Work-from-Home (WFH) arrangements started becoming the norm more than a year ago, but as Covid-19 vaccination programmes are rolled out, more and more companies are making their employees return to the office. While some are offering flexible work arrangements, others are working towards returning to pre-Covid norms.
While a sizeable number of experts have predicted the demise of rigid working hours in the office, we are, unfortunately, not quite there yet.
When considering job offers, candidates who prefer working from home often ask if the prospective employer would allow them to do so either all week or at least, for most of the week. If the answer is ‘no’, it’s not the end of the world.
There’s always room for you to make a case for WFH arrangements.
1. Find out What Matters to the Hiring Manager and Organisation
Do your research to find out why the hiring manager and organisation are resistant to WFH arrangements. Speak to current employees or people who’ve worked there before. They could shed light on specific reasons. These would give you a clearer picture of the concerns you must address as you build your case for WFH.
2. Make it about the Organisation
Your reasons for wanting to work from home might very well be valid, but don’t expect your employer to be convinced. Instead, make a case for how such arrangements would benefit the organisation.
As far as possible, use data-driven insights to address their concerns. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes and approach the discussion with a win-win solution in mind.
Perhaps your job is better done in a quiet environment where you’re likely to be undisturbed for many hours. Illustrate how remote work would allow you to be more effective and productive, and how this, in turn, would benefit the whole organisation. Among other things, this should include increased morale and/or revenue gains. Be prepared to explain that your remote status is not likely to negatively affect your colleagues and explain how you would approach collaborative projects remotely. In a nutshell, address how WFH arrangements would benefit your boss, your team and your performance.
All of this should be presented in the form of a written proposal. This would help the hiring manager communicate it more easily to other stakeholders.
3. Suggest an Experiment
If the company remains resistant, suggest a trial period. This would allow you and your manager to reassess the situation if WFH arrangements end up having a negative impact on your boss, your team or your performance. Do your own analysis during this period and report your findings to your boss. If there are problems, suggest ways to fix them. In the absence of solutions, you’re likely to be asked to return to the office.
4. Be Flexible
Since you’re asking for flexibility, you need to be flexible too. If the company is known for being traditional and rigid, you are not likely to receive a positive response immediately. Such companies usually worry that granting your request would result in other staff asking for similar arrangements. This would require management to assess the suitability of WFH arrangements for a range of job roles. Their experiences of WFH during Covid-19 could have made them either more open and equipped to do so, or the opposite. Be prepared to provide a backup plan or two if they ask for more time to consider your proposal.
5. Be Willing to Compromise
Perhaps you would like to WFH 90 per cent of the time, but the hiring manager is only willing to allow 40 per cent. If it’s a job you really want, you should consider a compromise. If you can show that you are able to produce exemplary work remotely, you might very well succeed in getting what you want a few months into the job.