By Marco Buscaglia
Tribune Media Services
March 8, 2013
You could almost hear a collective groan from telecommuters across the country last week when Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said Yahoo employees who work from home would have to show up to the office to work or leave the company.
"Being at Yahoo isn't just about your day-to-day job, it's about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices," Mayer wrote in the memo that was sent to employees.
Not everyone agrees. Janice Belinger, 44, has been working from home since her mother suffered a stroke two years ago, and she says her collaborative spirit is alive and well.
"I pick up the phone all day long and talk to my co-workers," says Belinger, a graphic designer for a Chicago publisher who works from home Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays and from the corporate office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. "I interact at home as much as I do when I'm in the office."
Belinger and other telecommuters worry that Mayer and Yahoo will set a precedent that other employers will follow.
"It would be hard to get the lightening back in the bottle for so many of us who work from home," says Belinger. "This is a system that works very well for many, many people. It would be a shame if someone took a blanket approach to whether or not it works for a company as a whole.
Working from home
If you'd like to work from home, you'll need to show how the arrangement is good not only for you, but also for the business. If you are unsure about how to approach your boss, consider the following steps to create a convincing argument:
Gather the facts. Start by contacting your human resources department or consulting the employee manual to determine if your company has a telecommuting program in place.
Consider all the angles. Telecommuting has many benefits, but not every job is suited for at-home work. If your work requires face-to-face contact or regular access to special equipment, you may be out of luck.
Prepare a written proposal. Consider making your case in writing. A written proposal allows your boss to consider your ideas carefully, and it also highlights your commitment and forethought to the proposition. Be sure to include information about how telecommuting will increase your productivity and cut down on costs for the employer.
Consider a trial period. If you think your boss will resist the idea of you working from home, consider proposing a trial period. This will give you an opportunity to prove the arrangement benefits both parties.
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