Telecommuting: How To Approach Your Boss

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reportYesterday, I posted about telecommuting and how it may be a reasonable alternative if you are stretching yourself thin juggling a full-time job and part-time freelancing career. If your motivations make sense and you’ve thought through the ramifications, you are ready to pitch the idea to your boss.

While you may want to mention it in passing to gauge your boss’s reaction, you need to be completely prepared with a scheduled meeting and a proposal. A complete, written proposal will show the company you are serious about this possibility and that you’ve considered all of the bases. Here are some things you should include in your proposal:

  • Telework Statistics
  • Risks of Telecommuting
  • Benefits to the Company
  • Benefits to You
  • Implications for Your Job
  • Your Proposed Arrangement

Telework Statistics

Cold hard facts are great for making your case, and statistics are exactly what you want. Depending on where you live, there are a number of websites where you can gather statistics (see my previous post for some links), but you also want to be sure you are qualifying the numbers and relating each fact to your employer and situation to give them relevance.

Risks of Telecommuting

By including the risks of what you’re proposing, you will have an opportunity to address and contest some of the initial questions or concerns your employer may have. Identify some of the risks you can anticipate and explain how you will avoid them from happening. Some risks you should include:

  • Lack of availability during business hours
  • Inability to participate in office meetings
  • Data security
  • Lack of ergonomic standards
  • Home workplace distractions
  • Accountability

Benefits to the Company

The benefits will be specific to your employer, but some general advantages to telecommuting include:

  • The company can cut overhead expenses from office space and administrative expenses.
  • It’s greener – allowing employees to work from home will reduce auto emissions and gas use.
  • Allowing employees to telecommute can develop a renewed loyalty to the company and encourage high performance.
  • When employees eliminate a stressful commute, they may be more relaxed and able to handle their workload more effectively.
  • It can reduce employee stress, fatigue and absenteeism.
  • Teleworkers and their employers frequently report increased morale.
  • Employees may be less likely to look for another job.
  • Employees may exhibit increased efficiency because they are able to work at their most productive times.

Benefits to You

While this section should be brief, you need to address it candidly. After all, you wouldn’t be making a case for telecommuting if it didn’t benefit you in some way.  Keep the focus on the benefits that will appeal to your employer – you will be more productive and efficient; it’s a better use of commuting time; you will likely experience increased job satisfaction and company loyalty – but be sure to be honest (but brief) in the others ways you expect to benefit from the arrangement.

Implications for Your Job

Try to touch on any and every aspect of your daily responsibilities and explain how it will translate successfully into your work from home environment. Here are some elements to consider:

  • Describe work environment, address potential distraction and how you will counter them
  • Outline your work hours
  • Provide a detailed description of your equipment and how you will be able to fulfill your job responsibilities
  • Explain how you will continue to connect with coworkers (i.e., teleconferences and video meetings)
  • Discuss how you will access company data and what you will do to keep it secure

Your Proposed Arrangement

Give your boss time to absorb all of the information you’ve provided and go to the higher-ups for discussion, but have a proposal plan ready for their consideration. Suggest a trial arrangement that outlines expectations and how you can be held accountable. And consider a part-time telecommuting option that allows you to work from home 1-2 days a week or even a few half days to start. Avoid presenting an all or nothing proposition and be willing to negotiate if your employer proposes an alternative.

If this is a new arrangement for your employer, it will likely be a case of taking baby steps, but over time it can be an ideal situation for both parties.

Have you every approached a boss about telecommuting? What tips would you provide?

Image credit: Sanja Gjenero

Alyssa GregoryAlyssa Gregory
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Alyssa Gregory is a digital and content marketer, small business consultant, and the founder of the Small Business Bonfire — a social, educational and collaborative community for entrepreneurs.

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