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Would your work-life balance be better if you telecommuted instead of working from the office?  It just might!  There are no shortage of articles that talk about how telecommuters are less stressed.  In addition, telecommuting employees are more productive and tend to be more loyal to their company and dedicated to getting the job done.

Unfortunately, many companies struggle to understand how telecommuting employees can benefit their business.  If you work for one of those companies and you want to telecommute, you may have to convince your boss (who then may have to convince his or her boss) that telecommuting is good idea.

After the birth of my first child, I worked for a company I adored doing a job that I loved.  Still, I knew that telecommuting would be the perfect situation for me.  No one else in my company worked from home, so I didn’t know if my request to telecommute would be approved.  I summoned the boldness that only youth can lend (I was 23 at the time) and requested a meeting with my boss.  I asked him if I could work from home and, eventually, he said yes!  Here are somethings that I learned from my experience.

How To Ask Your Boss To Work From Home

If telecommuting is a common practice in your company, then asking your boss to work from home is a fairly easy process.  However, if you will be among the first in your company (or in your position) to work from home, you may have a few hurdles to jump before sealing the deal.  It is very important that you keep your ‘why’ in mind and that you are willing to negotiate.

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What’s in it for them?

If telecommuting is rare or non-existent in your company, you will be setting a precedent.  Your company’s senior management has everything set up the way that they feel is best for profits and productivity.  If you can’t tell them how your telecommuting is good for their company, then it will be difficult for them to allow something that is outside of the norm (read: outside of what’s currently working; see also: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it).

When I returned to work after my maternity leave, my son and I were struggling with our nursing relationship.  I was spending an hour of my work day pumping milk for him and he was refusing a bottle at day care.  Within a couple of weeks I was actually leaving work to go nurse him at day care, which was taking more than an hour of my day.  I was exhausted and most certainly less productive than I had been.

I considered quitting my job before coming up with the telecommuting solution.  My boss didn’t want to lose me and I still wanted to do my job.  Telecommuting was the perfect solution.  It may be the perfect solution for you, as well, if your work-life balance issues will be solved by working at the office less.

Even though your boss may be sympathetic to your need to work from home, ultimately you  have to show your boss how working from home is best for the company.  Will you be more productive?  Will you help the company achieve greater profits?  If you work for a smaller company, even helps such as using less company resources (electricity, water, printing supplies, etc) may be important to note when talking with your boss about working from home.

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Start With a Trial Period

When you ask your boss to work from home, start with a trial period.  Ask to work from home just one or two days per week to start.  You may find that telecommuting just a couple of days per week is enough to achieve optimal work-life balance.  Working from home can be isolating, especially if your co-workers are all working from the office.

Decide which days are best for you and be prepared to start with just day per week if your boss is hesitant.  Make sure that you are more productive on that day than you usually are in the office (which won’t be difficult if you currently work in close quarters with your co-workers.)

Have a Communication Plan

It is important to your boss that he or she be able to somehow measure or track your productivity.  Both you and your boss need know if telecommuting is working.  For me, it was a weekly status meeting with my boss and no complaints from corporate about my work (I worked more closely with corporate than with the site director, who was my boss.) that let him know that my working from home was working out.

Find out what will make your boss the most comfortable.  Will it be weekly face-to-face meetings?  Will it projects that are turned in earlier than the due date?  Be willing to negotiate and compromise to show your willingness to cooperate and make working from home a good experience for everyone.

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Consider Those You Manage

If you are in a management position you not only have to consider your boss, but also your employees.  How will you manage them from afar?  Will they, too, want to telecommute?  How you do feel about them working from home?  You should have a plan to present to your boss outlining how you will manage your team remotely.

Stay Flexible

Even if you and your boss agree to a set schedule of work-at-home days, be flexible enough to be able to attend meetings with short notice.  Always be available via phone and email during your agreed-upon working hours.  Be prepared to work from the office when there are big projects requiring a team effort.  Never look like you are doing less than your share.

What If My Boss Says No?

If your boss says no to working from home, but your work-life balance is suffering, offer another solution.  Maybe you can work four days per week instead of five.  Maybe a shorter workday is in order.  Or half-day Wednesdays or Fridays might be the answer.

I believe that most employers want their employees to be happy and healthy.  If only because happy and healthy employees are more productive employees.  Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Don’t give up if you are told no the first time.  Look for a solution that benefits both yourself and your company.

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