How to Negotiate With Your Employer to Continue WFH

Jul/26/2020 / by Beth Deyo
Image credits: Ella Jardim for Unsplash

When the COVID-19 lockdown began, suddenly being thrust into a work-from-home environment might have been stressful at first. However, as time goes on, many people are finding that they actually prefer it. As employers start implementing plans to bring workers back on-site, you may be wondering whether you can re-negotiate your position to extend your work-from-home period or even make it permanent. The answer is often yes — if you know what to say and do. These tips will help you get started.

Check In With Yourself

First, take a moment to think about the reasons why you want to work from home and whether it’s truly something you want to do permanently. Do you feel more productive while working from home? Have you discovered that you hate commuting or that you love having more control over your schedule? Or maybe you just need some more time before you’re comfortable facing the threat of COVID-19?

Make sure you’re crystal clear about what you really want before you approach your employer before you have a conversation!

Do Your Research

It’s also a good idea to see if you can find out more about your employer’s current stance is on the subject. Many companies are already considering making the shift to more of a permanent virtual environment. If you find out this is already the plan, you might want to simply bide your time.

If this isn’t coming down the pipeline, learning more about your employer’s potential concerns will help you build effective counterarguments.

Prove Your Productivity

Some of the biggest concerns employers have about allowing their staff to work from home are that they will “goof off” all day or they or won’t communicate effectively with their co-workers. Address these issues head-on. Offering to submit daily reports or suggesting regular Zoom calls may help put your employer’s mind at ease.

Focus on the Benefits

Beware of fixating on your needs and desires, as this is unlikely to sway your employer. Instead, mention some of the benefits your employer will enjoy. For example, stress how much extra time you have to work now that you’re not commuting, how you feel more creative without office disruptions, or how you’re more engaged in your work now that you can control your own schedule.

If you’ve already been working from home for a while, try to present some concrete examples to back up your arguments. Have you completed a huge project, landed a big client, or hit some other landmark since you’ve made the switch? Make sure you bring this up!

Prepare to Be Flexible

There’s a chance you won’t get an instant “yes,” but that doesn’t mean you have to give up right away. If you have a legitimate reason for being nervous about going back, such as a medical condition that makes you more vulnerable to the threat of COVID-19, have an honest conversation with your employer about it.

As with all negotiations, you may also have to be willing to compromise. For example, you may convince your employer to allow you to work from home a few days a week or to continue on a trial basis. Letting them know that you’re willing to make adjustments in the future if the situation changes may also help you get the answer you need right now.

Keep in mind that this situation is new for everyone, including your employer. Do your best to ease their concerns, be as flexible as possible, and come up with a scenario that works well for everyone involved.