How to Keep Working Remotely in a Post-COVID-19 World

Dan Fries
Dan Fries

Though the COVID-19 pandemic is still far from over, many companies and employees are already looking to the post-COVID world. For many organizations, the enforced move to remote working over the past few months has presented significant challenges.

On the other hand, there are many employees who, despite being reticent to move to remote working at the beginning of the pandemic, are now finding that remote work actually suits them rather well.

If you fall into this category, you might be wondering how you can continue to work from home after the current crisis ends. Many of the strategies you can deploy to achieve this are, in fact, similar to those that make for effective remote working in the first place: ensuring effective collaboration in remote teams, and making sure that you set yourself up for success with remote work, to name a couple things.

Nevertheless, your employer might be hesitant to let you continue to work remotely after the pandemic is over. If you don’t want to move back to the office, you’ll find some tips in this article on how to convince your boss to let you continue working from home.

The Benefits of Remote Working

If you don’t want to move back to your office in the next few months, you’re not alone. In fact, nearly 43% of full-time American employees say they want to work remotely more often even after the economy has reopened. One of the biggest reasons for this is the time that the average tech worker saves in commuting. The average American spent roughly 27 minutes on their one-way commute to the office in 2018, which equates to more than 200 hours spent commuting per year.

For tech companies, there are other benefits of remote working. Many software development firms are inherently multi-national, and co-ordinating employees across the globe can actually be easier if they’re working from home. As we’ve previously pointed out, the future of remote work is asynchronous. Research has also found that the kind of creativity and flexibility that tech firms value is actually increased by remote working rather than decreased.

Despite these findings, many organizations are still hesitant to let their employees work from home — at least once the global health crisis is over. So how can you continue to work from home after all this is over?

Productivity and Security

The key, here, is communication. In order to reassure your manager that you can work effectively and safely from home, you’ll need to develop a convincing argument about how you’ve used your time during the shelter-in-place order, and this argument will need to address the two key concerns that managers have about remote work: productivity and security. Let’s take each in order.

For managers, and especially those of an older generation, there’s a tendency to think that employees “working from home” will spend all day avoiding work. It’s likely that your experience of remote working is quite distinct from this: you’ve probably found that you were more productive at home, and also more creative.

In arguing that you should be allowed to continue to work in this way, you can point to the fact that show that the majority of employees are more productive and creative when working from home, but even more convincing will be to compile a list of what you’ve achieved during the lockdown period, and sharing this with your manager.

Secondly, you should think about how you can prove that you can work securely from home. One of the best security practices for remote workers to follow is to use a virtual private network to obfuscate your IP address and encrypt all business-related data sent over your network. This will make it clear to the company you work for that working from home doesn’t present security risks.

It’s very important knowing how to secure client, customer, and business-related data while working remotely. Take steps to secure your home working environment, document these steps, and then show them to your bosses or managers.

Making the Transition

In having this discussion with your employer, it’s also important that you prove that you’ve prepared yourself for an extended period of working remotely, and not just the kind of short-term practice that’s been necessitated by the pandemic.

This longer-term planning should include several elements. One of the major concerns that employers have about their staff working from home is that this can take a significant mental toll on them. It’s therefore crucial that you prove your awareness of these issues. Remember that remote work can be both an opportunity and a potential disaster, depending on the emotional and social networks you have in place.

Secondly, many organizations have delayed important projects and meetings until staff return to the office. If you don’t wish to return, you’ll need to explain how you can safely and productively participate in collaborative projects from home.

This could involve a proposal that you formalize some of the communication that’s already occurring over your workplace collaboration suite. Another good idea would be to always use a proxy server to establish a secure connection between your computer and the company’s server, and to push for other employees doing the same as well.

Either way, you’ll need to phrase your arguments in terms that management will understand. Talk about ongoing organizational sustainability, security, and flexibility, rather than a personal desire to manage your own time.

The Bottom Line

Of course, it could be that, even after you’ve made all the arguments above, your managers still think you should come back to the office. In that case, and if you really want to continue to work from home, it might be time to think about finding the perfect remote job opportunity at a different organization.