Published March 29, 2012
Technology has changed the workplace in countless ways – conference calls, emails, Skype meetings, social media groups, and more offer new ways for employees to communicate. Technology has also allowed for more flexibility in the workplace; virtual work options like telecommuting allow employees to stay connected and do their work from outside the office. But as a Gen Y employee, how do you propose this flexible work option?
“The key to successfully approaching your employer about telecommuting is building trust,” says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs. “Especially as a young employee who is new to the workplace, many employers automatically assume you’ll need a little extra hand-holding and oversight until you gain their trust. So, if you want to try out telecommuting, you have to demonstrate to your employer that you’re trustworthy in any situation, whether you’re working right in front of them, or from your own home.”
Just in time for National Telecommute Week, here are some of Sutton Fell’s tips on how to talk to your employer about telecommuting:
1. “Craft a detailed proposal”
Don’t just throw out the idea of telecommuting — have a plan to back it up. Sutton Fell emphasizes being specific: outline how often you will check in, how you will check in (phone? Email? Skype?), and other specifics. Explain what your daily schedule will be and how you will stay on top of your work and generate results.
“If you give them a proposal that covers trust, communication and productivity, you’ll come across as serious and diligent, and your employer is more likely to take the proposal seriously,” says Sutton Fell.
2. “Focus on why telecommuting is good for the employer, not good for you”
Don’t talk about what you want out of telecommuting, but how it will benefit your employer. You’ll save time by not commuting, so you can get more work done, plus save your employer overhead costs like office space and utilities.
“If you focus too much on what you want out of the situation, your proposal will seem self-focused and unconvincing,” said Sutton Fell. “Instead, focus on how you’ll get more work done, be less distracted, and save the company money.” All things that employers want to hear!
3. “Suggest a trial run”
If your employer isn’t convinced or doesn’t approve of full-time telecommuting, ask for a trial run; maybe a few days a week for a month or more.
“Recommend regular meetings to evaluate your performance and move on from there, adding a day at a time until you’re a full-time telecommuter,” said Sutton Fell. “You might actually find that you prefer being in the office for a few days to work face-to-face.”
Ultimately, the telecommuting decision is up to your boss; but if you approach the subject strategically with a plan in mind and some flexibility to negotiate, you may be able to have the flexible work schedule you desire.