Check and see if your company already has a telecommuting policy in place as your first course of action. If so, you are in luck, follow the procedures outlined in the employee manual and/or on the company website. (Federal government workers should access the Office of Personnel’s Telework site: Telework.gov.
If there is no telecommuting policy in place, try to find out if other employees have or are working on a telecommuting basis. Talk to them about their experience telecommuting with the company and how they arranged for the setup.
If you can’t find another telecommuter, then you may be a “trailblazer” for your company. In this case, you should give your management a written and verbal proposal requesting the opportunity to telecommute. Your oral presentation will give your boss the opportunity to ask questions and raise objections to you in person. The written proposal will allow them to take time to consider it and present it to other management.
Make sure you focus your request on how telecommuting can help them, not you. In other words, don’t say you want to telecommute to be home with the kids, take care of your parents, etc. Instead, come up with a proposal on how your company will benefit. Be sure to focus on:
- Improved productivity and job performance. Telecommuting will enable you to distance yourself from time wasting office distractions such as chatty co-workers.
- Real-estate savings—Employers save money on office space, parking space, and equipment. Office space for the average worker in North America costs $10,000 per year, according to the Telework Coalition.
- Less missed time—telecommuters tend to miss less work time for illness and because of weather closings. They may also be able to work despite transit strikes, flooding and natural disasters, and other emergencies.
- Compliance with any applicable state-mandated regulations/ laws for providing telecommuting opportunities.
- Potential for tax credits and other incentives.
- Helping the environment by reducing traffic congestion and emissions. For statistics and information, check out: the telecommuting web page for the Clean Air Council.
Be sure to focus on how you can get your job done and how your performance can be tracked and evaluated. You may want to suggest a “trial run” so that both you and your management will have a period of time to evaluate if telecommuting is working out for both of you. It is advisable to request working one to two days at home and then suggest increasing the number of days later on if it is acceptable to both you and your employer. If you have very young children, consider explaining how your childcare needs will be covered.
Excerpted with permission from ALL MOMS WORK: Short-term Career Strategies for Long-range Success by Sharon Reed Abboud (Capital Books, www.capital-books.com).