“How do I broach the topic of working from home?”

By Paula Santonocito

smw - broach topic work from homeQ.  I would really like to work from home one day a week. I’d save money commuting, and I’d lose the wasted travel time. Without all the office interruptions, I know I could also accomplish more. I’m just not sure how to bring up the topic with my boss. Any suggestions?

A.  Before you approach your boss, it’s important to first look at your company. Are other people working from home on a regular basis? If so, it shows the company is open to such an arrangement.

But it’s not only your company as a whole you want to consider. Are others in your department working from home? This is important because it may provide insight into how your boss feels about working remotely.

If the company is open to it, and your boss has already embraced it, the conversation will be easier. If neither is the case, all is not lost. But you must then be prepared to be seen as somewhat of a trailblazer.

Let’s take the best case scenario first. It’s an accepted way of working at your organization, and your boss has shown she’s onboard. You can actually use this as your starting point. “I know the company has given some employees the opportunity to work remotely, and I’d like to work from home one day a week.”

Then, immediately point out the benefits for the company. “It would allow me to be much more productive. Although I enjoy the team atmosphere of the office, I know I could accomplish a lot more if I had one day each week without interruptions.”

It doesn’t hurt to follow this with an advantage the arrangement would give you. “I also figure I would save about $125 each month in commuting costs, not to mention the commuting time.”

If your boss seems hesitant, ask if she’s open to trying it for a month. Let her know that you will be accessible via phone and email during work hours.

What if the concept is new to your department or even your company? Admittedly, this scenario is more difficult to assess and therefore navigate.

How your request will be viewed depends on several factors, including your company’s culture, which in this case includes its willingness to accommodate employees and its openness to change.

You might want to start the conversation by saying that you know some companies offer a remote work option and you’re wondering if it might be a possibility at ours (yes, “ours” shows you view yourself as part of a team). Chances are your boss’ initial reaction will give you a good idea about whether a remote work option is even a remote possibility.

Regardless, it’s worth having the conversation. Even if your request doesn’t meet with an affirmative response, it might eventually cause the company to rethink its position…or you to rethink yours.

Have a question? Email Paula here.