So You Want to Work Remote? Prove It!

By Kristen Harris

Over the last two years, we’ve seen a sea-change of acceptance and expectation for more work to be done remotely. While some companies and roles were already working on a remote or hybrid basis, COVID-19 pushed this trend forward fast.

Whether you call it remote work, work from home, telecommuting, telework, or something else, basically we’re talking about working somewhere other than a centralized office. Your work location might be a home office, co-work space, satellite office, another city, a travel location, or garden office. You could even be on a workcation–although we do advocate taking a real vacation from time to time as well.

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Chances are that you’ve done some or all of these things over the past two years. There is also a strong chance that your employer is talking about bringing employees back to the office some or all of the time. Some people look forward to being able to return to their office–if that’s you, great! The statistics are definitely leaning in your favor. 

But what if you don’t want to return to the office full time? Maybe you want to work from home more often or all the time. Perhaps you’ve decided to move to a new location but would like to stay with your current employer. Or maybe you want to sell everything and be a digital nomad for a while, traveling and working from different locations in the US or beyond.

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If you want to work remotely, then you have to prove it.

  1. Know what you’re asking for. It’s important to define exactly what you are looking for. There are many terms referenced above and, while these are often used interchangeably, they all mean different things. It’s important to understand the terminology and use the correct description for what you’re requesting. Wrike has a handy remote work glossary you can reference. Figure out the correct description for what you want and write it out.

  • I’m looking for a hybrid-remote work arrangement where I can be in the office two days a week and work from my home three days a week.

  • I’d like to travel to other cities one week per month and work from the company’s satellite office in that location on those travel weeks.

  • My spouse and I are setting up our lives to be digital nomads for the next year. I’d like to work fully remote from a combination of co-work spaces and our rental homes in the various cities we travel to. Regardless of where we are located, I’ll maintain a work schedule of 9-5 EST to align with the company’s schedule.

  • To accommodate my family’s needs, I’d like to work a flex-time schedule of 7-3 instead of the standard 9-5.

  • I’m pursuing additional education and can arrange for all of my classes to be on Wednesday each week. To make this work, I’d like to work 10-hour days from 7-5 Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday each week.

  • There are so many variations…be clear and specific about what you’re trying to accomplish.

  1. Present a solution, not a problem. Your goal is to convince your employer how this alternate work location, schedule, or arrangement will work. And why it might even be to their advantage! Have a clear plan put together for how it would work. Think about what their questions or concerns might be, and proactively address those.

Do…

  • Ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers

  • Understand what your manager and company need

  • Create and propose a solution

  • Ask to test your plan for a set period of time

  • Agree to review and tweak areas of the plan as needed

Don’t…

  • Make it your manager’s problem to solve–this is your request so you need to propose a solution

  • Present “all or nothing” demands, treat everything as negotiable

  • Dismiss your manager’s or company’s concerns as invalid

  1. Prove it works. Once your manager agrees to at least try your new plan, it’s up to you to make sure it works. You came to them asking to try something different, they agreed, now prove it works!

  • Do what you say, keep your promises

  • Be reliable, be on time, hit your deadlines

  • Deliver excellence, make sure your work is as good or better than before you made the change, leave no room for doubts

  • Be visible, show up for video meetings, turn on your camera, participate in Slack or similar communication platforms

  • Flex when needed–you might need to attend an occasional meeting or presentation even if you normally work from home, you might need to log in early for an important client call even if your workday typically starts later, you might need to travel for an event even if you’re usually in another city, flex where and when you can and find another solution when you can’t

You might be approaching your current employer with a new request for flexibility, or maybe you’re looking for a new position and want to assure the employer you can handle the remote work aspect. Either way, don’t create a problem and don’t be a problem. If you think through the details and present a solution, you are showing them how it could work–how you can continue to be happy, productive, and stay engaged with the company. Think it’s time to look for a new position or need to fill a role on your team? We’re here to help!