Working from home could be the way of the future for many of us. It already is for countless freelancers, contractors and sole traders who don't need to make the daily commute to a place of work. With the workplace situation changing on an almost daily basis it’s therefore very likely that you might also have considered the move to home working. However, there may also be a potential obstacle in the way in the shape of an employer who might be reluctant to let you take the plunge.
So, how to convince your boss to embrace working from home? Well, surveys and research (opens in new tab) tends to suggest that a lot of employees who make the switch actually end up being more productive (opens in new tab). What’s more, if your employer is still currently reluctant to see the positive aspect of working from home then perhaps the best way forward would be to suggest a test period, see how things bed in and take it from there. Working from home can be implemented almost instantly and doesn't require too much effort, either from your employer or you for that matter. What’s not to like?
Of course, a lot of factors depend on what sort of work it is that you do. However, with so many people having jobs where they sit at computers (opens in new tab) or next to a phone (opens in new tab) all day the transition to doing the same thing at home, instead of in an office, will theoretically be very straightforward. Health and wellbeing should naturally be the factors and the top of the checklist, so have a chat with your employer about how and where you’ll be working from home and highlight or underline any potential issues. If they’re not apparent immediately then try and flag them up early on and find a solution.
Don't forget to check that you do actually have the means to stay productive while you’re home-based. Many of us have home broadband (opens in new tab), but if you don't then another option could be mobile broadband (opens in new tab). If you work for a company that has an IT department then the chances are they might be able to offer tips and advice on how to get setup with corporate tools, such as implementing a virtual desktop (opens in new tab) on your machine so you can access files at work. You’ll also need to ensure all adequate safety and endpoint security (opens in new tab) measures are implemented, so work and your private life don't end up overlapping. This is especially so if you're using a laptop (opens in new tab) or tablet (opens in new tab) for managing both tasks.
Working from home can certainly have its downsides, depending on what sort of person you are. If you’re the type who thrives on the office environment, with all of the water cooler and coffee machine (opens in new tab) sociability that comes with it, then you might initially struggle. Working from home can be a solitary experience, but others will absolutely thrive on being able to stay focused without the noise and distractions that office working, particularly the open plan type, can bring with it. It’s also crucial to remain professional, so underline to your employee how it’ll be business as usual and you’ll dial in each day to confirm the fact.
Even if you think you’d be going stir crazy in no time working from home then there are plenty of positive methods that can keep you sane. Technology means that we’re all basically connected anyway, so chances are there are business apps (opens in new tab) that can keep you in touch with other people, your interests and, let’s not forget, your employer too. In fact, thanks to software for video calling along with email and digital document sharing it really should make much difference at all where your physical location is. As long as your employer can see tangible results, and you’ve got a record of your activities, then working from home should not prove a problem for anyone.
Of course, working from home for an employer does require them to put a degree of trust in you. You’ll obviously need to agree on a clear set of objectives to ensure all of your usual duties are carried out. Having project management (opens in new tab) software along with staying connected can soon convince your boss that you’re getting the job done, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be business as usual, even if you’re working out of the spare bedroom. That said, be clear with your employer if you have work/life overlaps, such as childcare to contend with. It’s not an obstacle as such, but you’ll need to clarify what needs to be done, outside of working activities, and when too.
On the point of where you're actually going to be working, be sure to talk over with your employer where you’ll be physically working and what sort of extra kit you’ll need, if any. You also need to define early on whether or not you’ll be using the employers hardware and software, or your own. You might be working from home, but rules, regulations and general company and office procedures need to be adhered to. If in doubt then have a chat with the company HR services (opens in new tab) to see if they can clarify any points or issues you might have.
Working from home might present both you and your employer with a challenge initially, but it is very doable. It’s crucial for you to remember that you are working from home though, and therefore work your proper agreed hours and carry out your duties in the same way you would in the office. Once your boss sees the progress they’ll hopefully agree to let you stay working that way; at least for the foreseeable future. Indeed, they might also notice a spike in productivity and efficiency, and then things should get even better.
You, and your employer, might need to be a tad more flexible and adaptable than normal, but in these times of change we all need to be a little more like that, right?
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