How (and How Not) To Ask Your Boss If You Can Work From Home
The popularity of working from home is on the rise. Many combine occasional telecommuting with in-office work, but you don’t need a full-time work-from-home arrangement in order to reap the benefits of a flexible work schedule.
Working from home can make you more productive, more focused, and happier with your job. With a little careful planning, it can even alleviate some of the work-life balance and time management concerns that plague working parents or budding entrepreneurs. Finally, in this era of open-plan offices and group projects, it’s nice to get a little peace and quiet now and then, both for the sake of your work and the sake of your spirit.
That said, not every employer or manager is a fan of the WFH arrangement. Before you ask your boss if you can start telecommuting occasionally, you’ll want to be prepared.
Do These Things Before You Talk to Your Boss
1. Demonstrate value.
How will you working from home benefit the company? If you can prove that you can get more done, and thus earn more money for the organization, you’ll stand a better chance of getting permission to give telecommuting a try. Think of responsibilities and projects that require more peace and quiet than you currently get while you’re working in the office. Create a possible schedule to show the boss, demonstrating how you’d use your time.
What would you expect to get done in a typical day? Spell out how you’d spend your time and what you’d expect to deliver during your work-from-home days.
3. Offer plenty of avenues of communication.
Make yourself available via several means, so that your manager and colleagues can get in touch with you if they need you. In addition to email, phone, and video-conferencing, offer to stay visible on a messenger program, if your manager prefers, so that he or she can “see” that you’re at your computer and working.
Don’t Do Any of These Things During or After Your Meeting
1. Get personal.
Hopefully, your boss is a nice person who genuinely cares about your career development and personal happiness, but now is not the time to test that. Don’t reference your childcare situation, your exhausting commute, or the fact that your cubicle neighbor chews so loudly, you sometimes think of leaving your desk and never coming back. Focus only on the benefits to the company and your work.
2. Overpromise or underdeliver.
Sure, you want to impress your manager with how much you can get done during the day on your own, but promising the moon and not delivering isn’t how to do it.
If possible, suggest a trial work-from-home day, to figure out how much you can reasonably get done in a day and to work out the kinks in terms of staying in touch with the office. Chances are, you’ll get much more done without the distractions of the office, but you don’t want to assume that you’ll be doubly productive until you’ve had a chance to see how you work. Commit to meeting deadlines, but don’t overextend yourself.
3. Goof off.
This is the most important “don’t” on our list: once you’ve secured your boss’s permission to give telecommuting a try, you absolutely have to prove yourself worthy of his or her trust. Don’t blow it by waking up at noon and wasting time on the internet. If you want to make working at home a habit, you have to prove that you can make it work.