Save Gas, Improve Work/Life Balance: 5 Strategies for Landing a “Green” Work Arrangement
Posted Sep 03 2008 12:00am
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly felt the effects of the economic slowdown in recent months. Gas, groceries, meals out–even movie theater popcorn–cost more than ever lately. Despite the gloom, there’s a silver lining: growing support for telework (a.k.a. telecommuting) and other flexible work arrangements.
Telework is a “green” win-win for employers and employees. Work options that allow employees to work from home make for happier, less stressed, and more productive employees (think, improved work/life balance, less time commuting, fewer work-related distractions, and more time for family). Studies suggest that telework is a good thing for employers’ bottom line. Like employees, employers can save money through telework options, including the costs of overhead and lost productivity. Importantly, telework is a huge plus for the environment (e.g., cleaner air) and goes a long way toward resource conservation (e.g., fossil fuels).
But assuming you actually have a job that can be done from home and your employer doesn’t already have an established protocol for telework arrangements, how do you convince your employer to go “green”? Here are five strategies to help you land that “green” work arrangement:
1. Jump on the green momentum. Green is hot right now and it’s a color your boss has probably heard something about or understands. This means that whether you’re asking to telecommute one day a week or twice a month, there’s probably never before been a better time to ask for a telework arrangement. Plus, it probably doesn’t hurt your case that “everyone is doing it”, right?
2. Come up with a plan. Before you approach your employer for a telework arrangement, think about why you want the arrangement, what schedule you want (e.g., will your schedule be fixed?, will you work beyond 9-5 hours), and how you plan to get your job done logistically (e.g., what technology or equipment do you need, and what about the kids, will they be home with you or will you have childcare in place).
3. Appeal to your employers’ interest. Let your employer know what she gains by letting you work from home. As cool as it may be to wear your pajamas and bunny slippers to work, be prepared to explain, if necessary, the benefits the arrangement confers to your employer in terms she understands (think, dollars, productivity, and availability).
4. Offer a trial run. When dealing with a reluctant employer or one unfamiliar with telework, suggest a “trial period”. Use this period to show your employer that you can get it done–and well, too. If you know your employer has particular concerns about the arrangement, use this time to address those concerns.
5. Write it down. If your employer doesn’t already have a policy for handling telework requests and/or prepared documentation, create your own paper trail. You’ll want to make sure you’ve memorialized the terms that you and your employer have reached, just in case….
–Julie Tower-Pierce, J.D./M.S.E.L is a lawyer, mom of three, and author of Staying at Home, Staying in the Law: A Guide to Remaining
Active in the Legal Profession While Pursuing Your Dreams (American Bar Association, 2008).