What was once unthinkable — working from home (maybe even in your pajamas!) — has become more commonplace, as employers are recognizing the benefits of having employees work remotely. Flexibility in an company’s work environment and workplace policies can be key for employers wishing to retain strong workers. With this in mind, remote work has become an option at many organizations. While some companies may not universally offer the option to work remotely, that doesn’t mean it’s completely off the table. Putting together a cogent argument for why working from home would benefit both you and your employer — and including details on how it will work — is key to getting the request approved.
Cancer patients and survivors are faced with some major decisions when diagnosed and figuring out whether and how to continue working. For example, someone diagnosed with leukemia might be struggling with an extremely compromised immune system, and her daily commute to the office involves extended time on public transportation. The idea of exposing herself to excessive germs on trains and buses suddenly seems out of the question. As a result, she’s faced with the following dilemma: Figure out a way to safely continue working...or quit. Depending on the type of job she has, remote work can be an excellent solution for the period of time she needs to be cautious about her immune system.
The Muse published an article on how to create a compelling case for working remotely. Below we highlight a few key steps.
1. Make sure you are a top performer. This doesn’t mean you must be number-one on your team for multiple years in a row; rather, it means being able to give positive answers to the following questions: How have your past few performance reviews gone? What is your rapport with coworkers? What glowing feedback have you received from your superiors? Being able to provide strong evidence regarding your value will prove that you’re a trustworthy, hardworking employee who is worth retaining.
2. Be clear on the “why.” For individuals with cancer this is also when you want to consider your disclosure status. Have you already shared your diagnosis with your employer? If so, you can elaborate a bit more on how being able to work remotely will solve some of the challenges you’re facing. If you have not disclosed, you’ll want to carefully consider what and how much to tell, so that your employer is better able to understand the reason for your request.
3. Put together a plan. This may be the most important step. If you approach your employer with a clear-cut plan that you believe will work, and outline the details for how it will work, they’re likely to feel less burdened with the responsibility of figuring out an arrangement and more open to the idea. When coming up with a plan, ask yourself these questions: What concerns might your supervisor have and how can they be addressed? How can you stay engaged in the workplace even though you are remote? How will you structure your work hours? Check out The Muse’s “Work & Your Cancer Treatment.”
Understanding your rights as a cancer patient or survivor under the Americans with Disabilities Act can be useful as you craft your plan for working remotely (which can be considered a reasonable accommodation under the ADA). You might also want to consider using Cancer and Careers’ Managers Kit to help your boss better understand your situation as well as potential solutions.