For a slam-dunk proposal, don’t give just your own reasons why working at home would be good for your employer. Also present facts, figures, and case studies or articles showing that it makes good business sense to let you work from home.
Arm yourself with statistics
There’s much to be said for the power of numbers. And there are plenty of credible studies out there showing that telework leads to:
- increased productivity
- reduced absenteeism
- increased morale and employee satisfaction, and
- reduced turnover and retention costs.
“The corporate culture still has to get over its notion that employees will be less efficient if they telecommute. It simply isn’t true. Companies that offer telecommuting enjoy improved productivity of 7% to 20% or more.” —John M. H. Edwards , chairman and founder of the Telework Coalition, a nonprofit that provides information and support for teleworking.
It won’t be difficult to find such information. We’ve highlighted some sources throughout this book. But you should go beyond this generic information and do your own research, tailored to your specific industry, job description, or economic concerns. For example, if your company has recently lost some of its most talented employees, look for the latest studies showing that telework programs lead to reduced employee turnover.
Check out the competition
One of the best ways to persuade your employer to let you work from home is to show that your company’s direct competitors already have telework programs in place. Employers know that they must offer competitive pay and benefits, or risk losing their best workers. The freedom to work from home part of the time can be a significant benefit, which an employer can offer without spending a dime.
A good place to start your research on your company’s competitors is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Best Workplaces for Commuters database at www.bestworkplacesforcommuters.gov. The program recognizes employers that offer top-notch commuting benefits like telework. On the list are 245 companies that have established
exceptional work-from-home programs. To view the list, go to www.ergweb.com/projects/ccli/search/search_for_bwc_telework_results.asp.
If you don’t find any competitor companies on the Best Workplaces list, you’ll have to do your own legwork. Create a list of companies in your area that are similar in size, scope, and industry focus to yours. Then go to those companies’ websites. If they offer benefits like telework, they’ll probably advertise it, possibly in sections addressed to prospective employees. Another option is to simply call the competitor company’s human resources department and ask.
Find support in your company’s own documents
Speaking of advertising, what’s in your employer’s own recruiting, promotional, or human resources materials? It will be difficult for your employer to argue that telework doesn’t mesh with the company’s culture or work philosophy if you can point to supportive language in your company’s own employee manual or other documents.
Print out copies of any particularly compelling statements about worklife balance or flexible schedules. Then bring this material with you when you speak to your supervisor about working from home. You can also cut and paste the best language into your formal telework proposal.
Good Spots to Fish for Data
Here are some of the best Internet resources for facts, numbers, and articles on working from home:
- Commuter Challenge, at www.commuterchallenge.org. Click on “Commuters” in the top navigation bar, then scroll down to “Case studies.”
- Telecommute Connecticut, at www.telecommutect.com. Click “Employers Info” in the left-hand navigation bar, scroll down to “Resources,” and then click “Case studies.” Innovisions Canada, at www.ivc.ca. Scroll down to “Miscellaneous,” and click “Case studies.”
- “Telework Works: A Compendium of Success Stories” (2001): This is a report published by the Office of Personnel Management of the federal government, which provides individual success stories of government teleworkers in various positions. You can download the entire report at www.opm.gov/studies/index.htm.
- The Telework Coalition, at www.telcoa.org. Click “Telework Facts” and “Telework in the News.”
Get help from the government
Because of telework’s many benefits to society, like reduced air pollution and traffic congestion, a number of state and city governments have established organizations to support telework initiatives in the private sector. Some even offer tax breaks and other incentives for employers who get on board. Check with your local or state government to see whether you live in an area that provides support services or other resources for teleworkers. For example, Telework Connecticut provides consultants and training at no cost, to help employers establish and maintain telework programs. Support from a government agency might make your employer more open to the idea of letting you work from home.