Work from Home: 5 Tips for Breaking Out of the Cube

Posted by Liz Seasholtz on May 9, 2011
Work from Home: 5 Tips for Breaking Out of the Cube
Whatever you call it—working from home, telecommuting, or working remotely—getting out of the cubicle and cutting the weekly commute is becoming a common practice for the American workforce. More and more, young employees value an employer that affords them good work/life balance, and working from home is part of that balance.

According to WorldatWork’s 2009 “Telework Trendlines” annual report, the number of U.S. employees who worked remotely at least one day per month increased from approximately 12.4 million in 2006 to 17.2 million in 2008. That’s a 39-percent increase over two years, and a 74-percent increase since 2005.

If you’d like to jump on the bandwagon and start telecommuting, consider these tips for approaching your boss about it.

Make a Plan

Cali Yost, author of Work+Life: Finding the Fit That’s Right for You, suggests scheduling a meeting with your manager and present her with a telecommuting plan. Your plan should include which day(s) you want to telecommute, the ways you can be reached, tasks you can work on at home, technology you have at your disposal, how you’ll communicate with clients, and your strategy should an emergency require you to be in the office.

Put Yourself in Your Boss’s Shoes

If you say you want to work from home so you can monitor your kitchen remodel, dog sit your new puppy, or just to relax, your boss is going to think you’re slacking. Yost says it’s best to just avoid explaining why you want to telecommute—it muddies the situation. But if your boss asks, have an answer prepared about how it benefits the team, not you. “Most managers just care that you get your job done,” says Yost. “That said, explain how you’re more productive at home, you can focus better because it’s quiet, or you’ll be available to schedule 7 a.m. conference calls with your European clients.”

Suggest a Trial Period
If your boss seems a little hesitant to let you work from home, suggest a month-long trial period. After the month, you can sit down to review your productivity and tweak anything that’s not working, such as switching your day home from Monday to Wednesday or deciding to communicate via instant messenger instead of phone.

Be Reachable

Yost says this is the number one rule for working from home. “It’s irrational, but if your coworkers can’t reach you they’ll assume you’re watching ‘Oprah,’ ” she says. Try to over-communicate, so your coworkers and boss know what you’re doing and that you’re available to help them even if you’re not in the office.

Don’t Take Advantage of a Good Thing
Once you get in the rhythm of working from home, don’t take advantage of the situation! If there’s an important office meeting on the day you telecommute, don’t be stubborn about not coming in. You also shouldn’t flaunt your permission to telecommute in front of your coworkers. If you’re mature about the situation, your colleagues will react in kind.

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