Include These Two Time-Tested Tactics in Your Proposal to Get Your Boss to (Quickly) Let You Work from Home
Aimee is a development officer for a non-profit in Dallas who was making little progress when talking to her boss about a telecommuting arrangement.
“For almost two months, I’ve been discussing my request…with my very reluctant boss.”
Got that? Almost two months talking about it. Then…
…Aimee discovered that using a written proposal was one of the five essential steps to getting fast approval of any flexible work arrangement.
“Just when I thought we had reached an impasse, my husband stumbled across your website. I submitted [the proposal] to my boss yesterday afternoon…This morning, after a 10-minute discussion, she approved it. She was extremely impressed with how thorough it was and…even said, ‘You just addressed every single concern I had.’”
Don’t you love how her boss did such a rapid turnaround?
That’s the impact of a detailed, written proposal and that’s how quickly it could happen for you.
It’s is not always that fast (two to three weeks is more likely), but it’s not rare, either.
Whether you write a proposal yourself from scratch or simply fill in the blanks of my telecommuting proposal template, there are a two tactics—proposal inclusions, really—that will likely convince your doubtful manager to let you work from home.
Telecommuting Proposal Tactic #1
The first tactic overcomes the barrier about face time.
If your boss envisions your request to telecommute to mean you’re not going to be in the office five. days. a. week, you can expect strong resistance to your request.
So make it very clear that your request is to telecommute part of each workweek, not five days a week.
In other words, make it plain that you will be in the office each week. How?
♦ In the Work Schedule section of your proposal, specify the two or three days a week you plan to telecommute.
♦ In the verbal discussion that accompanies your proposal presentation, point out that you’ll be in the office regularly every week (just not every day).
After your boss gains confidence about how well your arrangement is working, revisit your request to up the number of days you work from home.
Lindsay’s Story: Winning Over an Old-School Employer
Here’s how the first tactic played out for Lindsay, a graphic designer for a plumbing company.
“I’ve been at my job two-and-a-half years and would have loved to telecommute from the start but felt I had to prove my value first. The firm I work for is straight from the 1950’s as far as work ethic, time clocks and colors of Formica in the bathroom—in other words, I knew it would be a hard sell for an idea so contemporary.
When I first approached my boss on this subject without a proposal, he said:
‘We don’t do that here’.
I set up a meeting two weeks later to approach him again.”
That’s pretty gutsy to retry so soon, isn’t it? I admire Lindsay for not letting a “No” stop her.
In a frantic search for what exactly to say to convince her boss to let her work from home, Lindsay landed here. In fact, she downloaded my telecommuting proposal template package the night before the second meeting.
Here’s Lindsay again:
“I know my boss was impressed. He heard and read my proposal, then went to lunch and took the written with him. When he came back from lunch he asked our tech guy to get my home computer hooked up to our network system. When I looked at him he said:
‘Great beginnings; I think we can work something out.’”
Some time later, Lindsay updated me saying she got approval to work from home one day a week. From her email:
“That’s all my boss wanted to do to start. He needs assurance and control. We decided to try it for three months and then evaluate and see where to go. It’s a good start and I think my boss is gaining confidence that I am not just sitting at home eating bonbons. PS: I love telling people the story of the 11th hour save by you and your document.”
Lindsay’s flex success story is one of my favorites because the employer culture and her boss were so opposed to her initial request to work remotely.
Yet by using a written proposal, one that was clear about her telecommuting part of the workweek, she quickly shifted her manager’s perspective.
You Can Do Better Than One Day a Week
Given her old-fashioned employer and boss, Lindsay’s outcome was a success story for her situation.
But you probably can do better; most of my telecommuting proposal users get two or three days a week approved on the first request even where there is no telecommuting policy.
When you pitch your proposal, aim for those terms, rather than just one day a week.
This will assure the boss who fusses about face time, the type who fears losing control and wants to see you in the office, in person, regularly.
Telecommuting Proposal Tactic #2
The second way to foster fast approval of your request is to emphasize the trial period.
Proposing a trial period—in contrast to an implied open-ended telecommuting arrangement—is another way to help your boss feel more in control.
That’s especially important for bosses who are new to managing remote workers.
♦ The time frame to suggest in your proposal is three to six months. You decide.
♦ The place to include it is under the Evaluation section of your telecommuting proposal.
The trial period is a persuasive piece of the proposal because in your boss’s mind it translates as “not permanent.”
It acts like a safety net. When you propose a defined time frame, it allows your boss to say Yes now because it gives her the assurance of a way out later, in case she doesn’t like how it’s working.
You, of course, will use those first few months to prove that telework is working, that it is a viable way for you to get the job done, usually with higher levels of productivity, and that it should continue beyond the trial period.
Renee’s Story: Overcoming an “Out of sight, out of mind” Mindset
Renee is a full-time manager at a marketing firm in Washington DC. Her boss is a retired colonel who spent 33 years in the Marine Corps.
So imagine the military mindset Renee was facing when asking her boss for something outside of normal operations.
Sure enough, the colonel was very resistant to Renee’s request to telecommute and his initial response was negative with this reasoning:
“Out of sight, out of mind.”
So using my proposal template, Renee plugged in a five-month trial period as a way to get agreement.
Her boss warmed up specifically to the notion of a trial. It convinced him to allow Renee, a trusted and productive employee, to at least try the arrangement.
Not only did Renee get approval to telecommute, but because it worked out so well, her boss, the former colonel, subsequently allowed two other employees to telecommute!
Proposing a trial period is a very powerful tactic and it works almost every time. Include it in your proposal to pull your boss past the line of persuasion to approve your request.
Are you encouraged by this?
If you follow the five essential steps for approval of a flexible work arrangement, plus include these two tactics in your telecommuting proposal, you should be encouraged.
Because you could be working from home within 10 to 20 days from now, 30 at the most.
I say this because I’ve seen it happen so many times in the two+ decades I’ve been helping professionals negotiate a flexible work arrangement.
More Proposal Pieces to Convince Your Boss to Let You Work from Home
Those two tactics are crucial for getting a Yes to your request, but what else needs to be in your proposal?
A lot. For starters, you need to include a strong introduction to position your request in a positive way.
Need a fast and easy way to do that?
Go here to copy page 1 of your proposal.
You also need a clear work schedule and job achievement plan.
Don’t forget to include a plan for communication and workflow collaboration for the days you work from home.
You need to present the employer benefits of telecommuting so your boss can clearly see the pay-off for approving it.
Finally, it’s important to include how you will measurably evaluate the arrangement.
Flesh out all the proposal pieces in a well-formatted document (or simply fill in the blanks inside my Telecommuting Proposal Package, below) and you’ll have what it takes to convince your boss to let you work from home. Soon.
Goal: Be Working from Home within 3 Weeks
“My boss was very impressed and approved it almost immediately even though telecommuting has not been done in this office before. I am so excited…” Tracy Ayotte, IS Administrator, CORE Research, Geneva, FL
“I used your method to secure a one-day telework arrangement, which at the time was a first for this department…You made this so easy!” Kacie Harkins, Product Development Manager, The Chickering Group, An Aetna Company, Cambridge, MA
“When I first approached my manager about working from home…she gave me a very chilly response. [After, she] did a complete 180!” Kim Yates, Account Executive, TV Advertising Sales, Atlanta, GA