Author Topic: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it  (Read 5705 times)

BrooklineBiker

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Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« on: August 01, 2014, 09:06:11 PM »
Hi everyone,
I am interested in obtaining a work at home arrangement from my boss. My problem is that I lack a good business reason to justify the request. For example, I live close to my work and my working at home will likely neither save the employer much money nor make me significantly more productive. I have medical problems but my manager is pretty good about letting me out of work for my numerous doctor's appointments. Any tips on generating some good business reasons for my being allowed to telecommute?
Thanks!

madmax

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2014, 01:38:31 AM »
Why is that you want to work from home? If it improves your family life and makes you like your work more, I would argue that makes it a compelling business argument. Of course, it depends on how dispensable you are and what sort of value you bring to your company.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2014, 05:48:32 AM »
Why is that you want to work from home? If it improves your family life and makes you like your work more, I would argue that makes it a compelling business argument. Of course, it depends on how dispensable you are and what sort of value you bring to your company.
Hi Madmax,
Thanks for your feedback. I have burned out on the office scene. The office social life with my current employer does not appeal to me. I would love to be able to open a window during our nice summer days. My current location is in a very high cost of living city. I would like to relocate to a much cheaper part of the US.

I do generate revenue for the company. My employer fires lots of administrative people for very arbitrary reasons. It is hard to get a handle on how easy it would be to replace me.

ender

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2014, 05:59:01 AM »
The best first step is to be really good at your job and have your boss 100% trust you.


Sarita

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2014, 02:02:15 PM »
You could offer to do it on a probationary basis e.g. 90 days (from your current location) to see how it works, with the understanding that you would revert to current on-site arrangement if the manager isn't happy with it.    A potential issue is the setting of a precedent--- will others expect the same sort of flexibility if they allow you to do it.
Saying that you would appreciate being able to live in a cheaper area is an acceptable reason (I work in HR; this isn't an uncommon request).  Though if they are arbitrary about firing people I would be a bit skittish about whether they would treat you differently if you ask for a telecommute work arrangement. 

Fishingmn

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #5 on: August 02, 2014, 02:32:45 PM »
The best first step is to be really good at your job and have your boss 100% trust you.

Agree with this.

My DW negotiated 4 days a week at home on her current job. She was able to do so because she is indispensable to her manager and her work product is always ahead of others in her department. I highly doubt the boss would be as willing to let others do the same. If anything her boss pushes her to take more time off since she already works 50-60 hours/week as is.

steadierfooting

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2014, 03:20:13 PM »
I had one of my employees  at my last job ask if she could work from home I think one or two days a week.  She made a good case that there's no reason for her to be in the office every day, but in the end I came up with the policy of, "only 10's get to work from home "(outstanding employees)". She was slightly above average, and I would have been ok with her leaving to get someone better in. 

I'd push for 1 or 2 days a week, then ask to add on a day each year, unless there's already a liberal policy with that (my current company let's us wfh as much or little as we want -- I haven't seen  my boss in over 2 years!)


RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2014, 10:52:48 AM »
Try working your way up.  I'm currently doing every other friday from home.  Not very exciting, but it's pretty easy to swing to the higher ups.  Once I prove my ability to be productive from home (still working on this, because I'm not yet, and there are no existing metrics anyway), next step is every Friday, then 2 days a week, etc.  Depending on your company you may just need to find another that's more comfortable with it though if you get a lot of resistance.

I'm in a similar position in that I am eventually going to move away from here and would love to keep my current job, so I'm quietly working them towards that idea.

blackomen

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2014, 02:14:10 PM »
Work really hard including staying longer than usual at the office..  when management confronts you or after a few weeks have elapsed, ask for the possibility of working from home.  If they decline it, then go back to your normal productivity and hours then pull this off again in a few months.

rugorak

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2014, 02:44:00 PM »
I'll second the trial basis. It worked for me at my old job on a boss who was pretty set against work from home. (Even though we did it all the time for extra work and on call) It went so well he ended up working from home at times as well. Granted it was only for 1 day a week but from nothing to 1 day a week for someone who was in the never mindset is a decent win. I wouldn't have wanted to work remotely all the time anyway nor could I have given the job.

Beric01

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2014, 03:13:46 PM »
Here's the thing about telecommuting. For many employers, it's not about productivity. I've seen some studies that show telecommuting is at least as productive as going into the office, if not more (here I am typing in this forum post in the office, BTW). Got that, Hiring a worker is not about productivity. It's about a few things:

  • Getting bodies into the office. My Dad, who telecommutes, was recently asked to start coming into the office 2 days a week for "appearances' sake". He could not negotiate out of it, even though he gets stellar reviews every year. Apparently the CEO came into the office and saw a lot of empty chairs, and decided the building was going to waste.
  • Making your boss feel happy. Ever notice that people are hired because they're likeable? Your boss wants to be around people he/she likes.
  • Making your boss look good in front of his/her boss. Remember your boss is graded on the perceived productivity of your team. That's why when my boss's boss comes into town, he asks where someone is if they're not at their desk. That's why you work on something when a panicked email is sent out from your boss's boss.
  • Lastly, it's about minimizing risk to the company. Ever wonder why companies hire mediocre employees? Because the best ones pose a risk to the company in some way. Everyone wants to cover their ass, so to speak. Who's going to get blamed if you work from home and you really do goof off for a while? Your boss. Your boss doesn't want to get into trouble.

You have to see the workplace culture for what it is. I'm quickly learning all of this, and note I've only been working full time for a little more than 2 years. This kind of stuff is also a factor as to why I want to FIRE. ;-)
« Last Edit: August 04, 2014, 03:15:44 PM by Beric01 »

GuitarStv

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2014, 07:26:46 AM »
Here's the thing about telecommuting. For many employers, it's not about productivity. I've seen some studies that show telecommuting is at least as productive as going into the office, if not more (here I am typing in this forum post in the office, BTW). Got that, Hiring a worker is not about productivity. It's about a few things:

  • Getting bodies into the office. My Dad, who telecommutes, was recently asked to start coming into the office 2 days a week for "appearances' sake". He could not negotiate out of it, even though he gets stellar reviews every year. Apparently the CEO came into the office and saw a lot of empty chairs, and decided the building was going to waste.
  • Making your boss feel happy. Ever notice that people are hired because they're likeable? Your boss wants to be around people he/she likes.
  • Making your boss look good in front of his/her boss. Remember your boss is graded on the perceived productivity of your team. That's why when my boss's boss comes into town, he asks where someone is if they're not at their desk. That's why you work on something when a panicked email is sent out from your boss's boss.
  • Lastly, it's about minimizing risk to the company. Ever wonder why companies hire mediocre employees? Because the best ones pose a risk to the company in some way. Everyone wants to cover their ass, so to speak. Who's going to get blamed if you work from home and you really do goof off for a while? Your boss. Your boss doesn't want to get into trouble.


I've seen this pattern over and over again in the workplace.  Usually the direct managers know that there's no loss in productivity by having their employees work from home, but someone in upper management has decided that they don't like the idea and has put up as many roadblocks as possible to discourage it.

Unfortunately, perception of work and work quality is much more important than actual amounts of work/quality of work being done for most companies.

NoraLenderbee

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2014, 11:46:51 AM »
At my previous job, my own manager telecommuted 2 days per week, but she didn't want to let any of us telecommute at all. The company decided to allow 1 day per week for most people, so she couldn't object any more, but she made a lot of snide remarks about people not really working when they were telecommuting.

ThirdTimer

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2014, 04:15:49 PM »
I second everyone's comments here about being as valuable an employee as possible, which generally makes your bosses more willing to accommodate you. If you think right now you're considered average or below average, I'd definitely recommend spending the next month or so really going the extra mile, then broach this conversation when everyone's feeling sunshine and roses about you.

Second, think about any ways in which your working from home could be an inconvenience to your boss or those around you, and think about ways to address those. My fiance telecommutes 3 weeks a month, and his company has a "hey, let me walk over to your desk to talk to you about this project" sort of vibe, so he actually set up a tablet on his desk at the office that he skypes into every day, so people can just go over to his desk or carry his tablet into a meeting.

FYI, my fiance did this to move to a cheaper city...the city where I live. He test-drove it by asking to work from my place for a week (which turned into two weeks due to an unexpected snowstorm), which his boss agreed to, and then made sure to be especially productive for those weeks. After returning, he raised the possibility with his boss of moving and telecommuting 100%. The boss wasn't OK with that, but agreed to a 3 week-1 week arrangement, with fiance flying back 1 week a month on his own dime (I know this sounds super anti-mustachian, but the job is in a high-salary, high-COL, high-state-income-tax location, while we now live in a low-salary, low-COL, no-state-income-tax location, so he actually comes out way ahead of either living near work or getting a comparable job here, even after the cost of the plane tickets). They both agreed this would be on a "trial" basis, and fiance was very vigilant about checking in with his boss each time he was back in town to make sure the boss was still feeling good about his work and was OK with the arrangement.

I have another friend who's in a two-day-a-week telecommuting situation. Same deal, she was a good employee and told her boss it was something she'd really like to be able to do and asked if she could do it. If you think your boss might freak out if you asked for full telecommuting, it's probably a good idea to ask to switch to a two or three day a week telecommuting plan instead, on a trial basis. If she agrees to this, I'd recommend pulling your productivity back a little on the days your in the office, and being super-extra-productive on the days that your home, just to further her impression that you working from home is a super-productive arrangement. After this has gone on successfully for awhile and everyone's gotten used to it, then you can raise the possibility of a full telecommuting schedule that would allow you to move.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2014, 05:23:02 AM »
Hi everyone,
Thank you so much. These are great recommendations! Here is a bit of background on me. I have 2 very young children and a pile of time-consuming personal medical issues. Thus, I really want to avoid putting in extra hours in the office to impress the boss - my time out of work is spoken for. I can work hard during office hours but that is it. I am pretty skilled employee so I do have value to the company. My skill set and institutional knowledge would be hard to replace. I also did some checking. The company has no posted policy on telecommuting. Some managers do let their workers telecommute but those seem to be individual arrangements. So can I be approved for telecommuting without being a super worker for a month or two? 

simonsez

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2014, 05:50:20 AM »
  • ...Apparently the CEO came into the office and saw a lot of empty chairs, and decided the building was going to waste.

I agree with the CEO.....the building is going to waste.

If productivity is held at least relatively constant by someone working from home some non-zero amount, the CEO needs an incentive just like the employee does out of the deal.  CEO can get the building manager to shuffle things around, possibly initiate shared workstations, and sell/rent-out off a portion of valuable office space to someone else and also begin to reap benefit from employees working from home.  Bricks and mortar are expensive.

I love working from home, saves me 2 hours of commute time and that is one more available seat for someone else on the metro on days I'm at home (and for those that drive, saving gas and not being on roads has quite the positive externalities).  Not every job can worked on from home obviously but the web and video conferencing technology has been around a bit, glad to see working from home becoming more popular with employers.

ThirdTimer

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2014, 09:26:49 AM »
Yes, you definitely can. It's really just going to depend on how your boss feels about it.

Obviously, anytime you ask for something, it's always better to do it when the person you're asking feels especially positively disposed towards you, but it doesn't mean you need to be a super-worker. If you want, you can wait until your knowledge has been especially helpful for a big project, or you've really helped your boss out in a pinch or whatever, or you can just ask now. There's really no harm in asking.

And if you ask for something like a two-day-a-week work from home situation and the boss does say no, ask her if she'd mind sharing why she's reluctant. Getting concrete information about why she thinks it's a bad idea will help you to think of solutions that would address her concerns so you can revisit the conversation in the future.

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2014, 09:40:21 PM »
Yes, you definitely can. It's really just going to depend on how your boss feels about it.

Obviously, anytime you ask for something, it's always better to do it when the person you're asking feels especially positively disposed towards you, but it doesn't mean you need to be a super-worker. If you want, you can wait until your knowledge has been especially helpful for a big project, or you've really helped your boss out in a pinch or whatever, or you can just ask now. There's really no harm in asking.

And if you ask for something like a two-day-a-week work from home situation and the boss does say no, ask her if she'd mind sharing why she's reluctant. Getting concrete information about why she thinks it's a bad idea will help you to think of solutions that would address her concerns so you can revisit the conversation in the future.
Thanks ThirdTimer. That sounds like a good approach.

Schaefer Light

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Re: Telecommuting-how to get employer to approve it
« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2014, 10:25:54 AM »
I think most companies are scared of telecommuting because they have no idea how to judge performance.  They have a much easier time judging attendance, though.