More people than ever before are enjoying the lifestyle afforded by telecommuting. As it allows employees to work remotely and from outside of the typical office environment, it’s little surprise that it is something which appeals to so many professionals in so many sectors and industries- with more and more voicing interest as the structure of working life as we all know it continues to shift in accordance with the bounty of technological developments bookmarking the current generation.
Arguably by far the largest obstacle to overcome for any professional looking to make the leap from an on-site to off-site working life is getting the boss on-side. Of course, not all positions are suitable for transference to the home-office (yet), so your first step would really be to identify whether or not your profession possesses such flexibility (yet). Beyond this however, here are five pointers which should prove helpful in negotiating a remote working arrangement:
Make sure telecommuting is right for you
Already loosely covered, I realise, though an extremely important point to consider within all of this. If working remotely is not right for you, in terms of both personal worth ethic and profession, then you’re bound to encounter some problems trying to convince the boss that it’s a wise move to leave you to your own devices.
Though a dream for many- the fact is that working from home really just isn’t for everyone. As with anything, the whole notion of telecommuting has its ups and its downs. The finer details of these are probably best saved for a separate post, however as a temporary thinking point, consider the pro of being able to set your hours against the con of having no-one to encourage or enforce focus and productivity. As a first step, it would be wise to think upon and familiarise yourself with each positive and negative; as well as ask yourself the following questions:
- Do the pros outweigh the cons, for you?
- Do you have the personal skills required to work remotely?
- Is your role suited for remote working?
- Do you have a suitable home office space?
Strengthen your negotiating position
An admittedly rather vague piece of advice, this entails digging a little in order to find out your company’s existing policy on the issue, and evaluating where you fit into it with regards to telecommuting. In order to allow this kind of move, whether on a part-time or full-time basis, a boss is going to require a level of both value and trust from you- so if you’re fresh in the door and looking to make the move home, you can pretty much shelf that idea for the time being.
Building a strong rapport with your employer(s) is probably the most straightforward tip I can give on this subject. After all, the foremost thing blocking your chances of a remote set-up is surely their trust in you to get the job done?
Do a little research
Not so long ago, any telecommuting gig was considered to be a huge perk in favour of the employee. Nowadays it’s not only an increasingly common set-up in business places of all kinds, but an arrangement likely to benefit an employer just as much as their stay-at-home workers.
There is a bounty of research into the topic, with many experts calling for employers to actively mobilise their workforces on the grounds space-saving, cost-cutting, productivity enhancement, increased employee retention, and reduced absenteeism (all highly attractive buzz-terms for any boss!). By tapping into this research, you can quickly educate yourself on these perks and strengthen your eventual pitch tenfold.
Write up your proposal
As anyone who has worked in a busy office will tell you, all of the ‘by-the-way, ‘insert half-hearted and unconfident request’-type appeals you can muster in the space of a month don’t add up to the value of a formal, written/dated/signed proposal. Writing up your case is the only real way to go about making it visible to the people who can make your telecommuting dream a reality. Make sure to outline as many advantages for the department, wider business and individual manager addressed as possible!
Be ready for the inevitable verbal follow-up
The first thing that’s going to happen upon submitting your written proposal is likely to be a verbal follow-up. This could arrive in the form of a memo requesting you meet with the directors in order to discuss things further, or a snarky mid-management type stopping by your desk in order to do their bidding.
Either way, you need to be prepared for the worst. In the event that it looks as though your request is being outright denied, you’ll need to call on your face-to-face negotiation skills. Make sure to probe the decision and offer up a compromise (trial period etc.).
Telecommuting needn’t be a pipedream. It’s a fully realisable reality of the modern workplace, and in my humble opinion one of the most obvious blessings of the dawning information-age we’re currently ankle-deep in!