Working from home is a godsend for many moms who try to juggle their career dreams along with their kids’ carpooling and dentist appointments. But many managers fear that the work just won’t get done if they allow their staff to work remotely. When you approach your boss for her approval to set up an off-site office, use your telecommute proposal to show that you’ll continue to hit home runs for your department regardless of where you’re working.
One of the most critical points in your proposal is a discussion of how much more productive you’ll be when you’re away from the steady stream of phone calls, walk-in visitors and meetings. Document the amount of time your standard tasks require and explain how much longer that report, memo and presentation take to prepare when you’re battling a frenzy of interruptions. “I can turn out 20 hours of paperwork in six hours [out of the office],” says Erin Morton, human resources manager for 3M in Cleveland. “You can focus on your tasks so much more efficiently.” Morton, who works from her home several days each week, also is mom to three kids ages 9 years, 7 years and 20 months. Your boss also needs to know that you’ve designated someone in your office to manage employee or customer inquiries while you’re working remotely.
Outline how readily available you’ll be to your co-workers and clients via cellphone and email. This means publicizing your contact information and then demonstrating that you respond quickly to everyone’s needs. “You’re at home but you’re connected and accessible,” says Morton. In the midst of union contract negotiations, her bargaining unit and company representatives were able to stay in nonstop contact with Morton while she authored and assembled documents from her home office. She suggests taking the initiative to learn different dial-in technologies like Skype so you can participate in meetings even when you’re at home.
Your work-at-home proposal should assure your boss that you are committed to rearranging your schedule to accommodate emergencies. A work-related crisis trumps your privilege of working remotely because the business always comes first, sometimes with little advance notice. “You need to show your boss you can be flexible,” says Morton. She made sure in advance that her manager was comfortable that she had adequate child care arrangements available for those instances when she’d be expected to give up her work-at-home days and be on-site at 3M’s manufacturing plant. Another way to show that you’re open minded is to tell your supervisor that you’ll try a telecommuting arrangement for 90 days so he can evaluate your new schedule.
Think beyond just the cheery decor of your new office as you discuss your workspace in your proposal. Your home office setup is important to your success as a telecommuting employee. Your manager needs to know of any equipment and supplies that you’ll need including a printer, scanner, shredder, paper or toner. Your IT department can give you details on software you’ll need to connect to company servers or intranets, as well as fees for a virtual private network (VPN) connection. An effective proposal captures all of these hardware and infrastructure details, in addition to pledging that all company property and information will be safe and secure in your home.