November 27, 2010
How to convince your boss to let you work from home
How'd you like the snowy, icy commute this week? If you have a job that can partly be done from home but your employer has never let you telecommute, there's hope. To ask your boss for work-from-home privileges, follow these steps:
[Photo by chrstphre]
Check your corporate culture -- and history. Do other departments or managers at your company permit telecommuting? Does your boss have a history of shooting down people's requests to telecommute? Before you make your request, do a little digging so you know what to expect.
Write up a telecommuting plan. Detail the particulars of your proposed telecommuting plan in writing. The idea is to answer any questions your boss (or your boss's boss) may have about how you'll work from home -- and to build a case they'll have trouble arguing with. If you need help with your proposal, consider buying a template ($29).
Stress the business benefits. Couch your telecommuting request in the financial and productivity gains working from home will yield your department. Bosses love to hear about processes that save time and money, not that you hate your commute, you'd prefer to sleep in a couple days a week, and you think it would be really great if you could get your laundry done during the workday.
Back up your request with evidence. Articles about other businesses in your industry that have seen telecommuting boost employee morale and productivity while saving resources can help strengthen your case. Same goes for studies like this one.
Set up a home office. Your employer will have questions about where in your home you plan to work; whether you have the necessary equipment (computer, high-speed internet, dedicated phone line); if not, how you plan to get this equipment (are they footing the bill or you?); and whether you'll be able to work undisturbed during business hours (in other words, no screaming children during conference calls).
Make a plan to stay in touch. Telecommuting-adverse bosses may be afraid that if they can't see you, they'll have no way to know whether you're actually working. You can help ease their fears by telling them how you'll stay in touch throughout the course of the day when working from home -- essentially that you'll be reachable during business hours by email, IM, or phone, and that you'll respond to all urgent requests immediately and all non-urgent ones within two to four hours. Offering to update your boss on your work status at the end of each telecommuting day or week will also get you far.
Suggest a test run. Don't ask for the moon right off the bat. Request one day of telecommuting a week (or every other week) so you ease your boss into the idea. Choose a day that's normally slow at the office, preferably one during which you don't have any standing team meetings. Also suggest a trial telecommuting run of two to three months so you and your boss can assess how it's going and adjust accordingly.
Earn your boss's trust. If you're not a model employee, time to get there. If your manager isn't 100 percent certain of your ability to follow through on your promises, there's no way he or she is going to agree to you working from home. For more about how to talk to your boss about telecommuting, see this post.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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