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3 Tips for Negotiating Permanent Flexible Work Status

It’s finally happening. More than a year after embarking on “the world’s largest work-from experiment,” many businesses are bringing people back to the office. 

For some, this is excellent news. They’ve been looking forward to highway commutes, in-person meetings, and always valuable watercooler talk. These people are in the minority. According to a survey on work arrangement preferences, just 26 percent of respondents indicated that their ideal working situation would be outside the home. For most people, the sweet spot is a mixture of on-site and remote work.

While some bosses are happy to acquiesce to this hybrid work model, many insist that on-site is supreme, demanding that people return to the office sooner rather than later. 

Before you pack up your home office and head back to your cubicle, some clever negotiating can convince your boss that hybrid work is worth the investment. Here are three reasons to get you started. 

#1 Hybrid Work Produces Better Outcomes 

In 2013, Yahoo banned remote work citing the power and promise of spontaneous interactions to drive company outcomes. As Jacqueline Reses, the Yahoo executive who issued the edict, wrote to the staff, “It is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu meetings.”

This mythos has dominated workplace decisions for more than a decade as companies strive to capitalize on the supposed innovation that can come from spontaneous interactions. 

However, Harvard University’s Ethan Berstein recently painted a different picture, telling The New York Times, “There’s credibility behind the argument that if you put people in spaces where they are likely to collide with one another, they are likely to have a conversation. But is that conversation likely to be helpful for innovation, creativity, useful at all for what an organization hopes people would talk about? There, there is almost no data whatsoever.”

In contrast, we have evidence that employees are equally or more productive when working remotely. A survey of more than 800 companies found that 94 percent indicated “productivity was the same as or higher than it was before the pandemic, even with their employees working remotely.”

#2 Hustle & Hard Work Are Not Location-Specific 

At The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit in May 2021, JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told the crowd that remote work isn’t compatible “for those who want to hustle.” Similarly, WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani painted remote workers with a broad brush, saying, “Those who are least engaged are very comfortable working from home.”

While these sardonic sentiments might apply to someone, that doesn’t mean that they apply to you. What’s more, you probably have the data to back this up. A survey of 2,000 employers offering remote or hybrid work found that 78 percent implemented employee monitoring software to track employee behavior. This software catalogs everything from mouse movements to app activity to message frequency, giving employers all the data they need to know that you are, in fact, a hustling, highly engaged employee, even when working from home.

It should seem obvious, but hustle and hard work are not location-specific. Show your boss the data, and definitively prove that you can embody both, regardless of location. 

#3 Happy, Healthy Employees Get Things Done 

The past year was uniquely challenging on many fronts. Surveys frequently find that employees are exhausted, burned out, and ready for a change. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more people quit their jobs in May 2021 than in any single month in nearly 100 years, demonstrating just how ready they are to make a move. 

Meanwhile, a study on remote work job satisfaction concluded that flexible work arrangements improved job satisfaction by 22%. As one headline recently declared, “Remote work is the new signing bonus.”

In other words, flexible work arrangements benefit businesses as happy, healthy employees stick around and get things done. 

There is no guarantee that you can convince your boss to allow more remote work. However, if flexible work is important to you, there are good reasons why you should be allowed to continue in this capacity.

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Isaac Kohen

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