Networking

10 ways to convince your boss to let you work from home

There may be dozens of reasons why telecommuting makes sense for you. But to make your case with management, you need a list of reasons that make sense for the business. Here are some well-supported arguments that demonstrate the benefits your company will gain when you work at home.

There may be dozens of reasons why telecommuting makes sense for you. But to make your case with management, you need a list of reasons that make sense for the business. Here are some well-supported arguments that demonstrate the benefits your company will gain when you work at home.


You want to work from home, but your boss might not support the idea. Don't blame your boss -- it's a lot of change. Don't make the mistake of telling your boss that you'll be happier, and therefore more productive, working from home. Your boss won't care about your state of mind. Instead, spend a little time researching telecommuting statistics that your boss can care about. In short, show your boss how telecommuting will improve or help business.

Note: This information is also available as a PDF download.

#1: Your place is cheaper than theirs

Office space doesn't come cheap. Rented office space runs the extremes, but with an average of $33 a square foot (per year), it adds up. According to InnoVisions Canada, organizations can eliminate one office for every three telecommuters. Just a few money-saving examples should encourage any manager to consider your proposal:

  • AT&T reduced office-space costs by 50%.
  • IBM saved $56 million a year after reducing office space by 2 million square feet.
  • Merrill Lynch saves $5,000 to $6,000 a year for each office it eliminates.
  • Georgia Power saves $100,000 a year after reducing office space.
  • The March 2008 issue of The TeleWorker reports that Dow Chemical's administrative costs dropped 50% and it attributes 1% of those savings to telecommuting.

Realistically, you're just one person, but you could start a trend. The movement has to start somewhere. If it's good for big business, why not yours?

#2: Your productivity will increase

It's hard to convince some managers that you'll be more productive at home. Seeing your little bobblehead lends comfort, albeit false security. Just because your boss can see you doesn't mean you're working. If your word won't get the job done, try statistics:

Then there's the creative aspect, which is hard to quantify. Frankly, some of us get more work done between 3:00 AM and 5:00 AM than those at the office working 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Now, this is more about you than the business, but it won't hurt to let your employer know that you often work those extra hours, if you do.

The word is out: Telecommuting employees spend more time working when they're not commuting and interacting with co-workers.

#3: Employee retention will go up

Threatening to quit if you can't work from home is a bad idea; few of us are indispensable. However, if you have a long commute, working from home is a reasonable request. If you're a valued employee, working from home a few days a week is preferable to losing you to a company that's closer to home.

In CompTIA's 2008 survey, 37% of respondents said telecommuting improves employee retention. Another 39% said they have access to more qualified personnel, who don't always live within commuting distance, thanks to telecommuting.

A recent study by The Journal of Applied Psychology found that stress due to tense relationships at work is a major factor in the decision to quit a job. These people aren't hard to get along with, they just don't like office politics. Telecommuting, at least part-time, can reduce that stress and keep key people from leaving your organization. That kind of give and take has the added bonus of building company loyalty.

#4: You'll increase your billable hours

Anyone who bills clients directly knows how difficult it is to differentiate billable tasks from non-billable interruptions. When other people have access to you, they access you! At the end of the day, how much time did you actually spend on billable tasks? At home, you have fewer interruptions and that adds up to more billable hours. That means more revenue, quicker solutions, and more time for new clients, which means more money.

#5: You'll be running with the crowd

Everybody's doing it. Robert Half Technology surveyed 1,400 CIOs and found that 47% offered more flexible schedules, including telecommuting, to improve job satisfaction and build loyalty. Here are a few more national statistics from WorldatWork:

  • 12.4 million U.S. workers telecommute at least one day a month.
  • The number of employees who telecommute one day a month increased 25% from 2004 to 2005.
  • WorldatWork estimates that 100 million U.S. workers will telecommute by 2010.

#6: Your relationships will improve

The study by The Journal of Applied Psychology mentioned earlier found that telecommuting helped improve the relationships between supervisors and staff. In a telecommuting environment, everyone works hard to stay in touch. They see each other less, but they often communicate more efficiently and effectively than people sharing the same office space.

#7: It's the green thing to do

Being green isn't just trendy, it can save your company money. A study commissioned by the US Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reported that telecommuting saves 9 to 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year -- the equivalent of one million U.S. households. That equates to energy savings for your company. How much will of course depend on the company's size and the number of employees who are telecommuting. The study also estimated that 3.9 million telecommuters reduce fuel consumption by about 840 million gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 14 million tons. While that won't change your department's bottom line, with today's gas prices, your boss might decide to start telecommuting too!

Traffic isn't just about fuel and emissions. The Texas Transportation Institute concluded that gridlock (traffic) cost $78 billion annual, or 4.2 billion lost hours. Instead of sitting in traffic, you could be working, if you worked at home.

#8: Politicking will go down

It's hard to share gossip from a home office. Yes, there's always e-mail, IM, and phone calls, but it just isn't the same. You might not be prone to participating in office politics or gossip, but sharing the same space with those who are affects your attitude and even your work. Nothing zaps productivity and morale like gossip and rumors. A home office can filter (protect you from) the undesirable aspects of sharing space with miserable human beings. If this is a problem, believe me, your manager already knows it. Showing sensitivity to the issue and wanting to separate yourself from it is admirable and professional.

Warning: Not every boss will agree with you. Some believe you should be above such shenanigans and you will appear petty if you even hint at such problems. Know your boss before you put this one on the table.

#9: You'll be more accessible

In an episode of Seinfield, George napped under his desk. Everyone thought he was very busy because he was never available. He was really just asleep. If you're not in your office, maybe you're in the copy room, or a conference room, or the library -- there are many places to hide at work.

If your boss calls your home office and you don't answer, just where are you? Realistically, you could be busy with a biological call, letting the dog in, letting the cat out, and so on. The point is, you can't hide at home for very long. You must return a voicemail or e-mail quickly because your boss knows you're not in the copy room, a conference room, or the library. You're at home, and your boss knows where you live.

Not only are you more accessible to your boss and co-workers, you're more accessible to clients. Business hours and time zones don't limit you. (On second thought, maybe you might want to keep that benefit to yourself.)

#10: It's a weather-proof arrangement

In January 1994, my employer shut down for a full week after Mother Nature dumped about 20 inches of snow on the region. Depending on where you work, this might be an important issue. Weather won't disrupt your commute across the hall.


About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

41 comments
reet kaur
reet kaur

its very informtive site... ? Work From Home India

valduboisvert
valduboisvert

I used to work in a relaxed schedule environment, where people didn't care much at what hour you came to work. We had meetings twice per week and of course you had to be present there. But other than that all that matters was your project. What I did notice back then was that everyone was working more at home and more than 8 hours per day.

captain
captain

It worked fine for the first boss for five years, then new boss came and didn't like wanted presence

sgeiger
sgeiger

This would save me $180.00 a week in fuel and an additional 40.86 a week due to the local city tax and county taxes by working from home. (No local taxes there) that comes out to $11,484.72 a year give or take. That pays for a lot of extra lights and heat. The majority of this is already after taxes.... thats more than my last 4 yearly raises.... ....hmm 'new bass boat?' (with WiMax of course)

isaac.squires
isaac.squires

I just saw this today - GeniusRoom has software for telecommuters and will plant a tree if you work from home. I don't know if that will convince your boss, but at least it makes me feel good :) Here's the link - http://www.geniusroom.com/solutions.html

tony.kew
tony.kew

It may save your employer money but you have to pick up the cost in increased costs at home ie lighting, heating, power, phone calls. Also 50 people at home burn 50 lights, at work there may only be 30 lights.

Lightsabre
Lightsabre

Convincing your boss is one thing, convincing the orgranization is another. I'm in the gov't space and we have a small shop. We've done testing of teleworking with great success, however, there are other hurdles like HR and Risk Mgmt and the liability of working out of the office and potential worker comp issues. Couple that with the 'old guard' who do not understand today's employee, especially today's IT employee, and don't see value in working from home because it's not what they would do and it's difficult to shift the culture. I see a lot of value in most of the points and agree that you can be more productive. What has to happen is managing your employees a bit more closely with respect to accomplishing tasks each day and week. When these are met then justifying telework is easy. States like Arizona have had a very successful teleworking program for more than 10 years. It started with a committment from the top and policies and guidelines were developed to protect the org as well as the employee. Link: http://www.teleworkarizona.com/

bigQ123
bigQ123

A few of these ways are valid, but certainly not number 5. Just because other people work from home is not a valid reason for you to work from home. I believe the best way of convincing your boss is to take on his concerns with you working from home: -administrative red tape concerning heating, electricity, telephone and communications refunds -less productive meetings: face-to-face meetings are more productive! -distractions at home

ArtUllman
ArtUllman

Many employers fear that there are too many distractions in the home, or that home internet is unreliable. There is another telecommuting option which deals with both of these issues. Rather than telecommute from home, you can look into working from a remote office. Remote Office Centers lease individual offices, internet and phone systems to workers from different companies in shared centers located around the city and suburbs. Remote Office Centers provide professional grade facilities from locations near where people live. ROCs provide an environment that is similar to employee's current work environment, so there is very little adjustment or downside. Remote Office Centers are fairly new, but can be found in many cities by searching the internet for "Remote Office Centers" in quotes or by going to a free web site that lists ROCs: http://www.remoteofficecenters.com

reet kaur
reet kaur

its really informative site ? Work From Home India

ssharkins
ssharkins

That's cool -- thanks for sharing that link.

Barry 441
Barry 441

I would probably burn 5 lights that are not on normally during the day. My heating bill would decrease most likely as I would be able to walk down the hall and throw another log on the fire instead of having my boiler kick on without me there. My lunch bill would decrease since I can eat right out of my fridge. My waist line will probably increase though. ;-) I would get a seperate line or use VOIP though.

MrDutyman
MrDutyman

Comment removed for being inappropiate. - Tammy Message was edited by: tcavadias

ssharkins
ssharkins

Most of us leave our a/c and heat during the day while we're away from home. We might turn it down (or up, as the case may be), but it's still running. My computer stays on 24 hours a day -- I never turn it off. No change there for me. Now, I'm not sure about the lighting, but I use regular incadescent lighting in my home office. Most offices use flourescent. Does anyone know the differences in energy use/cost? I'm assuming, and probably incorrectly so, that home lighting would still be cheaper, just in cost of the bulbs alone, but I'll be right up front about it -- I don't know that for a fact. Might look into it later if I have some free time -- Even if you throw all of that out and just consider the fuel and emissions, it's worth it. If I started working a traditional job, I'd see almost no change in my home energy/phone bill (no change on my phone bill whatsoever). But, my fuel bill would at least double, and considering I'd have a long commute, would more likely triple or even quadruple -- seriously.

ssharkins
ssharkins

I agree that not every personality, nor every position can telecommute. The individual must be disciplined and know their job well. Acutal responsibilities can be a problem too. I'm not pushing telecommuting, I just want to help the folks who'd like to try it.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Companies with successful telecommuting efforts certainly are valid -- examples of how it's working. It it didn't work, you'd not find large corporations making the move. Very valid example, but certainly Okay if you don't agree with me. :)

megabaum
megabaum

I am an independent consultant and I typically work in the office, however over the years I've negotiated some flex time with my clients. As per the article, I typically get twice as much done at "home" than I do in the office. At home, I'm not distracted with the team coffee/lunch breaks, meaningless chit chat, and/or office politics and gossip. On my last job, I actually scheduled time to work from home, because one of the girls there was a total drama queen and she came crying or complaining to me every other day. It was hard to avoid these scenarios and/or escape them, without making her feel bad. The most effective option was to work from home, so I could meet my deadlines. Worked great. Also, if you're a good communicator, you should have no problem "telemcommuting" and conferening in to meetings. A conference call can be just as effective as a face to face meeting and sometimes more. Anyhow, with all of the offshoring and remote teams these days * there's a growing demand for people who know how to facilitate and communicate with remote teams, even though they are not face to face =) It's definately achievable, but I realize not for everone. Distractions at home? This may be true for some, however I find I usually get far more done when I'm working from home. I think it's because I find there are actually fewer distractions at home. All the same, suppose one day I decided to do a couple loads of laundry and meet the plummer; Simple logic solves this problems: I spent the 2 hours I would have spent driving that day, working on some things at home. In the end, I worked the same amount of hours than I would have if I were at the office and I got more done; and I'm a happy camper because I got some personal things done as well.

ottersmoo
ottersmoo

I spent 6 months working at home and hated just about every minute of it. Mostly because it's my personality...I'm social. I'm also what's known as a verbal processor - I solve problems by talking them out with someone. I think telecommuting is great...for some people. I was easily distracted at home and was lonely and lost with only myself (and the cats) to bounce ideas off of.

bighair1204
bighair1204

Sometimes I think I will be lazy if I am without stressful atmosphere of the office. And on the other hand, if you work from home, that might prolong your working hours. And that maybe is the reason why the productivity increase. For youself, it is not a good thing. You might lose more free time.

Legitimate Work From Home Jobs
Legitimate Work From Home Jobs

I have been doing so for over 11 years. Yes, it can make you feel as if the walls are coming in on you. But there is good and bad to every job. The freedoms you gain from working on your own schedule greatly make up for the loss of being a "people-person". I say, don't give up. It will grow on you and you will be happy you did.

ArtUllman
ArtUllman

There are many people who feel like you about home telecommute. This is the reason that Remote Office Centers make sense. Remote Office Centers lease office space to telecommuters in the suburbs so they can work in an office around other workers (who may work for the same company or some other company), but do not have to drive to some distant corporate office. ROCs provide infrastructure and structure, but in a convenient location. Remote Office Centers are fairly new, but can be found by searching the internet for "Remote Office Centers" in quotes, or by going to a free web site that lists centers by city: http://www.remoteofficecenters.com

Barry 441
Barry 441

I think just one or two days a week of telecommuting would be fine for me. I'm a social person as well. I have a 55 mile drive each way for work. I would love to save some $$$ and sleep 1 hour later. I think it would regenerate me.

Niall Baird
Niall Baird

Cats are very good to bounce ideas off...that look they get when you talk to them about a programming problem makes you feel like an idiot - and much better to be like that in front of the cat, than the boss!

cupcake
cupcake

My last two jobs allowed me to set the number of hours I wanted to telecommute, which usually worked out to pretty close to half. Normally, since I work closely with a single or small team of engineers, I coordinated my schedule with them. But being in the office with them, not only showed the "boss" that we were working and productive even when we weren't visible, but being at home allowed us uninterupted time for writing code, testing, writing documents, etc., all those things you need to be able to do without your cube-neighbor wanting to chat about politics or the game last night. It was the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, I am now with an organization that - although I love and am happy - the boss' boss doesn't allow telecommuting. He's one of those guys who wants to see the heads in each cube as he walks by. Who knows, though, we're having a re-org and maybe I'll get someone who's supports the idea!

alexbone1
alexbone1

Well, posts just about sum up the key points: 1: Potentially very advantageous, productivity wise both on the corporate and personal level. 2: The environment points are very important. While processing, storage and communication require energy, doing these things plus physical movement requires more. Energy requires consumption of raw materials, conversion and waste products. The more consumed and the more waste, the quicker we all find ourselves living in increasingly challenging climactic conditions. 2: Telecommuters must manage their time effectively, ensuring they are professional, deliver as contracted, but do not become 365 - 24/7. 3: It's not right for every individual and/or job function. 4: To work, it must have not just agreement but active ongoing support and development from management. 5: (i) In the majority of cases there will always be some tasks and aspects of any given role that will require occasional physical meeting. (ii) Including the above and the very exceptional cases where this is not necessarily so, it is still good that this should on occasion happen; a total lack of normal intercation with colleagues is not conducive to an optimal and developing working relationship. Finally, something of an aside, again on productivity. What is it? Very simple really: work done over time spent. Simple ex: Man A needs to build a wall. It takes 1200 bricks to do this. He accomplished this in 12 hours, at 100 bricks laid per hour. Man B does the same job in 10 hours, at 120 bricks per hour (I forgot to mention that they are both professional brick layers, very competitive, and have been overdosing on glucose). Then we have girl C, who isn't and wasn't. She lays down after just 3.5 hours - with man B, as it happens, but this isn't strictly relevant - having laid 245 bricks. Who has been more productive? OK so that one's easy. What about the quality of the work? Man A's work was OK; a bit messy, not all the bricks were trim, and there was some messy mortar. Man B's work was most impressive - until the next day, wehn it became clear that, in his haste, he had failed to mix the mortar correctly, and as it rained (while he was 'otherwise engaged' as it so happened), his wall, by the next day looked like a work of modern art, or, as his foreman, described it (I paraphrase, to avoid shocking those of you with more delicate sensibilities): "An expletive deleted -ing excuse". And what of the wall of Girl C? Approximately the same quality as that of man A, according to the foreman. From which lengthy waffling one may deduce what precisely?

BeingMe
BeingMe

Well, since I left the military in 2003 and got my IT degree, I've not had anything but telecommuting positions. I've always made it a point to my employer that I work set hours, and that working outside of that is the rare exception and not the norm. Right now I am working 7 am to 4 pm with an hour for lunch, and my employer respects that, knowing that at 4 I shut off the VPN, I turn off the office VOIP phone and close the instant messenger. If I work late or end up having to work a weekend I ensure that my employer knows of it and normally I am offered comp time just as if I were in the office like the rest of the salaried employees. The key is to have the self-discipline to ensure you are working and available the hours you say you are available, as well as being firm about not working extra simply because you literally live at your office. I actually find that I have more free time in the evenings, because during my lunch hour, I get some housework done as well, doing dishes, picking things up or caring for my pets. So after dinner, I can crash on the couch without guilt.

Barry 441
Barry 441

Unfortunately it's not an option for me.

ssharkins
ssharkins

Are you going to consider it then?

buckleyc
buckleyc

I agree. I am often asked questions about systems I have not worked on in years and when I am at home, I am able to get more done due to less distractions. The only downside to me is when there is a meeting and they conference you in, it can be difficult to hear people if they do not speak up.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I think that's relative, bighair. I'm much more productive from home that I am on campus. I'm not distracted by students, and I can actually work the hours I function best. In the lab, or in the office, there is always a student, a co-worker, a phone call. These things hurt my productivity as relates to grading homework and tests, writing tests, reviewing potential textbooks. I'm one of those who generally needs to work undisturbed.

bighair1204
bighair1204

First of all, I must say I am not envolved in IT industry. So maybe this is the reason that we come up the ideas from different views. And I definitely consider that IT industry is the most proper one to adopt telecommuting. But as for the productivity, I don't believe those survey figures. I have to disbelieve the huge effect people boost since I knew the concept of working from home. For a company, working from home indeed saves the money spending on the rent or other things of traditional office model. But the company will spend considerable money to maintain network, I mean even more money. For an individual, it depends on different characters. You was an armyman. This could be a powerful guarantee that you have the self-discipline. In comparison, I agree with Ottersmoo to some extent. I'm social too. And I think I'll be easily distracted at home. I don't think that it is a good idea that one people stays in home all the time. Not only talking with your colleagues because of solving problems, but also you need to communicate with people face to face. The only benefit I can discover is that telecommuting really offers a kind of convenience. With the exception of this thing, there is nothing. Your productivity doesn't increase at all.

TheComputerator
TheComputerator

Even if I work an extra 1 - 1.5 hours a day I'll break even since I spend that much time commuting. I always figure my commuting time into my salary to determine how much I really make.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I'm getting at more than money when I reference cost, too. Be careful with a few of us here - we like to play with words. :D

bighair1204
bighair1204

Another English words play. It seems your time is all costly. haha Hope your 'time' is expensive, then you can afford your tax and loan.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

Free, as it is generally and sloppily understood in the parts of the USA in which I dwell references 'without cost'. I drag that into this, implying that time is costly. Again, I grabbed an opportunity. I am not one to say what you 'should' say. My own words too often trip me, even foil me completely.

bighair1204
bighair1204

Or another comprehension: if you have no this thing, what are you doing now? I just think, if you work from nine to five, your leisure time is integral, you have abundant time to surf online, meet friends, watch TV... But if you work from home, your leisure time is scattered. You can't talk with your colleagues face to face. You only can communicate with them by the net. I know that working from home will become a trend in future, but maybe too modernization is not a good thing. :)