Although you might be tempted to blurt out your telework idea to your manager in the hallway one day, don’t. Take the time to plan your approach, including your responses to hesitation or objections. Whether or not your employer approves your request, this will help you be seen as someone who brings diligence and professionalism to all that you do.
Many people find the “one-two punch” to be most effective: First raise the concept of working at home in a face-to-face meeting or discussion; then follow up that conversation with the formal written proposal, which you’ve prepared in advance. Have it ready to hand over soon after the meeting, maybe with a few quick changes based on your discussion.
The written proposal will give your manager or other decision maker a chance to review your request, and will be useful if approval from others higher up is needed.
Ask the right person
Figure out who’s in charge of approving your request to work from home. If it’s someone other than your immediate supervisor, you’ll have to decide when to tell your immediate supervisor about your plans. Your supervisor might be able to help stack the cards in your favor by putting in a good word about your work ethic and your reliability to upper management. On the other hand, you might want to hold off on informing an immediate supervisor who is not a trusted ally.
Don’t beg, don’t argue
Your manner has to match your words on this one. If you’re begging and bowing, your manager will think of this as a favor being done for you, rather than a business proposal that will meet everyone’s needs. Remember, your proposal is focused on one important question: What’s in it for the company?
By the same token, recognize that you may be approaching someone who has little experience with teleworking and might see your request as a threat to employee discipline or productivity. If you acknowledge that these are issues that other employers have struggled with before discovering the many benefits of teleworking, you’ll help make your discussion more productive.
Throw in added incentives
If your employer remains unconvinced of the mutual benefits of telework, you may need to offer up additional incentives. For example, you might promise to spend some of the time you save commuting each week doing extra work. (For obvious reasons, we don’t recommend offering this until you’ve already encountered some major hesitation from your employer.) Or perhaps you could give up your parking spot or share your office space with a coworker, so that your employer can realize immediate cost savings. And maybe you were already planning to work during off hours, like evenings and weekends. If so, make sure your employer understands the benefits to be gained. If you can offer a tangible benefit that still lets you meet your teleworking goals, everyone wins.