Many people start their work from home journey by going online to search home businesses or telecommuting job options. What many don't realize is that the first place to check for a work-at-home position is their current job. Many employers are willing to let quality employees work part-time or full-time from home. However, before you ask your boss to work from home, there are a few factors you should consider.
Be Sure You Have What It Takes to Work At Home
Working at home is a lot different than working in an office. Before committing to a telecommuting situation, make sure you're going to be able to follow through. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Do You Have the Self-discipline and Organizational Skills?
Many challenges exist with working from home including distractions from family, household chores, and lack of influence from work such as your boss or fellow employees motivating you.
You'll need to make time for work and setting a schedule if you plan to be successful working from home. That means pulling out your calendar or planner and scheduling work time. In other words, you'll need organizational skills and the discipline to stay focused amid distractions. Effective time management skills are needed for stay-at-home workers that include setting goals, planning the daily workload, and not wasting time. You must be certain that you can overcome any obstacles, distractions, and stay focused on your work before committing to working from home.
Do You Have Enough Space and the Equipment to Work from Home?
Your employer may not be able to give you all the supplies you need. Further, you need to have a quiet home office space from which to work. Will you need a desktop computer or a laptop? If you need a laptop computer, will you use yours? Or does the office supply them? Does your office currently have laptops?
If your employer needs to purchase a new laptop for you to allow you to work from home, which can easily cost over $1,000, you'll need to make the argument that the purchase is worth it for the company.
Is Childcare Available?
Raising children and working at home in a job can be difficult to do at the same time. If your employer knows you have children, he may want to know your plan for their care while you're working.
Is Your Job Suited to Working From Home?
Not all jobs can be done from home. And some can only be done from home on occasion. Here are a few things to do and research to find out if your job can be done at home:
Make a list of all your job duties.
Divide the list into tasks that "can be done from home" and "must be done in the office."
Does Your Company Offer Work from Home?
Find out if your company already has a work from home or flexible work program in place. Your employment manual or human resources is a good place to check.
Investigate who is taking advantage of work-from-home or flexible work options in your company. Even if your employer doesn't have an official telecommuting program, there might be people in your office who have flexible work schedules, such as working a few days from home or flextime scheduling.
Assess How Your Boss Views Work from Home
Determine how your boss feels about telecommuting or flextime. Before asking if you can work from home, you want to have a sense of how your boss views employees who have flexible schedules. Unfortunately, some employers believe that people who work from home aren't committed to their careers, which can lead to you being passed over for raises or promotions.
Toot Your Horn
Compile proof that you're a valuable and dependable employee. What can you show that proves you are trustworthy and reliable, and that you have the self-discipline to work independently? Highlight your accomplishments and positive performance reviews.
Company Benefits to You Working from Home
Determine how your working at home will be good for your employer. Many employers might be sympathetic to your long commute or childcare problems, but that's not why they'll let you work from home. The best way to get a boss to say, "yes" to telecommuting is to show what's in it for the company. Telecommuting reduces the need for larger office space and resources (i.e., shared computers). Research has shown that telecommuting can save employers money on things like real estate, increased worker productivity, and reduced worker absence.
Research if your employer's competitors have telecommuting policies in place. Sometimes showing that competitors or other businesses in the same industry have work-at-home programs can help employers be open to the idea in their company.
Anticipate any objections your employer might have. Having an idea of your bosses concerns can help you come up with viable answers to make him feel more comfortable about a work-from-home arrangement.
For example, he might say, "If I let you do it I'd have to let everyone work from home." An appropriate response would be that not everyone is paid the same or have the same perks, and telecommuting wouldn't be any different. Other concerns to consider are: 1) How will the employer know you're working? 2) How will you report to the office? 3) How will the employer or your colleagues connect with you if needed? 4) What about child care? 5) How will you keep company data safe?
Put Your Work from Home Proposal in Writing
If after your research, you still want to ask your boss if you can work from home, the next step is to prepare a work-at-home proposal. A written document shows you've put thought into your plan, as well as offers something tangible for your employer to review.
Your proposal should include:
Information on your value to the company.
For example, if you've increased sales, you want to highlight that fact. Remind your boss you're an asset to his business.
Outline How the Company Benefits
Specifics on how your working at home will benefit your boss and the company. Start with any cost savings or increased earnings your telecommuting situation could bring. If your working at home will ease the strain on company parking or office resources, point that out as well. Other benefits are increased productivity and less leave. For example, if your job includes sales or meeting clients, working from home might allow you to visit them more easily than traveling from the office.
Outline Your Work-at-home Idea.
Your proposal should list the days and times you plan to work from home, and what duties you'll be doing while away from the office. You should also include how your office can stay in touch with you and how your boss will know about the work you're doing. If you think you'll need to report to the office, offer check-ins, whereby you would come into the office for a couple of days per month.
Research and Provide the Benefits of Telecommuting.
You can find many telecommuting studies online that show the cost savings and other benefits. If other companies in your industry have telecommuting programs, share that information as well. Also, research online webinar and video chat services. You can suggest to your boss that you can communicate via a live video stream if needed, which might ease any concerns that you'll be out of the loop due to not being in the office.
Overcome the objections you anticipated.
Instead of waiting for your boss to ask, show that you understand possible reservations and have found answers to potential problems.
Consider a Trial Period
Offer a trial period to test out your telecommuting situation. Give a time that is long enough to work out any little problems, but not so long that your employer isn't willing to give it a test. If your boss is still hesitant, consider reducing the time you're asking to be at home. If you've asked to work at home full-time, instead ask to telecommute three days a week. If all goes well, you can ask for more time in the future.
Present Your Proposal in Person
Make an appointment with your boss to share your proposal. Be professional and use your proposal to highlight the salient points of your plan. Be prepared to answer questions and have realistic expectations. It's unlikely a decision will be made immediately. So, leave the proposal and schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss your proposal and answer any questions or concerns your boss might have.