man working on computer in home office
While working from home certainly has its perks for employees, it also can bring several benefits to the employers and the business itself. — Getty Images/Anchiy

If ditching your long commute and working from the comfort of your own home sounds enticing, it might be time to ask your boss if you can work remotely. Telecommuting is growing in popularity as new technology makes it easier than ever to complete work tasks and communicate with co-workers outside of the office.

According to a special analysis of U.S. Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, 4.7 million people in the U.S. currently telecommute, and the number of people telecommuting in the U.S. increased a whopping 159% between 2005 and 2017. (These figures are based on non-self-employed people who work from home at least half the time.)

Of course, gaining permission to work from home requires a great deal of trust, so your conversation with your boss should be well thought through. Follow these five tips to prove you’re up for the task.

Consider your performance

It’s unlikely your boss will let you work from home if your performance has been lagging. “Bosses tend to have a recency bias, so they’re only thinking about the past few days or the past month or quarter,” said Gregory Pontrelli, CEO of Lausanne Business Solutions, an HR management consultancy based in Philadelphia. Wait until your performance improves to broach the subject.

Make it bigger than yourself

It might be tempting to tell your boss that you want to work from home to avoid highway traffic or so that you can drop your kids off at school. However, you should focus less on how working from home benefits you personally and more on how it would benefit the company.

“For instance, will you be able to make more sales calls in the privacy of your own home?” Pontrelli said. “Do you have less distractions at home than in an office full of people? Could you return your company car to save the employer money?” Figure out what would impress your boss and stress those factors.

Even if you work from home, you should still be involved in conversations.

Nikki Bisel, owner and founder, Seafoam Media

Find the right time and place

Before setting up a meeting with your boss, think about timing. Are they a morning person, or better in the afternoon? Are they under a lot of stress right now? Try to find a time when you think they’ll be in a good mindset to consider your request, Pontrelli said.

Consider scheduling a formal meeting if your boss is more traditional, or keep it casual if they’re laid back, such as a conversation in the cafeteria.

Assure that you’ll stay connected

A chief worry among managers is that their remote employees will be disconnected from the team. Assure them that you’ll stay connected through remote working tools and that you’ll be accessible during regular work hours.

“Even if you work from home, you should still be involved in conversations,” said Nikki Bisel, owner and founder of Seafoam Media, a digital marketing agency in St. Louis. “I like when employees who want to work remotely come to me and say, ‘I’m going to be available at my computer with my phone between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. so anyone can reach me.’”

Ask for a trial run

If your boss turns down your request to work from home full time, suggest doing it for a trial run first.

Jessica Shepard, content brand specialist at Nashville-based digital marketing agency Spark Marketer, began working remotely just one or two days a week on a trial basis. By working in an environment free of distractions, she was able to get three times more content written on the days she was home. “After the trial, my bosses told me I could work from home as much as I wanted,” Shepard said.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published October 23, 2019