Why Your Boss Doesn’t Want You to Telework


By Justin Draeger

But recently some major employers have been pulling telecommuters back into the office. The goal of any would-be teleworker is to show your boss how working from home will benefit him and the company.

If you’re having trouble getting your point across, here are some possible reasons he wants you in the office.

He Doesn’t Know What It Means

Don’t make the mistake of proposing telecommuting to a manager who has no real idea what teleworking is or how it works. Just because they can navigate around in Microsoft Outlook and can operate a blackberry doesn’t make managers tech savvy. Even at the risk of insulting their intelligence, it helps to provide a clear definition of what you’re asking for.

Of course that means figuring out what you want before you broach the subject. Do you want to work from home once a week, a few times a week, or full-time? Good negotiators know their end-points (what they want) and their breaking points (their bottom line).

In fact, avoid using the word “telecommute.” Even though I do it full-time, I almost always use the word telework, because it focuses on work, not my commute or lack thereof. It might be better to not use the words telecommute or telework at all, and instead just say in plain and simple terms exactly what you want.

For example:

“I get so bogged down here at the office that I end up working nights and weekends away from the office. I believe my productivity would increase if I could work from home for two days a week. I’ll still be readily accessible by phone, IM, and email during those times. Do you have any concerns with allowing me to work from home two days a week for the next three months?”

He Thinks You’re Getting Preferential Treatment

Some managers buy into the idea that everyone should be treated equally. It’s egalitarianism management and it stinks. Managers who buy into this concept care more about what their employees think about them than productivity or effectiveness.

I could give you a pep talk about changing corporate culture and management styles, but I won’t bother. Instead of wasting time trying to change management styles, it’s better to work within their framework. That means getting the approval of your coworkers and team members first, the people who will be most affected by your departure, before going to your manager. If teleworking will put additional burdens on your coworkers, they’ll let you know.

Approaching your coworkers first will also require you to take a realistic look at whether your job is a good fit for the teleworking. A production manager at an assembly plant has very little chance of telecommuting if 90 percent of his job duties require him to be on-site.

Approaching egalitarian managers with your coworkers full support tells them there’s no need to fear unpopularity or repercussions from the masses and that it’s okay to give you the green light.

He’s Old School

Many managers prefer “seeing” how hard you’re working. That includes a lot of managing by walking around, which is pretty ineffective management. Good managers know that managing by results is better for the company, employees, and ultimately themselves.

If your manager doesn’t focus on results, it’s up to you to help him start. Start reporting simple management numbers that focus on your productivity. Productivity numbers don’t just show how much you’ve completed, but shows how quickly or efficiently you tackled them. That generally means including a time component to your statistics such as tasks competed per hour, income generated per day, or product per week.

When it comes time to propose teleworking, you’ll already have management measures in place for him to ensure that you’re working hard.

He Just Loves Your Pretty Face

Some managers could forget all about you if you’re not in the office. If your manager fits this description you’ll need to retrain him or her to show that even if you’re not in the office, you’re still accessible. These managers are also less likely to allow you to work from home even on a trial basis.

For those employees, I suggest finding a reason to work from home, even if that means using a vacation day, to show just how accessible you can be. Send emails, make phone calls, or ping your coworkers and manager with instant messages. Do whatever it takes to show your boss that he’s not missing much by you not being right there with him. Most importantly, be more productive outside of the office than inside!

He Doesn’t Trust You

Stop now. You’re in trouble. If your boss doesn’t trust you then forget it. Whether the mistrust is warranted or not is unimportant because you can’t make someone trust you. Without trust you’re left with two options: build or rebuild the trust that is missing or go work somewhere else. The latter is usually easier.

Justin Draeger has been teleworking full-time since March 2008.



Using this helped me to convince my boss to let me work from home, yeah it means I’m monitored, but i am ment to be working. It acts as a great productivity tool for me also, lets me see real data about what I’m doing and acheiving in simple reports, its been a big help.



I think everyone here makes very good points but I’m in agreement with those who have made the observation: bosses feel more insecure over having fewer people to visually and physically manage. It boils down to job security. Still, there other obvious reasons – one being unfamiliar and unsettled about whether or not an employee can produce enough work & stay up on office details to still be of consistent value. Giving the employee an opportunity to prove themselves is taking a big risk if it doesn’t work out. but let’s face it the fact is most teleworkers DO produce and go above and beyond to prove themselves.

One employee who telecommutes may also lead to others employees seeking to do the same and that kind of result will instill fear in a boss.

After your clarification Moe, I got a better sense of where you were coming from but most employee’s don’t get the impression or have the experience that their bosses see THEM as co-workers working towards the same end.

Rather, bosses more times than not are advesarial to any initiative a smart, creative, productive employee may use to get his job done.
Chip, the poster that mentioned using Auto hotkey scripts to lessen his load at work presented a great example of that.


at my company they seems to equate working-from-home to day-off

go figure

Bill Quinn

All too often bosses who previously allowed telecommuting and then changed their minds lost sight of the tremendous advantages of such an arrangement–including savings on office space and equipment. As a boss, I KNOW my telecommuters are on the average less productive, but when I weigh in the savings, it’s a no brainer.

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