My employer is implementing a hybrid work schedule next month and everyone will be required to work in-office twice a week. My productivity and mental health have increased immensely since being able to work from home during the pandemic. I would like to continue working remotely. How can I best make my case to my manager?
THE FIRST ANSWER
Andrea Bartlett, director of people operations, Humi, Toronto
There are a few options for employees to negotiate into a permanent work-from-home arrangement. In order to make the best case to your manager, understand what the existing policies are and know going into the conversation what the company is expecting from their employees.
Additionally, prepare any metrics and/or job-specific reporting. This includes the specific schedule you are seeking, the instances of when you will be available to come in the office (eg. client meetings, company events, etc.) and how you’ll manage communication with colleagues who are in the office. It is vital to demonstrate that your work-from-home setup meets your ergonomic needs and it is important you are vocal with this reasoning. Lastly, set up a time to speak with your manager.
If the meeting doesn’t result in a change, don’t be discouraged. You can always speak to the team again in a month and continue the conversation. You can also request accommodations formally with your HR team.
Lastly, it is important to note that while you’re requesting different treatment, the employer does have the capability to set the working location of its employees (and recall employees back to the office). This may be an ongoing conversation, so prepare your expectations and ensure you are properly prepared.
THE SECOND ANSWER
Bruce Sandy, principal, Pathfinder Coaching, Nanoose Bay, B.C.
Many employers are only allowing staff to continue working remotely full-time if they have a legitimate health reason and a note from their doctor or primary care practitioner. Set up a meeting with either your manager or your HR representative to discuss your request.
If your employer requires a medical certificate or note, you will need to talk to and get this from your doctor or primary care practitioner. If you are not able to get the support of your doctor, you will have to make your case indicating the reason why you should be considered for an exception to the new schedule. Consider presenting evidence and key performance indicators on how you are more productive and innovative while working remotely. Show evidence for how you can interact with work colleagues and customers or stakeholders as effectively while working remotely. Provide examples of your productivity, creativity and effectiveness of working on projects and with other staff and customers virtually. The more specific you can be on this, and how it benefits the business and the customer base, the better.
Be realistic in your expectations with your employer if you are not able to get a medical certificate. This will set a precedent for your employer, so you will need a very convincing reason to continue to work from home. Ask if others have been allowed to work remotely and for what reasons. You can try suggesting that you continue to work remotely as a pilot, but if things do not work, you will commit to the hybrid schedule.
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