Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer made water cooler waves this week by announcing that the company would no longer be allowing a work-from-home option for any of its employees. To quickly recap, those at Yahoo! who currently telecommute must make plans to head back to the office full-time starting in June, or they're out of a job. Yikes!
As someone who's thankful everyday for having the type of job and a wonderful employer that allows for telecommuting, I have to say that I'm surprised a major technology leader like Yahoo! -- not to mention one with a working mom of a newborn at the helm -- would be the one to take this giant step backward in the quest for work/life balance.
The good news is that the backlash coming from corporate America might actually work in the favor of those seeking flexible scheduling options. An article in Forbes positions that policies like Mayer's are essentially "swimming against the tide," and that telecommuting gives workers the flexibility and freedom to do their best work. The New York Times' Maureen Dowd takes it a step further, citing Mayer's baby nursery next to her office (built on her dime) and "luxurious layers of help" are setting an unrealistic benchmark for the rest of us -- male and female employees alike. Even business magnate Richard Branson tweeted: "Give people the freedom of where to work & they will excel."
Obviously, not all employees are well-disciplined or talented enough to navigate the freedoms that clocking in from a home office affords. That's why getting your employer to let you work from home (or finding one that is open to it if you're looking for a job) is no easy feat. It will take a lot of planning, good timing, and a commitment on your part to work even harder than your cubicle coworkers. If it sounds like the right plan for you, here are four ways to get your boss to consider it:
1. Create a well-thought out proposal that has nothing to do with you.
Whatever you do, when you approach your manager, don't make working from home about your personal needs. Talking about how you are having issues finding childcare or help for an elderly parent, or how you can't deal with your two-hour commute anymore will garner you little sympathy. Instead, outline what's in it for your company.
Some examples: You can actually get your workday started earlier because you're not commuting on a bus or subway. Your type of work requires quiet and focus, something you can't get in your bustling office. Or, perhaps you travel a lot for your job, and it just makes sense to not have to rush into the office in between trips. Maybe you can propose sharing your office desk space and technology equipment with another flex timer, saving the company money. The point is, make it all about your company. They like that!
2. Don't expect too much, too fast.
If you want to alleviate your employer's concerns about letting you work from home, suggest doing it on a trial basis first. Ask if you can work one day, or even a half-day from home for one month to prove you can get the job done. During that trial, always be accessible, and don't miss a single deadline. If fact, if you can take on an extra task because you have more time to concentrate, that'll go a long way toward proving you're up for the challenge.
3. Be prepared to work harder, and even more hours.
Let's face it: If you get the chance to work from home, some of your co-workers may resent the fact that they are still coming into the office everyday. That's why you can't give them any reason whatsoever to think you've dropped the ball. If that means answering emails at 11 p.m., working extra hours on the days you are in the office, or volunteering for an extra project, you have to be OK with that.
4. Have a dedicated space and time, and be able to convey that to your employer.
You can't treat your work-from-home arrangement as having time to take care of your personal matters. If you have children at home, for example, you should arrange to have some childcare help while you are working in your home office. Don't expect that you can run out to the gym for two hours either. Flexibility is a perk; if you abuse it, you can expect to lose it.
Working from home is certainly not for everyone, but if you've proven your worth by being a productive, enthusiastic, and dedicated employee, your boss might give you a chance to prove Mayer wrong. Yahoo to that!