Author Topic: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?  (Read 2031 times)

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« on: April 23, 2018, 06:19:37 AM »
Hi Y'all.
My current day job position is as a tangible properties manager (as well as a moderate amount of HR work) for a large-ish nonprofit. 
Basically, we have staff vehicles, we have physical offices throughout the state, and we are also often gifted assets that need vendor management upon donation until we either liquidate, or move them to the local historical society.

Sometimes at our local offices, I'll take on small handy-man tasks simply to save us money, and also because I like being paid to learn something new.  But besides that, 85%+ of what I do can absolutely be done remotely from my home.

  I approve repair requests for staff at local offices/or with business-owned vehicles, I manage vendors when we have events (remotely), I process workers comp claims, and assist with audits, etc. etc.

Some days I come in and just stare at the computer all day, having set up systems and processes to deal with just about any fire that needs put out.  I basically remotely manage teams of vendors on off-site projects.

I am paid hourly, and currently come in to the office about 30-32 hours each week.  I could absolutely do all, or AT LEAST 20-25 of those hours from home.  It would be useful for me to have SOME office hours at our main office each week so that people can come by and swap out keys for loaner vehicles if theirs are in the shop, or to meet vendors when it's time to renegotiate a contract/there's an issue, etc. but even then, I could just schedule those times and come in as-needed.

My company is pretty old fashioned, but we DO have a lot of staff who work from home.
How do I approach this topic with my boss?
I just don't see how he'll see this as a benefit to the company UNLESS I offer to reduce my hours, which will save them money since I'm paid hourly.  I recently got a 7.2% raise, so I'm even willing to cut hours if it means I don't have to put on uncomfortable clothing, leave my dog who has cancer at home for 9 hours (she's doing ok, but I just haaaaate leaving her), commute 25 minutes each way, and then basically work remotely from my office (some days I literally don't interact with ANYONE). 

I'd love some input or advice.  I've been in my position for two years and I already have a dedicated home office at home (a converted closet-it works great!).

zhelud

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 228
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2018, 08:32:04 AM »
Why don't you suggest working at home 1-2 days per week, and coming in on the other days? Suggest doing it for 3 months as a trial.
It might be helpful to your boss to know that he/she will see you physically at the office on certain, set days.

jax8

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 94
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2018, 08:41:56 AM »
Couple questions:

1. Is your job merged with reception, or are you supposed to be first contact for vendors or staff who walk in the door? 

2. Are you often one of a handful left working in the office, while everyone else is working from home?

If yes to either of the above questions, you are more than likely in a position that management is counting on to be physically present in the office each day. 

You can test the waters and ask your direct boss if they think your position could ever have a work-from-home component, and admit that a perk like that would be a big deal for you.  Most employers want to retain valuable employees and will keep a comment like that in mind, and try to work with you if you're awesome.  Honestly, that's pretty much the key to getting your way at work.  Be freaking awesome, and be irreplaceable.

Another way to test the waters is to ask to WFH one day per week until June 1st, to take care of your sick dog.  It's a short test period with a beginning and end date, and it would be a way for both you and your boss to see if your position would work well from home. 

Maybe the solution isn't to work from home, but instead to work longer days?  If you're spreading 32 hours out over a 5 day work week, that sucks.  Given the choice between working from home or working longer to have an extra day off, I'd rather just have the day off.

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2018, 09:04:49 AM »
Couple questions:

1. Is your job merged with reception, or are you supposed to be first contact for vendors or staff who walk in the door? 
No, no reception.  I don't accept walk in vendor solicitation at any of our locations.  I don't have any front-facing reception roles or responsibilities.  When I am not here, often people didn't even realize it.

2. Are you often one of a handful left working in the office, while everyone else is working from home?
No, we are at about 50/50 - my boss often opts to work from home because he can get more done.  We have a dedicated receptionist in all of our operational locations, and we also have business office staff.  I have a work cell phone I take any vendor calls on.  I have a work laptop.

If yes to either of the above questions, you are more than likely in a position that management is counting on to be physically present in the office each day. 

You can test the waters and ask your direct boss if they think your position could ever have a work-from-home component, and admit that a perk like that would be a big deal for you.  Most employers want to retain valuable employees and will keep a comment like that in mind, and try to work with you if you're awesome.  Honestly, that's pretty much the key to getting your way at work.  Be freaking awesome, and be irreplaceable.
Thanks for your input.  Being awesome at my job is kind of what has gotten me to this point.  I was several hundred thousand under my budget last year, I helped manage several really successful projects, and overall made my position much more functional.  The gentleman who was in my position prior had been here for 30+ years and used paper for everything.  I moved everything to our cloud and streamlined our processes.  My boss has had nothing but STELLAR things to say, and approved my 7.2% raise in December.  I have definitely proven that I am an asset.

Another way to test the waters is to ask to WFH one day per week until June 1st, to take care of your sick dog.  It's a short test period with a beginning and end date, and it would be a way for both you and your boss to see if your position would work well from home.
Good point... I may ask for 1 day per week initially, but I'm thinking the dog thing wont work. He's expressed his dislike for animals in casual conversation before...

Maybe the solution isn't to work from home, but instead to work longer days?  If you're spreading 32 hours out over a 5 day work week, that sucks.  Given the choice between working from home or working longer to have an extra day off, I'd rather just have the day off. Right now I work 3-ish 10 hours days per week, and then a few sprinkled work-from-home hours when I need to take phone calls on my off-days or send out a few emails.  I am part-time, technically, and I am in school (online) on those two days off from my day job per week.  I have a 2nd job on the weekends and walk dogs on my study breaks (and on my way to and from work)

Sibley

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3461
  • Location: Chicago, IL
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2018, 09:52:38 AM »
don't have time to search for it, but I remember a post on AskAManager.org that addressed this situation.

AZDude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1298
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2018, 12:14:21 PM »
Easiest thing to do is just ask. Tell your boss you are going to start working from home a couple of times per week and see how it goes and that you will keep him/her posted on whether it is viable for the long term.

At that point, the boss would have to explicitly say no. If you are a valuable and respected employee, chances are good the boss will think it is fine.

simonsez

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 778
  • Age: 33
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2018, 12:58:00 PM »
You're an asset to your boss, fantastic!  That is critical is the most important piece.  Continue to be irreplaceable or at least perform in such a way that it would be a huge PITA if you left.

Next step, do you have any leverage?

If you ask and they say 'No' what is your recourse?  Do you just glumly accept the way things are and tell yourself 'It was worth a shot.'?  What does your boss, if anything, gain out of the remote arrangement other than keeping you on staff?  They need to be sold on the idea.  If you're that valuable that might be enough but doesn't hurt to point out efficiency gains or cost savings if they work in your favor while pitching the idea.

However, if you have another job offer lined up somewhere else or could even be just interviewing elsewhere or the simple fact that you're willing to leave* if your demands aren't met - whatever puts the fear into your boss that they might be losing such a critical team member should see results for you.  And if it doesn't, then your situation has about reached its peak and you can either deal with that or seek greener pastures.

* Basically this is what worked for me.  I worked for a federal agency in the DC area.  Loved the job, loved the people, very solid work/life balance (had telework up to 4 days a week) if I was to live in DC for my adult life.  Alas, wife and I had other plans about where we wanted to live longer term.  I had told my boss for a couple years that I would be interested in full-time remote work "at some point in the future."  One day it dawned on me that despite how well my boss and I work together, she wasn't going to go out of her way for some rare (at my agency, anyway) setup independently.  So one afternoon we had a face-to-face about how it was time for me to move on from the area.  I stated I loved my job and would do it for a very long time if some arrangement could be worked out but that there were more important things than career and that I would be moving in 6 months with or without my current job.  That evening we spoke to our property manager that we were not renewing the lease and signed some form making it official and from then on I had one foot out the door of DC.  Long story short, I'm typing this from my home office in the Midwest while still working for the federal agency.  If it had NOT worked out (and I didn't expect it to), I had six months to find something. 

P.S. My wife is amazing and I wouldn't have pulled the trigger without her support and flexibility.  She followed me out to DC and was on the same page with me when we decided DC was no longer in our future.  Whatever you decide to bring up to your boss, make sure your support network is in your corner and that you're okay with the outcome.  Luckily for you it doesn't sound like you need to pack your life up and move across the country but the double-edged sword is that being relatively close to the office could work against you.  i.e. for me it was either remote work or nothing for my boss since I'd be 850 miles away from headquarters, there was no in between situation.  Thus, perhaps being open to in between situations (like working from home part-time starting out) could work.

Good luck!

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2018, 07:10:04 AM »
You're an asset to your boss, fantastic!  That is critical is the most important piece.  Continue to be irreplaceable or at least perform in such a way that it would be a huge PITA if you left.

Next step, do you have any leverage?

If you ask and they say 'No' what is your recourse?  Do you just glumly accept the way things are and tell yourself 'It was worth a shot.'?  What does your boss, if anything, gain out of the remote arrangement other than keeping you on staff?  They need to be sold on the idea.  If you're that valuable that might be enough but doesn't hurt to point out efficiency gains or cost savings if they work in your favor while pitching the idea.

However, if you have another job offer lined up somewhere else or could even be just interviewing elsewhere or the simple fact that you're willing to leave* if your demands aren't met - whatever puts the fear into your boss that they might be losing such a critical team member should see results for you.  And if it doesn't, then your situation has about reached its peak and you can either deal with that or seek greener pastures.

Thanks for the detailed response.  To be honest, my side hustles could take over the income I make from my day job easily.  I don't currently have any benefits from the day job aside from flexibility and a few in-office perks (work car if I need to borrow one, coffee, etc) and I have to turn down work from my side jobs.

* Basically this is what worked for me.  I worked for a federal agency in the DC area.  Loved the job, loved the people, very solid work/life balance (had telework up to 4 days a week) if I was to live in DC for my adult life.  Alas, wife and I had other plans about where we wanted to live longer term.  I had told my boss for a couple years that I would be interested in full-time remote work "at some point in the future."  One day it dawned on me that despite how well my boss and I work together, she wasn't going to go out of her way for some rare (at my agency, anyway) setup independently.  So one afternoon we had a face-to-face about how it was time for me to move on from the area.  I stated I loved my job and would do it for a very long time if some arrangement could be worked out but that there were more important things than career and that I would be moving in 6 months with or without my current job.  That evening we spoke to our property manager that we were not renewing the lease and signed some form making it official and from then on I had one foot out the door of DC.  Long story short, I'm typing this from my home office in the Midwest while still working for the federal agency.  If it had NOT worked out (and I didn't expect it to), I had six months to find something. 

P.S. My wife is amazing and I wouldn't have pulled the trigger without her support and flexibility.  She followed me out to DC and was on the same page with me when we decided DC was no longer in our future.  Whatever you decide to bring up to your boss, make sure your support network is in your corner and that you're okay with the outcome.  Luckily for you it doesn't sound like you need to pack your life up and move across the country but the double-edged sword is that being relatively close to the office could work against you.  i.e. for me it was either remote work or nothing for my boss since I'd be 850 miles away from headquarters, there was no in between situation.  Thus, perhaps being open to in between situations (like working from home part-time starting out) could work.

Good points here, and kudos to you for making the change!  I don't have a support network at all where I live, but I do have very very cheap rent (that I can even occasionally exchange for labor at the farm I live at).  My boss/company knows that I moved to where I am to be a bit closer to my aging parents, and while they are currently both in great health, there may be a time when I have to go help them with things as they age in place (in a house built in 1890, ugh).  My parents are 7 hours away, and when I've gone to visit them in the past, work has allowed me to work some remotely... I think I logged about 23 hours in those weeks I was away.  So it's been done, but I just need to make it clear that I'd like to do it more often.
I also don't find that my set in-office schedule always works with the needs of my role.  Sometimes I need to meet a contractor on site on one of my days off... when I've already clocked in a ton of hours that week by just being on site when it wasn't as needed.  I think this is a point I need to bring up.  My schedule is pretty flexible, and I think it would benefit both of us if I were able to work the basics from home and then have some floating hours as-needed that I could come in and have meetings, meet vendors/contractors, etc. 
Do you think that's a pretty solid explanation?
I am not sure why I am nervous to ask... but I do know that I work well when my work is efficient, and that a remote schedule would benefit both of us, as I had mentioned, better.  I could easily replace my day job with my other jobs if needed, but since I'm at a religious non-profit, if they fire me they do not have to pay me any unemployment... so there's that.
I guess I just get nervous about change.  But I think it's time to ask.

Thanks for your input!!


Good luck!

wordnerd

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1159
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2018, 07:26:28 AM »
The 4 hour workweek has a how-to on this. A video from Tim Ferriss here: https://www.inc.com/video/want-to-work-from-home-tim-ferriss-on-the-best-way-to-start.html

Fishindude

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2068
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2018, 07:38:28 AM »
I had employees ask me about working from home instead of coming in to the office on numerous occasions throughout my career, never liked the idea.   Do your work at the workplace and home is for home life, not work.   Too many distractions at home also; kids, dogs, personal interruptions, etc. and few have a decent actual office space equal to their work office.   There is also the concern that when away from the office they won't actually be working like they are supposed to.   

There is something pretty nice about being able to walk out of the office in the evening and leave your work there.  I'd caution about taking it home with you.

simonsez

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 778
  • Age: 33
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2018, 08:51:33 AM »
Yes, since you are paid hourly - that would be one of my big talking points when going to the boss, i.e. how the remote switch would save them money and (and to a lesser extent) you time on your off days.  Win-Win!  Put yourself in the shoes of your boss.  Whatever your boss would be uncertain about, take steps in your discussion that acknowledge those areas as best you can.

To add to part of what Fishindude said, it is true that many of us need structure and to separate work from non-work.  I certainly do.  Your odds of having a sustainable remote situation (like for yourself if this was hypothetically approved) go up if you have a designated area of your home that is for work and out of the way during your leisure time and especially anytime you are entertaining. i.e. a designated room for your home office with general office amenities (printer, copier, scanner, fax, dual monitors, file cabinets, shredder, organizer stationary, etc.) will generally be MUCH better than the old laptop on the couch trick.

To the other part of what Fishindude said - not every job can be accomplished remotely.  But for those that can, it makes sense to at least try it out on either a part-time or full-time basis with some of your best performers that are seeking this out (unless you are fine with them leaving to seek more flexible arrangements elsewhere, in which case I'd argue the employee in question either was replaceable enough or did not possess enough value in your eyes to keep them). 

The boss has the right to revoke the privilege at any time and there should be objective standards to monitor performance.  If a boss approves a remote situation and the employee isn't working like they are supposed to, the employee can be counseled, put on a PIP, have the remote situation changed, or simply be let go depending on the severity.  But part of the onus is on the boss as well to have performance measures for the remote situation, just like they would if they were in the office. 

Communication is key, utilize videoconferencing, screensharing, instant messaging, and good old fashioned phone calls (I prefer email as a slightly more formal communication space that isn't cluttered with threads that are essentially text messages, YMMV).  Whatever fidelity would be lost by not seeing someone in person - there should be a reasonable way to substitute (not replicate, per se) the experience (if not, then maybe remote work is not appropriate for that position).  As boss, stress that it is a privilege and you are putting faith in your best-performers to get the job done just like they always have.  In my experience, this real talk from the supervisor garners a little extra buy-in on the overall mission from the employee and makes the employee a little more accountable and do not take the setup for granted. 

As for the distractions at home, I agree this is not acceptable.  Kids go to school or are at daycare or being watched as appropriate by someone other than the employee.  Remote work is not a loophole to make other aspects easier while working

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2018, 11:48:40 AM »
Yes, since you are paid hourly - that would be one of my big talking points when going to the boss, i.e. how the remote switch would save them money and (and to a lesser extent) you time on your off days.  Win-Win!  Put yourself in the shoes of your boss.  Whatever your boss would be uncertain about, take steps in your discussion that acknowledge those areas as best you can.

To add to part of what Fishindude said, it is true that many of us need structure and to separate work from non-work.  I certainly do.  Your odds of having a sustainable remote situation (like for yourself if this was hypothetically approved) go up if you have a designated area of your home that is for work and out of the way during your leisure time and especially anytime you are entertaining. i.e. a designated room for your home office with general office amenities (printer, copier, scanner, fax, dual monitors, file cabinets, shredder, organizer stationary, etc.) will generally be MUCH better than the old laptop on the couch trick.

To the other part of what Fishindude said - not every job can be accomplished remotely.  But for those that can, it makes sense to at least try it out on either a part-time or full-time basis with some of your best performers that are seeking this out (unless you are fine with them leaving to seek more flexible arrangements elsewhere, in which case I'd argue the employee in question either was replaceable enough or did not possess enough value in your eyes to keep them). 

The boss has the right to revoke the privilege at any time and there should be objective standards to monitor performance.  If a boss approves a remote situation and the employee isn't working like they are supposed to, the employee can be counseled, put on a PIP, have the remote situation changed, or simply be let go depending on the severity.  But part of the onus is on the boss as well to have performance measures for the remote situation, just like they would if they were in the office. 

Communication is key, utilize videoconferencing, screensharing, instant messaging, and good old fashioned phone calls (I prefer email as a slightly more formal communication space that isn't cluttered with threads that are essentially text messages, YMMV).  Whatever fidelity would be lost by not seeing someone in person - there should be a reasonable way to substitute (not replicate, per se) the experience (if not, then maybe remote work is not appropriate for that position).  As boss, stress that it is a privilege and you are putting faith in your best-performers to get the job done just like they always have.  In my experience, this real talk from the supervisor garners a little extra buy-in on the overall mission from the employee and makes the employee a little more accountable and do not take the setup for granted. 

As for the distractions at home, I agree this is not acceptable.  Kids go to school or are at daycare or being watched as appropriate by someone other than the employee.  Remote work is not a loophole to make other aspects easier while working.

Thanks for the thoughtful response.  I have a dedicated home office currently, no partner, no children (or plan for either), and one very calm old dog.  Should my boss approve of this change, I'll be sure to take some of your advice and maintain appropriate communication throughout the day- we currently email every few days, maybe once a week- but I may offer him weekly work reports or something of the like, and check in via a quick "good morning, today I'll be doing..." text/email each morning.  I do value my job, and I know they keep me on in this position rather than hiring an outside contractor because it's cheaper for them- so I am hoping with my value that I have some leverage here.  My predecessor, in his 30 years at the company, had never been under budget.  I was almost 23% under budget last year (my goal was 8% under) and hoping to be at 25% under budget this year (with my goal set to the boss as 10%, therefor exceeding).  I have value, darn it!! :)   
I hate the commute, I hate the dress clothes, I hate the wasted in-office time vs. structuring my schedule to accommodate the needs of my company (which would be SO MUCH more efficient).
I have turned down a ton of work just this week via my side hustles, so in the very very least I can consider a change if he denies my request.

Thanks Y'all!! :)

cchrissyy

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 734
  • Location: SF Bay Area
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2018, 05:20:04 PM »
I don't think you should be thinking about cutting hours or somehow saving them money.  You're a good worker and your job can be done at home, and it is your preference to work at home. period. the whole thing is neutral to the company but better for you, and therefore it's positive for the company because it makes their employee happier. 

I think it's absolutely worth asking for a trial run. Just, don't sell yourself short by thinking you have to give up some money or hours to make it worthwhile for the organization.

JanetJackson

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 735
  • Location: United States
    • How I actually made $50 just for taking a survey and being in the healthcare marketplace
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2018, 09:57:54 AM »
UPDATE
Hey Y'all,
Thanks for all of the input!
I spoke to my boss today about my workflow and we've agreed to do a flex schedule (I work when/where I see appropriate up to the agreed hours) with a portion (about 25%-50% to start) of the hours being work from home.  I'll likely start stacking projects to work two or three longer days per week in the office and the rest from home.

Yay!!! 

I was so scared to ask!  I come from a scarcity mindset upbringing where we were taught to basically be completely subservient to any employer who wants to give you money for your time.  That's because I grew up in a town with literally only one place that could employ my dad at any reasonable wage (HS drop out highly skilled on ONE metalworking machine). 
Things have changed, but I swear I still skip some heartbeats every time I try to live with a better work-life balance or be more efficient at my job rather than just putting my head down and being a "yes sir" employee.

Hurray for progress though!!!!

shelbyautumn

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 99
  • Age: 28
  • Location: Mississippi
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2018, 12:50:23 PM »
I was so scared to ask!
Some of the best advice I've ever gotten from my dad:
"If you don't ask, the only answer is no"

simonsez

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 778
  • Age: 33
Re: My job should be work-from-home, how do I convince my boss?
« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2018, 01:56:55 PM »
Congrats!!

The only downside is that soon the 5 day work week spent in the office will seem like such an unsavory practice.  It is very easy to become accustomed to newer, more convenient work arrangements.  If you have to go back full time office at some point in the future, be it for this job or another, it will be difficult.  But cross that bridge later, if it ever comes, enjoy the work/life balance now!