Do you wish you could work from home? It may seem like a dream, but 24 percent of employed people are working from home at least some of the time, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So how did they go from in-office employees to remote-working professionals? The first step for traditional employees, meaning employees who don’t work from home at all, is figuring out how to approach their manager (and possibly upper management) with the request. Here are five tips to help you take that step.
Detail Your Job Instructions and Procedures
Before you approach your boss with a request to work remotely, see which processes can be done outside the office and which must be completed on-site. When Jessica Stewart, a director of business and financial processes in the fitness industry, considered a remote career, she knew she’d need to streamline her processes so that someone else could be trained to do her in-office tasks while she picked up additional remote responsibilities. “The first thing I did was ensure all of the repetitive tasks that I did at work had a written procedure and easy-to-follow templates. This sometimes meant me using my free time at home to set up templates and procedures. After a few months, my job was very streamlined.”
Plan Ahead With Technology
Before you present your plan to your boss, make sure all your technology works the way you need it to. Do you currently have a desktop computer at work? Will you be able to bring that home, or will your organization have to invest in a laptop for you? Does your computer have Wi-Fi capability and, if so, do you have a strong signal in your home office?
Understand Company Policies
Your company may already have a position on working from home. Look at your employee handbook and other resources for pertinent information before you approach your supervisor or coworkers. If there are specific rules for working from home, make sure you take them into account when crafting your work-from-home plan.
Know What Motivates Your Supervisors
Jessica Eley, a mindset coach who transitioned to working at home before becoming self-employed, knew she needed to consider what motivated her boss before suggesting the idea of working from home. “Understand the personality and perspective of the people you need to convince: Are they numbers-driven? Are they super logical? Are they interested in keeping quality employees happy? Then, present a case that suits them,” she said. “One person may respond to the case of you getting interrupted less by colleagues, while another may respond to you just wanting to have better work-life balance by not needing to commute so much. Ultimately, why you care about working from home is less important than why they care about you working from home.”
Create a Detailed Work-From-Home Proposal
Before making their decision, your supervisor will want to know how you expect the remote arrangement to work. Breni Rice Malpass, a human resources adviser, said, “I created a ‘proposal’ on paper and shared it with my manager. I outlined the percent of time I spent on various activities and which ones could be done remotely versus in the office and why. I also suggested it on a temporary basis so as to give them an out if it wasn’t working.”
If you’re suggesting part-time remote work, make sure to include how many hours (and on which days) you’d be in the office and at home. Be prepared to discuss what is motivating you to make the change. For example, a father may want to work from home to have more time to spend with his young children. It may be worthwhile to discuss strategies, such as the Pomodoro Technique, that you can use to keep yourself on track at home.
Even with the best laid plans, some company cultures or work situations cannot support a work from home position. But you’ll never know if yours is one of them if you don’t ask. After considering all the angles and creating your detailed plan, set up a time to talk to your manager. If working from home can improve your career, life and the balance between them, the upfront effort needed to prepare for flex work could be well worth it.