5 Good Reasons Your Boss Should Let You Work From Home
Working from home is a popular perk nowadays, with many companies maintaining as many as 30 to 45 percent of staff members as contract, freelance or virtual employees. Some companies have even gone in the opposite direction of Marissa Mayer’s famous “no work from home” policy by maintaining a 100 percent virtual team.
Many factors make this a more viable option for employees and employers alike, including increased access to technology and changing expectations for work-life balance. But for those who haven’t yet been able to find a job that allows them to work from home full-time, there’s often one question on your mind: how can I convince my boss to let me work from home?
Get Started By Being Realistic
Before we jump into several serious reasons your boss should consider letting you work from home, we have a few friendly reminders:
First, if you cannot perform your job virtually, you are simply out of luck. Many positions still require a face-to-face physical presence that cannot be replicated by Skype chats and phone calls, such as classroom teachers, hair dressers and retail positions. If that’s you but you desperately want to work from home, you need to consider changing fields.
Second, if you’re new to a company and the company is not a virtual operation, you’re better off focusing on how you can improve your relationships and establish yourself as a committed contributor rather than negotiating to get out of the office. Since much of a virtual relationship is based on trust, you need to prove that you are trustworthy before you ask to work without onsite supervision.
Finally, it’s up to you to remove all of the obstacles you possibly can. Set up a fully operational home office with high-speed Internet, printer and phone. Paint the picture that working from home is more than an upgrade for your work-life balance; it’s a relocation of your fully-functional office that happens to be in your home.
Next, Build the Business Case
When the time comes to request a flexible schedule, there’s one main thought that should guide your discussion. While your boss is concerned with your morale and removing as many barriers to your productivity as possible, her No. 1 priority is still the bottom line. To convince your boss to let you work from home, you need to present the business case for it as well as the personal case.
Here are five solid reasons that you can use to present the case that you can do your work from home:
1. It will help you do your job better
Does the open-concept office disrupt your concentration time? Are you finding that it’s only in moments that you steal away into privacy that you can really concentrate and get your job done? If so, emphasize the fact that working from home will help you do your job better. Not only will you have more control over your working environment and be better suited to avoid disturbances but you will be able to deliver higher quality work faster.
The Harvard Business Review shared the results of what happened when the Chinese travel company Ctrip transitioned half its employees to at-home jobs. Not only did the company save $1,900 per employee over the course of nine months, but the data showed that employees working from home completed 13.5 percent more calls than the office staff did.
2. It will make you happier and more motivated… to work longer hours
Having control of your working environment and the freedom to do your job in peace (without a heinous commute) directly leads to a higher level of worker happiness, satisfaction and motivation. Each of these factors contributes to a phenomenon Ctrip saw with its virtual employees: they worked longer hours, took shorter breaks and needed fewer sick days because they didn’t fall prey to the distracting and time-consuming “cake in the breakroom” effect.
Furthermore, the Ctrip study also showed that the employees who worked from home quit at half the rate of the people in the office and reported much higher job satisfaction.
3. It will solve a problem for you
In many cases it seems like the only solution to a job that bothers you is to quit and find a new one. But working from home allows you to address what’s bothering you about your current job rather than start the job hunting process all over again. Working from home can fix problems such as a need for flexibility, a stressful commute or even a drama-filled workplace. It’s in your boss’s best interest to solve as many of your problems as possible to avoid the costly process of hiring a replacement.
If you have an extremely long commute and your boss knows it, it’s worth mentioning that this will greatly improve your overall lifestyle and productivity. However, don’t threaten to leave the company if you don’t get your way. Instead, approach this as a possible solution to solve a problem that you are struggling with.
4. It will not affect your strong, established relationships
A primary concern about working from home is losing valuable face-to-face communication opportunities. But you can go a long way in alleviating your boss’s fears by reassuring her that the technology available today — and your comfort level with it — guarantees continued engagement and communication no matter where you work. Strong, established relationships work just as well by email, phone and teleconference as they do in person, and you’ll still be available for in-person meetings on an as-needed basis.
5. Other companies have made this change and seen impressive results
We all look to examples of others to lead the way when we’re trying something new, and your boss is no exception. Do some preliminary research to find out how other companies in your industry handle virtual staff members and whether or not they’ve seen a lot of improvement. Ctrip and JetBlue are two examples cited in the Harvard Business Review, and both companies experienced increased productivity and engagement from their virtual employees. British Telecom estimated a 20 percent increase in productivity when it allowed flexible work arrangements. Other big name companies include Dell, American Express, Humana, SAP and Xerox.
Working from home is not something you can take for granted, and transitioning into a work-from-home relationship with your company may take time. After all, you’re asking for something that the company may or may not completely grasp on an operational level. The best thing you can do is be a part of the conversation in a positive and proactive way, outlining the business case for this change right along with the lifestyle case for your career.