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Work from Home AND Keep Your Day Job

How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Work from Home

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If you want to work from home there are a few things you need to know and do before you can attempt to try to build a good case that your employer should allow you to work from home.

Step 1: Be Sure You Can Work from Home

Ask yourself these questions before going to the time and trouble to state your case for working from home:
  • Is your job one that can be effectively be done from home? If not, could it be restructured to make it work from home friendly?
  • Are you sure that you have the self discipline necessary to work from home? What evidence do you have or examples can you cite that would back up that statement?
  • How many days per week working from home would satisfy you?
  • Are you trying to climb the ladder of success in your career? If so, will future promotions be sacrificed if you are "out of sight and out of mind" while you work from home?

Step 2: Get Your Work from Home Facts Together

You need to be armed with hard data and you need to be able to convince your employer that working from home is not only in your best interest, more importantly (to them), it's in their best interest too.

  • Find out if your company already has a work from home program in place. Human resources is a good place to find this out. Even if they don't, plans may be in the works that you might not know about.
  • If people are already working from home in your company, find out how you can contact them. Even if you don't know any of the telecommuters personally, see if any of your contacts at work can put you in touch with them. Once you reach them, see if they can offer you some tips on how best to approach the idea and see if they'll share what worked for them.
  • Compile facts about you and your position. What can you say to prove that you are trustworthy and reliable and that you have the self discipline to work independently. Is there any information on your past performance reviews that might back you up? How will working from home impact others on your team, and what can you do to prevent problems?
  • Compile facts about your employer and your industry. Can you make a case that the employer will be able to save money by letting you work from home? Do your employer's competitors have telecommuting policies in place? While you don't want to threaten your boss in any way, if others in your industry are promoting work from home arrangements, your company end up struggling to retain valuable workers. Also, think about how you will respond if your boss uses the argument, "If I let you do it I'd have to let everyone work from home."

Step 3: Put Your Work from Home Proposal in Writing

If you are sure you want to work from home, your employer doesn't have any policies that would preclude it, and you are sure you can handle it, put your work from home proposal in writing. Having it in writing allows you boss to consider your request more thoroughly. It also shows that working from home is important enough to you that you went to the time and trouble (on your own time of course) to state your case clearly. A written work from home request also allows you boss to pass it on to others, whose approval may also be required.

Keep your proposal to the point and try not to make it too lengthy. Remember, your boss is busy so stick to the point. Include these talking points and others that may come to mind while you're preparing your written work from home proposal:

  • How allowing you to work from home will benefit the company - through your increased productivity, through cost savings and whatever else might apply. Your employer will be much more interested if you can show there's something in it for them.
  • Why you are qualified to work from home - your motivation and organizational skills, your history of being reliable and why you would be an even better worker if you were permitted to telecommute.
  • Add facts and resource information. Include studies that show how workers are more productive when they work from home, or information on companies that saved money and had other good experiences by allowing their employers to work from home.
  • Try to anticipate your boss' objections and overcome them before they're raised. For example, what security measures you have in place for your computer system, including up-to-date anti-virus software, firewall, etc. How will you prevent others from accessing your employer's data? How will you be able to avoid distractions at home? Indicate that you will make yourself available to come in to the office when necessary, for meetings, etc.
  • Indicate how you will maintain communications with your team and how you will keep the boss advised of your activities. A bulleted list of weekly accomplishments emailed to your boss is one good way to do this. Your report can include enough detail without being a burden to read every week. Include a space for comments and concerns. Let your boss know that you are open to other ideas, but at least take the first step to show that you are willing to take responsibility for staying in touch and reporting your progress.
  • Indicate your willingness to allow your work from home arrangement to be a trial or probationary period. Offer to work from home on a trial basis or for a limited time so both sides can evaluate the situation. Give your boss a "no hard feelings" way to back out of the arrangement if it becomes necessary.

Step 4: Review Your Work from Home Proposal

Once your work from home proposal is ready to be submitted to the boss, read and re-read it carefully. Make sure there are no threatening tones in your proposal. Have a spouse or friend proofread your proposal. Is he or she sold on the idea to work from home that you've presented? If not, why not? Can your spouse or friend offer any ideas on what the boss may object to? Can you make some improvements to your proposal to make it more convincing?

Putting together a good work from home proposal takes time and thought. However, if you're successful all that time and effort will be well worth it once you get the opportunity to work from home.

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