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First step to telecommuting: Win over the boss

No commute, no waste-of-time meetings and you can work in your sweatpants? This telework thing is starting to sound pretty good. But persuading your boss is another story.

That's why Telework Tampa Bay offers free services to help employers implement telecommuting options. A program of the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and Bay Area Commuter Services, Telework Tampa Bay will meet with your manager to dispel his or her objections about letting employees work from home.

"The one that we hear most often is how do I know they're working?'," says Jessica Lunsford, a senior planner for TBRPC.

Not every job is suited for telecommuting. Telework Tampa Bay provides these tips on helping your supervisor overcome the "when-the-cat's-away" mentality. Read these common objections and find out how to combat them.

You'll be less productive. With household chores, TV, your bed and maybe even children clamoring for your attention, work will be the last thing on your mind, right? Au contraire. With no co-workers interrupting you and meetings breaking up your day, you'll get more done. At home you're also more likely to work at your peak times.

I can't track your every move. With some guidelines, your boss can keep tabs on your progress. Give your supervisor a list of the tasks you plan to complete that day, and let your finished work speak for itself. Technology can also track your workload. For instance, if you take customer service calls, then I.T. can install a program that tracks the number and length of calls you answer.

You'll be less loyal. Actually, morale may increase. Why leave a company that values your needs?

You'll grow out of touch with colleagues. Not so. You can keep a finger on the pulse of the office through phone, e-mail, instant messaging, file-sharing and teleconferencing. Some companies also require core days, on which all employees work on site.

Colleagues will resent you. Your boss should identify telework-friendly positions, such as research jobs that require only a computer. Then create criteria: Within the research department, offer the telecommuting option to employees with two or more years at the company and who scored at least 8 out of 10 on their last evaluation. That way, the process is fair, and "you're already weeding out underachievers," Lunsford says. If your co-workers are still sipping Haterade, then remind them that you're probably working harder at home than they are at the office. "Telework really shouldn't be viewed as a benefit because it really is not a benefit. It's a work arrangement," Lunsford says. "It's for the company to get the most productivity out of their employees."

I'm just not comfortable with the idea. Do a trial run. For instance, select one department to be the guinea pigs. These employees can sign a short-term teleworking contract — say, six months — and if they fulfill their duties, then your boss can seriously implementing a permanent work-from-home program.

Telework Tampa Bay

Is working from home an option for you? Here's how to find out: Get an expert to consult with your boss and help implement a telecommuting program — all for free. Call toll-free 1-888-736-8640 or go to teleworktampabay.org.

First step to telecommuting: Win over the boss 08/20/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 8:31pm]

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