Sign up ×
The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting. It's 100% free, no registration required.

This question already has an answer here:

I've been working on a company for half a year, as a web developer but also offering consultancy in Android to my colleagues (about 1-2 hours per full-time working day). However, I'm planning to move in the next few months to a new house which is a bit far from my office. Let's say that going there will improve my personal life, but it makes me move from a daily 40 minutes trip (more specifically, 20 going to the office and 20 coming back), spending 40€ a month (Google says it's 53.80 USD) to a 3 hours trip basis (again, 1:30 and 1:30), spending about 200€ (268.99 USD) in gas and public transport if I were to go there every day.

That's why I'm thinking about telecommuting. My daily tasks involve working on my own, and only talking to the designer and other non IT colleagues in really spare moments. The only part that would make a difference between telecommuting and commuting is my Android consultancy, as I generally speak to the colleague face to face, and tend to sit next to him helping him.

This company has already some people in other positions working from home almost every day, but in the IT department, I'd be the first one. Anyway, any task I do in the office can also be done on any computer with Internet connection, and I'd only be losing server access to common data (which I do not use on a daily basis, and could be replaced by sending files through Mega).

However, the real matter here is my coordinator and my boss. My coordinator has sometime made jokes about telecommuting, and he lives half way from this new home (let's say 40 minutes), so he might see this is not a real problem. My boss, on the other side, tends to work from home (but you know, he's the boss), but when he comes to the office he uses to have meetings with us without notice.

I'd love to telecommute my whole week (I find myself comfortable working from home; I did in previous jobs and the situation was quite successful), but I feel there will be problems with this.

So, here are my two questions:

  • How (and when) should I ask for telecommuting and successfully achieving it?
  • Should I be in a more aggressive position, talking about quitting if I can't telecommute at least half a week? I enjoy my position, but I don't see myself losing 60 hours a month travelling, and I may be able to find another job in a closer city.
share|improve this question

marked as duplicate by JeffO, Chad, gnat, Garrison Neely, yochannah Jan 20 at 8:33

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Do your research first. (It sounds like you have already done most of this, which is good.)

  • Could you dial in to the office via VPN? Sending files back and forth can be a pain. And using public infrastructure can be a security risk, so you should ask your sysadmins whether this is OK before bringing the possibility up.

  • Could you compromise on being at the office two or three days per week? This is better for your network than staying home the whole week, too.

  • Could you concentrate your Android consultancy and other meetings on these two or three days?

  • What's your infrastructure at home? Do you have an office to yourself? Are any kids/spouse out of the house during work hours? Nothing is as unprofessional as kids barging in on a teleconference, or even your spouse asking about what you'll have for dinner. (Even if it's really not that different from him/her calling you at the office - it's perceptions that count.)

  • What's in it for your manager? Could you credibly promise that you'll be more productive if you don't need to start the day with a stressful commute?

Talk to your manager. Explain that you love working at that company but that you recently moved and that the commute may impact your productivity. Lay the facts on the table - showing that you did your homework will make a very good impression.

Don't be aggressive and threaten to resign if you can't telecommute. First, nobody likes to be pressured, and least of all probably your manager. Second, you can always up the ante if your first polite request is turned down. Third, they may agree to your request... but you will likely be labeled as a "troublemaker". Add this to the fact that your network will definitely suffer from telecommuting, and then imagine what happens to unconnected troublemakers if the company decides to cut costs.

Better strategy: be nice and cooperative. If you don't get what you want, update your CV and look for an alternative closer to your new home. If you have an offer, you can still go back to your manager and negotiate from a position of strength.

share|improve this answer
As per Jonast92's answer, I'd also strongly recommend to do this as soon as you have nailed down your new house. It's always good to bring stuff up as early as possible. Your manager may need to clear this internally, which would take time, or other possibilities may open up with more time (perhaps you could transition to a different responsibility that is better suited to telecommuting - but this again would take time). – Stephan Kolassa Jul 25 '14 at 12:14

[...] when [...] should I ask for telecommuting and successfully achieving it?

It's important to bring it up the moment you're certain that you'll be moving. Bringing this up for the first time a few days or weeks before you move is not going to please your boss.

Should I be in a more aggressive position, talking about quitting if I can't telecommute at least half a week?

This should be your Ace in the hole, don't use it until you really need it. Threatening your boss without going the soft way as a first hand might loose you the job, or, provide a simple "No" to any telecommunication. Avoid this conflict if possible.

How [...] should I ask for telecommuting and successfully achieving it?

Be straightforward and honest about it, dancing around it won't do any good.

I'll be moving to a new location in x months, being able to work from home would spare me a 3 hour drive on daily basis, is there any chance that I could do that on regular basis?

You can mention that you'd show up for all pre-scheduled meetings and you'll be attending work for pre-scheduled Android consultancy, unless the person you're consulting feels comfortable speaking on the phone, through lync/skype/etc. Finally you can mention that for emergencies it would be no problem for you to come.

You can try to fetch the whole week if your boss likes these conditions, if not then you can try to fetch a few days. Finally, if your boss simply says that you can't work from home then you can use your Ace in the hole. Tell him that you'll be unable to work for him any longer if they're not willing to cater with you (meet you on the way).

This company has already some people in other positions working from home almost every day

Your company is probably, and hopefully, providing computers for these employees, allowing them to remote-login to their work-computers through VPN, allowing them to access all requires servers and so on. Having this in place enables good security and avoids you being responsible for the company's data if anything would happen to your computer at home. If this is not the case then working from home might not be suitable for the company or you, you should find out if security and access will be a problem or not. It's a plus if you know how the process works before bringing it up with your boss.

Worst case scenario: Your boss says no, but you brought it up early enough to have time to find a new job. No harm done.

Best case scenario: Your boss says yes.

Good luck!

share|improve this answer
Asking early show that you consider this important. You may also have to earn the trust of your boss that you can handle this much freedom. It can be done - I had a colleague who spent 9 out of 10 workdays at home. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jul 25 '14 at 14:05

My advice is to have a solid understanding of the following issues BEFORE you go and ask.....

You are never indispensable – you can be replaced Don’t kid yourself – you can be replaced! Having this attitude is an important step in negotiating with you boss about just about anything, and especially important in getting her/him to agree that you can telecommute. This negotiation is not about you demanding to be allowed to telecommute because it is good for you. It is about how the company/organization will benefit. Have I said that strongly enough?

Financial considerations Consider what it will cost for the company/organization to allow you to telecommute. There will be some direct costs, such as the cost for you return to the office a few times a year to participate in meetings, or the cost of communications (cell phones etc). Work out what all these will be and consider even offering to reduce your salary the same amount. The attitude should be that you telecommuting should not cost the company/organization more money. My advice is that you don’t wait to be asked to ‘contribute’ in the way – offer it.

Communication Consider how working with colleagues and customers that you currently interact with face-to-face will be affected. How will you manage those interactions? What online solutions (Instant messengers (IM), meeting software, Skype etc) will you use? Have you been using these already with these people? If you have not had experience with using these tools then you need to start now. Build up your usage before you ask your boss, so you can prove that the communication will continue to work. Remember that telecommuting and your boss will always be about communication with him/her.

Location Location Location Have you a case that your new location is better for your company/organization? Maybe you are moving closer to clients or in a location that will make it cheaper for the company/organization to attend meetings. For example, if your company is on the west coast and you have a major client on the east coast, it will be to the companies benefit for you to live on the east coast. Think all these things through – and use them to your advantage when you are discussing telecommuting with your boss.

Childcare? Flexible Hours? Some people want to telecommute to help look after children through the day, care for an elderly parent or just have more flexible hours. All these are great advantages to YOU telecommuting, but your boss does not need to know them. Always be careful of the childcare issue – holding meetings with screaming children on your knees will never work. Remember – you need to prove that you will be able to work even longer hours and be more productive than you do in the office with this new arrangement.

Know the policy Make sure you know the company/organization policy and have work out answers to the obvious questions that may pose. Put yourself in you bosses shoes and work out what questions she/he will have to ask you to ensure you are following the policy. If it requires a form to be completed, have one filled in.

Then at least you will be prepared for the standard negative questions that the boss (or the HR folks) will throw up at you.

I have more info on the Telecommuting Basics website to help you on your way.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.