Find a Job
Get Your Boss to Say Yes to Telecommuting
Robert Half International
As employees and businesses increasingly recognize the benefits of telecommuting,
the number of professionals working remotely has
grown dramatically. By many indications, the practice
seems here to stay. A recent report by technology
research firm Gartner Inc. revealed the number
of employees worldwide who work from home at least
one day a month reached 82.5 million by the end
of 2005, double the figure from 2000. Gartner
predicts this number will grow to more than 100
million by 2008 as technology continues to advance
at a steady clip.
A survey conducted by Robert Half International
mirrors the forecast: 87 percent of executives
polled said there will be increased telecommuting
in the coming decade. While the proliferation
of high-speed and wireless Internet access has
made telecommuting much easier than in the past,
many professionals are adopting this work style
not only because it's convenient, but also because
it allows them greater work-life balance. In addition,
rising gas prices and lengthy commutes have made
working from home -- or even cafés and
satellite centers -- an appealing option.
If you'd like to work remotely, you'll need to
show how the arrangement is good not only for
you but also for the business. If you are uncertain
about how to approach your boss, consider the
following steps to create a convincing argument:
1. Gather the facts.
Start by contacting your human resources department
or consulting the employee manual to determine
whether your company has a telecommuting program
already in place. If one exists, you can build
your proposal on actual policies. Of course, you
may discover rules that prohibit or limit telecommuting.
If this is the case, tap your professional network
to identify people who have worked remotely and
ask them what steps they took to secure the arrangement.
2. Consider all angles.
Although telecommuting presents many benefits,
remember that not everyone performs well outside
the office. The best candidates for telecommuting
are self-disciplined, feel comfortable setting
priorities and deadlines, and are able to work
independently with minimal supervision. In addition,
some tasks, such as graphic design or research,
lend themselves more easily to telecommuting than
others. If much of your work requires face-to-face
contact or ongoing access to equipment and materials
that are situated only at the office, you may
want to reconsider this option.
3. Prepare a written proposal.
If you are convinced telecommuting is right for
you, make your case in writing. A written proposal
enables your boss to consider your ideas carefully,
demonstrates forethought and underscores your
commitment to the proposition. It also serves
as a crucial tool if your manager must obtain
approval from higher-ups. Your document should
• Employer benefits: How will telecommuting
increase your productivity or help the company
reduce costs? Remember, there must be something
in it for your employer.
• Qualifying characteristics: Are you self-motivated
and well-organized? Do you have a history of dependability
and proven work habits? Describe qualities that
will allow you to thrive outside the office and,
wherever possible, cite supporting evidence of
• Outside evidence: Add punch to your proposal
by including applicable articles and studies that
cite the benefits of telecommuting, such as increased
business performance and productivity. This may
be particularly valuable if your company has no
telecommuting program in place.
• Safety measures: Many firms are concerned
that allowing staff to work remotely increases
the likelihood that confidential information will
be compromised. Ease your employer's fears by
including a description of the security measures
you have in place at home, such as current anti-virus
software and active firewall settings. Your company's
information technology department also may be
able to provide hardware or software that allows
you to access the firm's systems securely from
4. Consider alternate proposals.
If you think your boss will resist the idea of
you working from home, consider proposing a trial
period. You can even suggest an "out"
clause that enables either of you to discontinue
or adjust the arrangement before the end of the
trial if the situation proves problematic. Convincing
your company that you are a good candidate for
telecommuting is only half the battle. Once you
begin working from home, you have to prove the
arrangement continues to benefit both parties.
Here are some strategies:
• Record on- and off-site responsibilities.
Distribute to your team a list that shows which
of your job activities will be accomplished at
home versus in the office. Include information
on how you will ensure key relationships with
co-workers are not hurt. This will show your boss
that your absence will not affect the progress
of group projects.
• Make sure you're easily accessible. Let
everyone know which days you will be working from
home and give them your contact information. Check
in frequently and pledge to return phone calls
or e-mails within a given period. Assure your
boss you can come into the office if you are needed
• Build in accountability measures. Your
manager's biggest fear is likely that you will
be unproductive without close supervision. Keep
him or her informed of your progress by submitting
a weekly report of your at-home activities, or
setting up regular evaluation meetings to review
If the possibility of working from home appeals
to you, put together a case that indicates how
such an arrangement could benefit you and your
employer. By considering all aspects involved,
anticipating your manager's concerns and continuing
to demonstrate the advantages of telecommuting,
you may soon find yourself among those who dial,
rather than drive, into work.
Robert Half International Inc. is the world's
first and largest specialized staffing firm with
a global network of more than 330 offices throughout
North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
For more information about our professional services,
please visit www.rhi.com.