Telework Works for You

September 23, 2010

Chapter 4 – Transitioning To A Remote Job

Let’s assume the advice in the preview sections worked and your company is open to a remote worker program in general terms. The next question your boss will ask is: Why do you want to work remotely? You need to have a good answer to this question in addition to the arguments in the previous section. This part isn’t about company policy. It is about you. Will working remotely work well for you?

Saving money and extra productivity work better in the discussion of a general program. Try to talk about productivity and you run the risk of your boss wondering why you can’t do good work in the office. Focus on the two reasons that are easiest to understand and most difficult to argue against: family and geography. Here are a few family reasons that might help:

  • Your family needs to move.
  • You want to take care of your small children.
  • A family member is ill and needs extra care.

Everyone understands family, and it sounds a lot better than, “I really want to work in my underwear.” Even if your family isn’t the primary reason you want to work remotely, it is a good one to start with.

Using your family also makes sure that your request does not appear to be a personal reproach. It sounds more like, “I really want to stay in the office but I can’t,” and a lot less like “I’m sick of looking at you every day.”

If you can’t use your family, then use geography. Talk about wanting to move. Make it clear that you are making this transition because it is the right thing for you and it doesn’t have anything to do with your boss or your team. Reiterate that you really want to keep doing the work you have been doing and you are looking for a way to make it happen. Present a solution, not a problem.

Once you have shown your boss how working remotely will work for your company and for you, the next step is to make it work for your team. Show your boss you have a plan for making the transition go smoothly with your team. Start by being open and upfront about any changes your team will require to support a remote engineer. They shouldn’t have to do much to support you, but there are some required changes.

Most of the changes focus on communication. You need a plan for how you and your team will communicate when you aren’t in the office. What technologies will they use? Does your company need to buy a conference phone? Does your team need to start using IM or IRC?

The third part of this book is about the specifics of communication. Take a look at the communication options, figure out which ones are the best for you and your team, and discuss it with your manager.

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