How to pitch the idea of working Anywhere to your employer
It’s easy to sit and daydream about how great it would be to work Anywhere if you’re having a bad day at the office.
You could get away from office distractions with some peace and quiet at home, work in your favourite coffee shop, or spend more time with your family at the end of the day instead of embarking on a long commute.
But actually taking the next step and asking your boss if you can start working more flexibly can seem intimidating.
Legal rights to flexible workingvary around the world, but as it becomes more common, it’s worth having a conversation with your employer to see if it would be a realistic option for you.
If you’re ready to take the first step towards working Anywhere, here are some concrete actions that will make pitching the idea to your boss painless.
Outline the main reasons why you want to work Anywhere
Make a list highlighting your main reasons for requesting flexible work.
These reasons shouldn’t exclusively be focused on your own needs – they should detail how it will benefit the business. Instead of talking about how you no longer want to put up with a lengthy commute, frame the discussion around how this will give you the opportunity to dedicate that time to your work.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t also mention more personal reasons for your request, but always remember that your boss will generally be thinking about what’s in it for them and the business as a whole. It’s worth always trying to link back to the bigger picture. Arguing that you want a better work-life balance is perfectly legitimate, but your argument will be stronger if you then describe how this would help you to be more productive as a result.
Do some wider research around the benefits of remote work. Statistics alonerarely convince people, but being armed with data and external examples in support of your argument can be useful for making the idea seem more appealing from the outset.Global Workplace Analytics is a great resource to help you select some research that might be relevant to your pitch.
Quantify the things you currently do and how you can do them away from the office
After you’ve laid out your broad reasons for proposing flexible work, you’ll then have to dive into the specifics of how it will work.
Without quantifying the things you do in detail, it’s easy for employers to dismiss any transitions towards working Anywhere as being too overwhelming and difficult to consider trying. Breaking down exactly what you do already (from larger projects to day-to-day tasks) will help your boss to think about the realities of how it could actually work in practice.
Think of it as if you’re writing a more detailed version of a job description you’d find in a recruitment ad for your position. If you don’t already track your time, it’s worth trying it for a short period to help you with this part of your proposal. By showing how your time in the office is currently spent, you can run through each task and explain how each of your duties can be successfully carried out away from the office.
Calculating your value to the company can also be useful for strengthening your negotiating position at this stage. If you’re able to provide details of things like the revenue your ideas and initiatives have generated, your proposals are likely to be taken more seriously by helping your boss to see you as a key contributor.
Acknowledge any challenges and how you’ll overcome them
If you only reel off a list of the positive attributes of flexible work, you risk making your boss think that it sounds too good to be true and having your proposal backfire.
Acknowledging the challenges of working Anywhere demonstrates that you’ve thought about this carefully and are committed to making it a success by overcoming problems.
Put yourself in your boss’s shoes and try your best to address any issues they might raise. Personal productivity and accountability are common concerns, so make sure that all the basics are covered. For example, you might suggest sending your boss twice-daily updates of what you’ve been working on so they can check-in with you and see how you’re spending your time.
However, you should also try to avoid making your proposal exclusively about you. It’s important to include details about the impact on your wider team. With the previous example of daily updates, for instance, it might end up being something that the rest of your colleagues need to start doing too if your teammates don’t already track their time. If there’s nothing to compare your daily updates against, they can lack context and may not be enough to satisfy your boss.
Make sure your proposal covers anything your team as a whole would need to either work remotely themselves, or to continue working efficiently with team members who go remote. Things like having the rightteam collaboration software in place can have a major impact on the success of introducing remote work to your team.
The extent to which you’ll have to detail these challenges will depend on the size of your team and the degree of work flexibility you’re proposing. But even if you don’t include every potential problem and solution in your initial proposal, thinking about them in advance will ensure that you’re prepared to address these concerns if your boss raises them during your pitch.
Propose a schedule and trial period
If your office doesn’t have an established culture of flexible work, it’s unlikely that your boss will be fully on board with the idea of you working Anywhere full-time after just one conversation. Instead, your proposal should set out a schedule of the days and hours you plan to be away from the office.
You might also want to consider setting a timeframe for a trial period of, say, one to three months. This way, you can schedule a meeting with your boss at the end of the trial period to evaluate how the process is working and make any revisions.
If there are other procedures that will need to be put in place before you or anyone else in your team goes remote – things like the aforementioned daily updates, or any new communication practices or software installations – then you should allocate a couple of weeks for this in your proposed schedule while everyone is still in the office.
Setting out a timeframe that allows flexible working to be gradually incorporated into your team is more likely to result in a successful working arrangement for you, your colleagues, and your boss.
Prepare a written proposal to pitch to your boss
Once you’ve considered the points above, it’s time to put all of it together into a written proposal.
Having your aims and objectives laid out clearly in writing will help your proposal to be taken more seriously than if it were mentioned more informally, but you should still try to combine your written proposal with a face-to-face meeting to address any concerns.
It’s important to remain flexible during these initial discussions. If your boss is open to the idea of you working Anywhere for a couple of days each week, but insists that you must be in-office for meetings, training sessions, or presentations, you don’t have to push back on everything right away. You can always introduce the idea of things likeremote team meetings once your team is more familiar with communicating remotely on a day-to-day basis.
If your boss raises any questions or concerns that you hadn’t thought about or don’t immediately have solutions for, don’t be disheartened. There’s nothing wrong with taking some time to come up with ways to overcome certain issues then returning to the discussion at a later date. You might not get everything in your proposal agreed upon right away, but if you’re willing to compromise, revise your solutions, and consider how flexible working can benefit the whole team, you’re far more likely to win over your boss.
Outline the main reasons you want to work Anywhere. Include the main benefits for you, your team, and your boss, and do some broader research around remote work.
Quantify everything you currently do and provide details of how you can continue to carry out your duties successfully away from the office.
Acknowledge potential challenges and how to overcome them.
Propose a schedule and trial period to allow flexible working to be adopted gradually and to give your boss the ability to make revisions.
Prepare your written proposal and set up a face-to-face meeting with your boss. Be as flexible as possible and be open to coming up with new solutions to problems you may not have thought of.