by Robby Slaughter


Here’s the question everybody asks: How do I talk to my supervisor about telecommuting? It’s easy to find advice on the topic. For example, Web Worker Daily ran an article titled “How To Ask The Boss If You Can Work Remotely” and SitePoint served up “Telecommuting: How To Approach Your Boss.” Both of these posts offer general suggestions about citing research, listing the benefits and offering to make some concessions.

But research shows telecommuting is not about where you work. That, in reality, the home office phenomenon actually stems from three, more powerful concepts:

• Productivity and satisfaction in a given work environment is predicted by personality type
• Employees become stakeholders when they are trusted with authority and responsibility
• Supportive, results-oriented, technology-enabled employee cultures perform best

Three steps to doing this right

Step one, then is to start by getting a deep understanding of different personalities and what motivates different people. There are countless instruments you can use to do this, (you can even take a free DISC personality test) but the key questions are this: are they more introverted or extroverted; and are they more motivated by affirmation from others or through personal satisfaction? Most anyone can telecommute or work from an office, but it takes different styles to engage different personalities effectively.

Second, is to establish clear lines of authority and responsibility. That means individuals need to know what they control and what they don’t control. Furthermore, make sure that you tie both together: authority without responsibility leads to people causing damage without realizing it; responsibility without authority ends in extreme frustration.

Finally, remember that results matter, and technology makes results possible. Every manager has worried at some point whether or not their team members are working or goofing off. The great advantage of telecommuting is that you can’t “look busy” from afar. Either you’re getting things done or you aren’t. Define objectives and make work happen!

Conclusion: Do not approach your boss (or your employees) about telecommuting! 

So, do not approach your boss (or your employees) about telecommuting! Focus instead on improving relationships toward work. Transform and take ownership of your workflow using a process-oriented mindset. Build satisfaction and productivity through direct engagement. Show that results, not presence, are what really matters.

Then, decide collaboratively about the best work environment for each employee. These are all tactical questions that can truly be pursued if you have an open workplace culture.

Good luck!

Are you interested in learning the best tactics for successfully leading a telecommuting team, or leading remotely in any capacity? Check out the upcoming sessions at the Remote Leadership Institute. You may find something that can help you be a more successful remote leader!


About the Author: 

RobbyRobby Slaughter is a Principal at AccelaWork, a company focused on insourced speaking, consulting and coaching in multiple areas of business improvement including process improvement, sales training & coaching, employee engagement and team dynamics. He is an effective and highly engaging keynote speaker with presentations on the regional and national level on embracing failure, time management, personal productivity and more.

He is the author of several books, including The How-To Guide for Generations at Work: How Americans at Every Age View the Workplace and How to Work Productively with Every Generation.

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