The allure of working from home is never stronger than on a cold, winter morning.
As you begin to dig your car out from under a blanket of snow, you dream of your warm home office. It’s a place where you have internet, a phone, a computer, coffee—everything you need to work as productively (or more so) as in the office.
If this sounds like an all-too-familiar fantasy, why not put some real-world action into making it a reality? According to staffing firm Robert Half, telecommuting has been steadily on the rise for the past five years. While it’s more commonly accepted in certain industries (like technology and creative fields), many organizations are toying with flexible work options as a means of competing for (and retaining) top talent.
With technology like instant message and video conferencing, off-site workers are still able to remain in constant communication, collaborating and interacting with the rest of team nearly seamlessly. A simple home office set up can make working from home feasible for a broad range of employees.
If you’re looking to convince your boss and your organization to allow you the work-from-home privilege, consider these three tips.
First and foremost, your manager needs to trust that you’re capable of managing yourself during the day, without direct supervision or environmental pressure. He or she has to have confidence that you’re going to take the privilege seriously and accomplish the exact same amount, at the same level of quality.
In truth, most studies show that telecommuting increases productivity (by as much as 35 to 40%), but this is still a primary concern. The home can be distracting. Managers have no reason to believe that those who are not focused in a traditional work environment will stay sufficiently focused in their own environment.
Top performers will have an easier time making the pitch as they have a track record to lean on. Without this, you’re asking management to make a leap of faith, which is much harder to come by.
Emphasize the Organizational Benefits
Remember that this is about selling the benefits for the organization—and there are many.
Along with increased productivity, studies indicate that companies who support telework save overhead on office space, reduce wasted time spent in disorganized meetings, and actually increase collaboration.
Ultimately, working from home is a benefit for you, the employee, which is also a benefit for the company. Without the stress and time devoted to a rigorous commute, and with greater autonomy to self-manage throughout the day, you become more empowered and more engaged. That makes you more likely to contribute at a higher level and to stay for a longer period of time.
Also read: Workplace Flexibility’s Win-Win Streak
Request a Trial Period or Part-Time Option
The best way to know how a work from home arrangement will work in your situation is to try it. Ask for a trial period—maybe working from home one day a week for a month. If all goes well, try moving to two days. The part-time arrangement works well for many employees as it allows them to get the best of both worlds and doesn’t cause much disruption to the regular team dynamic.
Make the request with the caveat that it’s not permanent. If your manager feels it’s not working, you will happily make adjustments.
If you’re making this request in an environment where it’s very far outside the norm, be prepared for an uphill battle. Many managers are not eager to create perceptions of favoritism by giving one employee (even a top performer) a benefit that isn’t shared by others.
However, you won’t know if you never ask. Do your research and you may be surprised to find just how common this has become. There are countless resources citing the benefits (and potential drawbacks) of working from home. Make sure you can adequately address any concerns that arise and be persistent. This may be a “sale” that takes some time to close.