Tag: Manager

How to Ask Your Boss to Work From Home

TelecommutingTime ManagementWork From HomeWorking Remotely

You want to ask your boss to work from home. Maybe you have some recent changes in your family like the birth of a new baby or an aging parent has moved nearby. Maybe you’ve recently moved or your office has relocated and you’re now spending 3 hours in the car commuting. Maybe you’ve simply realized that being in the office all day, every day is simply not conducive to you doing your best work. Whatever the case, you’re interested in a little more flexibility and are ready to have the conversation. Easy right? Not always, this can be a daunting and intimidating topic. Here are 10 tips for this conversation:

  1. Frame it in a way your boss will understand and find value in. This is #1. Highlight how this new work set-up will benefit your company. Yes, companies want their workforce happy and healthy but what they most want is productivity and a good bottom line. Think about what your manager most values and show how some flexibility will help your team and company achieve this.
  2. Keep personal gains out of it. Yes you’ll have the opportunity to walk your dog more and will be able to throw in laundry in between meetings. This a personal benefit that your manager does not, I repeat, does not care about. Keep this out both because it doesn’t present any value add to your manager, in fact it might suggest that you will be spending more time with your pooch or keeping house than working.
  3. Consider what’s appropriate and realistic. All companies and teams are different; some are keen on flexibility some are not. You know your company and manager so spend some time thinking about what is a reasonable request. Maybe your firm will respond best to one day a week, or a month, or an afternoon after you have a doctor’s appointment. Spend some time thinking about what’s a reasonable amount of flexibility and pith that.
  4. Prepare for the conversation. Don’t wing it. If you have regular check-ins this is an appropriate time to bring this up; if you don’t (you should and that’s a different story..) ask for a check-in to talk about your role. Do it behind closed doors and come prepared with a specific plan (based on what you feel is appropriate and reasonable) for your boss to react to.
  5. Don’t demand an immediate answer. No one likes to be put on the spot and you never know what meeting or conversation a person just came from Don’t make your boss feel as if she has to make a decision right then and there; in fact if you make it clear that you want her to think about this and get back to you. She’ll likely appreciate the time to mull it over, especially if this would be new for your team or if she mat have to run it past her manager.
  6. Suggest a trial period. Particularily if this would be a new step for your company suggest starting with a short, trial period. Identify a window of time and schedule a check-in at the end of this period for you to discuss how the flexible set-up is working.
  7. Work hard. If you get the yes you’re looking for that’s great news, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to coast. In fact it’s the opposite; you need to prove to your company that you can handle this responsibility and your work won’t be compromised. Said differently: don’t slack off. Work hard, post results, show that flexibility doesn’t take away from your productivity but enhances it. You must be responsible and disciplined for your success here.
  8. Be flexible. Since you’re asking for flexibility you need to be flexible. In my experience this can mean coming even last minute even if I had planned to be at my home due to a last minute client meeting or a presentation. Especially if you’re in a trial period you need to ensure that your schedule is accommodating and flexible, since it won’t go over well if your new flexible schedule makes it harder for work to get done.
  9. Prepare for a no. Some companies, some teams, some managers simply don’t like remote work. No is an answer and if you ask for something you need to be prepared for it. If you get a negative response don’t wallow but keep on doing your thing. And while you do this…
  10. Think about how important flexibility is to you. If you’re reading this blog you likely have some interest in work flexibility (or you’re my mom–hi mom!!) If you bring it up to your boss you clearly have interest in it. If your manager shuts down the idea or you know your company simply won’t go for it, I’d encourage you to spend some time really thinking about whether this is something you want or need to be successful–and most importantly, happy–in your job and life. If it is then it may be time to consider a role that offers you the flexibility that you desire.

Workplace flexibility is a growing trend that can benefit a company and team in big ways. What else have you found to work (or not work) when asking for a flex-schedule?

How to Have an Effective Check-In With Your Boss From Home

Personal DevelopmentTelecommutingWork From HomeWorking Remotely

Image result for call from home office + free image

For many working professionals who work remotely, much of your productivity and success are reliant on your interactions with and relationship with your manager. It goes without saying that then having a good relationship with your boss is critical. One component of this is maintaining regular check-ins and ensuring that they are productive.

Maybe you’re a full-time remote employee, maybe you work remotely once in a while so don’t always have your meetings in person, maybe you work from an office but for whatever reason– you’re sick, your manager is sick, it’s the holidays, she’s in another location, whatever!– you’re having your check-in over the phone. Simple, right? Ehhh… Not always. Read these tips before you connect and you’ll showcase your ability to effectively communicate over the phone.

  1. Come prepared. To have a successful check-in with your manager over the phone solid preparation is key so that you can use your face-time–sans face–best. Preparation can be as simple as a list of topics or questions. For every check-in spend some time on your own reflecting on what you want to cover since your last check-in; this can include reviewing your current workload, development, areas (and/or people) in which you’re hitting roadblocks, upcoming vacations– anything. List it all off for yourself. If you have an agreed upon way to structure the conversation follow that but taking “inventory” of all the topics you would like to cover is important.
  2.  Organize your thoughts. After I lay out what I want to cover, I like to email something to my manager. This is usually not the exact same list I captured during my prep, often what I send my manager is shorter and a bit more high level. Try to keep it a manageable list for the length of time you have. Again, follow your manager’s and company’s preferences but I find this especially helpful during a phone check-in since your manager is likely in front of her computer so has the opportunity to multi-task. Whatever it is, having something down on paper (err– on a screen) helps minimize the chance that your manager is doing other things and helps her focus on you.
  3. Control the conversation and set expectations upfront. So now that you know what you want to cover and have communicated the topics in some form to your boss, ensuring you clearly express yourself to get what you need to get out of the conversation is key. Even if you have your manager’s undivided attention it’s easy to get off track and for whatever reason this seems to happen more over the phone. Combat it by ensuring you stay on relevant topics that you want to discuss. If something warrants a longer conversation but you still do really need to get to a few other “agenda items” it’s completely fair to recommend you have a separate, dedicated conversation about a specific item at a later point in time.
  4. Gut-check you’re spending your time the right way. My favorite thing to do during check-ins with my manager is to share what I call my “time allocation.” I literally share the main projects I am working on (bucketing similar, smaller ones together so to not get off topic) as well as what percent of my time I have been spending on each. I then ask my manager to confirm that he agrees I am using my time correctly. It’s essential for all professionals to ensure they are on the same page with their boss regarding priorities and how their time should be spent, but for telecommuters who don’t physically see their managers daily it can be even more important. Early in my career, while working from an office location, I would often connect with my managers on priorities two or three times a week, if not daily. But in recent years while working remotely I’ve noticed this just doesn’t happen as much so I’ve taken matters into my own hands.
  5. Brag. This is another one that’s important (though also hard!) for everyone but perhaps even more so for fellow remote workers: you must toot your own horn. Because you don’t see your manager as frequently as you would in the office it’s even more important to share your successes so he knows about them. Remember no one is as invested in your career as you are. Even the very best managers are not. Nor are the very best manager’s aware of what *exactly* you’re doing day-to-day. You must tell them.

Truth be told you should be doing all of these things during your check-ins whether you’re remote or not but it’s extra important to be upfront and communicative about your work and what you need from your manager. Your check-in should be your time, use it wisely!