How to Persuade Your Employer to Let You Telecommute

To telecommute is the way of the future, and very common now. But persuading your employer to try it can be another issue. The telecommuting culture is creating some issues for employers, and not all jobs really fit the telecommuting model.

One of the common problems is that  traditional job design rarely incorporates telecommuting options. Although many businesses, including major corporations, adopted telecommuting as a working employment model back in the 1990s, many mainstream employment market business models have still been designed for onsite jobs.

If your boss seems a bit tentative about telecommuting, they likely have good reason. There are real business issues, even in modern employment models, regarding telecommuting:

  • Security of data
  • The need to manage employees handling sensitive materials
  • Productivity
  • Possible performance issues
  • Management controls

How to make a case for telecommuting in your job

This is a negotiation scenario, and you will need to make a very good case for your telecommuting. Remember, your boss is responsible for both you and your work, and isn't kidding or just being negative when raising objections to the idea.

You need to persuade your boss that:

  • Your reasons for wanting to telecommute are bona fide and reasonable.
  • You can do the work productively, on time, and more efficiently by telecommuting.
  • There's no downside for the employer, or the boss personally.
  • There are no risk factors, either to productivity or any possibility of problems with the work.
  • The boss will be able to contact you anytime and conduct business as usual online or on the phone.

Negotiating the telecommuting job

The response to your initial request by the employer will be yes, no, or maybe. With a "maybe" response, you can add some extra elements to your negotiation:

  • You can suggest a brief trial period, like a week, to see if the idea works.
  • You can ask for suggestions about what the employer considers would constitute an acceptable scenario for telecommuting.
  • You can even offer to take a pay reduction, if appropriate, over the trial period. Many telecommuters do so because working onsite is too expensive. This isn't really a sacrifice, and it works out well for both parties.
  • You can suggest additional work which can easily be done by telecommuting, as a productivity gain. That will make sense to many employers, because it does represent a positive result for them.

Important "Don'ts" in negotiations

In any form of negotiation there are specific actions and suggestions to avoid. The "Don'ts" in this case are important considerations:

  • Don't become a perceived nuisance on the subject of telecommuting. That's asking for an instant negative reaction from the employer. Telecommuting should only be a topic when it's an agreed subject for discussion.
  • Don't commit to an unprofitable mix of elements in the telecommuting role. A combined pay cut and extra work might backfire, if you don't manage the workload agreement properly.
  • Don't insist on a particular outcome, be flexible and stay positive. You must be perceived to be negotiating reasonably and openly.
  • Don't respond negatively to the employer's options. It gives a very negative impression. Discuss and honestly consider any proposition on its merits.