A telecommuting arrangement is attractive to professionals at all levels. But how can you make the case when you’re a manager with direct reports under you?
Dear Pat: I’m the Director of Technical Services for a publishing company. Much of my demanding job could be done from my home and cutting my commute would restore some of the personal time I’m craving. My problem is, I have a small team of people reporting to me and I’ve never heard of a manager who works from home. I’m preparing to ask to telecommute only two days a week. Even so, I expect the higher ups to challenge me with something like, “You’re a manager; you can’t telecommute.” How do I make my case? ~ Stymied
Dear Stymied: Anticipating objections is a smart move when negotiating a telecommuting arrangement or any other type of job flexibility. As with any negotiation, preparation before the “big meeting” primes you for a favorable negotiated outcome. Here is a scripted reply I’ve developed which you are encouraged to adapt:
“With meetings, travel and paid time off, like most managers, I’m not always in my office anyway. My staff and I communicate mainly through email, phone and texting, and that will continue seamlessly from my remote office. With three days a week on-site, my proposed telecommuting arrangement maintains our regular staff meetings and performance monitoring. I have a well-trained team with well-defined outcomes that I expect and they are motivated to do the necessary work without my standing by every moment. We’ll be doing something that has been done successfully at many other companies such as DuPont, IBM and Johnson & Johnson. Why don’t we give it a fair trial period?”
Practice your response to each likely objection. Role-play will foster a sense of control over the negotiation process, which in turn, will boost your confidence and improve your performance in the negotiation. You may have to make your points repeatedly during the discussion.
Asking for a trial period of say, 90 days with periodic evaluations, should foster agreement of your request; be sure to include that point. That gives you the opportunity to smooth any kinks in the telecommuting arrangement and prove that it is effective.
Inside the Telecommuting Proposal Package, you get scripted replies to all six of the most common objections when requesting a telecommuting arrangement, including the one addressed here. That will help you keep the conversation going toward agreement.