Wednesday, August 12, 2009
With continued advances in technology and lower travel costs more companies are allowing employees to telecommute. The benefits of telecommuting include lower employer overhead for office space, environmental benefits, workers in different time zones, reduced absenteeism, increased employee satisfaction, and the ability to attract/keep employees who would otherwise need to take time off from work (new parents, individuals caring for a sick relative, etc.). Historically, managers are accustomed to supervising employees by observation versus results. While some jobs are well suited for telecommuting (sales, IT, customer service) more job seekers are requesting telecommuting as an option for conventional office positions. The trick in asking if telecommuting is an option is timing. You want the employer to listen to your request without losing interest in you as a potential employee.
When do you ask if telecommuting is an option during the interview process?
Make sure the employer has expressed interest in your candidacy. This usually happens after the first interview and the potential employer wants to perform a follow up interview or phone call. Don't start the first interview with your desire to telecommute. You need to find out more information about the job and SELL the idea afterwards based on factual information. During the interview make sure you tell the potential employer of your dedication and after-hour efforts from your current/previous positions. Also, mention your full home office during the interview process. This way when you request working from home the employer already knows you have the capability.
Make it about the company NOT YOU!
Employers don't care if your commute to office is over an hour. Employers DO care about how you can save them money and/or make them more money. After all, productivity is time and time is money. If you eliminate 2 hours of your current commute time and add that time to your traditional work schedule you can increase your work productivity (as well as subtract personal transportation costs). This translates well to a results orientated corporate environment where you can prove both cost savings as well as increased company revenues.
Negotiate the number of days you telecommute.
Telecommute doesn't always mean you work from home every day. If there are mandatory Monday and Wednesday staff meetings, request telecommuting on the other days of the week. If travel is a large part of the job you can request telecommuting on travel days. You can inform the employer of cost savings based on direct flights if you live closer to a major airport.
Ask the employer if they could offer telecommuting after a certain time frame?
There is usually a learning curve in a new job. Employers may be hesitant to allow new employees to work from home from day one. During the interview ask the interviewer how long it usually takes a new employee to get up to speed. Pitch the telecommuting idea after the normal new employee proving time.
Why do you want to work from home?
The potential employer may ask this question. If the job is more of an individual contributor role tell them that you really enjoy working independently and thrive in that environment. You can also inform the potential employer of a distraction free home office environment.
Eliminate the potential drawbacks.
Some current employees may resent telecommuters. Inform the potential employer of your company loyalty and willingness to come for company events and functions. This way the current employees know who you are.