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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 August 16, 2018

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

    Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

    Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system”.

    A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

    Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

    In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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    The power of habit

    A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

    For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

    This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

    The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

    That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being six hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

    Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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    The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

    Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

    But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

    The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

    The wonderful thing about triggers (reminders)

    A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

    For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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    But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

    If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

    For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

    These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

    For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

    How to make a reminder works for you

    Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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    Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

    Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

    My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

    Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

    I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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