A Work-from-Home Argument Your Boss Can't Refuse

Everyone’s had mornings when they’d rather stay in their bunny slippers and gloat at the traffic reports while sipping coffee and working from their “home office.” But in the past (let’s call it the dark ages), some bosses considered “working from home” a euphemism for “doing errands” and only allowed it in the event of major plumbing or medical emergencies. Fortunately, progress in technology has made it possible to stay in your PJs and also be productive.

Here’s a surefire way to get even the most stubborn boss to let you give “teleworking” a try.

Staying home is not just for snow days anymore

Besides the occasional blizzard, dentist appointment or teacher conference, there are uniquely modern motives for working remotely, such as needing to get kids to and from various activities, wanting to reduce gas consumption and carbon emissions, and avoiding the spread of contagious flu germs and viruses.

In fact, with all the hurdles employees face simply getting to the office five days a week, the potential for costly absenteeism and inefficiency is definitely cause for concern..

Teleworking is a win-win situation

Here’s the good news: With the advent of smartphones, laptop computers and remote technology, it looks like the days of being chained to your office may be over.  And while the employeebenefits of working remotely (also referred to as telecommuting and teleworking) may seem obvious, studies show that even for many organizations, the advantages of having a plan in place for remote workers far outweigh the costs.

Let’s look at some supporting statistics

Surprisingly, studies have shown that stay-at-home workers are actually more productive than their cubicle counterparts and they report higher rates of job satisfaction. (New York Times Magazine, November  4, 2007). Also, according to an April 2009 Remote Revolution blog entry: “…occasional telecommuting is on a sharp increase in response to what (WorldatWork.org) defines as more high-speed internet locations offering access in more places, increases in fuel and transportation costs, and a greater willingness on the part of employers to ’embrace work-life balance concepts.'”

More and more employers are getting on board

Today, with the all possibilities created by virtual networking and remote technology, many bosses finally “get it.” Here’s some more encouraging news for potential telecommuters:
*42% of U.S. employers allowed staff to work remotely in 2008 — up from just 30% in 2007. (WorldatWork 2008 survey of 2,288 U.S. employers)
*The number of Americans who worked from home or remotely at least one day per month for their employer (“employee telecommuters”) increased from approximately 12.4 million in 2006 to17.2 million in 2008. A 39% two-year increase and 74% increase since 2005. (WorldatWork Telework Trendlines, 2009)

Commander-in-chief sees value of telecommuting

Even back in 2009, before a massive snowstorm paralyzed much of the northeast United States, including the nation’s Capitol, President Barack Obama saw the value of having a strategy in place for telecommuting, and pledged to expand telework for federal employees.

But what if your boss is still in the dark ages?

So, what if you know you could thrive working at home at least one day a week — or even just occasionally — but you’re afraid your boss won’t agree? Take some time, do some research and learn how teleworking can benefit your company before making a proposal. Here are some tips for building a convincing business case your boss can’t refuse.

Focus on what’s in it for them

Lecturing your boss on the virtues of being a “green company” is not the way to convince her to allow you to work remotely. But if you point out the study results from slide 4 about the higher productivity and job satisfaction rates among teleworkers you will get her ear.  At that point you might add that companies with telecommuting programs have found it helps increase employee retention, which reduces a company’s costs of hiring and training new employees (WorldatWork.org, 2007).

Now that you have her attention, don’t lose it

Because you have done your homework, at this point you know what kind of technology it will take to allow you to access your office files and programs from home. If necessary you have researched your company’s VPN capabilities or you’ve taken a free trial of a remote computer access system, like LogMeIn or GotoMyPC, and can assure your boss you will be equally, if not more, effective working from home.

Make him an offer he can’t refuse

So, he’s impressed with your preparation and seems to be wavering. Here are two things that can seal the deal. First of all, suggest a trial period. How can any reasonable person argue with that? Secondly, and this is important: You’ve been carefully reeling him in with your well-laid out scheme, so don’t blow it by asking for your work-at-home day to be a Monday or a Friday. A Tuesday or Wednesday is best — at least for now.

Now that you’ve prevailed, don’t be a stranger

Congratulations, you’ve earned those bunny slippers. Now you just have to prove you can be an asset to the team even when you are working offsite. Make yourself known. Be productive and efficient. Utilize meeting technology and other virtual office software. Whatever you do, don’t let them forget about you — or you can forget about your telecommute… and possibly your real one. Good luck.