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Arguing in Favor of Telecommuting: 5 Tips to Convince the Boss

Arguing in Favor of Telecommuting: 5 Tips to Convince the Boss

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    If you’ve been thinking that your life would be easier if you didn’t have to drive into work every day or mess with the office politics in person, now may be a good time bring up telecommuting to your boss. Many companies are looking for ways to streamline and if you pitch telecommuting as a way to do just that, the chances your boss may be willing to let you switch to a new working arrangement aren’t half bad.

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    1. It’s All in How You Bring It Up

    You can’t sell your boss on an idea like telecommuting just by mentioning in passing that you’d like to try it out. You have to bring it up as a serious topic, worthy of your supervisor’s serious consideration. That can mean scheduling a specific time to sit down and talk through the pros and cons: while you can try to pitch your idea in the hallway, it’s worthwhile to actually have a time where your boss is giving you his or her full attention. You need to prepare for that sit-down meeting, as well. Do some research and prove that you’ve already considered both the good and the bad of telecommuting. It’s easier to sell telecommuting if you can say up front what the drawbacks are — and why they won’t affect your productivity.

    2. Talk About the Money

    When it comes to a business decision, it’s all about the money. If your boss is convinced that it’s more cost effective to keep you in the office, that is where you are staying. That means you need to be able to speak knowledgeably about the expenses associated with telecommuting. Are you going to need any new equipment (or software) in order to work at home? Where are you going to save money for the company by not being in the office. If you need to, write down the financial pros and cons. I’ve heard of one or two people offering to take a salary cut in exchange for working for home: the argument behind that line of thought is that if you save money on your daily commute, work wardrobe and so forth is that you can afford to work for less. It’s not necessarily the best choice — but if an employer is already looking for ways to give you a pay cut or cut your hours, such an idea can at least give you a little bargaining power.

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    3. Look at Your Productivity

    A big concern for many employers is that they can’t visually confirm that a telecommuter is doing the work he or she is getting paid for. And depending on just what your job is, that sort of visual confirmation may be the only way a supervisor feels that he or she can be sure of your productivity. You’re going to need to reassure your boss about your ability to work in your home environment — and you may even need to come up with some kind of metric to show just how much you’ve done in a day. Even if it’s as simple as shooting your boss an email when you sit down to work in the morning, and another when you finish up for the day, a little reassurance can go a long way.

    4. Consider Compromises — Ahead of Time

    Your discussion with your boss about telecommuting can turn into a negotiation very quickly. When you go in, you should already have an idea of what compromises you would be comfortable with. Would you be interested in telecommuting only part time, and coming into the office on certain days for meetings and so forth? Are you willing and able to use your own computer for your work? Think through what you absolutely need for telecommuting to be a personal success — and what you’re willing to give up in order to get your boss on board. You can even negotiate a date to revisit the requirements for your telecommuting: if, for instance, your employer wants to do a trial run and see how productive you really are at home, set a specific day to sit down and talk about the results.

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    5. Set Up Communications

    In many companies, face time is considered an absolute necessity for little things like promotions. It is possible to make up for face time through careful communication — and of course, good communications are also necessary to make sure that you’re kept in the loop on any projects you’re working on. Choose your communications methods carefully, however: you may be excited about the latest document-sharing tool online, but how much of a learning curve is there for everyone else who will have to adapt to this new technology? Instead, try to stick as closely to what you use for in-office communications as possible. Whether you rely on email or a good, old-fashioned phone call, stick with the technology the higher-ups are comfortable using — and that don’t require any additional costs.

    While not every employer can be won over to the benefits of telecommuting — and not every job is a great fit for working form home — talking through the pros and cons of getting out of the office can make for a relatively simple negotiation. If you can go in with a solid knowledge of the pros and cons of your particular telecommuting situation, as well as some consideration on how to handle the relevant issues, you’ll be ahead of the game in convincing your employer to let you try it out.

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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