Want to work from home?
You might not have to find a new job to make it work. Millions of employees work from home at least for half of a traditional workweek. If your employer doesn't already offer telecommuting or flexible scheduling, you can present a compelling case to make it an option with a telecommuting proposal.
A well-researched proposal can convince your supervisor that telecommuting is a beneficial arrangement for both you and your employer. It also demonstrates your ability to work independently and create a quality product — skills that are essential for a remote employee.
Elements of a Telecommuting Proposal
Introduce the proposal with a brief cover letter, particularly if it will be distributed to multiple people. The proposal itself should be modeled on a business proposal. Think of your employer as a client you are trying to convince, and use your proposal to sell your idea of telecommuting.
Explain what you want and why it is good for the company. If you are proposing a trial or part-time telecommuting arrangement, state that as well. You will have room to expand on your points in later sections, so your intro should be a brief summary.
State any favorable background information, such as your qualifications, positive performance reviews, or years on the job. This is a good place to include information about the company’s existing telecommuting or flexible work policies.
How Telecommuting Would Work
Explain the details of how this arrangement would work. This will likely be an information-dense segment of the proposal so you may want to divide it up with bullet points or section headings. Not only will this make the proposal easier to read, but it will also allow you to highlight information that is most important for your argument.
- Responsibilities – What are your job's daily, weekly and monthly tasks, and how can each of them be done from home? If you are proposing part-time telecommuting, specify which tasks will be done at home and which in the office.
- Hours – Will you be working different hours from home that you did in the office? What will they be? Even if your hours will be the same, put them in writing as a safeguard against the expectation that you will be available at any and all hours. If your hours are going to be different from the rest of your team, touch on how you will be available during the standard workday.
- Technology – What technology will you need to make this arrangement work? If you have a work laptop, tablet, or phone already, specify that you will continue to use those. If you plan to use your home computer, outline what software or modifications will be needed for you to complete your job responsibilities. Are you able to log into your company’s network from home now? If not, outline what you will need to make that option available.
- Cost/Logistics – What will be the cost of new technology, and who will pay for it? Are there low-cost or free options for software and communication that you can plan to use? Be sure to mention if there are services that your employer already pays for that you can continue to use from home. This should also be the section where you describe what your work set up (such as a home office) will be while you telecommute. If you will continue to come into the office part-time, outline a plan for where you will work and whether you will share that space with other employees.
- Communication – Outline a plan for communicating with your coworkers, clients, and supervisor. Will you be available by phone, email, or text? Will you use project management software or chat software, such as Slack? In addition to coming up with a plan for daily communication, consider proposing a regular phone or teleconference meeting with your boss and any other teammates. You’ll also want to note any events that would require face-to-face communications.
- Accountability – Propose a plan for reviewing your telecommuting situation, such as a meeting with your supervisor every three to six months. This will allow you both to assess how the arrangement is working, request changes, or make suggestions for how to communicate more effectively. Whether you put this in your proposal or discuss it in person, you should ensure that both you and your supervisor have clear expectations for what successful telecommunicating looks like and what would prompt a need to reassess the arrangement.
This isn't the time to talk about how telecommuting will benefit you personally; instead, make the case for how telecommuting will benefit your employer. How can telecommuting help you do your job better? Will it save the company money? Improve efficiency? Make it easier to match your hours to clients who live in different time zones? Use sales tactics to show how the features of remote work create tangible benefits.
Potential Problems and Solutions
If there are obvious challenges created by telecommuting, especially if they have already been brought up by your supervisor, address them and include how you will solve them. Otherwise, leave problems out of the written proposal. Instead, jot down a list of potential challenges and how they can be addressed. When you speak about telecommuting with your boss, you'll be ready to propose a solution to any objection raised.
If you have young children at home, it's better to assume that your childcare arrangements will stay the same and leave your kids out of your proposal. However, if your employer already has expressed concern about telecommuting overlapping with family responsibilities, you may want to outline your childcare arrangements to reassure them that they won't be paying you to do two things at once.
Giving your supervisor a clear next step to take after they review your proposal. This will keep your proposal moving forward and eliminate months of waiting for a response. Suggest a time for an in-person discussion to answer any questions about your proposal. Thank your employer for considering your request, and let them know when you will be in touch to follow up.
How to Turn Your Current Job Into a Telecommuting Job
Not all companies, or jobs, will be compatible with telecommuting. But as the options for remote work and distance collaboration increase, more employers are considering telecommuting as a regular part of employee scheduling.
If you want to turn your current job into a telecommuting position, start by putting together a telecommuting proposal. Even if the discussion ends up being more informal, a proposal will help you organize your thoughts and make the strongest case possible for your new arrangement.