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How to Tell Your Boss You Want to Telecommute
You’re convinced. You want to telecommute and you’re sure it can work.
You’ll be more productive and happier with fewer interruptions. You’ll have more time for family functions. You’ll find that extra ambition you need to pursue that advanced degree.
Talking yourself into this professional lifestyle change was easy. You already know what makes it right for you. But convincing your boss—even raising the topic—will likely take some work. You have to persuade your supervisor that telecommuting is a good choice not only for you, the employee, but the company. Here are some suggestions for getting the conversation going in your favor.
Simply telling your boss you’ll be happier telecommuting probably won’t be enough. We’d be happier with a lot of things at work, whether it’s more PTO time or a pay raise, so convincing your boss you can be productive with newfound freedom and without direct supervision might be tough. Your supervisor is taking a chance. You’ll have to prove it’s a practical option. You need to show what you do in the office can be done successfully from your home, and your skills and work ethic won’t suffer outside the traditional workplace.
Know your role
Outline your daily tasks so you’re ready to illustrate to your boss how you’ll be able to perform each essential function from home. Think carefully about your job—and be honest with yourself about the work, resources and time it takes to complete tasks. Ask yourself the tough questions: Can my work be performed effectively without direct, daily contact with other staff or a supervisor? Make sure you can answer for the smaller tasks as much as the primary ones. The details matter—all of them. If you’ve thoroughly reviewed each aspect of your work and can present a solution for addressing each function, you’ll be ready for questions about how you’ll handle your duties outside the office.
Emphasize the benefits of telecommuting
Could working from home result in cost savings at your company? Can you highlight a successful project or task you’ve done in the past year that required little or no direct supervision? Tell your boss about it. You can strengthen your case for telecommuting with demonstrable examples of benefits to your company.
If you can effectively tell your boss that you can perform the job’s functions from home, the next step is to show it. To get started, suggest a trial period—perhaps two to three days per month of working from home. If things go smoothly, ask for more time. Demonstrating that you can successfully perform your duties from home will be a stepping stone to transitioning your position into full-time telecommuting. Take note of things that went well on your telecommuting days and report back to your boss. If an issue came up, be honest. Show that you have solutions to potential problems. Being forthright about your telecommuting trial will build trust with your boss—which is what any supervisor needs with employees they don’t directly oversee day to day. Your supervisor will notice—and appreciate—your ability to identify and address potential problems. It will show you don’t need constant watch.
You can take things a step further during this trial period, too. That means extra effort. Can that report be typed up a day early? Could that presentation be sharper with an extra 10 minutes of work? Take initiative on challenging tasks, volunteer for extra work and take time to learn new skills. Extra effort gets noticed, and not only will it show your boss that you are reliable enough to work from home, but you have the discipline, dependability and drive needed to successfully telecommute.
Don’t get disconnected
You’ll both benefit from a system for checking in about the status of projects, staying up to date on changes, reporting problems and solving issues. Develop a policy with your boss and stick to it. Promptly respond to emails, calls and other contact. You’ll need to show you’re available when needed and ready to handle workplace demands.
Bringing up the topic of telecommuting with your boss can be a tricky proposition, but with enough reflection and planning, you can build a convincing case that will benefit both you and your company.