Imagine being able to work from home, or better yet, in an entirely different country! Working with your laptop on a balcony, sipping coffee and munching on fresh fruit in sunny Greece would be the dream. But does it sound too good to be true?
More and more workers are leaving brick-and-mortar workplaces in search of remote work. According to some research, 62% of the US workforce already work remotely to some degree, with millennials, who are set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2020, driving this change. Faster internet, better communication and collaboration technologies are all making remote work more streamlined than ever.
Sounds great, you say, but my boss will never let me do that.
But remote work has benefits for your boss too. Research is already proving that people who work from home are a lot more productive than those who remain in the office. Companies also save on the huge overheads that keeping large office spaces require – as stationary, furniture and technology costs all add up. It’s also a great way to reduce a company’s carbon footprint; not only do they save energy but employees also don’t have to make the commute to and from the office, potentially taking a car off the roads.
It’s important to remember what benefits you also benefits your company. Remote workers are happier and more balanced in life, which means they love their jobs.
So how can you talk your boss into letting you work remotely? Here are 5 steps you should try that should at least put you on the right track.
1. Kick ass in the office and online
One step is to take a look around your office right now and think about whether you could take it all with you in a laptop. If you’re a surgeon, for example, you might be out of luck; remote surgery using the arrow keys on your laptop is not quite here yet!
If you have a lot of documents lying around, consider whether you can upload them all to a cloud server. Work regularly in close contact with your team? See if you can shift your work online while you’re still in the office, by using Google Documents, inVision or other collaborative platforms. Hook your team up to project management software, such as Asana or Trello, and messaging platforms such as Slack, so everyone can keep updated with your work. It’s a good idea to migrate onto these platforms early to make sure your team adapts to the software before you leave.
Take a good hard look at your own performance. If you’ve been lagging behind, then let’s be real, your boss may not trust having you out of their sight. In order for management to feel comfortable with you not being around, you need to have shown a proclivity for independence, proactiveness and ownership of your work, which are traits you’ll carry outside the office.
2. Communicate the value of your time
If you’re able to quantify your worth the company in something more than sheer house of work put in – like pointing out how much revenue you generate – you’ll be able to leverage that when you negotiate for remote work.
Let your boss know how much you currently get done, then posit how much more you could get done at home, with no distractions and no time wasted commuting to and from the office. It’s all about how you sell it!
3. Give it a trial run
Often managers just need to be warmed up to an idea. Just as many companies won’t try to sell you software without at least giving you a free trial, you’ll have a much easier time convincing your boss if you can prove to them the arrangement can work.
Start slow. Try asking your boss for one-day a week remote, and to trial the arrangement for a month. Make sure you communicate with your boss at all times, making sure they’re up-to-date. At first, they might want to micro-manage you, but that’s because they’re trying to adjust too. If things go well, then step it up to several days a week, or one week a month, and before you know it, you’ll be spending more time at home than at the office!
Don’t see your boss letting you go at all? Tim Ferris, the author of the 4-Hour Work Week, suggests pulling a sickie. But instead of curling up in bed with your blinds closed, try to smash out as much work as you can. That way, you can come into work the next day and tell your boss something along the lines of, ‘I was really sick yesterday but I knew we had a lot of work so look at what I got done’. This proves to your boss you can at least be independent and proactive, which is a good start for negotiations!
4. Set up a remote desktop
Sometimes, companies are reluctant to allow their employees to work remotely because of the sensitive information they possess. Other times, it’s because the office has technology that isn’t usually available in homes. That’s where being proactive comes into play!
Make sure you do your research and figure out if using remote desktop services, or security software, such as LastPass, can solve these problems. A remote desktop service might allow you to access your work computer from home, giving access to things only available at work, whilst security software will give you secure access to systems without actually having to type in passwords.
When it does come to working remotely, exercise caution and common sense. Try working in an office, not in a cafe where people can overhear sensitive phone calls, or see information on your screen. Don’t boast to your friends about working at home by sending them selfies with your work in the background – people have been fired for less than that! The key is to be extra mindful because you aren’t always going to be in such a controlled environment.
5. Promise transparency
In the end, the most important thing is transparency. Your boss will appreciate it if you’re transparent about why you want to work remotely, and how you plan to spend your days. Let them know how they can contact you and be open to how flexible they want you to be. After all, deadlines are deadlines, even if you’re working at 10 pm on a Friday night or through the weekend!
While you are working remotely, make sure you’re transparent about your work, your hours and your progress. You need to not only hold yourself accountable, but also your team accountable and vice versa. At risk of sounding like a relationship counsellor – you all need to communicate!