Over the past few months, working from home has become the norm for a great deal of the US workforce.
According to data cited by FlexJobs, before March, 4.9 percent of American workers worked from home full time, but that number quickly jumped to 63 percent of US employees by the end of April. Major tech companies have also adjusted their policies toward working from home. Facebook is planning to permanently allow employees to work remotely, Google will give the option until at least July 2021, and Microsoft until at least January.
While some people are clamoring to get back to the office, whether that's because they miss seeing their co-workers or simply feel more productive outside home, others have come to appreciate the perk of not having to commute to work. Never mind the people who will have difficulties returning to the office, such as those with young children or health conditions.
If your employer is planning for an eventual return to the office, but you’d rather keep working from home, here is a five-step guide to coming to an agreement with your boss, courtesy of Brie Reynolds, a career development manager and coach at FlexJobs.
5. Schedule a meeting.
“It helps to ask for a specific meeting to discuss this concern rather than trying to squeeze it into an already existing meeting or to bring it up impromptu,” Reynolds said. “This gives you time to prepare your talking points so you'll be able to make your case calmly that working from home is the best approach for you and the company right now.”
4. Get the right people in the room.
“Ask your manager and potentially HR, depending on who the decision-makers may be, and your company's structure to set up some time to talk with them about the plans to re-open the office or to return people to work,” Reynolds said.
3. Prepare talking points.
“During this meeting, you should have some key talking points ready to go,” Reynolds said. “These may include your reasons for wanting to continue working from home and why you may not feel safe, your productivity and efficiency working remotely for the past four months, and an overview of what it might look like if you were to continue working remotely. This can include efficiencies and time savings, increased productivity, ability to do your job better because of the flexibility of working different hours, and other factors.”
2. Don’t worry about getting personal.
“If your personal needs require you to continue working from home because you feel unsafe returning to an office, you or a family member has a health issue, your child’s summer camps are closed, school will be partially remote in the fall, your parents need additional caregiving, or for any reason, it may be acceptable to explain your situation to your manager or HR and ask them for a continued work-from-home arrangement as an accommodation,” Reynolds said. “Many workplaces have become more open to discussing personal needs now that so many people have been forced to combine work and life under one roof.”
1. Show how you’ll remain part of the team.
“Have a plan in place for how you'll stay a connected, active part of your team even if you're at home when others are in the office,” Reynolds said. “Being able to show the employer what it might look like if you stay home can help them grasp the situation and hopefully approve your request.”