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With recent increase in COVID infections, many jobs are as insecure as ever about the reopening. However, many workers are not so confused about where they stand when they return to personal work; corresponding a poll from Bloomberg, 40% of employees said they would rather quit than forego the benefits of working from home. And the perks are plentiful – personally, I’m in no hurry to get out of bed to watch a colleague eat a tuna sandwich.
Despite the constant uncertainty about the state of the pandemic, your boss may insist that it is time to get back to the office in person. How do you tell your boss that you intend to keep your distance completely – especially if you feel like you won’t be able to make such a request? If you’ve already read how to make your work-from-home status permanent, here are some communication tips to have a face-to-face conversation with your boss.
Make the right plan for you
Contact your boss to plan this conversation in advance, taking into account the preferred method of communication. Every boss has different preferences, but there’s a good chance this chat is over video. Finally, try to argue that working remotely is just as (if not more) of an advantage for you. Of course, if possible, avoid times when your boss may be excessively stressed out about goals and productivity.
At the end of the day, your employer probably cares more about productivity than morale.
As you plan this interview, make the topic of the conversation clear. For clear but respectful phrasing, you could say that you “hope to discuss why working from home makes sense for productivity”. (More on that soon.)
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Take the time with your plan to rehearse your topics of conversation in private. (It never hurts to chat with the man in the mirror.)
Focus the conversation on productivity
Your employer’s argument for going back to the office probably has to do with corporate culture, collaboration and … maybe synergies? Even if your main reason for working from home is personal, try to address all the ways that working remotely is actually beneficial for the company. It depends on your productivity.
Prepare yourself with concrete examples of your improved productivity since remote maintenance. Think about it: Did the lack of commute give you the energy to tackle more projects (and save the company money, too)? Is it easier to work with people in different time zones? Do you have specific examples of how reliable and responsive you have been? If you have specific numbers or metrics to use in building your case, have these handy too.
You want your boss to feel that your remote status makes sense for the good of the company. At the end of the day, your employer probably cares more about productivity than morale. This is capitalism, kids.
Be confident, not aggressive
You can be clear about your case and at the same time act as a respectful employee. While addressing all of the ways you can be more productive when completely removed, you still want to maintain a tone that makes your boss as responsive and open to your inquiries as possible. Repeat things your boss said during the conversation to show that you are listening and understanding.
You can compensate for the assertive but respectful balancing act with your body language, e.g.even on a video call.
Be honest about some of your motives
Chances are your boss knows you are looking to work from home for more than the business sake. If you have legitimate concerns about childcare, commuting, and COVID, be upfront. And if it makes sense in your relationship with your boss, ask about his personal feelings. Many, if not all, of our bosses are actual human beings, and they may respect your willingness to be a real person with them.
In every negotiation, You have to be open to the possibility of compromise. Maybe you can settle for flexible working hours or a hybrid in-office / remote working model.
In the worst case scenario, be prepared that you and your boss cannot agree and it may be time to start looking for a job elsewhere (what your boss doesn’t need to know). Fortunately, with dozens of employees sharing the same attitude, your chances of finding yourself completely secluded increase.