The positive reasons for telecommuting have already been recognized by many software and technology companies. And according to The Telework Coalition, more than 45 million U.S. workers currently telecommute from home at least once a week. Chuck Wilsker, president and CEO of the Coalition, says in the last six months, he has seen a three-fold increase in the number of calls he fields from employers, employees and media wanting to know more about the reasons for telecommuting.
If you’re feeling stretched thin between work, family and a long commute or are a victim of endless meetings that make it impossible to get any actual work done at the office, you might be wise to define your reasons for telecommuting. You can build your case by writing a proposal for telecommuting, and expert say you won’t have to compromise your salary. The key is to emphasize the reasons for telecommuting that will benefit your employer. Before writing a proposal for telecommuting and heading into your manager’s office, consider these six tips:
1. Do your telecommuting homework. Find out if your employer has a company telecommuting policy by checking with human resources or your colleagues, says Alexandra Levit, a Chicago-based career expert and author of “How’d You Score That Gig?” “If others at your company have done it successfully, you will be more likely to convince your boss that you can do it successfully,” Levit explains. Likewise, if your employer doesn’t have a company telecommuting policy, it’s critical to know ahead of time, says J.T. O’Donnell, a New Hampshire-based career coach and workplace consultant. “There may be a good reason they frown upon it-in which case, think about whether you want to approach the subject,” she says.
2. Play up on the productivity reasons for telecommuting. A lower salary should not be a part of your transition plan to telecommute, explains Linda Babcock, co-author of “Ask For It: How Women Can Use the Power of Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.” The key lies in illustrating reasons for telecommuting that will boost your productivity. “Tell your employer you will be home working-not cleaning house or caring for kids. Say, ‘I have an office on the third floor of our house, I will be super-productive, I will have all the things I need to do my job,’ so the employer sees this as a positive for them, also,” notes Babcock, who is based in Pittsburgh. For example, when you’re writing a proposal for telecommuting, you might illustrate how telecommuting one day a week will let you devote the two hours you normally spend commuting on work tasks, instead.
3. Determine your boss’s potential telecommunicating concerns. A manager might object to telecommuting from home over such issues as trust or accessibility. “Go on the offensive and tell them why they don’t need to worry,” O’Donnell suggests. You can offer to check in several times a day, by e-mail and phone, she says, creating a presence while you’re not in the office.
4. Propose a telecommuting trial period. When you’re writing a proposal for telecommuting, experts say to suggest telecommuting on a test-run basis, instead of as a permanent situation. Recommend a six-month or a three-month telecommuting test period and a monthly conversation with your boss about your progress and productivity, says Tory Johnson, CEO of Women For Hire in New York. “Managers are more inclined to say yes to something that isn’t permanent. It’s why you date before you marry-you test the waters,” Johnson says. And when you do show productivity, your boss will begin to understand your reasons for telecommuting, and how they benefit the company.
5. Explain your home-office setup that will be used for telecommuting. Mike Boyer, vice president of IT at Fiberlink, a technology vendor in the Philadelphia area, says when an employee approaches him about telecommuting from home, he asks how the working environment will be set up. A less-structured, kitchen-table configuration could work for someone with keen self-discipline, Boyer notes. But those who need quiet space should create that at home, he says; otherwise, their productivity will be compromised by telecommuting.
6. Rehearse your telecommuting pitch. “You really want to have thought about how you want to present this. Rehearse it with someone-words are key. If you go in there and present it in the wrong way, you could lose your chance,” O’Donnell says.