Telecommuting proposal - how many days a week should you ask to work from home?

by Pat Katepoo

If you’re excited about the prospect of telecommuting, you may have blissful visions of working from home five days a week, with occasional forays into the office for meetings.

Maybe your notion is to propose telecommuting five days a week, leaving you room to negotiate fewer days if the full-time, work-from-home pitch is rejected.

Wise strategies? Or, career peril?

(Note: For this discussion, we are not addressing independent sales reps, telecommuters who live a considerable remote distance from the main office, e.g., out-of-state, and certain self-employed individuals. Most of these workers operate out of a home office on a full-time basis.)

Telecommuting - who's doing what and why?

First, consider the norm. Most employed telecommuters work from home one to three days a week and go to the office the remaining days.

The reasons may be many and varied, but here are two common ones.

“Face time”: Right or wrong, “face time” still has measurable impact on how you and your work are perceived.

Without an adequate degree of visibility, access, and concurrent involvement, you will undoubtedly miss out on information and opportunities that maintain and advance your career.

“Out of sight/out of mind” is real, so regular weekly “appearances” are still important.

Most bosses, however willing they are to allow their employees to telecommute, still want face-to-face communication on a regular basis. It provides them with, understandably, a degree of needed comfort and control.

Your boss is likely to be more agreeable to your telecommuting proposal if you suggest one or two days a week working from home to start.

If you feel you need negotiating room, propose two or three days a week and negotiate to one or two days, as needed.

Isolation: This is a common experience among telecommuters.

Even if you have a dreadful commute to the office and/or work very well independently, working from home alone five days a week, week in and week out, is very isolating.

Camaraderie and professional interaction are necessary energizers in the actual work output and the workday of most people.

Going into the office two or three days a week makes a measurable difference.

Telecommuting proposal strategy tip

Propose one, two, or at the most, three telecommuting days. One day is a safe start, especially if your boss is apprehensive; it makes for a good “trial”.

Oh, and don’t suggest Mondays.

Pat Katepoo is founder of and the developer of the electronic workbook, Flex Success: A Proposal Blueprint & Planning Guide for Getting a Family-Friendly Work Schedule.