So You Wanna Work From Home? You Can Convince Your Boss


Sure, this is a topic we’ve explored before from multiple dimensions (see “Yet Another Reason to Build a Case for Telecommuting” and “Challenging Telework Myths“). But here’s your chance to get advice for building a case for telecommuting directly from Chuck Wilsker, the president and CIO of The Telework Coalition, who has probably heard more excuses from managers and executives for not allowing workers to do their jobs from home than any other person alive. The Coalition’s mission is, “enabling and supporting virtual, mobile and distributed work through research education, technology and legislation.”

Lay out the reason you want to work from home. Wilsker suggests something along these lines: “I’ve been an employee for three years. I get top reviews. You tell me how important I am to the company. I need a little work-life balance. My kid plays soccer. Even if I leave the office at 4 o’ clock, I can’t guarantee I’ll be home for that game at 6. I’d really like to telecommute.”

Address the equipment issue. If your manager says, “We don’t have the equipment,” you respond: “You’ve given me a laptop already,” said Wilsker. “We have the technology in place. We have a lot of people who travel. Does it matter if the work is done from a hotel room or a home?”

Address your manager’s security concerns. “If you’re dealing with medical records or you have to comply with regulations, make sure you address that,” said Wilsker. That may mean learning how from others in the company who are already doing mobile work.

Consider the business continuity angle. “Ask your boss — especially if you live in the north where you have snow — ‘How many days have you had to close operations because of weather?'” said Wilsker. “‘How much did that cost the business?'”

If your manager hedges, make it easier to agree by reducing the commitment. “Say, ‘I’d like to try it for a 90-day trial. I’d like to do it one or two days a week. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll know then.'”

Put together an agreement. Include “what you’re going to do, when you’re going to be available, what hours you’ll be working, who’s responsible for what.” Assure your manager that your work computer will not become your home computer. Your kid won’t be running CDs from school on it.

Don’t use the “T” word. “Don’t talk about telework or telecommuting,” said Wilsker. He suggests using the terms “distributed worker” or “virtual worker.”

Point out that virtual work will cut down on presenteeism. “It’s like absenteeism — you feel like shit, but you still go into work,” explained Wilsker. “People are coughing and you have these people coming in sick, which can make other people sick.”

Supply statistics. “Show your boss how virtual work will help the bottom line, build morale, bolster recruiting and retention, provide life balance.” The numbers are out there for all of those things, said Wilsker. You’ll find plenty of additional artillery on the Telework Coalition web site.

What objections have you heard that aren’t already on the list?


Lou Bradley

Interesting article. All good justifications to present to the boss.
Another one that has come up in my experience is the liability\insurance\Occupational Health & Safety complications for the home based worker. So the employee should do a little bit of research so they are armed with the facts about whether the employer is liable for the employee in their home environment when working.

I have worked at home some or all of the time for each job I’ve held over the past 15 years. It is a blessing and a curse. You need to be highly motivated and to find ways to bridge the communications gap.

I would recommend that if you really want to do it that you propose a method for how you will address the communication gap. Eg. coming into the office once a week to touch base, for a team meeting. Whatever is appropriate to the situation.


Working at home have pros and cons, but for the worker, it is much easier because less expenses like transportation and food expenses. Not only that, for the employer, less costs to incur with regards to utilities expenses. It will actually profit both parties involved.

Arvell Lewis

When it comes to a sales position, working from home and on the road is ideal. At this point in time, there really is no reason for a sales person to go to some cubicle when the same job can be done from the home office.

With tools like gotomypc and skype, its like your there.

But then, the boss may get mad because you see all the other online resources and you then soon go into biz for yourself… lol. But that’s a whole new issue!

Arvell Lewis

Jeremy Horn

Having a virtual office setup can be a very good thing for both the employees and the company — if everyone’s expectations (of the positives and challenges) are correctly aligned. In my recent blog post, I talk specifically about the 100% virtual office, but much of my advice within the blog post is also good advice to listen to within this situation, as well.

Take a read:

I would like to get some of your feedback my blog post, as well.

Thanks & Enjoy!

Jeremy Horn
The Product Guy

Jon Smirl

Having been on the manager side of this equation, younger kids and working at home are almost never compatible. The other spouse will use the home worker as a baby sitting service. The home worker will swear that this won’t happen but it will happen, over and over and over. The constant interruptions from the kids will cause the home worker to make all kinds of mistakes in their work. Of course they will swear that this doesn’t happen, but simply compare the error rates from before and after going home.


I disagree that younger kids and working at home aren’t compatible. One simply has to have the proper arrangements to set him/herself up for success. Childcare has to remain in place. Whether it’s a babysitter or nanny or an after-school program, one can’t plan on watching his/her children and working. That’s a lot to bear.

Pete Johnson

When you’re having trouble convincing your manager, the 90 day trial is a great idea. I had a 6 month trial that turned into 10 years and is still going.

The best thing I think you can do though, is, don’t suck. I’ve never seen someone who’s a poor performer in the office suddenly get better out of it. Be a top performer and make this a perk you’ve earned. That way, when you propose that 90 day trial, it’s really a subtle hint that you might be leaving if you aren’t allowed to at least try.

“presenteeism”, lol.

Pete Johnson Chief Architect
Personal blog:


One benefit for some employers: Saving on office space. My employer was dealing with the demands of a growing staff and very little office space. Being able to hire me but not have to provide an office was helpful to him. And he’s been able to bring that to bear with the powers that be when arguing for more office space by reminding them that he’s hired off-site workers to help alleviate the space crunch. It always helps to be able to point out to a boss or potential boss the benefits and how they can use it to their advantage.

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