Telecommuting: How to Escape the Cubicle and Work from Home
These days, it seems like everyone is jumping on the work-from-home (WFH) bandwagon. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 40% more US employers offered telecommuting options than just five years ago.
But there are plenty of companies that aren’t sold on letting employees work remotely. So what’s the best way to convince the boss that you can be trusted to work effectively while not under the constant supervision of a manager?
1. Explain the Benefits for the Company
There are many proven ways that a WFH policy is good for companies. Remote work can be a perk to increase work/life balance for employees, and it also reduces the amount of office space needed. WFH policies help attract better talent since HR is not limited to hiring within a geographical area. And with technologies like Slack and GoToMeeting, non-productive communication is a thing of the past. There are no more watercooler discussions, impromptu meetings, or invasive pop-ins anymore.
Also, companies may find that employees are actually more productive, engaged, and loyal to the business when allowed to work remotely. In fact, in a 2017 survey, FlexJobs found that 66% of respondents said they felt they’d be more productive in a home office.
2. Be Flexible with Your Schedule
If your company doesn’t have a stated WFH policy, be willing to meet management halfway. It shouldn’t be too hard to suggest a trial separation from the office. Start with one or two days a week and ask for feedback. It’ll take some getting used to on everyone’s part, but it could be the gateway to full-time telecommuting.
3. Have Dedicated Space
Trying to get your work done from the dining room or hunching over the coffee table won't cut it. And when you work from home, you’re always at the office, so it’s easy to get sucked into tasks after hours. So it’s critical to have a place that you can close off to roommates or family and can walk away from when work is done. Another bonus? The IRS allows for select deductions from your taxes.
Keep your home office tidy, too. Nothing kills your efficiency or productivity more than disorganization and clutter.
4. Be Responsive and Dependable
Many companies worry that home workers are playing video games or cleaning the house instead of being at their desks. Allay that concern by answering any communication from the office promptly. In person, a quick thumbs up is all it takes, but at home, an email that says “I’ve seen this and will take care of it by Friday” will be needed. Make sure to hit that deadline too. If you start to miss deadlines consistently, it’s over.
It’s also hard to be responsive if you can’t connect to the web, so give your home network some attention. If you have to do a lot of data transfers or regularly call in to video chats, consider upgrading to a gigabit internet plan that can take big download times down to seconds. Don’t overlook your router, either—run a speed test to make sure it’s putting out close to whatever speed you’re paying for.
5. Check In Often
Out of sight means out of mind. You'll need to remind the company of your value from time to time. You know you’re cranking out the hours and getting work done, but they don’t. Have a standing meeting via video chat or even in the office once a week. And request an in-depth review every few months to go over past accomplishments, current tasks, and future plans.
Share your ability to work with minimal supervision as well. Whether you took some initiative on a big project without being asked or nailed a presentation alone, let management know.
Using these tips help you be as productive as possible—and reassure your boss that their work-from-home policy was the right decision for everyone involved.