There are situations in life when its advisable to switch to working from home rather than working in your physical office location. Family situations may have changed or there might be difficulties due to covid that makes it safer to simply work from home.
If you have in-demand job skills, ask your employer about working from home either before the start of employment or after working in the company for more than a year. Waiting for atleast an year will ensure that you’ve had sufficient opportunities to prove your capabilities, or in the beginning, you can choose the right job with a work from home option.
Though work from home is usually great for personal life, it may not always work well professionally. So its best to be aware of all the issues and concerns and to address all of them with your manager before switching to work from home.
Negotiating Work From Home With Your Employer
Most employers prefer having employees working onsite but the recent pandemic has changed all that. Previously many employers were reluctant but the possibility is a whole lot greater now of securing atleast a temporary work from home arrangement.
During the covid lockdowns, many companies asked their employees to work from home for about an year or longer in some cases. But post-covid, its highly likely that your boss will expect you to show up to the office on a more regular basis.
Now with social distancing becoming a norm, offices in crowded places with small desks might be forced to accept a hybrid setup with work from home option for one or more days every week.
So in case you are unable to get your boss to agree to a longer-term work from home setup, try for a couple of days a week or atleast a few days work from home every month. It will help if you have a valid personal reason or health reason for such a request, so you can more easily convince your boss that this work arrangement is in everyone’s best interests.
In my case, even long before the pandemic, I’ve been able to gently but seriously request and succeed at getting a recurring work from home option approved by my manager. I would start with how much I love my work and all the great successes we’ve had as a team.
Then I would discuss how my longer commute is affecting my family and my personal life. I would also be sure to mention that saving a few hours each week in commute will add up to more work productivity due to the extra time saved.
In smaller companies, this approach worked perfectly and I got the approval for work from home for a couple of days each week. But whenever critical project deadlines were very close together, or in another much larger company, I was once told to hold-off on this thought for the time being.
So be prepared for a ‘No’ and don’t think of it as a huge setback if your request does not get an immediate ‘Yes’. Most likely your boss will remember your discussion and come back and let you work from home at a later time when the work schedules slow down a bit.
Work From Home Due To Personal Reasons
A lot depends on your job description and what you were hired for. If your work interactions are simple and you only need to communicate with your own team, emails and online chats might work perfectly well. This is provided you’ve been accustomed to working with this team for long enough such that everyone is comfortable working together.
But sometimes, your immediate boss may accommodate it but the department or company culture might require you to show up physically to the workplace. How other teams in your department function may also affect how your position will be viewed for the possibility of remote work.
For best results, simply choose a work from home or remote job in a high demand industry or occupation. Then you will be able to work from home without any major reduction in your pay scale or salary.
In smaller companies, managers might be more accommodating with their top performers since they want to retain their top talent at all costs. In such a case, disclosing to your boss that you have a genuine personal reason for the work from home will help resolve any misunderstanding. It’s usually easier to get the approval for work from home if you are able to guarantee that you will still show up to the office for important weekly or monthly meetings.
Once you are approved for the work from home, there will still be a period of a month or more when your manager may test things to see to it there is no impact to your work productivity.
Sometimes, even with a friendly boss, the level of company or team politics or competition among team members can dictate the quality of work you are assigned upon going for working from home.
In my case, my manager started assigning me harder, grunt work that required less team interaction once I started to work from home. My status in the company, my salary and bonuses remained unaffected so I was ok with these changes.
But what made things worse was that a colleague I worked with closely started pushing my boss for the best projects and tasks and this sometimes got a bit uncomfortable. Whenever that happened, I would speak privately to my boss and raise my concerns in a calm and polite manner to get things resolved.
So, as long as you’re ok with some to-be-expected changes in people’s behavior once you work from home, and if you can start calm and handle your work well remotely, everything will work out just fine.
Request For Work From Home Due To Covid
If someone in your family or extended family or close friend had gotten sick from covid, it is definitely possible to request a few weeks or more of work from home for health and safety reasons.
The same goes if there is a strict lockdown in effect and everyone is having to work from home. In this situation, a longer-term work from home for many months is definitely doable.
But if there is no general lockdown and there is no apparent risk of your interaction with anyone sick, asking for work from home just as a preference may not be seen positively by your boss or manager. The only exception is if everyone in your team is already doing a lot of work from home, in which case, it will be all smooth-sailing for you to work from home for the long term.
In a number of companies, employees are required to be vaccinated. But if you have a valid personal or religious reason for not getting vaccinated, it might be perfectly alright and probably preferable for you to work from home. This again depends on how accommodating your company management is towards accommodating employee’s personal belief systems.
For this condition to not impact your job negatively, one or more of the following will need to exist:
1) Your job and skills must be in high demand and it must not be easy to find any suitable replacement.
2) Your company and your immediate manager must take your personal and religious preferences very seriously.
In some cases, your boss will be perfectly ok for you to work from home temporarily but may come back later on and give you the option to be demoted/ moved to another team or replaced once s/he finds some other candidate with comparable skills.
How To Ask To Work Remotely Permanently
For a permanent work from home situation, my best advice for you is to find a remote job or a work from home job. There are many companies that provide remote job openings for one or more of the following reasons:
1) The skills are in high demand and it’s not possible to find a candidate with the required skills locally.
2) The money or budget for the position is tight and wage arbitrage is needed to find a candidate with the required skills in a different country or location with lower costs and employee salaries.
Also, before ever requesting for work from home, just mentally reconsider if putting in a work-from-home request would be possible in your present company or in your present position. In the worst case, you certainly don’t want to be in a position where you ask for it, the request gets rejected but is somehow misunderstood as your lack of interest in your work or in being present at the office.
So review your job and office situation thoroughly before bringing it up with your manager. If possible, speak with a close colleague who knows you well and who has been in the company long enough to advice you intelligently about this.
Switching To Work From Home
The number 1 factor to consider when moving to work from home is your home office setup. For a long term work from home, you compulsorily need to have a dedicated room in your house that can be used primarily for office work during your work hours.
A fast and reliable internet connection will also be required so you can keep in regular communication with your boss and colleagues.
Also, manage your time well and always be available and present and just a quick phone call or online chat away if a colleague needs to reach you urgently.
I’ve known some friends who were asked to work from home in a sales position which required frequent visits to client sites. So some sales positions or positions with frequent travel may be more conducive to work from home, but this again can change from one company to another.
Request Letter For Work From Home
When you first communicate with your manager about your interest in working from home, make sure to have a private face-to-face discussion initially. This will ensure that you understand each other’s viewpoints clearly so that there are no misunderstandings.
But if your boss requires a formal letter from you to share with his/ her bosses or with the HR, you can simply state what you spoke about and write that in a formal letter. Be sure to take your time with this letter, as anything in writing is likely to be reviewed multiple times.
In the letter, be sure to mention all the advantages to the company and team from your increase in productivity upon working from home.
Also, in your letter, propose a trial period of a few weeks for everyone to see if the work from home improves team productivity before it is finally made permanent. This one factor can actually win over many colleagues and then it will be up to you to ensure that your work productivity goes way up when you start to work from home.
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