So you want the remote job of your dreams?
We've all recently gone through a rather intense crash course in working from home. Typically when you get a remote job, it's with a company that is designed around remote work. Communication lines, organizational SOP's, all kinds of things that make the learning process easy. Many of you did not have this luxury when the Coronavirus reared its ugly head earlier this year. Zapier conducted a work from home report that concluded ⅔ of Americans who were required to work from home during the pandemic were eager to go back to the office.
But the question remains- how are the ⅓ of you feeling now that things have begun to ease up and are starting to go back to "normal"? Many major companies are adjusting their views on remote work and allowing employees to continue to work remotely if they choose so, but what about if your company hasn't? The only thing you can do is ask. If you're going to ask for such a significant exception, you need to make sure you have a strong case prepared. This week we've put together a list of the top five things you need to know if you want to continue to work from home.
1- Be sure that you have the right personality for long term remote work.
Sleekform is an entirely remote company, so we know something about working and hiring remotely. The one major thing we've observed over time is that remote work is not for everyone. It is very much up to your personality type, whether or not you will succeed at it. This article by the BBC explains why some personalities can adapt faster than others. If you're considering working remotely full time, you must make sure you are self-disciplined, an over communicator, and someone who is okay with spending most of your time alone.
Things to also consider is that working remotely won't feel the same once all your colleagues go back to the office:
- During the work from home mandate, you aren't missing out on any of the perks of working at the office.
- You'll not only miss social gatherings, but also any impromptu conversations and decisions. You'll have to be the one who takes the reins on ensuring that they remember to loop you in all that information and remember to call you in during official meetings.
- You were likely used to your spouse or your kids being around during the day- this is going to be very different when their routines go back to normal. You have to be prepared for your feelings of social isolation increasing (oddly). You're bound to lose the sense of WFH comradery you may have developed.
2- Be able to demonstrate you're more productive from home.
If your employer has not come right out and offered you the opportunity to continue working from home, you're going to need to have airtight evidence that it's going to benefit them to have you working out of the office.
Once you're sure you want to work remotely, you're going to need to prepare to submit a formal proposal. Make sure that your argument is specific to you and your work with their company. Don't rely on general statistics to support your case—it doesn't matter if X percent of people are more productive working from home. It's going to be vital for you to show that you are more productive working from home. For example, when you were working in the office, it took you two hours to do a given task, but since working from home, it's only been taking you 45 minutes on average.
It's one thing to tell your manager that you work better with fewer distractions. It's another to have data to back that up. Time yourself doing specific tasks and record metrics for crucial key performance indicators (KPIs). Create a visual chart that compares your in-office productivity to your WFH productivity. Make it easy for them to understand; the simpler, the better. The facts should speak for themselves.
3- Prove how remote work will fit with the existing company culture.
If your employer is not immediately WFH friendly, there's a good chance that they believe it just means you want to work in your PJ's and have Netflix on in the background while you distractedly complete tasks. You're going to have to prove that your WFH routine fits the rest of the company's culture.
Some easy ways to accomplish this:
- Show up to meetings on time- It's easy for people who work remotely to show up late. Whether they snoozed notifications and forgot, or went for a walk and didn't get back on time, you need to make sure in the weeks leading up to submitting your request, you are hopping onto your calls on time.
- Over-communicate- When it comes to remote work, if you feel like you're communicating enough, you are likely communicating only the bare minimum. Update your slack status throughout the day to tell people when you've gone for lunch when you're in a meeting when you're writing/completing tasks. When you submit a task, create a bulleted list of the highlights. Update your boss at the end of every day with everything you accomplished. If you feel like you're being annoying, you're doing it right.
- Set up a perfect WFH workspace- If you're going to be working from home, you need to make sure you have a dedicated workspace. Your boss is going to question your ability to be productive long term if you're working from the dining room table or the couch. You need a proper desk and ergonomic chair and, if possible, to close the door to the rest of your household.
4-Be prepared for pushback.
While creating your argument for continuing to work from home, try and anticipate the questions your boss is going to ask and any potential pushback from them and work to come up with the answers before broaching the subject with them.
A few questions you're likely going to get from them:
- How will you attend team meetings?
- How can the team reach you if they have questions?
- What will your schedule look like?
- How will I know that you're working?
- How will you stay connected to the team socially?
Your answers will depend on your specific situation, so when preparing your argument, have it be specific. What are the current problems your company faces? How will you ensure you being out of the office won't contribute to those problems? How will it help lighten the load?
5- Be prepared for "No".
As with anything in life, there's a chance your employer will say 'No' and you're going to need to be prepared for that. Since you're the only person who knows your boss, it'll be up to you if that 'No' is final or if there will be wiggle room for you to pivot your argument and ask again at another time.
If the answer truly is no, you do still have a few options. You could merely forget about it and just head back to the office. You could broach the subject of working some of the time remotely, whether that's a few days per week or month or some set number of months out of the year. Or there's always the possibility that it's a total deal-breaker for you, and you can start looking for remote work elsewhere.
Are you part of ⅓ of people who have been loving remote work? Are you considering asking your boss to allow you to work remotely full time? Have you already asked? We want to hear from you! Tell us about your WFH experience. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a line in the comments below.