Convincing Your Manager to Let You Work From a Virtual Office

NEW YORK—Eighty two percent of people in the 2011 Work+Life Fit Realty Check survey of full-time employees said they had some sort of flexible work option.

Nevertheless, not all workplaces are equally embracing the notion of virtual offices, telecommuting, workshifting and the like.

That’s why Forbes contributor Cali Williams Yost recently penned the article, “How to Get Past Your Manager’s Flexible Work Floodgates Fear.” In the article, Yost outlines several tips to help your manager move beyond the fear that the flexible work floodgates will open.

Here’s a summary of Yost’s tips with my commentary in brackets:

1. Don’t take their reaction personally. Realize this fear is so common amongst managers that it has its own name, the Floodgates Fear.
(You can’t blame your boss for not wanting to give you carte blanche access to a virtual office. After all, for all the media attention and for all the benefits, it’s still a relatively nascent concept compared to brick-and-mortar office space.)

2. Agree to keep the lines of communication open with your manager.
(When you set out to talk to your manager about working from a virtual office, suggest IM technologies like Skype and even video conferencing. Offer to give progress reports twice a day or copy him on various e-mails to staff or vendors so he can see you are working.)

3. Reassure your manager that if there is “too much” flexibility, then you will sit down with him/her and the rest of the team to come up with a solution.  The responsibility for fixing the problem isn’t theirs alone. (In some companies, you can’t have everyone working from a virtual office all the time. Flexible work might be on a rotating schedule. The idea is to introduce virtual office work to the corporate culture—because that’s the way the world is headed.)


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