After more than a year of working from home, some people are looking forward to returning to the office, catching up with colleagues and saying goodbye to their less than ideal at-home desk set-ups – but not everybody.
New research shows that 45% of UK workers are extremely or very interested in making the switch to permanent homeworking. The RADA Business New Art of Business Report found that the most common benefits cited were saving time (58%), saving money (54%), having more flexibility (50%) and spending more time with family (42%). Wellbeing was also a factor, with 35% saying they have more rest and 25% adopting healthier habits.
Whatever the reason, if you think you’d be happier working from home full-time, the first step is to have a conversation with your manager. We asked careers experts for their advice on how to get the ball rolling…
1. Give your boss a heads up
Every UK employee has the right to request flexible working if they’ve worked at the company for 26 weeks (find the full government guidelines on the gov.uk website). When you request a meeting with your manager, be sure to tell them what you want to discuss.
“This should help ensure that you both come armed to the meeting with all the info you need, ensuring the finer details are ready to be discussed as opposed to needing to schedule a second meeting,” says LinkedIn careers expert Charlotte Davies. “It’s likely that others may have asked the same question of your employer, so the meeting may not be as tricky as you think it will be.”
2. Start with the positives
“Working from home can be hugely beneficial for businesses and employees. It promotes flexibility and geographical freedom as well as supports concentration for people who find the chatter of the office distracting,” says Darren Jaffrey, general manager (EMEA and APAC) for HireVue. “If working from home helps you, don’t be afraid to ask and be confident in your reasoning.”
Start by highlighting the benefits for the business rather than rattling off all the reasons your life would be much better if you didn’t have to commute to the office.
“Work on a ‘win win’ plan for you, the team, the leader and the organization and try to quantify it – remember an office seat in London costs around £20k per year,” says Andrew Mawson, director at global consultancy Advanced Workplace.
“Seek confirmation from your manager that the standard and quality of your work has been good [during the pandemic]. Discuss how the experience has been for him/her, explain what you’d like to do in the future and why and how you see it working in practice.”
3. Offer solutions
“Be honest,” says Jaffrey, and don’t try to downplay or gloss over any downsides. “Outline your responsibilities and make note of the ones more difficult to complete at home as well as those made easier for full transparency.”
Consider why your manager might object to your request and “prepare for their reservations or questions with solutions, such as regular catch-up meetings or shared tasks lists.”
Mawson says suggesting things like “a weekly or daily Zoom call to stay in the loop, or a monthly visit to the office” can reassure employers.
4. Create an informal agreement
According to government guidelines, employers have three months to respond to a flexible working request. If your boss has given you the go ahead, it may help to create a written agreement setting out how the arrangement with work.
“Have a plan of action on how the day to day will work if you remain working from home, but your team are in the office,” says Davies. “Putting some time in to think about how you best see this working for your team will help reassure your employer that you’ve given this proactive thought.”
Mawson suggests drawing up a ‘working together agreement’ in writing between “yourself, your leader and the rest of the team, so that everyone’s clear on the rules of the road.”