Your dilemma: You’d love to work from home a few days a week but your boss thinks telecommuting is just an opportunity to slack off and watch Oprah. Well, I’ve got just what you need to make your case: Real numbers from an academic study that shows that telecommuting is better for both workers and bosses.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University looked at data on 12,833 telecommuters and found that telecommuting programs have beneficial effects for both the workers and their employers. Study results showed that telecommuters reported more job satisfaction, less motivation to leave the company, less stress, improved work-family balance, and higher performance ratings by supervisors. Managers supervising telecommuters also reported that their performance was not negatively affected by working from home.
And if your boss argues that face time at the office is necessary to foster good work relationships, you can oh-so-diplomatically beg to differ. Telecommuters who worked away from their offices for less than three days per week did not see their work relationships suffer Those who were out of the office for three days per week or more, however, did see their bonds with co-workers diminish.
If you have been fantasizing about telecommuting, now may be the time to pitch the idea to your boss. Approximately 45 million Americans telecommuted in 2006. If you want to join their ranks, your best bet is to put together a written proposal for your boss. Address any of her potential concerns and explain the business value of the arrangement for the company. Perhaps you will be able to start work earlier or work later because you can cut out a long commute. Or maybe you can deliver higher-quality work in an environment away from the cubicle-farm distractions where you can focus. Cite the results of the Penn State study to help make your case and show that you’ve done your homework.
Be prepared to compromise. If your manager remains skeptical, offer to do a trial run for a few weeks and see how it goes. Then bend over backward to show that you can be even more productive from home than you can be in the office.
If all goes well, you will soon be be enjoying the benefits of the telecommuter’s life. Of course, there are also challenges to making telecommuting work, but most find that the increased flexibility and the reduced commute time are well worth any effort required to adapt. Just ask those guys from Penn State.