Although so many people work remotely, it’s not always a first choice for managers and their teams. There are many companies and managers that thrive on seeing a full office of busy worker bees when they arrive in the morning, buzzing with energy and productivity.
A lot of managers feel that if they can see you working, then they’ve validated how you are spending your time, and (mistakenly) correlate time spent at your desk with linear growth towards your team goals.
Maybe they just like being able to have face to face conversations frequently, and whenever they see a window of time that can be interrupted. They may also feel you connect more with the company, as you can have meetings throughout the day fairly easily with the various departments it takes to get the job done. Whatever their motivation, they place a high value on seeing you daily.
However, this can also be a huge pain point for you, as an employee. If you’re an introvert, like me, it can be unnerving to feel like you’re on display all of the time.
You may feel you get your best work done in the quiet, without the sounds from the office pulling at your attention. Whether an introvert or not, it may be a huge distraction to have frequent face to face meetings throughout the day, and people stopping by your desk can be a drain. It’s not that you don’t want to connect with those around you, but you value being able to get lost in the work for a few hours.
The thought may have crossed your mind on how you may feel remote work is a better fit for you, but how do you convince your boss or your team to get on board?
The first thing you’ll need to do is to highlight your issue to your manager. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this. The wrong way would be to let your frustrations build up until you walk into their office exploding like an improperly sealed pressure cooker for all to see.
Going in with a strong list of demands is not your best option, either.
You need to prepare yourself to make a case, and you need to also prepare that this may take some time. Unfortunately, if you think a quick 10 minute meeting will solve it, you’re probably wrong. It may take some convincing over the course of a quarter.
You also may be sorely disappointed if you try this your first month on the job. You need to build rapport with your manager, first. But how can you appeal to your manager who may be set in their ways?
- There is one crucial question that can help determine your approach: Are they emotionally motivated or fact motivated?
If your boss is emotionally motivated, you may have to get into the more personal reasons why remote work is a great fit for you.
- Do you have a high level of anxiety that becomes hard to manage at the office?
- Does remote work allow you a more flexible schedule that helps you manage your household a little better?
- Does the commute to work absolutely drain you of any energy you might have had for the rest of your day?
Be honest, and open up, here. You should also give metrics and hard facts, regardless of your boss’ emotional capability, but especially if they are a no-nonsense type of manager.
Outline examples where being in the office so frequently has hurt your productivity.
Show them how you were steadily making progress on your project one week, when a barrage of in-person meetings brought you to a grinding halt, and how you struggled to get back up to pace afterwards. This is just one part of the equation, but a big one.
With that being said, you can’t just roll into your meeting with a list of complaints – you’ll also need to highlight your successes, both at home and in the office. It may take you a couple of months to get to this point, but it should be carefully planned.
You’re going to have to make sure you’ve proven that you are a hard worker with a successful track record in getting things done, even if the situation wasn’t ideal for you in the office. Management is more likely to listen to an employee that provides a lot of value, because they want to keep that talent, and keep you happy.
Show where you may have worked remotely, from home for a doctor’s appointment one day, but how you were able to keep up with the demands of the team and projects you were a part of. Or, that you have been doing work at home before your commute, and how much you got done in those early hours. Be prepared to show off your skills!
The last part of this equation is to make sure your team is on board. I’m not saying start a coup, but have some side conversations with some of your team members to see if they’re interested in working remotely as well. If they are, you should encourage them to approach your manager, as well, but on their own time.
Nothing makes a boss want to show their power like a collective front that appears as a challenge to their authority. Let them know it’s been on your mind and that you are looking towards bringing it up.
It may take time, and you may find yourself gathering “data” for a few months to make your case, but it’s worth it if it means that much to you.
Think about your “why” when you’re doing this, and don’t get discouraged easily. You may be able to compromise on a schedule that works for you both.