Company cultures and work philosophies vary tremendously, even within the same industry. Before you approach an employer about working from home, let’s see how the employer scores on the telework o-meter. That’s an imaginary scale of how receptive your employer is, or will be, to alternate work arrangements.
Look around your workplace for any hopeful signs. Do you know other employees who work from home, either full-time or part-time? Are there any who work off-site frequently, perhaps from a client’s headquarters or while traveling out of state? Even if no one is actually working from home, any signs of flexibility by your employer are good.
Now think about your employer’s overall attitude about work-life issues. Do you ever take time off from work to attend a child’s baseball game or a midday dentist appointment? How challenging is it to schedule vacations? An employer who recognizes that you have a life outside the office will probably be easier to approach about telework.
Finally, learn as much as you can about your employer’s connectivity technology. Is there a system in place for accessing the company’s server from off-site? How do employees stay in touch and get their work done if they
travel on business? Does your company offer a laptop, Black- Berry, pager, or cell phone to employees who frequently work away from the office? The more connectivity technology your employer has in place, the stronger your argument will be that you can do your job from home.
Even if your company has never permitted anyone to work from home, don’t fret. A careful, well thought-out proposal for working at home might convince even the most skeptical boss to give telework a try.
Don’t tip your hand. Be as discreet as possible when investigating your company’s telework-friendliness. You want your manager to find out about your interest in working from home through your formal presentation, not the office rumor mill.