The majority of people were left with no option but to work from home during the coronavirus lockdown, and many have enjoyed it so much that they would prefer to continue working remotely than returning to the office. However, employers are prompting employees to return to the office, but if you prefer remote work, will you ask to continue working from home?
Employees are adapting well to remote work
Many employers may find that their employees are getting more comfortable with their working from home situations, whether they may have an underlying health condition, or they are just simply thriving working alone in home offices.
According to the employee survey platform Perceptyx, only 4% of employees want to return to the office full time. This figure is a considerable difference from the 33% who wanted to return to the office in April 2020.
Employees with families have had over a year to perfect the process of working amongst their children and may be appreciating the extra family time too, so will be in no rush to head back into work. In some situations, childcare may be unavailable for employees so they may need to work from home to tackle both factors.
Employers rights when asking employees to return to work
Employers do have control over the work location of their employees and they have the right to tell employees that the office has reopened on a specific date. If an employer has taken preventative action, they have the right to fire or not pay an employee who refuses to return to the office. However, it is also within the employee’s rights to demand a safe working environment. If an employer doesn’t take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety of its employees, then the employees may continue to work from home.
How to ask to continue working remotely
First, you need to make a plan to request working from home so that you can negotiate well to get out exactly what you need from your working environment. You need to consider these questions:
Do you want to work in the office some days and at home the other? How do you want your time split? Or do you just want to work remotely?
Are you concerned about your health for any reason that would mean you would benefit more from working from home?
Do you have responsibilities to look after people at home, such as children or ageing parents?
The better you make your case, the more likely your employer will allow your request. You can negotiate with a reasonable employer, but bear in mind that the final decision about your case may set a precedent for the workplace.
How it will benefit your employer
Once you’ve created your plan for negotiating, ask yourself how this will all benefit your employer. An example being, maybe you’ve been working from home for a reasonable amount of time now and it’s had a profound impact on your productivity and work quality, and have the figures and sales to prove this. Tell your employer you’ve been able to manage your work-life balance better and your mental health has improved, which is important during a pandemic. If applicable, mention how much time you are saving commuting and thus have more energy to put into work.
Finally, tell your employer that they do not need to provide the workspace for you in the office so they can focus on accommodating other employees’ needs.
Negotiate with your manager
Once you have your plan, set up a meeting with your manager to discuss it. Keep in mind that your manager has the responsibility to adhere to company policy and ensure consistency and fairness throughout the company. You need to be flexible and willing to listen to what they might offer. Be prepared that they may set up a trial period to test the situation for permanent and if your negotiation is accepted, thank your employer for allowing you to continue remote working.
The bottom line
If you do continue to work from home, communication between you, your employer, and other colleagues need to be more reliable and consistent as you will not all be in the same building. But if you work better from the comfort of your own home, this should be easy to ensure as you will have increased productivity and morale.