If you freelance or run your own business, working from home is a no-brainer. But if you have a boss, an office, and co-workers, landing a work-from-home arrangement may be a harder sell – but nowhere near as hard as it used to be. According to an article in Forbes in February of 2013, 30 million Americans already work from home at least once a week, and that number is expected to increase by 63% over the next five years.
Obviously, working from home is becoming more mainstream, but it’s still important to approach the issue in the right way, especially if no one else at your company works from home. Here are some things you can do to get your boss on board:
Do Your Homework.
Before you can start convincing your boss, you need to have your facts in order. Here are some things you need to think about:
- Has anybody else at your company ever worked from home? Did it work out? If not, why not?
- How much of your time is spent working with others? If a lot of your work is collaborative, your boss is likely to be reluctant to let you work from home. But if you spend most of your day sitting at your desk cranking out results, you’ve got a good chance of succeeding.
- How will you handle meetings? Conference calls? Skype? How will that go over with your co-workers?
- How often are you called into spur-of-the-moment meetings? If most of your meetings are unscheduled, you’ll need to think about how you can maintain that availability at home.
- How will allowing you to work from home help your employer? Sure, it will make you happy, but you need to think about how it will make your employer happy. Otherwise, it’s like telling your boss you need a raise because you need a new car rather than because you’ve earned one. So spend some time thinking of the benefits: being more productive, freeing up office space, etc.
- What objections is your boss likely to have? Anticipating objections is the first and most important step in overcoming objections.
Plan Your Pitch.
Approach it as you would a sales presentation with a major client. Keep in mind that your boss may have to convince his boss – you want to make it easy for him.
- Put together a presentation based on the answers to the questions you asked yourself in the previous section. Use as many facts and figures as you can: “I currently have about three meetings a week.”
- Hit the search engines and pull together some impressive statistics: how many companies allow employees to work from home, how it has affected productivity for those companies, how it has affected employee satisfaction and retention, problems that came up and how they were handled, etc.
- Include links in case your boss wants to check things out for himself.
Sell Your Idea.
Now that you’ve put so much work into planning your strategy, stick to the plan. Don’t get off track and start talking about how cool it would be to work in your PJs.
- Pick a time when your boss is relaxed and available.
- Your boss is likely to have a number of questions, if not objections. Use your active listening skills. Instead of mentally forming your response, really listen to what your boss is saying. Not only will he look on you more favorably if you’re polite, you’ll also get important insights into what she’s really thinking.
- Ask probing questions. If your boss voices objections, ask follow-up questions to ferret out his real concerns.
- Be ready to make some concessions. Could you work at home three days a week and spend the other two in the office? Could you come in for important meetings? Are there perks you could give up, like a paid gym membership? Could you try it for a couple of weeks, then re-evaluate?
Unless your company already has a work-at-home policy, your boss might not be able to give you an answer right away. But try to find out whether he’s on board with the idea; then ask what the next steps are and when you should meet to discuss it again. Try to get a commitment; if it never makes it onto his to-do list, it’s likely to fall by the wayside. Finally, thank him for his time, and go work your fanny off to show him how valuable you are!