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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 April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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