There are various questions about how to ask to work from home. I think this is not a duplicate because first, in the other questions, the very idea of working from home is either something novel in the company, or they're about asking for the possibility to work from home already in the interview. The underlying issue here is, I think, somewhat more abstract anyway, as I've also tried to express in the title.
This question seems similar to some existing ones, but as I've outlined below, I see some significant differences.
Brief intro: I'm working as a software developer. I've been with my current employer for about 4 years. As far as I can tell, my superiors and colleagues are rather content with my work, e.g.:
- I've been granted access to the core packages that only few developers may access.
- I am trusted to modify basically any part of our products without having a detailed design discussion with the team responsible for the module first.
- The (three) technical architects regularly ask me to join meetings where fundamental technical decisions about core parts of the products are made that will affect the rest of the (more than 70) developers.
- I've been given a small team of three people to delegate some tasks to 1.5 years ago.
There's quite some leniency about working times; being absent during the "core presence time" is no issue when announced beforehand, as is occasionally working from home.
Plenty of senior colleagues of mine (those who have been working in that place for 20+ years) have one or even two fixed days for working from home. What I have heard, though, is that our management in general has decided not to guarantee any such arrangement anymore in the contract.
Now, the time for our annual performance reviews is about to start again. My personal situation is that we have two little children and for about a year, my wife has been increasingly adamantly insisting that I negotiate to get allowed to work from home two days a week. Reasons are that I'm often coming home rather late (past 6:30 PM), and that I cannot briefly come home e.g. in order to bring the kids to the doctor for half an hour or so, because it takes roughly one hour from home to work. So, either it's the two days working from home, or I have to switch jobs.
Now, from virtually everything I have learned from reading here and on other sites dealing with similar topics is that I should never "threaten" the employer with quitting.
Thus, my "dilemma" could be summarized as follows:
- For me, not getting those ~two days of work from home per week is a deal-breaker now, even though it wasn't when I started the job.
- From the company's point of view, there is no reason to assume I'm unhappy in any way and willing to quit, neither concerning working from home nor about anything else.
I have read various related questions whose answers pointed out that it's important to outline the benefits of my working from home for the company. Now, working somewhat more uninterrupted for a couple of hours (my kids are in child nursery during the day) and not starting my workday after a stressful commute could be presented as benefits for the company. But, truly spoken, at the same time, I see the reduced opportunity to supervise my team members and take part in design discussions with other colleagues as drawbacks that likely will negatively impact the progression of various tasks every now and then (obviously, I'm not going to point that out during the performance review). Thus, I fear my basis for argumentation is a rather weak one.
Is there any way I can "save my job" (which is, I'm pretty sure, the most beneficial outcome for both myself and my employer at this time)? Or have I maneuvered myself into a dead-end already, by not building up a "backstory" in time for my employer to be generally aware I might seriously consider switching jobs if my wishes are not granted?
In fact, I'm also a bit worried related to the last point: If I just casually ask whether working from home more frequently is possible, this is declined, and I quit, will this reflect badly on me due to the apparent unprofessional act of suddenly quitting over what seemed like a non-issue totally out of the blue?
UPDATE: Some aggregated remarks based on the answers and comments so far:
- As per my contract, I have to work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (as is pretty much the norm in my place), although this can be shifted around across days and weeks to some extent as flextime. Thus, while I would definitely gain some time by working from home more often, the net time I would be working for my employer would remain the same.
- As described above, the concept of doing some work from home is somewhat widespread among the company staff already, and thus the tools for it are all in place. That is, a company-internal chat network with voice-chat and screen-sharing capabilities, an issue tracker where all tasks are managed, remote desktop, phones and headsets at each desk, etc. Likewise phone calls with colleagues who are currently at home, working, are commonplace.
Note: I will individually respond to a few comments to more specifically clarify a few points, or ask for clarification. Also, while I already thank everyone the very insightful answers and comments so far, I would like to wait for a few more days before finally deciding on accepting one of the answers, to let things sink in a bit and ponder possible non-obvious caveats.