Finance Work How to negotiate the WFH arrangement you want

How to negotiate the WFH arrangement you want

For many, it's more comfortable working from home. Photo: Getty Images.
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

When you can work at home with your moccasins on and you’re still as productive as you were in the office, why would you want to return to the workplace?

It’s a question many are pondering as employers begin to recall staff into the office. Many will be reluctant to give up the extra time they won when they ditched the daily commute, while others will find it hard to part with homemade lunches.

It explains why even as pandemic restrictions ease around Australia, just under 40 per cent of workers remain working from home, according to the Productivity Commission.

As the new year looms, many workers are preparing to negotiate an ongoing working from home arrangement. For most, it will mean a hybrid model where part of the week is spent at the workplace and the remainder working from home.

While employees can’t dictate the terms to their bosses, it’s clear that the tables have turned in the Australian job market.

“So many industries are really grappling with a critical skill shortage and if employers are not accepting of hybrid work arrangements, they are going to lose their people,” said future work expert and CEO of Ignite Global, Kim Seeling Smith.

“In line with the Great Resignation, we are starting to see the employee turnover numbers tick up here in Australia and that’s a combination of the fact that people have had some time to reflect, they haven’t had to commute the way they have before, a lot of us have been in lockdown and just the world events, COVID and non-COVID, have caused us to understand what is important to us.”

Here, we look at effective ways to negotiate an ongoing working from home arrangement with your employer.

Prepare your case to continue working from home. Photo: Getty Image.

Check your mindset

Be calm and be fair-minded from the very outset, advised organisational psychologist Leanne Faraday-Brash.

“Before employees go into the conversation and as they’re thinking about what they want to ask for and how they approach that, they should make sure they don’t go into it combative or oppositional or thinking someone will say yes to them,” she said.

“If you go in there with a poor attitude or a sense of entitlement, it’s likely to enrage employers particularly when we consider how fatigued and burned out a lot of them are.”

Make it a win-win outcome

Employees need to demonstrate how working from home would benefit employers, more so than benefiting themselves.

“Whenever you talk to your employer, you always want to couch it in terms of what’s in it for them,” said Smith.

“Prepare a business case to show that your own productivity didn’t suffer, that in fact, you’ve been more productive while you were in lockdown or while you were working from home.”

Know what you want

Make sure you have a good idea of what you want to achieve from the discussions with your employer. You may even want to be strategical in your approach, said Faraday-Brash.

“Go for more and settle for less – it’s one of the first rules of negotiation,” she said.

“So you could ask for maybe three days at home, but secretly hope for one or two days and be gracious about that if the organisation shows some desire to accommodate.”