People who work from home, and perform well at it, must be appalled by survey data showing that a top management objection to the arrangement is the inability to know if any work is actually being done.
Aren’t we past that? Don’t results speak for themselves? If your top sales people are on the golf course or at the spa instead of calling on clients, they won’t be top performers very long. And if they’re getting the job done, who cares anyway? Yet this perception of work-at-homers as slackers persists.
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In a report this summer, Telework Research Network noted:
“The issue of mistrust—‘how do I know they’re working,’ is huge and not easily overcome. Management attitudes that were born in the days of sweatshops and typing pools still dominate. And even in those rare organizations where senior management unambiguously supports the concept, lack of middle management buy-in is the stumbling block.”
Middle managers need to get over it. The report notes a host of opportunities, cost savings and larger benefits tied to a mobile workforce:
- 45% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is suitable for part-time or full-time telecommuting.
- 50 million U.S. employees who want to work from home hold jobs that can be done from home, though only 2.9 million say home is their primary place of work.
- The 2.9 million U.S. telecommuters save 390 million gallons of gas and prevent the release of 3.6 million tons of greenhouse gases annually.
- If those with compatible jobs worked at home 2.4 days a week, the reduction in greenhouse gases would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York workforce off the roads.
There is no question that working from home makes sense in many cases. It can be good for the environment. It can save companies money on real estate. It can afford a better work/life balance. If you’d like to give it a try, but your employer has reservations, here are some tips from remote access software firm TeamViewer on how to win over the boss:
- Ease into it — Your request to work at home will raise questions about your motives and ability to be productive. Suggest a trial period of one day a week, and then bowl them over with results.
- Point out the upside — Your manager should know that when you work at home you start your day earlier and end later simply by subtracting commuting time.
- Stay in touch — Given a chance, make sure you stay in close contact with the office. If your co-workers can’t find you when they need you, it’s over.
- Cover your bases — Urgent matters will arise that may be best handled right away by someone in the office. Make sure to designate someone to assume your role when you are unavailable.