As any frazzled commuter will attest, having the option to telecommute—to work remotely home or any other location—is a major perk.
Not only do you get to skip the daily rush hour commute, but you may also get extra flexibility in your work schedule. Need to transport your kids to soccer practice? No sweat. Have a dentist appointment? You’re there. Scared of the bug that’s going around the office? You’re safe.
All in all, telecommuting and remote work options can help you maintain a better work-life balance.
Working remotely is a powerful enticement that is becoming nearly commonplace. According to the Telework Research Network, between 20 million and 30 million Americans work from home at least one day a week, up 73 percent from 2005.
Certainly the number of telecommuting job postings is climbing steadily, as businesses nationwide have successfully adopted management styles that focus more on bottom-line results than hours logged in at the office. These methods include TRaD (Telecommute, Remote, and Distribute) Work and ROWE (Results Only Work Environment).
Find a flex job
If you’re in search of telecommunicating opportunities, it’s worth checking out FlexJobs for its annual Top 100 Companies list, a carefully vetted and updated guide to leading businesses that offer at least part-time remote options and flexible work hours. Be advised, that you will be asked to become a FlexJobs member for a monthly fee.
Job-listing sites usually have a menu category dedicated to telecommuting opportunities under headers like “Virtual,” “Remote Work” and “Flex Schedule.” Unfortunately, this means you will also have to do your own vetting to find out if the posting is from a legitimate business, a pyramid scheme, or some kind of shady scam operation.
Remember, declarations such as “You could earn up to $1000/week working from home” are not the same as, “We will pay you $1000/week for working at home.” Always perform due diligence on any potential employer by checking employment review sites like Glassdoor.
Request a trial run
Let’s say you have a job that you like well enough, but would like even better if you could work from home one or two days a week. The key to making this happen is to approach the idea slowly, on a trial basis. Prove you can handle working remotely by preparing for the most likely counter-arguments to the idea.
Do you have the same software on your laptop as you do at the office? Can you login to the company server from another location? Can coworkers get ahold of you in a pinch? These questions need to be answered in the affirmative.
A good way to open the subject of telecommuting with your supervisor is being able to cite examples of your excellent time-management skills. A demonstration of your workflow efficiency wouldn’t hurt either.
(Need a study on productivity to help your cause? Here’s one from The New York Times Magazine.)
Also, make sure you’re covered for regular office routines and activities on the days you’re proposing to work remotely. Was it your turn to clean the fridge or water the plants? Call for backup.
Earn that perk
The most important aspect of telecommuting is the trust your manager places in you. It’s a contract you must honor. The ability to deliver results and meet benchmarks remains paramount, even if you are wearing pajamas.
Working remotely is not a license to goof off. You’re still expected to provide the same service that you would in the office.
To that end, we recommend setting alerts on your phone for when work email arrives. That way, you can take care of business in a timely fashion. When you’re in a position of trust, it makes sense to be trustworthy.