Share This Post
Love It or Leave It: Work-from-Home Scenarios
In March 2020, Ontario announced an economic shutdown due to the COVID pandemic and encouraged (and in many cases mandated) remote work. As a result, companies and workers alike used technology and ingenuity to adjust to the new way of getting things done. Many workers were amazed to discover they could perform their jobs at home; moreover, companies reported little loss, in some cases even gains, in productivity.
Long-term implications of work-from-home (WFH) — or “telecommuting” —are unknown. Some people love WFH; others can’t wait to get back to the office. But in many cases, it’s not a binary choice of home vs. office. Some companies have adopted hybrid arrangements. In other workplaces, WFH arrangements are negotiable.
If You’re Thinking About Requesting a WFH Arrangement, Here Are Some Things to Consider
Thanks to virtual meeting technology and other ways co-workers connect via Wi-Fi, many people feel more productive working at home than in the office. When offices were closed during the COVID lockdowns and workers were told to stay home, many employees found their productivity remained as high or even higher. This was especially true for workers energized by a break from long, stressful commutes and able to create a distraction-free home office. Work provided a sense of structure and normalcy — a refuge from the unreal COVID-imperilled world. With no place to go and all activities outside the home considered potentially dangerous, it was relatively easy to focus on work.
In recent months people have returned to restaurants, pubs, gyms, salons and spas, theatres, and shopping malls. Parties and weddings are taking place, too. Schools and universities have resumed in-person classes. Work is no longer a refuge.
Some people are naturally more suited to WFH; others thrive in a bustling work environment and find it hard to establish boundaries in the home office environment. People considering a WFH arrangement need to assess their ability to remain productive when social and family distractions reappear.
Work and family balance
The pandemic had a myriad of positive and negative effects on family life. With children back in school and daycare centers reopened, pandemic-related problems will disappear, but the stress of active family life will remain. Parenting roles and relationships will once again require a delicate balancing act.
People considering WFH should consider the degree to which their work is team-oriented and the effect of hybrid arrangements on team discussions and decision-making. Does your job require frequent meetings and creative collaboration, or do you work independently? No one wants to be the only WFH person on the team, unable to participate in before and after team meeting conversations or informal cafeteria get-togethers.
Is your company’s management style top-down or collaborative? In 2013 Marissa Mayer, CEO of internet pioneer Yahoo (now Verizon Media), banned WFH. Mayer said, “Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. … Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home … We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”
Personal and work boundaries may already be blurred for large companies with teams spread across many time zones. In this scenario, WFH arrangements arguably promote communication among team members and contacts.
Successful professionals frequently credit their achievements to one or more persons who have offered the encouragement and guidance that helped them achieve their dreams. Mentors and mentees often become lifelong friends. Anyone considering a WFH relationship should consider how the proposed arrangement would affect an existing or potential mentor relationship.
A virtual relationship could pose a risk to moving up in the company. However, there are many ways to bring your skills and performance to the attention of managers. WFH doesn’t have to mean “out of sight/out of mind’ which could be professionally impactful(in a negative way).
Tips for Requesting WFH Arrangements
Once you’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided to request a WFH arrangement, sharpen your pencil and write down your reasons for making this choice, how you plan to remain a connected and highly productive employee, and why this would be a good deal for your employer.
Selling your plan requires putting yourself on the employer’s side of the table:
- Ask to meet in person with your manager
- Present your accomplishments as a remote worker during the pandemic, possibly in a written statement
- Be sensitive to your manager’s or the company’s resistance
- Consider proposing a “trial period” or flexible schedule to accommodate project deadlines and co-worker needs
Strive for a “win-win” agreement. Then put the terms in writing to ensure you, your manager, and the company higher-ups are all on the same page.
Consult an Experienced Employment Lawyer
Advocation lawyers practice in the field of labor and employment law. They use their in-depth knowledge, experience, and professional skills to provide exceptional counsel and representation to clients concerning workplace issues. To schedule your consultation, contact Advocation today.