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Summary:

If you’d like to work from home but your company doesn’t allow it, why not become the prime mover in a program to see if working from home can’t help boost productivity? It’s easier than ever to make the argument to the decision-makers in your organization.

This is where you handle complex email.

If you’d like to work from home but your company doesn’t currently allow it, why not become the prime mover and first member of a pilot program to see if working from home can’t help boost productivity? It should be easier now than ever to make the argument to the decision makers in your organization.

Before going down this path, however, accept that there are some roles where web working won’t be an option, at least not in the foreseeable future. Some roles cannot be done remotely, and keeping things together in a central office location ensures that workplaces where high security is at a premium can keep a closer eye on what’s happening with their IP, for example. But if you don’t do that kind of job, employers should have little reason not to consider allowing a remote working setup.

The obvious argument for allowing a web working arrangement is that an employer saves money on overheads when they allow employees to work from home. They don’t have to furnish or maintain a physical office, and even if they pay workers a stipend for maintaining their own office space, it tends to be much cheaper.

But the less obvious argument, and one that should be much more convincing to many employers, is that your productivity will soar if you’re able to start working remotely.

More Hours in the Day

Working from home obviously eliminates the need to commute. That provides extra time that can be spent doing actual work. Even if an employee wakes up later and calls it a day earlier working from home, there’s less time spent getting settled in, and the reduced stress that comes along with not having to commute will pay off in greater focus.

In fact, a recent study of remote working by Ciscofound that 66 percent of employees would take a lower paying job if it meant they could work from home and avoid a commute. While it may seem a bit extreme to ask for a pay cut, you could keep that in your pocket if you think it’ll turn the tide in your favor.

Lunch and the time spend it represents also tends to go down for those working at home. Even if you make your own lunch every day from scratch, it will take less time than it would to get something at work, and get settled back in once you return.

That same Cisco study also found that 45 percent of respondents who did work from home would work, on average, an extra two to three hours a day. A full quarter of those polled worked four additional hours compared to when they actually had to go into the office. All for the same salary they’d made before. It’s hard for an employer to argue with potential gains like that.

Hours Are More Packed

Even if you don’t work more hours than you would in an office, other studies have shown that the time remote workers spend doing work is much better spent than it would be otherwise. A U.K. study by the Cranfield School of Management found that employees working from home put in more and better quality work in the same time as their office-based counterparts.

What seems to happen is that people who are allowed to work from home feel a sense of gratitude towards their employer, and they then compensate for that benefit by working harder. It makes sense. Why give your company any excuse to put things back the way they were?

The IT Block

Your most difficult roadblock in convincing your employer to allow you to work remotely is probably going to be the IT spend. Chances are, you’ll need devices to work from home, and also software and support. Those things aren’t cheap.

The best way around the IT block isn’t to try to say it won’t be a problem. Instead, admit that remote working does require an IT investment, but point out that that is an investment in your company’s future. The sooner a company can get on the borderless IT bandwagon, the better.

A recent study found that remote working increased 42 percent between 2009 and 2010. Some say that number is much higher. Regardless of what source you trust, it’s impossible to deny that offsite employees are a permanent fixture, and businesses will have to move to that model to stay competitive. Framed in that context, building up an IT department’s expertise in dealing with remote workers is a wise and well-justified spend.

It’s not always an easy sell, but convincing your company to let you work from home can and has been done. Focusing on what it will mean for their bottom line, especially from a productivity perspective, is a great way to open minds.

If you’re interested in learning more about the opportunities and challenges that a distributed workforce presents to businesses, check out our Net:Work conference, coming to San Francisco in December.

Photo by Flickr user jnyemb

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  1. Gr8 Article on the benefits of remote working. There are some really awesome tools makes virtual working possible. A cool application to watch out for in future – http://www.unifiedinbox.com – All messages at one place!

  2. I’m definitely more productive from home, but I wouldn’t say that it’s out of “gratitude”. I’d phrase it a different way: by removing the arbitrary frustration factor of being forced to drive into an office when I can work from anywhere, I have less resentment towards work as well as having the freedom to work from whatever context makes me most effective.

  3. Not only should you pitch the benefits, you should also show how you might tackle the pitfalls of remote working. Propose plans to stay in communication with others in the office, either by using a collaboration tool or a more personal phone/chat messaging system. Also have a way to show your boss that he can track real progress, to ensure you’re not just at home “playing with your dog.”

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