Can the Office Win You Back?

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For many office workers, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a surprising upside.

With most industries forced to go virtual, millions of Americans found that working from home was more than just a temporary novelty – it was a life-changing paradigm shift. And for a significant percentage of these workers, there’s no going back.

If you’ve tasted the freedom of the work-from-home lifestyle, you may be wondering what to do now that many workplaces are returning to the office. We’ll help you negotiate with your employer to work from home either fully or a few days a week – or find a new job that allows you to do so.

Why People are Looking for Remote Jobs

During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of Americans lost their jobs when entire industries shuttered. But as pandemic restrictions eased and those industries began to ramp back up, millions of Americans began quitting their jobs – especially those in retail and service industry positions.

Thanks to the pandemic, employees discovered they could avoid the commute, office politics, and arbitrary work hours while still being productive. And many realized they were much happier working from home, where they could cook healthier meals, work out, and spend more time with their family. Some decided to forego a higher salary for a better work-life balance.

“I feel like my wellbeing has improved significantly, and that’s not what I want to give up,” said Sarah B., a project manager and blogger. “The vast majority of my friends are looking for jobs where they can work remotely.”

How to Advocate for Working Remotely

If your boss is asking you to come back to the office, you’ll have to justify why you should be able to keep working remotely. Many supervisors, especially in older generations, are hesitant to allow 100% remote work.

First, find statistics or data that show you were as or more productive working from home than working in the office. Did you make as many sales calls? Did you launch as many new initiatives or products? If you had a positive annual review during the pandemic, point to that as proof of the company agreeing with your assessment.

It may be tempting to bring up personal issues, especially if you’re a parent or caregiver, but it’s better to focus on why working from home makes you a better employee. For example, if your job is to analyze data, talk about how your home environment is more conducive to focusing than a busy office. If you make sales calls all day, talk about how you can handle more calls without a long commute.

You should also highlight ways that you can save the company money by working from home. For example, if you can skip the monthly parking reimbursement or other in office perks, use that to your advantage. Remember, you need to prove that working from home also benefits your employer.

Use industry competitors as examples if they allow their employees to work from home. This will help your boss realize that other companies could start poaching talent if they’re able to offer a more sustainable work-life balance. Point to research that shows remote workers had a 13% jump in productivity.

The best way to make your case is to get a job offer for a remote position and use that as leverage. If you can prove that another company believes in your ability to be productive from home, it may convince your manager to follow suit.

Where to Find Remote Jobs

If you’re firmly against returning to the office and your current job is moving away from remote work, it may be time to find a new gig.

Sarah B. found a remote gig after her former employer wouldn’t let her work from home. She said she relied on using the location filter on LinkedIn. They have a “remote-only” option that filters out job openings that are not 100% remote. She also recommends The Ladders, a career site that focuses on jobs paying $100,000 or more.

“Most of those opportunities are remote,” she said.

Sites like Indeed, Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter also filter remote jobs. Set up notifications and check daily to see what new jobs have been posted. Ask mentors, former coworkers, and others in the industry where to find remote jobs. Sometimes just reaching out to the right person will spark a connection.

If you’re currently unemployed, don’t be afraid to post on social media that you’re looking for a remote job.

Pro tip: Change your LinkedIn profile to show that you’re open to work.

When You Can’t Get a Remote Job

When Sarah B. heard that her company wanted employees to come back to the office, she started looking for remote positions. After she got an offer for a job that was entirely remote, she asked her boss to match it. They offered her a promotion and a salary increase but refused to give her the ability to work remotely.

Companies understand that working from home is a key benefit for many employees and may be willing to compensate you for coming into the office. If your boss doesn’t agree to 100% remote work, try asking for two or three days at home. If that is not an option, ask for the ability to come in later to avoid rush hour traffic.

Know your position before you negotiate. You may have more leverage if you work in an industry with a staffing shortage. Although, this may not be the case if your company is struggling financially. This strategy may also work better if you have a longer history of employment with the company.

Finding a job that’s 100% remote can still be difficult, but have no fear. More companies are adopting a hybrid model splitting time between working at home and coming into the office.

Note: Names have been changed to protect confidentiality. 

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Zina Kumok
Zina Kumok

Written by Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. A former reporter, she has covered murder trials, the Final Four and everything in between. She has been featured in Lifehacker, DailyWorth and Time. Read about how she paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years at Conscious Coins. More from Zina Kumok

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