Working from home is becoming more and more common. The latest statistics from Gallup’s Work and Education poll show that 37 percent of U.S. workers have telecommuted. That’s up from just 30 percent the previous decade, and four times more than the 9 percent of workers who said they’d telecommuted back in 1995.
The desire to work from home is also on the rise. Eighty to 90 percent of U.S. workers say they’d like to give it a try, at least part-time. And, who can blame them? There is a lot to be said for the benefits of this arrangement. So, if you’d like to jump on this bandwagon and ride it into the telecommuting sunset, here are some tips for asking your boss about working from home.
Talk about it way in advance.
You want to give your employer plenty of time to consider your proposal, and make a smooth transition. one. So, if you’re thinking of asking to work from home, talk to your boss about it a few months in advance. Don’t ask to start telecommuting tomorrow morning.
Instead, try talking about this as something you’d like to start next fiscal year, or after your contract is renewed. This will help your boss realize that you’ve really thought about this decision. It wasn’t made in haste. It also allows plenty of time to plan for the change and make the necessary adjustments both in the office and at home.
Consider requesting it on a trial or a limited basis (at least for now).
Despite the popularity of telecommuting, some people still hold some pretty negative ideas about working this way. Some managers put a lot of value on face-time, and they want to see their workers being productive. Some worry that collaborative work will become more difficult or even impossible if telecommuting becomes the norm. Being aware of these ideas, and sensitive to them, could be a real advantage to you.
Help to ease your boss into the idea by suggesting that you work from home just one or two days per week, for a couple of months, to see how it goes. Agree to check in at the end of that period assess outcomes and renew or reevaluate plans. At that point, you’ll have more concrete evidence to support the validity of your telecommuting request, and you may even be able to bargain for a deal that’s even more to your liking.
Explain why this is the best move for you, professionally speaking.
Some of the more personal reasons you’d like to work from home are pretty obvious and require no explanation. Who wouldn’t like more autonomy, no commute, and increased work-life flexibility?
Rather than getting into all of that, explain how you think this move will benefit the company. For example, you’ll be able to get more done without distractions, spend more time on work instead of commuting, and be able to connect with clients more reliably because your hours will be more flexible. Be sure to make it clear that you’re doing this to advance your career — not because you’re backing away from it.
Consider your employer’s perspective, and address it.
If you can, think in advance about what concerns your employer might bring to the table. Preparing your responses to these questions could make all the difference between a “no” and a “yes.” Having some informal discussions along the way before you sit down to make your official request might help with this too. This way, you’ll know which topics you need to address.
“Something that benefits everyone is more likely to be agreed,” Catherine Rogan, a rights’ advisor for Working Families’ legal advice service, told The Guardian. “Listen to your employer’s concerns and think about how you can make things work for everyone.”
Be super reliable and thorough, both in and out of the office.
When you really stop to think about it, it’s not too tough to understand why some bosses might hesitate to let workers telecommute. Maybe it’s something new that they’ve never tried before. Or, even worse, it’s been allowed in the past and it didn’t work out.
So, if you plan to ask to work from home, be sure you have an excellent reputation to stand behind. Be reliable, responsive, and thorough in all you do. This should help the boss warm up to the idea. If you are given the opportunity to work from home, be even more reliable and trustworthy than ever before. Your productivity will be up for careful evaluation, so be sure you’re knocking it out of the park at every turn.
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