It’s been over a year since the work-from-home mandate, and now businesses are asking employees to get back in the office. Recently, employees are starting to realize that traditional office life may not be for them. Many have seen the life benefits of working from home vs. working in the office. Some hadn’t even realized their job could be done efficiently from home- until the pandemic. Having the option to work from home has now become a serious debate among corporate America.
Although there are differences in views between some companies and employees in the work-from-home debate, there is gain to working remotely. According to a survey, up to 77% of workers reported increased productivity when working from home. This survey also found performance increasing up to 13%. There are also reports of feeling less stress and increased happiness while working from home. These studies further prove the point of why employees prefer not to go back to the office full-time.
Whether you’re on the market and seeking remote work or already in a full-time position and received the dreadful “back in the office” email thread, chances are it may be time to negotiate your options. We’re here to help! According to business expert and CEO of The Boss Up Agency Britney Nicole, there is a way to negotiate work from home. She says, “When it comes to negotiating work-from-home, there are a few different ways to do it where you can still come off professional, present in your employer’s needs, and be a team player.” Here are tips from Britney to negotiate work-from-home.
Negotiating, in general, can be scary. However, it’s important to remember to be transparent in all negotiations. Britney says, “Be as transparent as possible and try not to water down how you’re feeling about going into the office. Set up a meeting with your manager to talk about why you don’t feel comfortable and how working remotely has had a positive impact on you.” Being transparent and presenting clear positive outcomes can help your employer understand your reasoning. She adds, “give your boss a few reasons why you would be more efficient and be your best self through remote work.”
If negotiating isn’t going as planned, try giving your boss a few examples. Britney explains, “You could mention what you accomplish while working remotely vs. how much you accomplish in office.” she continues, “When people can see the ROI, your point becomes stronger, and bosses will see it as a benefit for the company.”
Discuss how you can represent the company outside the office.
Getting the work done is one thing, but discussing how you can represent the company outside the office can be a massive bonus during negotiation. An example of this is creating content. “Talk about the things you would not be able to do in the office space.” Britney states, “Pitch that you will be able to network more the company, like connect with influencers for campaigns. This point will help you add value to the company and your role within that company.”
Setting up a time to network outside the office brought up the conversation of possibly coming in-office for meetings. Britney adds, “I have friends that are going into the office three days out of the week, and their boss is making sure they’re having meetings on those days.” Keep in mind this can work for some people. If this is a plan that doesn’t work for you, try bulking your meetings instead. “Bulk schedule your meeting so that you are utilizing most of your time in the office.” This tip can be helpful for meetings that must take place in the office; an example is product launches.
Create a space that you can thrive in.
Working from home can be the foundation for distraction. Your television, game system, and pet are all examples that can cause a lack of motivation and creativity. Slacking in your remote work due to distraction can easily make your boss change their mind. Creating a dedicated workspace in your home can help you stay focused and innovative while working remotely. This space can be a small area in your home that is dedicated to productivity and away from distractions.
On the flip side, the office can be a distracting place as well. Working in an area with distracting coworkers and overhearing meetings can contribute to being unfocused – this is a great point to bring up to your employer.
“You can say, When I am working from home, I feel more alive, innovative, and focused in my own workspace. When I work from the office, I notice so much activity going on that I get distracted. I think it will be better for my mental health and peace of mind if I work from home.” This example can help your employer understand how your home office enables you to focus more on deep work.
Mention how you can cut down on PTO.
We’ve all been there – having to call off because the maintenance guy is coming to our apartment and thinking, “I could’ve done my work from home and saved my PTO for something more serious.” Working remotely can cut down on employees taking unnecessary time off.
Britney adds, “Many people have been able to work remotely through life situations and different places, which cuts down on requesting time off. However, people may still want to take time off and not be bothered, which is still okay. Set your boundaries and take time for yourself when needed. But I also feel like taking less PTO can be a bonus for employers because their employees will only use it when necessary. I believe it’s worth bringing up.”
Just a disclaimer, if you feel that you need a mental health day, please take it. This part of the article is not to encourage readers to overwork themselves; instead, save PTO for life emergencies or vacations, etc. When negotiating, please make it clear to your employer that you will use PTO when you see fit.
Talk about your mental health.
Having a work-life balance felt nearly impossible when being in the office. Work became more of a priority than mental health for most Americans. In fact, according to the CDC, poor mental health can have a negative impact on job performance and productivity. A study by Microsoft proved that remote workers are considered to be happier.
“Be transparent about how working from the office versus working from home has affected you mentally. People forget that mental health is self-care too. If you feel like every time you go into the office, you don’t have time to breathe, but you’re able to do it from home – then that’s something you should advocate for.”
Opening up about mental health struggles can be challenging. Try discussing this with your boss in a safe space. Nicole also adds, “You also shouldn’t be ashamed of prioritizing your mental health because it’s only going to help you thrive. When you feel good, you’ll be better at work; you’ll be able to give to other people and yourself.”