Would you like a 10-second commute to work, access to your own kitchen during the workday and flexible work hours? Those are some of the benefits of working from home.
But recent surveys suggest employees are afraid to ask their employers to let them to work from home.
It can be intimidating to ask for such a big change, but don’t wait for your employer to offer home-based work. While 75% of employees ranked workplace flexibility as “the most important benefit” in the 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study done by Workplace Trends, only 50% of employers thought it was that important to employees.
In other words, your boss might have no idea you would love to work at home.
You might think your boss would never go for the arrangement. But she might, once you explain the many advantages employers get from having remote workers.
Ready to give it a show? Here’s how to convince your boss to let you work from home.
Before you talk to your boss about working from home, you need to understand and be able to explain the benefits to your employer. You should also study up on the tools used for telecommuting.
If co-workers are already working from home, ask them how they made the transition and what it requires.
If your employer currently has no employees at home, print out a white paper on implementing a telecommuting program. Have it ready to present along with your proposal.
You can try a remote computer access system in order to see how you might actually do your work from home. LogMeIn and GotoMyPC offer free trials of their systems. Once you understand the arguments and the technical challenges, fine tune your sales pitch and…
Explain the Benefits to Your Employer
You can easily think of benefits you get from working at home, but you need to clearly explain to the boss what’s in it for the company.
Review the following points until you can recite them off the top of your head. You might even want to print out some of the research to make your case more convincing.
1. Higher Productivity
One experiment on working from home involved a travel agency with 16,000 employees. Some of them were randomly assigned to office or home positions for nine months.
“Home working led to a 13% performance increase, of which 9% was from working more minutes per shift (fewer breaks and sick days) and 4% from more calls per minute (attributed to a quieter and more convenient working environment).”
The previously mentioned study done by Workplace Trends found that 71% of employers report increased productivity when they implement flexibility programs (which include employees working some or all hours at home). Other studies have also found gains in productivity.
Of course, you might want to add your own explanation of how there are fewer distractions at home and how you already have a quiet area set up for working.
2. Lower Costs
While better employee performance helps productivity, part of the productivity gains companies see with home workers come from lower costs.
Consider Aetna, the insurance company. Almost half of Aetna’s employees don’t have a desk at their offices, which means “the company has cut 2.7 million square feet of office space at $29 a square foot, for about $78 million in cost savings a year including utilities, housekeeping, mail service and document shredding,” reports Reuters.
Now, your boss might not plan to close an office just because you work from home, but you can point out that if it works well, and enough other employees eventually work from home, there could be big savings at some point.
3. Less Absenteeism
More than one of the studies mentioned report fewer sick days when employees work from home, and this makes sense.
After all, as you can explain to your boss, there are times when you’re well enough to work, but probably shouldn’t be exposing other employees to your cold or flu (which could add to their sick days). Working at home solves that problem.
4. Lower Employee Turnover
Your boss already knows that it costs money to hire and train new employees. But she may not know that allowing home-based work creates more loyal employees who stick around longer.
Almost half of employers offering home-based positions say doing so “has a high impact on employee retention,” according to a research report by WorldAtWork.org. The Reuters report on Aetna suggests that home workers are less than half as likely to leave the company.
When presenting this benefit to your employer, you don’t want to suggest you’ll be quitting unless you get to work at home (unless that’s true).
Instead, point again to the long-term benefit if your home-based work leads to many other employees working at home.
5. Happier Employees
It isn’t surprising that surveys find telecommuting employees are happier. Of course, that may not be too relevant to your boss.
But higher levels of employee satisfaction or happiness at least help explain and bolster the case for higher productivity and better employee retention, so be sure to mention this research finding.
6. Environmental Benefits
Evidence for the positive environmental impact of telecommuting is also not a surprise.
You use less gas and pollute less when you don’t drive to work. Your employer will need less office space and will use less electricity if more employees work from home. Both of those effects reduce the company’s negative environmental impact.
This is a strong point to make if your employer is environmentally concerned (or wants to be seen as such). Even if that doesn’t describe your boss, make the point as a reminder of the cost savings that come from reducing energy use.
Make Your Proposal
With the benefits explained and perhaps a few charts or papers for your employer to look at, it’s time to make a specific proposal.
If your boss is worried about you working full time at home, offer to start with two days per week to see how it goes. Mondays and Fridays tend to be hectic at most companies, so suggest days in the middle of the work week.
If your employer already has some employees working at home, point out as examples the ones who are doing the best job, and model your proposal on whatever arrangements they have.
If you’re going to be the first one, make it clear you’ll help set things up. Remind your boss about all the advantages the company could have once you prove the concept and they move more employees into home-based positions.
When you’re done, you will have shown your employer the bottom-line benefits and explained how the plan can be implemented without too much trouble.
And make it clear that for all the potentially huge benefits there is little risk; you’ll be right back in the office if for some reason working from home doesn’t work out.
Of course, the chances are good that once you’re productively stationed at home, you’ll get to stay there.
Your Turn: Would you like to work from home? Will you be asking your employer for this arrangement part-time or full-time?
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He’s been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).