A telework proposal from an employee is, in effect, a request for the employer to, at least, take a chance on you as a remote employee or, at most, to change their business strategy. As such, your proposal must build a case that teleworking is good for your company. If the company has already embraced telecommuting your task will be much easier, of course, than if you’re in the more difficult position of having to educate your boss and higher management to the advantages of telework.
How to Approach the Idea of Teleworking
In any case, you need to make it clear that you understand that a positive decision on teleworking will be a benefit for the company, not just you. “I really hate the long commute, so you should let me work at home,” isn’t going to get very far. But if you briefly outline the overall benefits of telework for your company and then list the specifics in your case, your telework proposal is much more likely to get a fair hearing.
Keep in mind that your boss, your boss’ boss, and on up the line will be worried that they’ll have less control over your activities if you’re teleworking from home, and will believe that it will result in lower productivity from you. Just the opposite is true: Studies show that those who are permitted to telework are more productive; but even so, managers worry that you won’t be immediately available in a crisis, that you’ll miss out on ‘learning by watching’ opportunities, and that you’ll be ‘out of the loop’ in office communications–all valid concerns when it comes to telework. They’ll also worry, appropriately, about security risks and tech support problems that teleworking can present–and you should too. They’ll also worry that administrative changes will be required (they will), and they’ll worry that what you’re proposing will increases costs (they might). There may even be animosity among your co-workers who may see your opportunity to telework as a perk they didn’t receive and they can torpedo your voyage home out of spite and jealousy. Address your boss’s concerns about teleworking head on, address possible objections, and be sure to tackle and not just ignore any possible show-stoppers.
It’s worth pointing out, that this whole process should work the other way around. Telework is a proven strategy, and they should be trying to convince you to work at home, but often you’ll be required to carry the flag.
Outline for a Teleworking Proposal
The following outline will serve as a template for your telework proposal. The material was developed, in part, by Valley Metro, Phoenix, AZ.
First, review our telework pros and cons page so you’ll be able to anticipate and counter any resistance from management to your idea of teleworking. Be sure to take a look at our sample corporate telecommuting documents, agreements and policies that will give you a better idea of all that’s involved when adopting a telework program.
Then include the following in your proposal after the overview we described above:
- A schedule: Determine which day/s of the week you would like to telework. Take a few weeks to track your appointments out of the office, days you tend to have work that could be done from home, etc. Determine the most convenient day for your company for you to be physically “out of the office” while you are teleworking. In your initial proposal, a trial period is a good strategy so your bosses won’t feel inextricably committed to something they aren’t sure about.
- An equipment and workspace agreement: Will you provide your own equipment at home? Will you commit to dedicating a room or space apart from the rest of your home as an official workspace? Who will pay for your Internet connection and software? Do you have an ergonomic chair and proper desk for teleworking? How will you ensure the work you do won’t fall into unauthorized hands?
- Accessibility: How do you propose to be accessible to your boss and co-workers during work hours when you aren’t physically present? Can you be reached via cell phone? Will you utilize an instant messaging service to communicate with co-workers? Is e-mail an effective tool for your situation?
- Connectivity: How will you be connected to the office while teleworking? Will you share files between your home computer and your office? Do you have access to your company’s LAN at home? If not, can you get it? Will you transfer files via e-mail or on disk?
- Work Description: Tell your boss what kinds of work you expect to be able to do while teleworking at home. Will you save your writing projects for telework days? Do you have projects that require concentration for long periods of time? How will you keep yourself busy and productive while you are teleworking? Results-oriented work is the clearest way to establish accountability and to make your results measurable. One reporter we know almost lost his job because the office hubbub was so distracting, but when he was working at home he was often early with his assignments.
- Dependent Care: If you have children or seniors you care for, most telework experts advise against using telework as a substitute for any type of dependent care. Let your employer know what care arrangements you will have on your teleworking days.
- Reporting: Tell your boss how you propose to be accountable for the work you do on your teleworking days. Offer to create a weekly log outlining tasks you expect to complete on your day or days away from the office. At the end of your telework day, record on the log what you were able to complete and other tasks you did during the day.
- Legal Issues: Employers have been burned by teleworking idiots who, for example, claimed that a trip on the way to the kitchen was a work-related injury. How will you ensure your employer won’t be subject to such abuse by you?