May 7, 2010
So You Want To Work At Home? Here's How To Convince Your Boss
IconSo You Want To Work At Home? Here's How To Convince Your Boss by Karen Millard Assuming your employer doesn't have a telework policy already in place, you'll need a plan of action. Despite its growing popularity with employees, many managers are still suspicious of the concept. The trick to getting the go-ahead to work at home is to present a compelling proposal that looks at the arrangement through the managers' eyes. What risks does telework present to the organization? What might the benefits be? And what makes you the perfect candidate? Risk #1: Will you deliver? The number one concern for most managers is: how do I know you'll work as hard at home as you would in the office? Won't you be distracted by the:(check as many as apply) soaps, fridge, laundry, neighbors, children? In your proposal, you'll need to demonstrate that you have the personality and work ethic of a successful teleworker. You must be able to answer 'yes' to the following: Are you well-organized? Are you disciplined and self-motivated? Do you consistently meet your goals? Are you proficient in information and communication technology (ITC)? Do you have great time-management and communication skills? Do you have a strong performance record? Do you have a supportive family? Do you have an area in your home that can be converted to office space? Have you made arrangements for childcare? Or are your children old enough to be self-sufficient? In addition, you'll need to answer 'no' to these: Do you need a lot of social interaction? Are you easily distracted? Do you need a lot of supervision? Risk #2: What will it cost? Telework depends on technology. A computer, printer, separate phone and fax lines, pager, cell phone. If you don't already have what you need, your employer should provide it. If you already own it, say so. Just be sure it's up-to-date and reliable. There are other costs too, such as long-distance phone calls that may have to be covered. Risk #3: How will I reach you? How will important clients get in touch? "Hello! You've reached the voice mailbox of... I'm teleworking today. Please leave a message and I'll call you back." What? After you've prepared the spaghetti sauce? Your boss needs to know you can be contacted at all times, especially if your work involves any kind of customer service. Explain that you'll have your calls forwarded to your home office and that you'll pick up. Make arrangements to check in with the office as frequently as your boss requires. You can suggest regular project updates by phone, fax or email; or a brief telephone check-in at the start and end of every work day. Whatever you agree on, make sure your boss knows you'll be as available at home as you were at the office. Now The Benefits. Benefit #1: Telework reduces absenteeism. In a study released in 1999, the International Telework Association and Council (I.T.A.C) concluded that healthy employees often miss work due to family and personal obligations that can only be met during the business day. Teleworkers are still able to get some work done, even on days when they have appointments to attend. Employers can save 63% of the cost of absenteeism per teleworking employee, or $2086 per employee per year. Benefit #2: Telework increases productivity.The I.T.A.C study reported an average productivity increase of 22% per day worked at home. Other studies show equally positive results: American Express teleworkers produce 43% more business than on-site workers; Compaq reported productivity increases ranging from 15 - 45%; JDEdwards teleworkers are 20 - 25% more productive than JDEdwards office workers and ATT teleworkers work five more hours at home than ATT office workers. Benefit #3: Telework increases employee retention. A key concept of telework is the ability to better balance work and family life. It's an option more and more employees are demanding. A telework arrangement allows the organization to increase employee satisfaction, morale and productivity. The I.T.A.C survey concluded that for every teleworker retained by the organization, the employer avoids a cost of replacing that employee of $7920 per worker. Benefit #4: Telework saves money. Lots of it. There are other cost savings too. Make sure your boss knows about them. Telework, according to PC Magazine, can cut corporate real estate costs by 25 - 90%. IBM US reportedly cut their costs by 40 - 60% and ATT has saved approximately $550 million since 1991 by eliminating or consolidating office space no longer needed. The Proposal. Now that you understand and can address your manager's concerns, you're well on your way to crafting a convincing proposal. Start by briefly reviewing the reasons you want to work at home. Concentrate on quality of life issues, and productivity. Although most mothers cite the ability to care for their children at home as a reason for wanting to telework, it's not one that's likely to win much approval from your boss. Spend more time outlining how your working at home can benefit the organization. Will your productivity increase? Will you free up office space? Can you work when others may not be able to? Make a case for yourself. Just as you would in a resume, stress the character traits, skills and accomplishments that make you the perfect candidate for telework. Next, address the logistics. Explain where and when you'll work. How many days a week? Whether you envision a return to the office at some point, or whether you see this as a more permanent arrangement. Suggest a schedule for checking in and provide your pager numbers, phone and fax numbers and email addresses. Show how you plan to remain a part of the team. Will you attend weekly meetings, for instance? Or will you offer to help out on-site during emergencies? Outline the equipment you already have, and anything else you may need to do your job efficiently. Explain that any costs will be more than offset by the savings. Try and quantify the work you do. How many hours do your projects take you to complete on-site? How many sales calls do you make or receive at the office? Using this information, offer your employer a list of reasonable work at home goals that can be used to evaluate the success of the arrangement. The Escape Hatch. Finally, if your boss still isn't comfortable with the idea, suggest a trial run. When Marie-France Revelin began working at home, it was on a part-time, trial basis, even though her job involved promoting telework within her own organization. An escape hatch also allows you a gracious way out if you decide you miss the social interaction of the office, or you find you're unable to separate work from family time. The Last Word... is "telework." The trend began with employees wishing to avoid a long commute and free up more time for personal pursuits. Consequently, the term used to describe it was "telecommute." Some experts think that part of the reason telecommuting has been slow to catch on with employers is that the term itself emphasized the personal benefits, rather than the benefits to the organization. Perhaps because it implies the accomplishment of business objectives, "telework" is the term to use today. Where "telecommuting" was about avoidance, "teleworking" is about accomplishment. Show your boss you're serious, use the right expression, and your dream of working at home will become a reality. Teleworking Resources: Jobs Page New teleworking jobs are added every day. Plus links to job search sites where you can search for jobs requiring your specific skills. Internet home of the International Telework Association and Council. (I.T.A.C) Use the pop-up list to navigate the site. Lots of great links and checklists. One of the most informative and comprehensive telework sites on the Internet. Articles and advice for teleworkers, telemanagers and wanna-be's. Well-designed and easy to navigate. Joanne H. Pratt is the author of the I.T.A.C's 1999 telework survey. Her website is packed with information and advice, ranging from how to know if you'd make a good teleworker, to how to maintain a professional image when you work at home. Permission granted for use on

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