How to Convince Your Boss You Should Be Able to Work Remotely
The reasons to work remotely are obvious to employees: a commute of mere seconds, an inexpensive home-cooked lunch, and a decreased clothing budget.
The boss might need some convincing. Though the number of telecommuters is growing, it’s still only around a quarter of the U.S. workforce, according to the 2017 Virtual Vocations Year-End Report. If your company has no experience in this area, you’ll need to come up with a way to pitch the idea.
The key is to come up with a plan that points out the benefits to both sides, acknowledges potential pitfalls, and offers practical solutions.
Can Telecommuting Work At Your Company?
First, figure out if it’s doable. Can you access work software remotely? If not, test drive a remote computer access system to see if it actually works for you.
You should also consider cloud solutions. Bonus points here if you can demonstrate how much money you’d save the company by converting everyone to Google Docs instead of buying dozens of seat licenses for software.
Be prepared to address the precedent problem: If one person works remotely, more people will want to, too. Can your company accommodate that? If so, how?
Next, figure out how the boss thinks. Is she analytical, driven by data and numbers, or is he intuitive, swayed by gut impressions? If you’ve been on the job for a while, you’ll already know how your manager thinks. If not, take some time, and study the boss. What you observe will tell you how to craft your pitch.
The analytical thinker will be swayed by business impacts. Point out many people who work remotely believe that doing so has boosted their productivity. The information might come as a shock to a boss concerned about workers spending days running personal errands on the clock.
Highlight the advantages for the business. A remote workforce means the company spends less on equipment, ranging from computers to desks. If the firm is renting office space, it eventually might be able to move to a smaller building.
Mention that, while telecommuters are still in the minority, many of today’s workers value flexibility. Your company can get ahead of competitors by offering the option while it’s still new and trendy.
Do your research so you have solid information to back up your pitch. You don’t need to walk in with a PowerPoint, and there’s no need to launch into a dry recitation of statistics. But you will need to make sure you’ve made your case.
Overcoming Fears About Working Remotely
With the intuitive thinker, fear could be the biggest factor. Nothing terrifies a boss more than looking around an empty office during summer vacation season or the holidays and seeing there’s no one to handle emergencies.
If staffing the phones is the prime concern, offer to transfer the business line to your home phone or cell if necessary. Volunteer to answer the phones earlier or later than most people arrive at the office, effectively extending business hours at no cost to the company.
If having enough people on site for customer service is a worry, commit to working at the office on peak days for foot traffic.
Finally, if you’re not already a top-notch performer, make sure you become one. Bosses are much more likely to trust highly motivated, self-disciplined workers out of sight than they are the people who require a cattle prod to get going every day.
There’s something to be said for using a stealth strategy to build the case for telecommuting. From a weather emergency to staying home to meet a repairman, use opportunities to show you’re productive from afar.
If the boss still seems hesitant, offer to work remotely on a trial basis of three to six months. It’s a low-risk way for both sides to see if it really works.
Convincing the boss to let you work remotely can be challenging, particularly if you would be the first to do it. With an organized approach, planning and research, though, you have a better chance of living the dream, at home in your jammies.