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Ask SheCanCode Anything: “How to ask for a working from home (WFH) contract”

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

This week, we’re talking about working from home and how to approach the flexible working conversation with your employer.

To help us answer tackle this is career coach, Natalie Trice.

Natalie Trice, Career Coach for PR professionals, PR Mentor and Trainer for Small Business Owners, and a Guest Lecturer for UK Universities.

Natalie is a Career Coach for PR professionals, PR Mentor and Trainer for Small Business Owners, and a Guest Lecturer for UK Universities.  

Before adding ICF accredited training to her portfolio of first class services, Natalie has worked for some of the biggest global brands, most dynamic UK businesses, and some pretty exceptional entrepreneurs.  

For 23 years MS&L, Cartoon Network, CNN, Discovery Channel, Epson, Animal Planet, Earthwatch, Betty Crocker, TM Lewin, Sense, and the Talented Ladies Club were just some of the brands Natalie had the privilege to work with and represent, and she loved her work. 

From Tom and Jerry launches on Red Square, to James Cameron premieres in Amsterdam, and touring Europe with a team of animators and hanging out at media parts across the world with some amazing contacts, Natalie’s been there, done that, got the t-shirts, as well as the awards and the coverage.  

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DON’T FORGET – IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS FOR US – WHETHER IT BE ABOUT WORK RELATIONSHIPS, GAINING CONFIDENCE, OR TAKING THE LEAP INTO TECH – YOU CAN ASK US ANYTHING.

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Hey SheCanCode,

Like a lot of us during the pandemic, I’ve been working from home for the past three years. I believe I have proved myself when it comes to working from home – I still achieve my deliverables and if anything, I am available more.

I feel I should also point out that I love working from home. My work-life balance is SO much better, I don’t have to waste time on a commute, and I get more done. 

So here’s my problem – my company has just announced that it wants all employees to return to office, unless they have a specific ‘working from home’ contract. My contract states that I work from the office full time. 

I’m going to request a meeting with my boss to ask if I can have a flexible working contract. Do you have any advice or tips on how to go about this? What tangible points can I make to get a WFH contract?

Thanks for your help!

Flexible Female


HELLO FLEXIBLE FEMALE,

Thank you for your letter and for sharing your issue as this is something I can imagine many people are dealing with at the moment.

There is no doubt that the pandemic left us working in a very different way and while we would hope that long term perceptions of working from home have been made, that isn’t always the case.

There will be some people who will have been very happy to get back to the office place and those will be the colleagues who thrive on the energy of others, maybe enjoy the more social element of work and even use their commute to read, work or listen to podcasts. However, this isn’t for everyone, and I commend you for setting up a meeting with your boss as that’s a proactive, brave move with you taking control.

Before the meeting I would write down why you would like a more flexible work contract and how that would look to you.

Also set out the points you mention above that clarify why working from home is not only good for you but will also benefit the business. Adding figures into this about how much more work you get done, without working for free, and the positives there are for your team and the boss, that will help your case.

When you go to the meeting make sure you are feeling calm and prepared and be aware that they really might not want to give you the deal you are looking for. However, stick to the details you have written down and depending on how strong your relationship is with your boss, you could ask for HR to be present at the meeting for additional support and feedback. Listen to what they say, you never know, they may well embrace your suggestions or at least have ideas of how you could make this work for everyone.

I would suggest you don’t make any snap judgements at the meeting but rather listen to what is said, make notes and then go away and think about it. If there really is no wiggle room and they aren’t going to budge on the decision of being back in the office, then you might need to think about looking for role that gives you the flexibly you are looking for.

The Squiggly Careers Podcast is a great podcast that might be helpful and Two Weeks Notice by Amy Porterfield is a great read if working for yourself is something you might consider in the future.

Work is a big part of our lives and you need to be happy and feel valued and supported so see if there is a way forwards to stay with your currently employer but if you feel resentful for not being able to find a solution you feel happy with, do some real soul searching and maybe speak to a couple of recruiters, spruce up your CV and look at all the options.

Good luck and I wish you well.

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