In January, I traveled to India and instantly fell in love — it felt like home. The people are incredibly warm, the cities are beautiful, and it’s also a hell of a lot cheaper than San Francisco. While I was there, I worked remote for a week and realized that I was both enjoying my work more and I was being more productive than usual. The mission became clear — move down there ASAP without leaving the fun, rewarding job I currently have.

Thankfully, when I got back I was able to show my manager that this was a good idea not only for me, but also for the company. This experience taught me a lot, so I wanted to share a step-by-step process that you can follow to turn your job into a remote one. If you can demonstrate that you’re more effective working remote than you are in the office, you’ll be able to hit the road once everything related to the Coronavirus clears up.

Time is of the essence. As difficult as the forced lockdown is, it’s one of the best opportunities you’ll ever get for turning your in-person job into a remote one. Why? Because you currently have the chance to prove that you’re a hyper productive remote worker and you may not be able to showcase this ability again.

A few quick notes before we dive in: 

  1. If the quarantine was your first experience working remote and you’ve hated it, remember that you’re experiencing the worst version of it as you’re cooped up all day and distanced from almost everyone that you care about. Just because this experience is hard, it doesn’t mean that remote work won’t work for you.
  2. If you’re new to remote work, it’s likely that you aren’t following best practices, which can ruin the experience for you. For more information on best practices, check out our guide on how to work effectively while remote.
  3. The strategy is based off of the one that Tim Ferriss outlines in The 4 Hour Work Week, so I highly recommend checking out that book in addition to this guide.

Step 1: Increase your productivity during the lockdown

If you follow our best practices, you’ll likely be more effective at home than in the office as you’ll have greater focus, less interruptions, a more flexible schedule, and little to no commute. This increase in output will allow you to make a valid business case for why it makes sense for you to work remote full-time, so it’s essential you follow those steps to boost your productivity before moving onto step 2.

Step 2: Communicate your increased productivity

It’s not enough to be more productive — you must also clearly communicate this to your team. If your team follows the agile development process, then you can use your daily stand ups to your advantage by telling engaging, short, and relevant stories about your accomplishments. If your team doesn’t follow this process, you’ll have to carve out time to communicate with your manager on a regular basis throughout the week to highlight your achievements.

In order to clearly communicate your achievements, you’ll need to keep a detailed list where you write down everything you accomplished during a given day and use it to tell stories during stand up. For example, you may write down that you debugged an error and have specific sub-bullets about the exact steps you took to solve this issue. Instead of quickly saying that you “debugged an error” you could say:

“I saw that we received a message in our support channel regarding a mysterious error. I reached out to the person that posted, asked a few questions, looked through his code, and realized that the changes we made to our library last week led to this bug. We should have expected this before releasing the latest version, but we didn’t remember to test for the case he ran into. Realizing this, I spent a couple of hours implementing a code fix, which I’m happy to walk through with you all, and added the relevant tests so that we don’t run into this issue again.” 

In this short tale, you’ve broadcasted that you’re monitoring the support channel, you’re responsive, you’re great at diving into code, and you’re quick to make the necessary changes. It’s short, useful to your team members, and fairly communicates the important work you’ve done.

Outside of stand up (or your regular updates to your manager), you should have at least 2 1:1s per month with your boss where you reiterate how much you got done during the past week and speak in detail to the causes of your productivity. For example, you could mention that you love the lack of interruptions, the flexible schedule, and anything else that’s relevant. You should also use this time to consistently compare your remote results to your results in the office. If you don’t have an exact list for comparisons, just compare how effective you are in the office (“it normally takes me 3 days to add a new feature”) to how effective you are remote (“it only took me 7 hours to add {name of feature} from home”). After a few weeks of this, he’ll start to see that remote working suits you beautifully.

On top of your communication during stand ups and 1:1s, you should offer to showcase your results 1-2 times per week. For people that are new to managing remote employees, there can be doubt about how much you’re actually getting done. If you show them the work, all of this doubt will be erased. Additionally, if your team members are passionate, most of them will enjoy these explanations and demos. Here are some simple tips for an effective demo:

  1. Start at a high level when explaining the problem/solution
  2. Keep things concise
  3. Check in every 5 minutes or so to see if anyone has questions 
  4. Make sure your voice is enthusiastic and interesting to follow (not monotone)

Step 3: Master remote meetings, collaboration, and socializing

Some of the biggest concerns that come up around remote work are questions surrounding collaboration and socialization. Therefore, it’s essential that you consistently prove that you’re super engaged in virtual meetings. You need to:

  1. Have your video on during every meeting.
  2. Ask at least one question.
  3. Add value in some way (this could be through the question you asked).
  4. Be prepared to spend the first few minutes of meetings catching up socially since you aren’t doing it in the office.

It’s normal, especially if you’re a more junior employee, to be nervous about speaking up during meetings, but remember that this will pay huge dividends down the line. Every meeting is an opportunity to show that you’re incredible at working from outside of the office and your boss will remember this once you ask her to go remote. 

You should also keep in mind the following tips for Slack:

  1. Be more active on your team’s slack channel and make an effort to discuss everything in the open rather than in direct messages.
  2. Let everyone know when you’re stepping away for a few minutes and if you’re going offline to focus without interruption for a bit. Alternatively, you can start doing your deep work sessions before/after regular work hours so you aren’t interrupted and leave the more shallow stuff for during the regular day. 
  3. Check in with your team members through direct messages every once in a while or giving some of them calls to check in and keep the social aspect of your team alive. This will make everyone on the team more accepting of the idea of you becoming a remote worker.

You don’t have to go overboard with this stuff, just remember that the social dynamics of a team are important and part of your job is to maintain this quality.

Step 4: The Ask

At this point, if you’ve followed the steps above, you’ve been reporting tremendous increases in output, showing off your work frequently, crushing meetings, and communicating clearly. Your boss should be wowed by your results during the quarantine period. Once you return to the office, you should wait a couple of weeks before explaining to your boss that you’re happier and more effective when working remote.

Spend an hour or two preparing for this conversation by rehearsing your talking points or practicing with a friend. Try to imagine the feeling of nervousness that you’re likely to experience during the actual chat.

Start by explaining your accomplishments during the quarantine and compare them to what you normally accomplish in the office. Explain, in detail, why these differences occurred (no commute, no distractions, flexible schedule, etc.). Your arguments could look something like this:

  1. I noticed that I was more efficient while working remote. As I mentioned during our earlier 1:1, it normally takes me 8 hours to add a new feature, but it only took me 4 hours to add {name of feature} from home. The main reason for this increase in productivity is that I can focus for 2 or 3 hours without interruption, which I’ve seen over the last couple of weeks is hard to get in the office.
  2. I also worked more hours from home, out of my own volition. My schedule felt more flexible, so I wouldn’t just stop when everyone was heading home for the day. Instead, I’d be locked in on a problem and having fun, so I’d put in on average an extra hour per day. 
  3. While I missed seeing all of you every day, I felt that a lot of my relationships on the team have remained as strong as they were in the office if not grown stronger. I chatted with many of them through messages and calls during the week, which was really nice.

If your boss pushes back, be prepared with numbers to support your case:

  1. If we assume my productivity is 1.5x at home, that means I’d add an additional (1.5 * your current value to the company) per year, which is really exciting.
  2. If I continue to work an extra hour per day, (at a $60/hr wage) I’d add an additional $300 per week, $1200 per month, and over $14,000 per year of value to the company.

Instead of asking to go fully remote off the bat, ask your boss if you could do a trial period of 1 month. Tell him that you can work together on specific outcomes to achieve during that period and if they aren’t met or if he feels any drop in productivity, he can end the experiment and you’ll work out of the office again. Tell him that you don’t expect your company to cover any of your costs or anything else. If he goes for it, you’re in the clear. After the trial period, assuming everything went well, ask to change your role to a fully remote one.

In Conclusion

There isn’t any magic contained in this guide, but if you follow it there’s a high chance that your boss will go for the change. If he doesn’t and working in the office is a dealbreaker for you, it’s worth looking at other companies that are embracing remote work. Check out the following resources to find out about remote jobs: Remote OK, remote.co, EmployRemotely, and We Work Remotely.

If you want more information on how to make the most of the lockdown, check out our newsletter. We’ll send you fitness, mental health, and productivity tips that you can use each day. And if you have any questions or want to get in touch, feel free to shoot me an email!

Good luck!