Convincing your Employer to Let you Telecommute Permanently

We haven’t had a guest post for a while so I’m pleased to offer this one from Katheryn Rivas.

Katheryn is an avid blogger whose true calling is researching and exploring the future of learning. For comments and questions, she can be reached at katherynrivas87@gmail.com. Katheryn is from Texas and has done her BA from Ashford University. Besides blogging, she loves travelling and gardening.

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Thanks to the increasingly dominant role that the Internet plays in our lives, telecommuting is no longer a dream for a large chunk of the workforce. It now has the possibility of becoming a reality. But since we’re still in a transitional period—the Internet as we know it is only a couple of decades old, after all—businesses have been slow to embrace the idea of “working from home,” despite the fact that many jobs can be performed remotely 100% of the time. Personally, a few years ago, I began working for a company whose operations were all conducted online, even though all employees worked in an office. I was eventually able to convince my employer the benefits of telecommuting permanently. Here’s how I did it, and here’s how you can, too.

1. Propose the idea with your employer’s needs in mind.
Of course, the reasons why you want to work from home permanently are important to you, but they aren’t a huge priority in your boss’s mind. For example, you may want to work from home because you want to spend time with your small children, or you like the idea of working in your pajamas, saving money on gas, etc. Presenting these ideas to your boss at the outset is probably the worst way to approach a discussion about permanent telecommuting. Instead, try explaining to your boss how your change of work environment would benefit her and the company. Perhaps suggest that you would work more efficiently at home, or that it would give you the freedom to explore other projects for the company that extend beyond your current duties.

2. Present supporting facts and statistics.
There’s a whole bevy of information and statistics that demonstrates having employees work from home is a good idea for all involved. A good place to start for such information is this white paper presented by MacFarlane Telesystems, which outlines some benefits of telecommuting. For more quick statistics, check out this facts-laden blog post from Librarian in Black.

3. Suggest a trial period of one month.
Of course, you can explain all day to your boss that you’d become an even more stellar performer if allowed to work from home. But how does he know that? Instead of demanding to work from home permanently effective immediately, suggest a trial period of a month or so. Tell your employer that if he doesn’t notice a significant improvement over this period of time, then you’ll come back to the office and you’ll never make your telecommuting request again. When framed this way, it’s really a hard request to turn down.

4. Explain, with evidence, why you prefer working from home.
Of course, even though your company’s needs are foremost in your boss’s mind, it’s important to present your personal reasons for telecommuting, reasons that go beyond the mundane like saving money on gas. For example, a co-worker of mine likewise convinced his boss to work from home permanently because he wanted to relocate to a Baha’i community in Costa Rica, to follow a faith that was personally very important to him. Ultimately, our employer found that this experience would significantly enrich his personal life. And most people, employers included, understand that a positive effect in one’s personal life often yields positive effects in the professional sphere as well.

5.Timing is key, so take what you can get.
Of course, there’s no way that your employer will allow you to telecommute permanently if you very recently started working there. Timing is key, as is building trust. I would suggest not proposing a telecommuting arrangement until you’ve produced a year or more of solid work in-office. Also, don’t be discouraged if your boss says no. Perhaps she’ll assent to working from home a couple of days a week. Accept this plan and move on. The timing for something more permanent might just be right later down the road.

Of course, working from home is still not a bed of roses. It can be hard to get work done at times, and it can often become an isolating experience. But telecommuting permanently gives you the opportunity to produce good work in a low-pressure environment, and it gives you time to follow your passions as well. Who, your boss included, wouldn’t want that?

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