In order to encourage better work/life balance, and as a response to technology that allows workers 24/7 accessibility, many organizations are implementing telecommuting policies. In fact, according to The Telework Coalition, more than 45 million U.S. workers currently telecommute from home at least once a week. Chuck Wilsker, president and CEO of the Coalition, recently told Payscale.com that he has seen a three-fold increase in the number of calls he fields from employers, employees and media wanting to know more about the reasons for telecommuting.
How can you make telecommuting work for you? Your first step is to talk with HR and/or read your orientation materials to understand how your organization’s flextime or telecommuting procedure works. Note that even if the company doesn’t have an official policy in place, if there are other people in your department who are already telecommuting, it shouldn't be unreasonable for you to hop on the bandwagon – provided you can honestly say you have the self-discipline to work productively without direct supervision.
In making an argument for telecommuting, prepare a written proposal that puts the company first and addresses, upfront, the issues you know your boss will be concerned about. For example, if you want to work from home one day per week, tell your boss that you plan to get more work done in less time due to the minimization of distractions and not having to commute. Explain how your home office will be set up and assure your manager that you will have a clean, quiet, child-free and supply-enabled work environment in which to complete your duties. Ask for a trial of the new arrangement, and prove the cost-savings by working much more efficiently on that home day than you do during your in-office days.
Once you have the green light, make sure that you are always accessible via e-mail/PDA and cell phone during the business day, and report project status often so it’s easy for your boss to keep tabs on you. And telecommuting full time shouldn’t mean that you never see the inside of your office building again. If you supervise other employees or occasionally make presentations about your initiatives, you should show up occasionally so that you can practice the most effective form of personal communication – in person. Don’t allow telecommuting to compromise the critical workplace relationships you’ve spent time and energy building.