A few years ago, I inherited about a dozen new direct reports on my team at work due to a company acquisition. The plan was to completely integrate the new employees into our existing team, which included requiring them to start coming into our Charlotte and New York offices.
When we delivered the news during their new hire orientation, you could have heard a pin drop.
They had been 100% remote until that point. Some of them had never even met in person until we invited them to our headquarters for a welcome party. Almost immediately, resignations began pouring in. I scrambled to backfill their jobs with new hires who were willing to work in person.
The memory of that whole fiasco haunts me. It genuinely pains me to think of all the great talent we missed out on by sticking to the status quo — especially now that, thanks to the pandemic, I am a card-carrying member of #TeamWFH.
During the pandemic, my team proved they could be just as productive at their kitchen table as they were in their cubicles. Half my team put in requests to leave the city so they could save on living expenses and swap out their cramped apartments for more spacious digs. I approved each request and even encouraged folks who were on the fence about moving to go for it. There was no better time to push for remote working privileges when no one was going into an office anyway.
More than 7 million households moved to a different county in 2020, according to the Wall Street Journal. If you’re considering moving away from your office and going fully remote, you likely need to formally request a change from your manager. Here are a few tips on how to broach the subject.
Don’t Be Afraid To Make It Personal
For many workers, remote working offers numerous benefits, like better work-life balance (a 2020 study by FlexWork found that 73% found their balance to be better when working from home), as well as improved mental health (commuting takes a toll). Tell your boss how remote work will benefit you personally to help bolster your case. If they are a good manager, your personal happiness should be as important to them as the quality of your work.
Show Up With A Game Plan
You should have answers ready for all the obvious questions, such as how you’ll track productivity remotely, how you’ll communicate effectively with co-workers, and how you’ll account for any changes in time zones. You should suggest a daily schedule you’ll adhere to and weekly checkpoints with your manager as needed so they feel you’re still responsive and in the loop.
Consider Your Colleagues
If moving away from the office means relying on colleagues for certain tasks or responsibilities you once managed, take that into consideration. Offer to take on tasks that you can do remotely to keep them from feeling like they’re picking up your slack.
If you are a manager yourself, be sure your direct reports still feel like they’ve got ample opportunities to chat with you and get feedback on their work.
Get Clear On Expenses
This may require a chat with your HR or benefits department, but you should be clear on what you can and can’t expense as a remote worker. For example, your company may have no problem footing the bill for your Wi-Fi connection but may not take too kindly to a $500-per-month bill for a co-working space. And if they require you to visit company offices throughout the year, ask who will be responsible for travel expenses and if they have any requirements like staying only in designated hotels.
Offer A Trial Period
If your boss isn’t sold on letting you work remotely 100% of the time just yet, offer to ease into it with a trial period. You might try it out for a few months and have regular check-ins with your boss to track your performance and productivity. So long as your work remains stellar, there’s a good chance they’ll get fully on board down the line.
Put It All In Writing
You’ll want to get all the particulars solidified in an email that everyone can refer to as needed. This also creates a record in case a new manager takes over or someone raises a question about your availability.
Offer To Compromise
Although many companies are allowing employees to choose whether to work remotely or come in person, they may designate a few key meetings or events as mandatory in-person events. You should also prepare for cost-of-living adjustments in the form of a salary reduction, which companies like Google and Facebook have already introduced for employees moving to less-expensive states. If that’s the case, see if your company will cover the costs of your relocation — some offer a one-off fee in return for their saved costs.
What If The Answer Is No?
Although many companies make their internal policies about remote working transparent company-wide, your company might leave things more vague or say they’ll review requests on an ad-hoc basis. If that’s the case, your boss may not feel like they are empowered to approve your request to work remotely. Politely ask if you can speak with your boss’ manager about your request. If you genuinely feel as if your boss is stonewalling you or ignoring your request, consider sending a note to your human resources department for backup.
If you follow all the proper protocols and the answer is still “no,” you will have to accept their decision. That being said, once you’ve made your request known and they’ve denied it, you’re well within your right to look for a new job where remote work is the way of life.