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Is Teleworking Right for You?

Not everyone is cut out to work from home. Here are 6 questions to ask yourself before you think of making the switch

4. Is teleworking really as good as being there?

Working remotely full time may cause you to miss out on rich workplace relationships, extemporaneous thinking, brainstorming and the collaboration you get from simply being present at meetings or chatting in the lunchroom. As much as you might be in touch via phone, email or videoconferencing, will you be able to pick up on some of those nonverbal communication cues and know exactly what your boss and coworkers expect of you?

You also need to keep in mind that some of your coworkers might resent your new working arrangement, particularly if their job isn't suitable for telework.

If you are transitioning into a full-time telework schedule, try to attend important, on-site meetings when possible. This is key to not slipping into the "out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome" and staying on good terms with your coworkers. You might agree to be on-site when projects are being launched or for other company initiatives. But even if there is a nonbusiness event — like a coworker's retirement or promotion — show your support and your connection to your coworkers by attending.

5. How important is career advancement?

The Korn/Ferry Institute finds that 60 percent of 300 respondents in a recent survey say telecommuting inhibits career growth.

"There is a perception that if you are not in the office, you are more likely to miss important meetings, get passed over for promotion or get targeted for layoff in the event of a downsizing," says John A. Challenger, chief executive of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Ana Dutra, chief executive of Korn/Ferry Leadership and Talent Consulting, agrees. "While working at home can be beneficial for both companies and workers, it can also lead to 'invisibility' that can limit opportunities for career advancement," Dutra says. "It is important for telecommuters to remain networked as closely as possible with peers and leaders in the office."

And remember: Whatever agreement you come to may not survive a new boss or job role. You may need to renegotiate a telework arrangement — full or part time — if things change at the office.

6. Now, how can I convince my boss?

Better efficiency should be at the top of your 'why you should let me telecommute' list. Increased productivity was, in fact, one of the leading reasons for allowing employees to work from home, according to both the Challenger and Korn/Ferry surveys.

Draft a proposal that describes what your work schedule would be, the number of hours you would work, how unplanned overtime would be handled, how often you would check in with an office visit. You might agree that when projects are being launched, or problems the company is trying to solve arise, you will work in the office.

To seal the deal, ask for a trial period of three to six months so both you and your boss can see how the arrangement works out and can fine-tune it if needed.

In the end, the best way to convince your boss is to show, not tell. A solid work ethic that delivers reliable results will be your ticket to telework gold stars and, ultimately, your job happiness.

Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.

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DEAD-END JOB: If you can work from home, should you? Consider these pros and cons; for instance, you might be happier and more productive but you also might put that promotion at risk.


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