Careers advice

How to pitch working from home to your boss

Unwilling to give up remote working entirely? Here’s how to sell the idea to your boss

Covid-19 has expedited a global employment trend that was on the rise long before the virus struck – working from home.

While Level 1 means that all NZ employees can now return to workplaces without worrying about social distancing, some may be unwilling to give up remote working for good.

So, if you’re looking to continue working from home, at least in part, how can you sell the idea to your manager?

How do you convince your boss to let you work from home?

1. Know why you want to work remotely

Before you start trying to convince other people, you first need to convince yourself you’re doing this for the ‘right’ reasons.

For example, if you’re hoping to continue with that extra bit of Xbox time you’ve been sneaking into your workday, this probably isn’t going to cut it from your employer’s perspective. However, if remote working allowed you to get more done due to reduced distractions, you may find your manager is more receptive to the idea.

Another powerful argument is personal/professional development. There’s been a global uplift in online learning since lockdowns were enacted, and if you’re keen to exchange commuting time for learning time, this will likely play well with your people leader.

Work out why working from home is beneficial for you, and the organisation.

2. Focus on the organisational benefits

The real meat of your argument should be in what the business stands to gain.

Even if your direct manager is happy for you to work from home, they may have to clear it with their superiors, and this is where data to back up your proposals can be invaluable.

Data? What data?

Collect some facts and figures from your time remote working during lockdown. Were there noticeable positive trends in your productivity – for example, number of projects completed or number of client calls made? If so, this points to the benefits of working from home in your case.

On top of increased productivity and improved morale, other benefits for businesses that can come with remote working include:

  • Reduced expenses: due to savings on things like equipment, office space and power.
  • Decreased carbon footprint: we all saw how reduced commuting led to improvements in our environment, and being environmentally-friendly is increasingly important for businesses.
  • Talent attraction: being seen as a flexible employer can help organisations attract top talent, and retain those they’ve already got.

3. Come equipped with a plan

Don’t just dump your desire for remote working on their desk without any indication of how you see the arrangement functioning. If they see you working remotely as a whole heap of administrative legwork, they’re much less likely to say yes.

Your remote working plan should include:

  • When you will be onsite: if you’re only seeking to work from home part-time, have a proposal for which days of the week this will happen.
  • Processes: if your working from home will require changes in how certain processes (for example, meetings) function, offer to help draw up policy documents to smooth this transition.
  • Communication: how will team members be able to reach you when you’re working from home? This might include making a commitment to respond to all team emails/messages within a certain time frame.

Have an actionable proposal you can show your boss.

4. Have a two-way conversation

Remember, you’re making a request not a decision. Unless it’s written into your employment agreement, your boss has no obligation to allow you to work from home, so approach this conversation with an open mind.

Don’t:

  • Get defensive: the best way to deal with pushback on your idea is to properly address what they’re saying, and how you could overcome the problems they’re worried about.
  • Take an all or nothing approach: for example, if you wanted to work remotely two days per week, but the boss is only comfortable with one, take this for now. Be prepared to compromise.
  • Blast them with facts: while having data to back up your proposal shows you’ve put time into this idea, you’re not giving a lecture. One or two carefully crafted points will be far more effective than a long stream of tenuous arguments.
  • Expect an answer straight away: your boss will likely want to think about what you’re suggesting or discuss it with their peers, so don’t push for an answer straight away.

5. Prepare for a trial run

There’s a good chance your boss will want to trial the remote working arrangement before they give permanent sign off.

If this happens, be enthusiastic and give it your all – the fact you’ve pushed your idea this far is a great sign, you just need to prove that it really can work.

Bonus tip: take opportunities for unofficial trial runs. In the era of Covid, we shouldn’t be coming to work sick, so if you’re feeling under the weather but are well enough to work, suggest you do so from home. Every time such an arrangement functions well, you’re bolstering your case for remote working.