The moment you approach your manager about working from home, he or she will probably ask “Why?” If you don’t have a solid, workrelated answer, the conversation might stumble before it’s started. Sound tricky? Don’t worry. Teleworking really is a win-win proposition. Every benefit you get from it can also be a boon to your employer. You just need to explain how.
Personal reason #1: Spending more time with family
You might wish to telework so you’ll have more time for kindergarten pickup, carpooling your older children to soccer games, or taking care of your elderly mother. Don’t expect your employer to feel moved by your family needs. Instead, explain why being at home during the day will enable you to be a better employee. For example:
- I sometimes miss entire days of work because I have to go to pediatrician appointments or parent-teacher conferences, or cover for my nanny when she’s sick. If I work from home, I could fit these appointments into my regular workday and I’d already have everything I need to work at home so I’d be able to clock a full day when these kinds of issues arise.
- My workday is occasionally interrupted by family-related issues, like a call from my child care provider or a homework question from my son. If I work from home, I’ll be able to handle these matters more quickly. Also, if I need to make up for any time I spend on family matters during the day. it will be easier for me to adjust the length of my working day—for example, I could work after the kids go to bed or early in the morning before anyone wakes up.
- I have no flexibility to work late because I have to run home to pick up my children. If I teleworked, I could get them to their after-school activities, and then go home and get more work done.
Choose your words carefully, though. You don’t want to inadvertently highlight problems with your current work performance.
Personal reason #2: Cutting back on a long commute
If you live far from the office, you’re probably tired of wasting hours trekking back and forth to work each day. Complaints of commutingrelated exhaustion probably won’t impress your employer. But here are some more compelling arguments:
- I spend over an hour commuting each way, which amounts to more than ten wasted hours each week. And it was more during that last transit strike! If I worked from home, I’d have more energy at the start of the workday and more flexibility to put in extra hours when needed.
A satisfied employer talks to USA TODAY: Robert Smith, who owns Robert Smith & Associates PR in Rockton, Illinois, has let most of his 15 employees work from home. They not only save on gas, he told reporter Stephanie Armour, but he believes he gains more productivity because they’re not spending time commuting. “‘Before, they were driving to and from, and gas was adding up,’ Smith says. ‘I know
they’re saving, and as a business owner, you have to be able to trust people. If they don’t do the work, you’re like Donald Trump— they’re fired.’”
- Sometimes I have trouble making it into the office on time, no matter how early I leave home, because
of snow, other weather issues, or unavoidable traffic delays. Arriving late makes it more difficult for me to
get in touch with my overseas distributors. If I worked from home, I would always be able to start work promptly at 9 a.m. or earlier, regardless of the road conditions.
- I work long hours at the office and then I spend an hour each day trekking back and forth to work. The combination of the workload and the commute are taking their toll on my productivity. I believe I could be a more efficient, effective employee if I could use the time I now spend commuting to rest and recharge my batteries.
- Much of my work is for clients who travel long distances to our office, yet they are located close to my home. I could increase their satisfaction with our services by scheduling meetings at their offices instead.
Personal reason #3: Enjoying flexibility during the working day
Perhaps you’re looking for freedom from the rigid structure of the office day so that you can choose when you work and when you play. Show how your flexibility can benefit your employer:
- My most productive hours tend to be early in the morning. When I sit in front of my computer at the crack of dawn, I think more clearly and get my projects done more quickly. It’s not practical to arrive at the office at 5 a.m., but I could begin work that early if we arranged for me to work from home.
- Working from home would let me turn around my assignments without the boundaries of a normal workday. For example, if you got an urgent client request late in the day on Wednesday, I could begin work on that project immediately instead of having to leave to catch my train home.
Colds cause U.S. workers to miss 20 million workdays a year, and the flu accounts for 70 million missed workdays. The Nati onal Cent er for Health Statistics
56% of employers believe that their workplace has a problem with people showing up for work even when they’re sick. — 16th Ann ual CCH & Harris Int eracti ve Survey, 2006
Don’t go overboard and make unrealistic commitments about your flexibility and availability. You wouldn’t, for example, want to promise to spend all your former commuting hours at home working. Otherwise, you’ll no doubt be resentful later, and find it hard to live up to your end of the bargain. But if you really will be saving vast amounts of time, there’s no harm in offering to occasionally put that time toward extra work.
Personal reason #4: Getting away from the office
Maybe you want to work from home to escape the politics, workplace gossip, endless meetings, and even germs. But it’s not enough that you’re tired of the view from your cubicle, or bored to tears by the water cooler chitchat. Here are some other ways to make your case:
- I know I could be more productive if I had at least a day or two of quiet, uninterrupted time each week. This would allow me to concentrate on writing new software without phones ringing and coworkers dropping
by to ask me questions. The best place for me to work free of distractions would be my home office.
- I have asthma and sometimes I have more difficulty with my condition at the office because of the poorer air quality in the city where we are located. When my asthma acts up, I’m not as productive and I feel like I bother my coworkers. If I was working at my home in the suburbs, I’d be less exposed to pollution and other environmental irritants that can trigger my asthma symptoms.
Personal reason #5: Saving money
You may be interested in working from home to save on commuting costs, or to take advantage of lower-priced real estate markets outside of a comfortable commuting distance from your workplace. Instead of emphasizing the financial benefits to you, explain that you want to stay at your current job but are under financial pressure because of commuting or housing costs.
- I love my job here, but I need to buy a new home to fit my growing family. We can’t find anything in our price range nearby. What I’d like to do is move to a more distant community with more reasonably priced homes and continue working for this company. Because of the commute, that would only be feasible if I could telework at least part time.
- This company is a great place to work, but I’ve just discovered that one of our competitors is hiring—and their office is about an hour nearer to my home. My family is telling me to at least interview there. I’m thinking the
best all-around solution would be to continue here, with a switch in location, so that I’m working from home.
The telework option built loyalty at AT&T: The company studied the issue and found that two-thirds of its workers who’d been offered jobs by competitors chose to stay with AT&T, naming telework as a major factor in their decision.
The key to this line of reasoning is to keep it positive. Openly threatening to leave the company is a terrible strategy. You’ll fare better if your employer feels that you are a team player who is committed to the company, and is taking steps to continue working there despite outside pressures.