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How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Telecommute

Brian O'Connell

NEW YORK (TheStreet) — Telecommuting has its advantages for employees and employers, and companies are starting slowly to see them.

According to the Global Workplace Analytics and Telework Research Network, up to 30 million Americans telecommute one day per week. Another 3.1 million workers telecommute full time.

How are they faring?

Pretty well, according to Stanford University. Researchers there studied a Chinese travel agency with 16,000 employees and found that at-home workers experienced a 13% increase in performance after nine months of telecommuting. Workers made more business calls from home and worked longer than their counterparts in the workplace. Telecommuters also said they enjoyed their work more, so they stayed with the firm longer than other staffers.

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All that led to even more gains, the Stanford study reports.

"Due to the success of the experiment, [the firm] rolled out the option to work from home to the whole firm and allowed the experimental employees to re-select between the home and office," the report says. "Interestingly, over half of them switched, which led to the gains from [work from home] almost doubling to 22%. This highlights the benefits of learning and selection effects when adopting modern management practices like WFH."

Show that to your bosses if you want to telecommute and they resist.

But don't stop there. You'll need more ammunition. Add these tips to your campaign and see if they don't make a difference:

Prove you're spending more time on the job. Do the math and calculate how much time you're saving by not commuting to work, then give that number to management. Most telecommuters can squeeze at least an extra hour of work when working from home, and your boss needs to hear that.

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Keep ahead of deadlines. To prove telecommuting is a good fit for you, make sure you meet all your deadlines and finish projects and work tasks on time — or better yet, ahead of schedule. Build a track record of prompt turnarounds to help convince even the most stubborn manager telecommuting is a path to higher productivity.

Show them the money. Make the case that your working from home helps the company's bottom line. Less use of office space; less commitment of financial resources to office equipment such as computers and printers; and more commitment to the job — here's where you bring up the Stanford University numbers — can help you convince your boss that working at home boosts profits. That's a hard argument to say "no" to.

Start small. Don't ask immediately to work at home all week long. Ask for a day or two per week to establish a track record. Then set a specific date (say, 90 days from now) to review your performance as a telecommuter and use that performance as an argument to increase your at-home work schedule.

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