Tips on Telecommuting
Ever wondered what it would be like to have a 10-second commute? Or answer e-mails from a patio chair in your backyard? The good news is that you may not have to start your own business or go freelance to reap the benefits of working from home. As gas prices soar, more and more companies (and their employees) are considering telecommuting options. Here’s what you need to know if you want to telecommute.
Show your boss the benefits. Rachel Kuptz is an Internet advertising contractor who telecommutes to her job four days a week. She also worked from home part of the time at her previous job, which she used to convince her new employer of the benefits of telecommuting. “But the biggest selling point was that I was an introvert in a group of all-male extroverts and that I worked better alone and in more quiet surroundings,” she says. Your company can also save money on office space and overhead costs, plus they’ll have an employee who is more engaged in her work (some experts say that productivity increases as much as 40% in telecommuting workers).
Start small. Your boss will feel more comfortable with the arrangement if you ease them into it. Ask to work from home two days a week and agree to a trial period so you can both reevaluate the situation a few weeks in. “I started out proposing working from home one or two days a week for the first few weeks of my employment,” says Kuptz. “I made sure that I was efficient and overly productive, because my employer had a few reservations at first. They are an online ad network, though, so pretty much all tools are accessible online.”
Stay accessible. Since you won’t see your co-workers all the time, you’ll need to make an extra effort to stay in touch and answer questions in a timely fashion (sorry, just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you’ll have time for a Regis and Kelly marathon). When Kuptz transitioned to working from home, she wrote “an action plan of what I would work on, how they could keep in contact with me, and weekly and monthly goals that I would meet.” She follows through on her plan by sending daily recaps of her progress and staying connected to co-workers through AIM and Google Chat. She also uses a company Blackberry to keep in touch.
Put in face time when you can. Even with a Blackberry and IMs, there’s no substitute for personal interactions. Kuptz goes to meetings with her co-workers every Monday so she stays informed. “The only downside so far has been that I don’t get pulled into many day-to-day tasks anymore,” she says. “The tasks that get assigned based on who’s around when the project needs to be done keep you in constant communication with bosses.” To keep connected, she also offers to help out her co-workers when they need it. But ultimately, Kuptz loves her situation. “The flexibility is amazing,” she says. “I love that I can visit my friends in Cincinnati or San Diego for a week, working during the days and hanging out at nights, without having to take vacation time.”