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I work in a startup as a developer. Quarantine had us all work from home (WFH) full time and it's really working for me. I don't have the 1.5 hours of daily traffic jam anymore and being at home provides me a calm environment I can't get in the office. The quality of my work improved and I do more in less hours.

I would already work from home 2-3 days a month before quarantine, but given the benefits I'm getting from prolonged WFH I'd like to ask for a 40% (2 days/week) remote time accommodation. My company encourages WFH but my coworkers have been pretty going for all or nothing so far: some of them are fully remote, the others only work from home sporadically. No one has asked for a part-time WFH solution before.

I think I can convince them it could be right for us all because:

  • My job can be fully performed from home
  • I was aiming at a solution with fixed remote days but have no issues with switching in case of important meetings that require my physical presence (and need to make that clear to management)
  • I do not want to WFH full time (which could be harder for them to understand given I live 30km away from the office).
  • I have all equipment required to work comfortably from home

Quarantine allegedly lifts next month in my country. When is the right time to ask management for a part-time remote work solution? I don't know whether I should talk to them about it ASAP or not bother them before the end of quarantine. I'm also unsure whether I should disclaim my reasons for asking for remote work accommodation right away or wait for them to ask if they want to?

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    "I do not want to WFH full time" — why not? – Paul D. Waite Apr 21 at 21:16
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    @PaulD.Waite Sometimes you get more done in a team of 2-3 than alone. Remote does a lot, but sometimes it's simply too slow. – Mast Apr 22 at 9:59
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    @Paul sorry I didn't answer earlier. We have meetings once a week that I know from experience are really difficult to attend remotely (my remote colleagues usually don't hear a thing). I also like to have lunch with my coworkers from time to time. I have plenty of other reasons as well, but since I'm asking for a part-time WFH solution, I wasn't sure whether it'd be relevant to include that in my question. – avazula Apr 23 at 6:19
  • You are considering asking the company to provide a part-time workspace for you. Apart from some electricity, this space costs the same whether you use it full time or part time. (sq. footage, furniture, computer, tools, building occupancy requirements). If you are full time work onsite, the costs are justified. If you're full time WFH, the company doesn't have to account for your space, which may save money. Doing part WFH part onsite is the worst of both worlds for your company cost-wise and may affect their decision. – Jason Apr 24 at 14:41
  • @PaulD.Waite - Another problem with making your job entirely remote is that there are people in India who can probably do a better job of it than you, who're willing to work for a fraction of the cost of you. – Richard Apr 24 at 20:18
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When is the right time to ask management for a part-time remote work solution?

Depends a bit on your relationship with your boss, but I think now is a good time to have this conversation. You are working from home at the moment anyway, this is a great opportunity to test-drive any processes or changes that may be required to make this permanent.

  1. Approach your boss with the same content in your post. Make it mostly about productivity and benefit for the business
  2. Ask your boss what they thinks about this, what they likes about it and (more important) what their concerns are. Listen carefully and take notes, don't try to argue just yet.
  3. Brainstorm together what kind of things could be done to address the concerns and what good key metrics would be to determine whether this works or not.
  4. Implement, measure and do a weekly feedback session on how it's working.
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    Or better, take this time to emphasize the benefits, without the ask. It'll be a while before the quarantine actually ends and if you've been emphasizing & demonstrating the benefits for the past month, the ask will be more likely to land well. – WBT Apr 22 at 21:57
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When is the right time to ask management for a part-time remote work solution?

Bring the point up now - next time you have a private discussion with your manager.

"Hey boss. Working from home seems to be working out well. What's the chance that I could do this permanently? I'd like to work 2 days from home, and the rest in the office."

That should start the wheels into motion.

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    I'd add on, "What can I do to make sure everyone's comfortable with this?" Show you're willing to make extra effort if necessary. – FreeMan Apr 23 at 17:55
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    It may seem like it's working out, but it may not be as effective as the OP thinks. I would suggest starting out with a question about how well it worked out from the company's point of view. If the OP gets negative feedback from that they can consider not pushing their luck maybe too far. – StephenG Apr 23 at 20:37
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I am going to go against the general direction here.

As an individual contributor, you are well-settled and working effectively from home. You can focus on your development job, mostly insulated from other worries.

But your manager and any others involved in approving your request (HR, senior management) are probably swamped with pandemic-mitigation work. They many worry about lost revenue, try to understand if government directives are affecting the business, exploring financing options or planning employee safety procedures.

Your request might either come as tone-deaf or just get lost in the noise.

My suggestion is for you to wait this over, see everyone well and safe and only then approach your boss, with the hindsight experience that working from home went well for you.

Good luck!

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  • I agree. Don't bring it up right now. Might be a good time to take the temperature of your co-workers and see how everyone else feels. – Dave Kanter Apr 24 at 19:37
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I do not know where you are but here (Netherlands but also other European countries) there is the prediction we need to keep social distancing for a while even after we go back to 'normal' work hours.
In most offices that would include fewer people in the office, needed or at least helpful.

I would use that as an argument to your workplace. When work calls you to come back into the office, offer to work from home part of the time and offer it as a suggestion for all the company, so you can all do the work, have meetings if needed, but keep space around everybody.

In my view, an e-mail with the suggestion for social distancing while work is going back to normal should arrive before quarantine measures are lifted, maybe after a social chat with your manager in which you mention having ideas to make it work.

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  • My workplace in the UK is expecting to return on that sort of basis - not ideal for those of us working mainly in labs but probably necessary to minimise contact. Of course we don't know when or even if that will happen – Chris H Apr 23 at 7:43
  • And by letting your bosses and coworkers know that WFH will NOT be a 2 month 'thing', you help them, your company, and yourself. Social distancing will need to go on for 18 -24 months, if governments do it right. – VWFeature Apr 23 at 19:43
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I'm planning to ask the same thing when the quarantine ends.

The best thing to do is to ask your direct manager for a meeting to talk about the quality of your work during quarantine. I would wait until the first or second day back at the office to ask this in person, if possible. They may have important, time-sensitive work the first day, but by the second day they should be able to schedule a meeting with you. At this meeting you can broach the subject by saying you noticed an increase in productivity while working from home.

It would help if you have an example that shows this increase on paper. For example: you had 3 tasks with an estimation of 2 hours each, but you finished them all in 3 hours.

If you feel they're hesitant, ensure that you have all equipment required and you're willing to switch around days when needed. Maybe you can even let them suggest which days to come to the office.

Good luck!

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There are good arguments here saying that you should raise the issue now, and also good argument saying that you boss may be overloaded, and you should wait.

My suggestion is that you ask your boss!

"Hey boss. Working from home seems to be working out well for me. I would like to have a conversation about doing this permanently — something like 2 days from home, and the rest in the office. Is this something that you would like to talk about now, or would you prefer deferring the conversation until it looks like quarantine is ending?"

This way, the decision about when to discuss WFH is left up to them, but you can't be blamed for keeping quiet.

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This won't be all at once.

In the US, "reopening the economy" is now a national gestalt. CNN is talking about it 24x7, i.e. about the "when and how". We have a Federal system, so the response is decided by State governors. They are talking about their plans, too. All of them are proposing a slow, phased rollback.

So it won't be this!

Boom! On April 32, the stay-at-home order ends. Telecommuting ends. Mask use ends. Cashier shields are taken down. Social distancing ends. Airlines are back in business. Las Vegas is open. Toilet paper is back in stock.

Not gonna happen that way.

The upshot is that even after they end the "Shelter in Place" order, other orders will remain for a long time, particularly orders that aid social distancing. I expect "telecommuting, where feasible" will be one of the last to go.

Companies will discover a lot about telecommuting

A lot of companies who would never have chosen telecommuting on their own are now gaining a huge block of new experience with it. That is going to cause a lot of companies to re-assess their telecommuting policies generally.

Further, companies are getting a lot of experience about individuals - they are learning which employees are effective with telecommuting, and which are ineffective. That too will guide their planning as far as who gets to telecommute in the future.

You can bet that bosses are noticing the same thing about the time savings of not sitting in traffic.

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"Simply ask!"

Of course it is your manager's department and therefore his/her prerogative, but I can easily tell you what has been the typical case for me (for decades), and which is the case today. Most of the people I work with work from home, as do I. "Microsoft Teams" and high-speed Internet make it trivially easy to "face to face" with anyone at any time.

Now, sometimes we do want to "get together around a conference table and actually eyeball each other," and when that happens we do that. Or maybe we need to meet with someone elsewhere in the company, and we all drive to the company location that's most convenient for that person.

But, "if your task for today is to write software," it really doesn't matter where you do it. As long as you can be utterly-trusted to do it when nobody's watching your back.

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