Marie Wheatley, Group Head of HR at Daisy Group, suggest some ideas to convincing your boss to let you work flexibly.
Ever fancied working from home? At some point in our working lives most of us will have fancied a day working from home, ploughing through emails in our pyjamas with a coffee in one hand and the cat on our knee. Up until this summer, though, the vision for many seemed like a distant fantasy. However, new legislation around the issue of flexible working means that the dream for many UK workers is fast becoming a reality.
But how can you convince your boss that working away from the office makes good business sense?
Firstly, and most importantly, it’s essential to understand what the change in the law is. There is a common misconception that the government’s new legislation guarantees everyone the right to work flexibly. Wrong. What it really means that you can now make a request, something which was previously only limited to workers with children under the age of 17.
Right, so now we’ve cleared that one up. Here are some starters for swaying your boss’ mind.
Have a good reason for wanting to work flexibly
Prior to this summer’s changes, the right to request flexible working was only available to parents of children under six (or under 18 for a disabled child) and those who care for an ageing relative. Don’t forget that these same parameters still exist, so if you have any caring responsibilities make sure you inform your employer because they have to consider your request seriously. Think about it – if you haven’t got justification for wanting to work flexibly, then your boss has no incentive to help you.
It’s all about trust
The majority of successful working relationships are fundamentally based on trust. Yet when it comes to flexible working arrangements, the number one barrier for bosses is the fear of losing productivity. It is true not everyone possesses the self-discipline needed to work without supervision, so it’s up to you and you alone to show your boss you can be trusted outside of the office. If you’re the sort of person who “clockwatches” or is liable to dozing off, your boss is unlikely to consider you for flexible working. On the other hand, if you’re the sort of person that has a good track record in managing your own workload and meeting deadlines, they are more likely to trust you to work without direct supervision.
Make off-site communication cost-effective
Your boss is unlikely to let you work flexibly if they think that their bills are going to rocket as a result, so check out what the cost implications might be of you working from home and find the appropriate solutions. Smartphones with bolt-on packages, such as our own Daisy Duo package, allow you to call your colleagues as many times as you want and for as long as you like – all for a flat fee. By eliminating any additional cost, you can communicate with colleagues as effectively as if you were working just down the hall. Video conferencing tools like Skype allow you and your boss to have one-to-one chats at any time they like.
Where are you?
Your boss has a legal responsibility for your wellbeing whilst you are at work, whether you’re on the premises or working at home. Many employers will be concerned about the costs of setting up remote worker monitoring, or simply worry that you won’t be available when you’re needed. In order for your boss to keep tabs on your whereabouts, why not volunteer to download a GPS tracking app? Although it may seem like Big Brother-style supervision, the reassurance your boss will gain from knowing you’re not down at the local pub could be a deciding factor.
Proof is in the pudding
The biggest myth surrounding flexible working is that it immediately signals a lack of productivity. While some workers may not be able to work without supervision, modern businesses are realising that giving their employees freedom can actually have the opposite effect. If you can prove that you work to a better standard in a more comfortable environment, in theory, your boss should have no grumbles. It may be worth suggesting an initial trial period to prove that you can work responsibly outside of the office. At the end of the day, some people work better when they’re kept away from the distractions working in a busy office inevitably brings.
Document everything in the cloud
You would be hard pressed to find a business today not using, or at leasing considering, a cloud-based solution. It is still the most talked about tech phrase amongst business professionals as they look to embrace flexible working policies, and with good reason too. If your company is already storing data and documents online via the cloud, then why not ask your boss if you can access this same information from home (providing you have the required connectivity)? Continuously uploading your work in real-time through the cloud will ensure you have the physical proof needed to show you’re working hard while away from your desk. The cloud is great because it replicates an office environment anywhere possessing an internet connection.
What’s in it for them?
Although commuting has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years, it is no secret that most people would rather skip the busy and arduous train journey to and from work. It is up to you to convince your boss that working from home will boost your morale, which in turn will improve your productivity. Flexible working is now also a decisive factor for jobseekers, so hint to your boss that allowing people to work from home can help reduce staff turnover, while opening up the possibility of more candidates applying for a role.
Are you feeling confident enough to approach your boss now? Don’t forget there is always support available from IT and telecoms providers who can explain the technologies in more detail and act as backup when approaching your boss.
Finally, remind your boss that they could be missing a trick by not letting you work from home. We are all human, so the guilt card might work a treat!