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Are You a Candidate for Telework?

The ideal teleworker is well organized, can work independently and requires minimal supervision. Successful teleworkers have a high degree of job skill and knowledge, and strong time management skills. Teleworkers like working at home or away from the office for at least part of the week and don't mind working alone. Teleworking is not ideal or desirable for every employee.

Tips to Being a Successful Teleworker

If you want to be successful as a teleworker, the single most important thing you can do is to take it upon yourself to make sure your supervisor is comfortable with the arrangement.

You can help establish a trusting telework arrangement by communicating what you'll be working on when you'll be teleworking and by providing feedback on what you accomplished when working at home. This is a simple, yet effective way for building trust with your supervisor. Many managers quickly find they know more about what their teleworkers are doing than their office counterparts.

In addition to building trust with your supervisor, here are some additional tips for becoming an effective teleworker:

  • Plan in advance what you'll be working on
  • Take more work with you than you think you'll be able to finish (twice as much is a good rule of thumb)
  • Prepare for technology glitches by having non-computer dependent work with you, such as reading, editing, etc
  • Make sure you have everything with you that you need including phone numbers, reference material and office supplies (paper, printer cartridges, etc.)
  • Avoid calling the office to ask others to look things up for you
  • Establish a routine similar to your normal workday
  • Avoid procrastination — have a schedule for the day and stick to it; set deadlines
  • Take regular breaks throughout the day
  • Set ground rules with other household members about when and why you can be interrupted when you are working
  • Avoid overworking — shut down at the end of the day

How to Get Telework Approval From Your Manager

First, find out if your company has a telework program. If so, review the telework policy to see if you are eligible and submit an application if you meet the criteria.

If your organization does not have a formal telework program, then prepare a brief, written proposal that addresses the following:

  • Why You Want to Telework — Explain exactly why you want to telework and what teleworking one or two days a week will mean to you
  • Employer Benefits — Relate why you want to telework with how it will benefit the organization
  • Job Responsibilities — Summarize what you do and identify specific tasks or parts of your job that lend themselves to teleworking
  • Employee Characteristics — Discuss why you would be a good candidate for teleworking
  • Home Environment — Describe where in your home you will work and how you will handle dependent care issues (if applicable) while teleworking
  • Equipment and Communications — Describe what equipment you will use (your employers or yours) and how you will communicate with your supervisor, coworkers, clients, etc.
  • Schedule — Suggest a schedule that will be "comfortable" for your supervisor. Consider starting out with one day a week and increasing the number of days as you both gain more experience
  • Trial Period — Suggest a short trial period (3-6 months minimum) so you and your manager can evaluate the telework arrangement
  • Preparing a written proposal shows you have given your request a lot of thought and addressed any potential concerns. Many successful telework programs have been started because a valued employee wanted to telework and asked!