Want to work from home on a part-time basis? First, you have to convince the boss. A well-written email request can help you do it.
In theory, this should be an easy sell: studies have shown that many telecommuters are more productive than their peers in the office. Employees who work from home are also likely to put in longer hours, thanks to time saved on the commute and the lack of a distinct boundary between the workday and after-hours.
Still, not every employer is convinced. Big companies like Yahoo and IBM dropped their work-from-home benefits in recent years, citing improved collaboration in the office. Company culture is a stumbling block for would-be telecommuters – right or wrong, many employers prefer to have their workers in the office, where they can see them.
To make your case to work from home on a part-time basis, you’ll have to gauge the temperature at your organization, and proactively address any concerns your manager might have.
Tips for Asking to Work From Home Part-Time
Want to telecommute part-time? Ask the right way and boost your chances of persuading your manager to support your plan.
Before you ask your boss to telecommute, make sure you can follow through on your promises. Will you be able to get stuff done if you’re not in the office every day? Telecommuting is a productivity booster for many, but not everyone does well with less supervision. If you think you’ll be distracted by chores – or your Netflix backlog – consider whether working from home is the right choice for you.
Before you ask to work from home, give serious consideration to the pros and cons of telecommuting. Do you have a reliable computer and internet connection? If you have young children at home, who will watch them so that you can focus on your job?
Know Your Corporate Culture and Your Manager
Do other workers telecommute on an occasional basis? If so, think about how allowing them to do so provides a benefit to the company.
If you’re proposing something brand-new, be prepared to spend more time and energy building your case … and understand that you might have to retreat from your plan if it doesn’t go over well. Flexibility is important when trying to convince management to make a big change. Be ready to build the groundwork today for a benefit you might not realize until farther down the road.
Emphasize the Benefits
“I’ll work harder” shouldn’t be one of them. You don’t want your manager to think that you’re not already working as hard as you can. Instead, think of immediate benefits for the company. Would skipping the commute allow you cover an earlier shift? Are there other ways that telecommuting could make or save the company money? Be as specific as possible and provide a strategic plan outlining the benefits to your employer (not yourself).
Avoid appeals to emotion or anything that makes you seem less than competent. Now’s not the time to talk about how stressed out you are at work or how hard it is juggling your other responsibilities. Work-life balance issues may indeed be an inspiration for the request – but unless your manager is sympathetic, these considerations won’t help you make your case.
Address Any Concerns
When you're putting in a request to work from home, be sure to mention how you will get your job responsibilities done when you're not working in the office. Outline for your employer how you envision your new part-time telecommuting schedule would look.
Also be as flexible as possible, providing your manager with viable options that would work to ensure uninterrupted staff coverage of the office.
If you're requesting permission to work from home on a temporary basis, like during the summer, be sure to clarify this in your email message.
If you'd like to switch from a full-time schedule to part-time, here's how to make the case for a schedule adjustment.
Ask to Telecommute on a Trial Basis
Many managers understandably want to see results before committing to an ongoing flexible schedule. If your boss seems willing, suggest telecommuting on a trial basis. Outline what you expect to accomplish and how you’ll continue to provide the same level of work as you do in the office. Anticipate concerns about attending meetings, collaborating with teammates, and being available by phone, email, and messaging.
Email Message Example Asking to Work From Home Part-Time
Subject Line: Request to Work From Home Part-Time
As you know, I have been working some days from home on an occasional basis. I have found that my productivity has increased substantially, since interruptions are limited in my home office and I can thus focus extremely well on my work activities.
As you know, the desk space in our office is so limited that we are often “bumping elbows.” Clients have told me that they find the unavoidable background noise distracting during our telephone conferences. I truly feel that I am able to provide them with better service from my home office. My working from home two or three days a week would also mean that you wouldn’t have to pay my parking costs on those days. I would also be able to work extra hours, if needed, during the times I would normally be driving to and from work.
Would there be a possibility of my working from home two or three days a week? I value my time in the office, and believe that my hours there are important. However, I think that I can be just as effective, if not more so, by working from home a couple of days a week. Of course, I would be flexible as to which days worked best for you and the rest of our staff. I would also make sure that I was always available to come in to the office at a moment’s notice should you need me to do this if someone were out sick or an unanticipated project required my presence there.
Thank you very much for your consideration.