the opportunity to work from home, give your job your 110%. Make sure you continue to answer your phone and respond to emails or messages. Instead of simply meeting deadlines, prove you can beat them with the benefits of a distraction-free work environment.
If you remain as available, or even more available, as you were in the office, you can show that there is no risk involved in allowing you to work from home.
Remain productive by setting aside an area of your house that you only use for work. Do some introspection and figure out your ideal working environment. Besides physical space, also consider your schedule and what time of day you work best. Additionally, if the majority of your team is still in an office, it can be important to make sure your schedule continues to overlap with theirs.