How To Ask For A Pay Rise After A Year Of Working From Home

Just because you haven't seen your boss IRL doesn't mean you need to shy away from those important conversations.
Luis Alvarez via Getty Images

The start of the pandemic saw almost half of the UK population shift to home-working, with most (86%) citing coronavirus as the reason for the switch. Desks were replaced with dining tables, office chairs were swapped with sofas. All of a sudden, many were thrown into a permanent state of living at work.

During this time, the novelty of working from home coupled with anxiety around the impact of the virus on jobs led lots of people to feel that they had to go above and beyond at work. Nobody wanted to be accused of slacking or watching Netflix – all of a sudden, people were producing very visible results.

“For many, adopting such an ethos shined a light on their weight within the workplace and sparked a realisation of just how valuable they are,” says HR director Hayley Cross. “It is somewhat ironic that the lack of a team’s physical presence throughout the pandemic has made a person’s working efforts more transparent than ever.”

Cross now predicts there will be a rise in employees requesting a pay rise in the coming months – with many producing solid reasonings for having earned one.

But if you’re still working from home, how do you go about asking for that bump in pay? When your boss or HR team are working from a different location, it can be hard to know when’s the right time to bring it up.

Finding the right time

Cross, who is HR director at lifestyle magazine Improb, suggests seizing the moment if it comes up casually in conversation or a 1-2-1 with your manager. But it’s more likely you’ll need to initiate the conversation more formally, she says – perhaps at a performance review.

If you don’t want to wait for your mid-year or end of year review, assess how busy the working week is and choosing a quieter day to set up a meeting. “Request a conversation with the necessary parties [and] schedule yourself around them,” she says. “A morning is a good time to attempt to have the conversation as further discussions can be made throughout the day.”

Cross firmly believes that working from home can actually be beneficial to setting the scene to ask for that rise. The setup of the home working day, without any lengthy commutes, means there is potentially more time to carve out for a meeting as well as 100% privacy, as your colleagues won’t be around to watch you head into meeting room one.

Make sure now is the right time

Before you even go about setting up a meeting, use common sense. Is now the right time to ask for a pay rise? “If you have just lost a big client, redundancies have been made, or you have not received the best feedback of late, now is probably not the best time to ask for a raise,” says Cross.

Prepare the evidence

If you’ve been absolutely bossing it at work, prepare the evidence. What are your wins? Jot them down so you can present them to your boss.

Job site Glass Door recommends reflecting on projects delivered over the past year or periods of time where you went beyond what was expected and provided real value for your company. “The people of the UK can be rather modest with regards to their workplace wins,” says Cross. “When you are physically in an office, general chat can highlight achievements however at home it can be a little harder. Do not be afraid to shout about your accomplishments, it is not braggy and wins should be celebrated.”

She recommends taking time to draft as many points as possible with regards to why you are deserving of a rise. Once the list is drafted, rejig the points into order of importance. And be prepared for some lengthy conversations about what you did – and how that translates to why you should earn more money.

Make sure your wifi connection is good

Cross urges people to try and make the meeting as face-to-face as possible through a video call – “avoid using just a telephone call – or even worse, messenger,” she says. “Doing this will make the conversation a lot more personable.”

But the last thing you want to happen on the Big Day is for you to deliver a brilliant speech on why you deserve that rise, only to find out that for half of it you were glitching and jumping like a robot. Check your internet connection ahead of the meeting, says Cross. “It always surprises me when people do not do this, and it is frustrating for everyone involved,” she says.

Think about your salary

If you’re going into a meeting about money, you need to have an idea of what kind of rise you’re after (make sure it’s realistic!) – and be prepared to negotiate. Glassdoor has a tool which lets you know what other people with similar jobs are earning. This can be a useful starting point. You might want to also think about when you’d like your new salary to come into effect.

Don’t make it personal

One thing to avoid is making your need for a pay rise personal, says Cross. Yes Covid has had a huge financial impact on many of us, but the HR director suggests using reasoning such as “my rent has gone up”, “I am saving for X” or “I need a new car” just won’t cut the mustard. “A case for a pay rise should always be work related,” she says.

Beware of ultimatums

Lastly, if you’re thinking about giving an ultimatum if you don’t get the pay rise you’ve requested, think very carefully before you make that rather bold leap. “If you state that you will leave the company if you do not receive a rise, then you must be prepared to see it through,” says Cross.

Be enthusiastic

The past year has been tough but if you’ve absolutely smashed it at work, you should let that enthusiasm and passion shine through on your call. Talk about the projects you’re proud of, but also the ones you’re excited to deliver in the coming months – another reason of why you’re worthy of that pay jump.