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Management I want to work from home, but it’s not part of our culture

THE QUESTION

I want to work from home two days a week. How can I approach this with my boss as it is not really the "culture" here?

THE FIRST ANSWER

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Eileen Dooley

Vice-president, VF Career Management, in the Calgary office of a Canada-wide career-transition firm

If there is an easy way to do this, it is when you're hired – it becomes part of the compensation and work arrangement upon joining the company. If you are trying to do this after, there are a couple of avenues you can explore.

The first is to float the idea with human resources, asking if it has ever been part of the working arrangements with employees.

Sometimes, it can help to get support from others before you make your case with your supervisor. It may be something that HR is considering rolling out. Gather as much history and information as you can.

Secondly, talk with your boss about why you would like to work from home.

Articulate why you are asking for a change in your working arrangements, all the while carefully communicating that your work, both quality and quantity, will not be compromised.

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Go through how you intend on keeping in touch with your colleagues via technology and how you will be available for any calls, meetings, etc., if needed.

Do not expect a decision now. In fact, ask your boss to think about it and determine a time to continue the conversation.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Greg Conner

Executive director, human resources and corporate secretary, BC Transit

Here is how I would approach your boss with a request to work from home two days a week. First of all ,since it is not the "culture," you need to be able to sell the value of you being out of the office two days a week.

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It is quite simple to imagine the benefits you would receive personally, but it also needs to have some tangible benefit to your employer. You need to be able to demonstrate that your work, or a portion thereof, is suitable for teleworking. For example, if you require quiet, uninterrupted time to produce work such as reports or business plans, and others are not dependent on you being there face to face at all times, then this might be a more productive way to achieve results for your benefit as well as the company's.

It would be nice to know why you want to telecommute. Is it for life balance, or family responsibilities such as elderly parents or young children, or perhaps avoiding a long commute five days a week?

As an employer who has had (and has approved) many of these requests over the years, if the rationale is good, your performance trends towards exemplary, the productivity and quality of your work can be measured remotely, and you have a strong work ethic that is not easily distracted by working from home then I would strongly consider it, and hopefully so would your employer.

You know your employer best, so develop a number of key points on why this is of mutual benefit, including retention, productivity, being more carbon neutral, etc., and bring your proposal forward.

To show respect for your employer, do not ask for all or nothing, instead ask for a trial period of three to six months so you can demonstrate the value of your telecommuting proposal. Good luck!

Got a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that mine field? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com

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