Cubicle hell. Photo by Steve Lyon. Working here makes you grow old fast.
No sooner than framing my college diploma on the wall, I found I was on my own, broke and nestled in the corner of a cubicle just to pay my bills. Yes, living in the city was swell, sort of. As for a desk job? I quickly figured out that wasn’t my thing.
The future looked bleak from behind my cubicle walls. Hadn’t I grown up in a place where powder mornings off weren’t just a luxury? I needed to escape my cubicle and fast!
I began to entertain the idea of telecommuting, or working remotely from home, so I could use those extra hours (usually reserved for traffic or playing Solitaire on my computer) to get outside and make the most out of my day.
It turned out to be a lengthy process of trial and error to convince my boss I wanted to telecommute. Ok, it took me a few jobs and bosses to get it right. So in an effort to save you some time, I’ve summed up the five steps I took to convince my boss I should telecommute.
1. Assess the situation.
Ask yourself some simple questions. Do you cherish an office environment? Or do co-workers and other office distractions easily annoy you? Is there a reason why you take 1.25 hours at lunch instead of just one?
I found myself pondering these things on a regular basis. It wasn’t a matter of not being productive. I always did my work, but found there were several times throughout the day when being in the office irritated me. I tried to make excuses or blame other people for my predicament, but that didn’t make me feel better. Think about what works best for you and where you’ll be the happiest earning your paycheck.
2. Accept and embrace your job for what it is.
When I realized that a cubicle wasn’t right for me, I became claustrophobic in my workspace and instantly abhorred my cell mates. But it wasn’t their fault. It was time to come to terms with my situation and accept it. So I work in a cubicle from 9am to 5pm or 7pm or 8pm and I suffer anxiety picking out a pair of pressed pants and a sweater vest in the morning before work. So what?
Just because you don’t like your office environment doesn’t mean you’re not gaining valuable work experience. Accept that–for the time being–you work in a cubicle and the initial decision to do so wasn’t a mistake. Embracing reality will put you in the position to figure out what you really want and move forward.
3. Create a game plan.
If you’ve decided that telecommuting is perfect for you, don’t go public with your decision until you’ve set up and are already following a game plan. Convince your boss that you’re indispensable to the company, whether you have a physical presence in the office or not. Get your boss to invest in YOU. Here are some suggestions:
* Be eager to take the red-eye and attend the company seminar in Ohio.
* Out-perform your co-workers.
* Prove that you execute all aspects of your position to the point where it will be difficult for your boss to replace you / train someone new.
* Take a few sick days (cough, cough) but continue to work from home and WOW your superiors with your unparalleled skills even under duress.
* Subtly hint that the commute is killing you and you waste precious hours sitting on the freeway everyday.
* Maybe throw it out there that you’ve re-vamped your home office.
Note: Whatever tactic you use, be sure to elaborate on how much you love your job, how skilled you are after having attended the seminars (that your company paid for) and that you wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.
4. Commit to the plan with your boss.
Once your boss is all buttered up, you’re ready to drop the T-bomb. Schedule a time to meet with him or her for a review. Prepare a list of all your positive attributes (you attended the seminar, you worked from home when you were sick), acknowledge any legitimate concerns your boss may have and then explain to him/her with absolute conviction that telecommuting is the best and only option for you.
Failing an initial, “Go for it!” from your boss, offer to set up a trial period so that both of you can follow your progress working from home. Make sure during this time to document every single aspect of your productivity.
5. Go all out.
The key to this whole exercise is performance, and the only way you’ll get your boss to bend over is if you commit to your promise and actually work. Be a monument of productivity. Follow through with every minutiae of your job (always stay signed into iChat, CC your boss on every email) and show your boss you are more than capable of working efficiently from home and that you both made the right decision.
Say goodbye to those dreary office walls! Telecommuting is a win-win situation for everyone. Not only will your boss be tickled that he/she’s hired such an outstanding employee, but you’ll be racking up extra hours throughout your day that you can use however you like.
The bottom line is this: no one but you has the power to decide what’s in your best interest and if working from home will help you make the most out of your day, then make it happen. Technology has enabled everything to be only a click away. With internet, email, Skype, iChat, Central Desktop, etc. we can be almost anywhere in the world and still manage to get our work done.
Even now I’m writing this article from back home in Idaho, waiting for the bus so I can catch a couple late afternoon runs on the mountain before the day is through…
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