Love to work from home or agree flexible working arrangements but don’t know how to approach your company to ask for it? Don’t worry, we’ve got a plan to help you!
Like many things in life, if you want to make a successful request for homeworking, you’ve got to do your research and put together a convincing case – one that your manager will find very hard to turn down. And to help you, we’ve created a homeworking action plan.
(This plan can also help if you want to make other flexible working arrangements too – just follow the principles of the plan and adjust to suit your individual situation.)
Give your job an honest review
Before you even raise the idea of working from home with your manager, you need to be completely (and genuinely) confident that you could perform just as well out of the office.
And this means giving your job an honest appraisal. Research your job and identify what you can do from home. Try to think of any possible benefits to doing these tasks from home (for example, being able to start earlier in the morning, or not being distracted by colleagues) as well as any potential negatives (such as not having in-house IT staff on hand, or access to paper documents).
If you want to change your working hours or arrangements, you also need to look into how that will impact your workload. What tasks rely on others, and how can you work around them? Don’t just look at the changes to your own working pattern – try to analyse how it will affect your colleagues and company as a whole.
When you do spot any potential negative impact on homeworking, try to come up with ways it can be resolved. Because if you are aware of it, your company will be too, and may use it as a reason why homeworking won’t work. If you are already prepared with solutions, it can help.
Speak to other colleagues who work from home
Does anyone else in your company already work from home some or all of the time? Or benefit from other flexible working arrangements? If so, try and speak to them and find out how it’s worked out.
Ask them how they approached the subject with your company, what (if any) concerns the company had, and what benefits and negatives they have noticed from home or flexible working.
And finally, ask if they have any advice to share – either on how to make a successful application, or on making flexible and homeworking arrangements work.
Sound out your manager
Once you’ve got a pretty good idea in your own mind as to whether working from home would work for you, test the idea on your manager. Ask them what your company’s position is on flexible working, and what advice they have for you.
It’s also a good idea to get a sense from them as to how they’d see your role working from home. A supportive manager and clearly laid out expectations can make all the difference between a successful homeworking arrangement and failure.
Formulate a plan
Now it’s time to start putting all of your research into a proper plan which includes:
- When you want to work from home.
- How you want to alter your working hours, if relevant.
- Which tasks you can do from home.
- Any arrangements that need to be made to do these tasks from home.
- The benefits to working from home.
- The potential downsides (and how you will overcome them).
- How you will remain in contact when homeworking.
- Measurable targets or deliverables to achieve when homeworking.
Why include measurable targets? One thing we have learned from talking to companies that have successfully implemented flexible working, is the importance of clearly identified goals and expectations.
For flexible working to work for everyone, each party (you and your employer) need to be clear about what they want from the arrangement, and how it benefits them. You also need to be clear about what is expected of you, so you can deliver and both you and your employer be happy that the arrangement is working successfully.
Present your homeworking plan
Once you’re happy with your homeworking plan, you can present it to your manager for official consideration.
Give them time to digest it and think it over, and ask for a meeting to discuss their thoughts. If your manager is unsure, suggest a short trial to see how it works. You could agree to try your arrangement out for a month before reviewing the results – and make any adjustments needed.
It’s also important to be open in discussing different ways of making your plan work. Your manager may come up with some new solutions you hadn’t considered.
If your manager is still wavering, it may help to remind them about all the positive benefits of flexible working for employers:
- Employees who work flexibly are more satisfied with their jobs and lives, and enjoy a better work-life balance.
- They’re also up to 30% less likely to suffer from stress and burnout, and are often more productive thanks to less negative spillover from their life outside work.
- Mums with flexible working arrangements are shown to waste less time at work than any other group of employees.
- Working at home means that your company can reduce their office costs as you’ll be freeing up a desk space and not using other office facilities.
- Flexible working policies can also help to improve staff retention and attract new talent.
Start making a plan for homeworking today
If working in an office or sticking to full time hours doesn’t fit with your life right now, start planning how you can maybe work from home some or all of your working week, or change your working arrangements in other ways. (If you’re unsure whether flexible working is right for you, this article may help you decide.)
And remember, as well as presenting your manager with an informal homeworking plan, you have the right to make a formal flexible working request (you can find out what it needs to include here). Your request must be legally considered by your company, and you are able to challenge it if turned down.
Good luck!Hannah Martin