A question I am often asked by people who would like to telecommute is, "How do I approach my manager or boss about this subject?" Many people fear that if they suggest telecommuting, or even working from home occasionally, that they will be viewed as "less than serious" about their job. Of course, if your company already has a formal telework plan in place it is much easier, but what do you do if they don't?
Before you approach your boss or manager there are 2 main things you need to consider:
• Is my job right for telecommuting? If your job involves doing a lot of independent work such as reading, research, number crunching, report or document writing, or phone work then at least a portion of your job can be done outside the office – and might actually benefit from being away from common office interruptions. On the other hand, if your job requires a good deal of face-to-face contact or access to information or systems that are only available in the office, then your job might not be a good fit for telecommuting.
• Would I make a good telecommuter? There are certain traits that help make someone more successful at working outside the office. Successful telecommuters are usually self-starters who do not require much "hands-on" help from mangers or colleagues. They also need to be organized and possess good time management skills. If you don't have all of these skills don't worry, they can be developed over time.
Many companies have heard of the benefits of telework but they still have fears or misconceptions about what is involved. Here are 5 steps you can take to approach this topic professionally.
1. Go in with a plan, not a request. Do your research and be prepared to address any questions, fears, or objections that your manager and/or boss might have. Put together a short proposal including:
a) Why you want to telecommute.
b) From what location you will be telecommuting.
c) Is the space and equipment sufficient?
d) How will they know you are working?
e) How many days a week you will work from a remote location.
(Usually only a day or two a week to start)
f) How often will you be "checking in?"
g) Why do you, in particular, have the skills necessary to work from home?
2. Think like a Manager or Supervisor. Approach this proposal/conversation thinking like a manager. Don't explain how it will benefit you; instead focus on how it will benefit the company and increase your productivity.
3. BE FLEXIBLE! Don't initially propose this as a permanent arrangement. Explain that you'd like to try it for 2-3 months with an evaluation at the beginning, middle, and end of the trial to evaluate your progress.
4. Have measurable goals and objectives. How will they know you're working? If you spend a lot of time preparing reports, figure out how many hours or days they usually take you to complete. If you work in a customer service position, then track how many calls you put out to clients. The bottom line is to find some way to quantify your current level of productivity so your boss or manager will have a basis for comparison.
5. Ease their fears with facts. Find recent statistics and articles about other organizations that have implemented telework programs successfully. It's best if you can find those that pertain specifically to your job description. If you can show that other, similar companies are successfully executing telework, then t the perceived risk is reduced.
As a consultant, writer, speaker, and coach Phil Montero is a 13 year veteran at the spearhead of the remote work movement. You can get many FREE resources on virtual teams, technology, and remote work on his resource page
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