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I am a developer in a small company (~15 people). We are allowed to work remotely on some occasions (health, appointments, weather, etc.), but not on a regular basis.

I enjoy working from home for a lot of reasons (family, productivity, flexibility, ...). I have already approached my manager about a year and half ago, saying that I would like to work remotely more, but I have been denied on the grounds that other employees would want that too and since we are small that would mean that the offices would empty and the "company spirit" would vanish (not something I personally agree with).

I now wish to work remotely most of the time and it has become a very strong wish for me. Strong enough that I would quit my current job over it. However I like working there and I don't want to quit without giving them a chance to fulfill my request. On the other hand, I don't want to threaten to quit (or imply it, especially since another coworker did quit over this issue some time ago) and I actually like working there.

My plan right now is to build a case on how I'm able to work from home, and in which way it would be beneficial for everyone, then present it to my manager. I have some points for me : they are very satisfied of my performance and I actually live close enough that I can still show up to meetings or in an emergency. I can also compromise on coming to the office one or two days a week.

How can I present my case in a way that isn't threatening, while driving the point that it is very important to me ?

  • I know you say you always have the option, but have you actually worked from home (even for a short time) beforehand? It would help your case if you had proof that your productivity and 'company spirit' didn't vanish during that time. – user34587 May 8 '18 at 10:20
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    If another coworker quit over this very issue, you're likely wasting your time since your manager has made up their mind. – Erik May 8 '18 at 10:30
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    @Erik Either that, or the manager has now changed his mind upon realization that work from home is serious business, and employees will go to the extent of quitting. – Masked Man May 8 '18 at 11:34
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    I'm having a hard time following something here. You say you don't want to threaten (to leave) but you also say that you are actually willing to leave over this issue. Why not just be honest with the employer? – dwizum May 8 '18 at 14:17
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    FWIW, homeworking on a regular basis is not all sunshine and rainbows. I suspect you're glamourising it and would quite quickly realise that your manager is not completely wrong, and that you'd sacrificed a lot of goodwill for nothing. Source #1: I've been doing it for ten years, and currently half my team does it. Source #2: I wouldn't do it again. – Lightness Races with Monica May 8 '18 at 17:49
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My plan right now is to build a case on how I'm able to work from home, and in which way it would be beneficial for everyone, then present it to my manager.

Don't concentrate on the benefits to you, concentrate on the benefits to the company. When you approach your manager to say:

I enjoy working from home for a lot of reasons (family, productivity, flexibility, ...)

...you're just saying how it will benefit you - so aside from your personal satisfaction, why should he care?

Instead, I'd look up some figures in your area for the commonly cited remote working benefits to employers, and use those. Commonly cited figures are fewer sick days, lower staff turnover, increased productivity, less money spent on office space / electric bills, etc.

Bear in mind that someone has already left over this, so if your manager seems to be sticking to his guns then there doesn't seem a great deal of use in arguing further - I'd simply advise putting your effort into a job search instead.

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    Need to be careful with some of the benefits, " less money spent on office space / electric bills," OP's company is not likely to reduce their office space if he works at home and there will be minimal electricity savings – cdkMoose May 8 '18 at 13:18
  • I don't agree with this answer, as the op clearly said he is willing to quit unless his request is satisfied. This is a massive benefit for the company (keeping him as opposed to hiring someone new). But the op also said he doesn't want to put the question directly in those terms, so this answer doesn't really help – ricardo silva May 8 '18 at 13:51
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This is a work culture you are not likely to overcome, and even if you do manage to work remotely, you may still be unhappy. For six years, I worked remotely 2 days a week at a company that discouraged working from home except when it was needed. How? I negotiated this up front when I was hired and they were desperate, and later when they tried to take it away, I let them know (nicely) that I'd probably be looking for another job if they pulled back this benefit. They never questioned me again about it.

Perhaps the same hard-nosed attitude will work in your case. I have since switched jobs to a company that openly allows working remotely a few days a week so long as you get your work done. I can certainly say, this is a welcome relief to be in a "work-from-home" culture, than going against the culture like the first job I talked about. At my first job, you were lucky to get a conference line number to call into for meetings, usually you had to track someone down to start it up after the meeting started. At my new job every invite at my current company contains details on the conference call. We don't use our conference rooms much at work, most people would rather just talk at their desks unless we have to whiteboard.

To sum it all up, If you want to work from home on a regular schedule, you will enjoy it much better under a new company that has the internal culture to support it.

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As you know, there are benefits to both you and the company with remote work. There are costs to the company that may not have occurred to you -- jealousy from other employees, uncertainty from managers about what work is done or not, sometimes delays if meetings have to be held on someone's office day, etc. While these costs may be minimal in the case of you, they may be substantial for someone else, and the manager worries about either incurring these for someone else or stirring up the jealousy by allowing you while denying another.

I think going in and ask to switch to remote 5 days a week when you were denied that already is just going to lead to you looking for another job. What I recommend you do is this:

  • ask to work a specific pattern of remote days. Perhaps at first it's just "I work from home on Wednesdays." With the escape hatch that you can come in on short notice for a meeting. This eases into things and you can dial it up further over time.
  • tell your manager what has changed in your life to raise the priority of this request. Perhaps you need more leisure time for a new hobby, and want to regain the time you spend commuting (this seems unlikely given you live very close.) Perhaps a minor health issue makes some requirement of office work, such as wearing shoes or going up and down stairs, a problem for you and working from home lets you skip that. Perhaps you need to eat every two hours, or nap every afternoon, or some other not-office-compatible activity. Revealing this logic may sway your manager somewhat.
  • agree to success metrics and a re-evaluation period after quite a short time - 6 weeks? - with an eye to either abandoning the experiment or adding a second home day - perhaps Tuesdays and Thursdays at home - and continuing to iterate.

Presenting it as an experiment and emphasizing why this has become more important to you, as well as doing it in small steps rather than leaping to 5 days a week, should increase your chances of success. However you have to keep those costs in mind, and the reactions of your coworkers, and accept the very real possibility that you will not get what you want. Should that happen, it's not a threat to say that you will sadly go elsewhere to get it. I would recommend phrasing it as "will have to seriously consider all my options to get the working environment I need" rather than "will quit". Be sure that you really do need this enough to leave, because there's a small chance the choice will be taken out of your hands just for mentioning it. After all, someone else has done this before.

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You're asking for permission. Try begging for forgiveness.

If you're allowed to work from home sometimes, start working from home more often. Do it slowly, and when your manager has had enough, they will bring it up with you.

Keep in mind, that if you make it to full time remote, you are going to have a very hard time getting promoted, and you may end up being the first person laid off, if the company starts losing money. WFH is great, but it has its downsides.

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    This sounds like a great way to both piss off your boss (never a good idea) and convince them that they are right about needing an even more strict WFH policy (since they can't trust people to follow the current rules). – dwizum May 8 '18 at 14:16
  • Your manager will see straight through this. Not a good idea. – Lightness Races with Monica May 8 '18 at 17:50
  • I don't agree that you will "have a very hard time getting promoted" (I haven't) but it is certainly true that you need to work harder at staying visible particularly to parts of your organisation with which you do not regularly directly communicate. – Lightness Races with Monica May 8 '18 at 17:51

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