It has quickly become one of the most in-demand requests in the modern workplace:
The chance to work from home.
If you've enjoyed the experience of remote work, you know it offers multiple advantages, including:
- Greater flexibility
- No commute, which robs many of hours per day
- Escape from the noise and distractions of the open office
- Greater productivity
- Better quality work
- More opportunity to "stay in the zone," leading to more home runs
There's also great research highlighting the benefits of working from home--including this study by Nicholas Bloom, professor of economics at Stanford University, who found that home workers were happier, more productive and quit less.
Yet for all the positives, we know that some employers just aren't convinced. IBM recently made headlines when it called workers back to the office (committing what fellow Inc. columnist Geoff James described as "creative and cultural suicide").
To be fair, there are challenges to be met. Working from home can further blur the lines between professional and personal. And while a Telco or Skype call may get the job done, it can't beat an in-person meeting.
But for many, the pros far outweigh the cons. And as the saying goes: if you don't trust your employees to work remotely, you shouldn't have hired them in the first place.
So, if you're trying to convince your employer to give you the chance to work from home, what should you do?
There's one method that will provide you with the most convincing argument possible:
How to Leverage Results
Most employers want to keep their best people happy.
Of course, you have to produce, and that requires finding out what's most important to your employer. For some jobs, productivity is measured completely in metrics. In other cases, the assessment may be more subjective, e.g., monitoring how you manage relationships when you're not coming into the office every day.
To find out what's most important to your employer, it pays to do some research ahead of time. But the direct approach works best: Simply ask him or her which milestones they consider priority.
Now, you can leverage their goals and desires to your advantage--by making them an offer they can't refuse:
I'm very confident I can make those things happen. In fact, I think I can do better.
So, let's make a deal: You let me work from home for the next three months, and I'll overdeliver on these milestones. If I fall short, I'll come back to the office.
Now it's time to show what you're capable of. But if you truly believe working from home will allow you to present the best version of yourself, then you've got nothing to be afraid of. (In fact, simply coming close to the agreed goals will be enough to convince most employers to continue the arrangement.)
And what if your boss won't agree to this reasonable request?
Then, it's time to start writing your exit plan--and begin looking for a boss who will.
Because if your organization's leadership resists this type of flexibility, it's living in the past. And it's only a matter of time before more forward-thinking and agile competitors leave them in the dust.