Telecommuting is growing in popularity across the country and in many different industries, but adoption of this flexible work option still faces one major problem: managers and executives who aren’t willing to give it a try.
Washington Post columnist John Kelly recently noted this challenge from the perspective of people who work in the nation’s capital.
Kelly wrote about his wish for a “blanket of free, high-speed Internet over the Washington area” that would allow people to work from home and avoid the nasty commute in that area. “I figure telecommuting would keep many vehicles off the road, easing traffic woes of the sort that make rush hour such a soul-crushing experience around here,” he wrote.
But some of his readers pointed out that Internet access isn’t the only problem that’s preventing wider availability of telecommuting. One said the lack of remote work options led her to retire early from her job, adding that the challenge she identified was with “Neanderthal bosses who fail to see the beauty, efficiency, and fairness of working from home and do not permit it on a regular basis (or at all).”
Another reader had published a study on telework and alternative work schedules that led to the adoption of those options, but wrote that despite the benefits, some government agencies were actually tightening their flexibility policies.
A third said he was on a team that studied telecommuting as a way to avoid traffic impacts of a project, only to run up against two brick walls: “The attitude of supervisors who just can’t accept the idea they’ll get eight good hours of work out of someone sitting at home in their PJs. And IT security geeks who will not allow access to government servers via ‘outside’ (commercial) WiFi.”
These experiences of Beltway commuters are not unique to the Washington, DC, area. Plenty of workers nationwide have run into similar problems when trying to secure flexible work options.
If you’re one of those people, however, that doesn’t mean you should give up the fight. Instead, you may need to try some new tactics.
An article from The Confused Millennial suggests that you should make sure your timing is right when making a request for remote work, and communicate it in a way that makes sense to your boss.
“It’s not enough to keep building arguments around the idea that there will be ‘fewer distractions’ out of the office,” the article says. “Instead, come armed with facts on the benefits of telecommuting from both the employer and employee perspective! … Some companies are going as far as shutting down their office entirely for a day once a week to save energy. Other studies have showed employers who allow telecommuting have lower turnover rates, thereby they don’t need to waste as many resources on new hires.”
And those aren’t the only benefits. An article from Thrive Global mentions several others.
“People who work remotely actually put in more hours—an average of four more hours per week than people working in an office,” the article says. “And when you do connect with colleagues on video meetings or chat applications, you want to make the best use of that time. Perhaps that is why web-based meetings tend to be better planned and focused.”
These are the kinds of facts that will get your manager’s attention. Once she shows interest in learning more about the possibilities, suggest a trial run of working from home to show that it really will boost your productivity while potentially saving money for the company.
Following these steps might help you convert one of those “Neanderthal bosses” into a true believer in the power of flexibility. If enough people follow through, this particular problem with telecommuting can likely disappear.
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