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How to Get Your Boss to Let You Work From Home

Plus: the best ways to stay disciplined when working remotely


Winter weather wreaking havoc on your daily commute? Had it driving or taking public transit to and from work every weekday? If so, now might be the time to talk with your boss about telecommuting. The key to getting permission to work from home: knowing how to ask.

Fortunately, working from home has become increasingly popular and possible. According to a 2016 study by consultancy PWC, 38 percent of U.S. workers can work from home at least one day a week, a fourfold increase over the 9 percent in 1995. Small businesses are more likely than their larger counterparts to offer this flexibility. According to PWC, over half of small business workers telecommute, but only 26 percent of large-company employees do.

Most managers (67 percent) who let staffers work from home, however, arrange on an ad-hoc basis and at their own discretion. Since your employer might need convincing, here’s the best way to approach your boss about telecommuting and how to make working at home work well, according to Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and Founder of FlexJobs and Remote.co and the Q & A section of Remote.co:

Your manager may be hesitant about letting you telecommute, so offer to do it as a trial run for a month or two.

7 Tips to Work From Home

1. Decide how much telecommuting you need or want. Telecommuting doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Options range from occasional telecommuting on an as-needed basis all the way up to a full-time work-from-home schedule. Try negotiating with your boss to start off working a few days a week from home and eventually you might find yourself telecommuting all of the time.

2. Focus on the benefits that telecommuting would offer your employer, not you. Explain how telecommuting will make you a more productive, focused and engaged worker. For example, less time spent commuting will give you more time for completing reports.

3. Anticipate your boss’s concerns. Some managers fear that telecommuting employees won’t stay in touch with their team or, worse, won’t truly be working. Make sure your boss understands exactly how often, and by what means, you’ll stay in regular contact with your colleagues and which tasks you’ll accomplish when you work from home.

4. Suggest a trial run. Your manager may be hesitant about letting you telecommute, so offer to do it as a trial run for a month or two. Then, the two of you can assess how it went and you can prove that the arrangement is beneficial to your boss.

5. Create a dedicated home workspace. Jan Lindborg, who works remotely as a Global Sales Training Operations Director for Dell, recommended on Remote.co to treat your working space like a recording studio. “No red light, but when my door is shut, I am at work,” he writes. He also suggests switching off your laptop when finished for the day to delinieate between your work hours and the rest of your life.

6. Establish disciplined work habits when telecommuting. “It takes a lot of discipline to work remotely, as you’ll find that it is very easy to put off a piece of work when you’re sitting at home,” warns Ben Dodson, who works out of his UK home as a full-time freelance ios developer. To help maintain his focus, Dodson puts on noise-cancelling headphones to serve as a signal that it’s time to get into work mode.

7. Keep connected with your employer and associates to combat feelings of isolation. “Consider what you will miss about the office environment and find ways to recreate it or compensate for it, says Lauren Antonian, who works as a fulltime remote manager in proposal development for Anthem. “For example, if you are an extrovert who enjoys socializing with colleagues, make a point to communicate with them via instant message or email as you would have if you were available in person.”

Andrea Bing, who works remotely as a project manager for Cigna, joins an assortment of company-sponsored virtual communities, such as a book club and finance group. She also schedules lunch dates with coworkers on a monthly basis. Sometimes, working remotely is just the next best thing to being there.

Nancy Collamer
By Nancy Collamer
Nancy Collamer, M.S., is a career coach, speaker and author of Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement. Her website is MyLifestyleCareer.com; on Twitter she is @NancyCollamer.

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