You would think that with all today's technology, employers would see the value in letting people work from home. Yet even in this era of Skype, videoconferencing and cellphones that we sleep with, some bosses cling to the idea that it is somehow better to have all the sheep report to an office where they can be seen.
Are you at a loss about how to convince your Luddite boss to let you work from home? Here are WalletPop's top five arguments to present to The Man.1. All the Progressive Companies Are Doing it
Believe it or not, your boss likely has a streak of wanting to keep up with the Joneses of the corporate world. Show him this list of top-ranked companies that let employees telecommute at least 20% of the time. Deloitte actually lets 93% of its workforce telecommute; any wonder it's ranked as a top company to work for? The trend is absolutely in this direction. And your boss does want her company to be on the cutting-edge, doesn't she?
A 2008 study by the American Electronics Association found that 45 million workers were already telecommuting at least one day a week. The communications company, BT, hired its first work-at-home employee way back in 1986, says Forbes. Today, more than 70% of BT's workers have flex time. According to Forbes, BT has saved at least $500 million and increased productivity between 15% and 31%.
One cautionary point: Be realistic. If you have a job as a security guard or bank teller, well, you really need to be on-site. But if the bulk of your job is done by phone or computer, it can be done just as easily at home.
2. It's a Perk You Would Take in Lieu of a Raise
Allowing you to work from home is a benefit with real value. You will be saving on gas -- I just paid $4.09 per gallon today -- and parking or other commuting costs; your car insurance could actually drop with less car usage -- the commute between work and home accounts for about 20% of all car travel. You will save on dry cleaning bills, eating lunches out, after-school child care. That extra time now spent in the car is time you can spend with your family and friends. You will be saying goodbye to road rage, late dinners caused by traffic, and the stress of commuting in inclement weather. All that is worth something. If your boss can't swing giving you a raise this year, point out this cost-free option and let him know it would make you just as happy as the extra money.
3. Do It for the Greater Good
Getting you off the road reduces gas consumption, air pollution and traffic congestion. It's the right thing to do for the planet. Does he really want you to get Al Gore on the phone?
The Transport Minister of Great Britain has publicly urged employers in that country to let workers telecommute one day every fortnight (two weeks) in the interest of reducing traffic congestion.
Many cities and states have tax incentive programs for companies who reduce their carbon footprint. Letting you telecommute will help the business reach those goals and is cheaper than subsidizing city train/bus passes.
4. Your Productivity Will Actually Increase
For real. There are fewer interruptions when you work at home than in the office. In the office, you probably have chatty co-workers who stop by your desk on their way back from the coffee room. That's good for 20 minutes of lost work. If you join your pod-mates and go out for lunch, that will surely take longer than the 20 minutes you spend fixing a sandwich and eating it in your kitchen.
Your boss is probably concerned that you'll be distracted by your kids, dog or decide to watch General Hospital re-runs because nobody is around to see you do it. Point out that you're a grown-up. Plus your kids are in school most of the day, the dog is happily asleep on the couch and you have TiVo and know how to use it.
The idea that you are being measured by how much work your boss thinks he physically sees you do is kind of absurd. You should be measured on how much work you produce, period -- whether he is there to watch you do it or not.
Research by the Telework Coalition found that the average business that allowed employees to work remotely saw employee productivity increase by 22%.
When you work at home, there is no missing work because of a snowstorm either.
A word of caution here: Working at home isn't an invite to goof-off. While we personally think working virtually is quickly becoming the norm -- at least in the on-line world -- you do have to work. Sure you may slip a load of laundry in the dryer between calls, but mostly, you are nose to the grindstone working. Ask any successful freelancer.
5. It's About the Technology, Man
Bosses love to say that having everyone physically under one roof allows for impromptu brainstorming and helps the creative processes along. As a full-time freelancer who works alone from my garage office, I fully admit that the dog isn't always the best sounding board for some of my ideas.
But let's enter the 21st Century for a minute. I can send out a group message to my colleagues here at WalletPop saying I need help on something and within seconds, a dozen solutions are offered. The meeting room has been moved to our email accounts. We have weekly phone-in calls so we all stay connected. I like to see who I am interviewing, so I frequently use Skype -- which is free of course.
What do you need to successfully work at home? A fast computer with WiFi is a must; so is a reliable smartphone that you can get and respond to emails quickly. I'd vote for Skype, but admit I haven't tried any of the videoconferencing programs. I wouldn't expect your employer to provide you with any of this since he already does so at the office.
So what should you do if, after all this, your boss remains stuck in the office quicksand? There are any number of companies that identify and screen legitimate telecommuting jobs. FlexJobs.com is just one of them. But be aware that telework positions are competitive, so be sure to show your successful history of telecommuting.
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