How To Write a Telecommuting Proposal


Have you ever wanted to ask your boss about telecommuting?  Maybe you do not know how to write a telecommuting proposal.  Maybe you think he won’t allow you to work from home.  Or, maybe you think your coworkers will feel jealousy.

No matter what held you back in the past, remember one thing: you will never know until you ask!

This article will give you some ideas on how to write a telecommuting proposal.  As with most writing, your best bet is to start with an outline, and fill in the details.  I have included a template for a telecommuting proposal, along with several examples of what you might want to include.

If you aren’t sure about whether remote work is right for you, check out my post on the pros and cons of telecommuting.

Telecommuting Proposal – Outline

Your telecommuting proposal will have three basic parts.  These parts are the same as in most essays: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

Proposal – Introduction

Your introduction should be brief.  Before reading about the details, your boss will want to know the basic idea behind your proposal.  State what you want in simple terms.  Then, give a brief overview of why it is necessary or beneficial to the company.

Example (Introduction)

As a software engineer at Orange, Inc., I enjoy my role as Senior Software Engineer.  I spend a good deal of time each week mentoring and training new employees to get them up to speed.  The downside is that I have fewer uninterrupted blocks of time to work on new code for upcoming projects.

To remedy this situation, I am proposing a trial telecommuting period.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would work from my home office.  I would work in the office as usual on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  This would allow me to dedicate time each week to developing new software.  I would also have the chance to continue mentoring junior engineers.

This solution will allow me to develop software more quickly.  It will also allow me to pass on knowledge to new employees.  This will make the company more competitive in the long run.

Again, don’t go into too much detail in the introduction.  Keep it brief.  You can give specifics in the body, which I will discuss in depth later.  You want to make your point quickly in the introduction.  If the introduction is weak, or too long, your boss may dismiss the idea before reading any further.

Proposal – Body

The body of your proposal is the “meat and potatoes” of the entire document.  It will contain all of the specific ideas to help make your case.  This is your chance to show your boss that you have considered every possible detail.  The body should include:

  • the business case (general statistics, and benefits for your company specifically)
  • the personal case (your track record in particular)
  • home office logistics (location, materials, equipment)
  • accountability (schedule, work hours and tasks, availability)
  • addressing objections (security, liability, fairness, morale, cost)

You might make a strong business and personal case.  You might also prove that you have thought about logistics and accountability.  However, there will likely still be objections regarding your proposal.  Anticipate these in advance, and prepare your responses accordingly.

You know your boss and company better than I do.  Think about how they would respond to your ideas.  I will provide more detail on how to write the body of the proposal below.

Proposal – Conclusion

In the conclusion, you will want to reiterate what you want, and that it benefits the company.  Make it about the company, not about you.  Do your research and write a good proposal.  The conclusion should confirm the boss’s belief that your idea has merit.  Again, keep it brief.

Example (Conclusion)

Thank you for considering my proposal to telecommute part-time.  I am confident that this arrangement will allow the company to operate more efficiently.  As a result, we will remain competitive for years to come.  Please let me know if you would like to discuss any concerns.

Telecommuting Proposal – Body (Making the Case!)

To fill in the proposal body, you need to address the areas discussed in the outline.  Many of these details will be specific to your company.  Along the way, I will provide examples for some of these areas of concern.

The Business Case

In this part of the proposal body, you want to mention any statistics that support your position.  Typically, you will use general statistics provided by government or research agencies.

You can also use statistics released by companies that have done their own studies on telecommuting.

Example (Telecommuting Productivity Statistics)

In studies on telecommuting, many companies have found that remote employees enjoy increased productivity.

Boeing discovered that telecommuters were 15% to 30% more productive than onsite colleagues.

IBM found a 10% to 20% increase in productivity among telecommuters.

According to Inc Magazine, a Stanford study has shown that telecommuters got an entire day’s productivity boost each week.  This works out to a 20% increase in productivity.

In addition to citing general statistics, you can mention specific trends for your industry, region, or company.  For example, are more companies in your metro area offering telecommuting to workers as a perk?  If so, your company may want to get on board so that they can attract the best new talent.

If you can find a study showing that telecommuting saves money, include the reference!

For instance, new hires in your industry might take a lower salary in exchange for telecommuting options.  Large cost savings can make skeptical managers very receptive to your proposal.

Also think about your company’s specific goals, and tailor your proposal accordingly.  For instance, your company might be looking to reduce costs.  In that case, point to telecommuting as a way to reduce the cost of office space.  The more people who telecommute, the lower the cost for office space becomes!

Another possibility is that your company wishes to increase productivity.  In that case, point to studies that mention improvements in productivity for remote workers.  I mentioned some of these earlier in the article.  You can use these studies, or find your own research.  The latter might be better if you really want to tailor your statistics and arguments for your company and boss.

Don’t fret if your company has never tried telecommuting.  You can make the case that you will work to perfect the process through your pilot program.  This includes testing the equipment, tools, software, and methods to optimize telecommuting productivity.

The Personal Case

In this part of the proposal body, you will want to highlight your past performance at the company.  If you have good reviews, and colleagues think highly of you, this will speak in your favor.

Example (Track Record)

During the past four years, I have earned two promotions within our department.  I helped to complete the Baker project after Larry broke his hip and was out for a month.  I also reduced departmental costs by 10% after reviewing and negotiating with three of our major vendors.

If your company already has telecommuting workers, use that to support your argument.  If it makes sense, your boss can talk to their managers to see what works and what doesn’t.  This conversation might also put his mind at ease about fears and objections about the arrangement.

In addition, you should speak to these telecommuting employees at your company.  Ask them how they made their case to the boss.  Also ask what helps them to be successful in a remote role.  In addition, find out what problems they have overcome while working remotely.  Finally, incorporate what you learn into your own telecommuting proposal.

If your company leadership hesitates to approve a remote work situation, emphasize the “trial” part of “trial run”.  If the results are good, you can continue, and if not, you can go back to where you were before.  You will be no worse off in this case.

Make sure to specifically state when you will sit down with your boss to review the remote work trial.  I would suggest a 30, 60, or 90 day trial.  If the boss is nervous, go for a shorter trial of one week.  Then, review the results before moving to a longer-term arrangement.

Finally, remind your boss that telecommuting saves you time, energy, and money.  This will translate to a happier, healthier employee who has more resources to devote to the company.  Check out my post about the benefits of telecommuting for employers to learn more.

Home Office Logistics

In this part of the proposal body, you will want to go into detail about your home office.  It might seem like overkill, but include specific items, to show that you have thought this through.

Example (Home Office Details)

On telecommuting days, I will work out of my home office.  This office is a 10′ x 14′ room in my house, with two windows to provide natural light.  The walls have a shade of green that helps me to work more productively.

The room has ample task lighting, along with ergonomic equipment.  This ergonomic equipment includes a mouse, keyboard, and wireless headset for conference calls.

I also have a dedicated telephone line through Skype, along with high-speed internet access through Verizon.

My computer is an Asus Zenbook 3, with Microsoft Office, Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Mozilla Firefox installed.  I have dedicated this computer for work tasks only.  In addition to my computer, I have an HP OfficeJet 5741, which allows all-in-one printing, faxing, scanning, and copying.  I also have plenty of pens, paper, staples, and printer ink.

In addition to these considerations, you may want to discuss how you will move files between home and office.  You should mention flash drives, email, and security measures you use to maintain the integrity of company data.

Accountability

In this part of the template body, you will discuss your work schedule, including hours of availability.  You should also mention what you will accomplish during your telecommuting days.  In addition, a template for a daily or weekly report might not be a bad idea.  This will let your boss know that you take your job seriously and will complete your work.

First, you will want to include the days that you will telecommute.  You will also want to post your “core hours”, which is when you will be working and available for questions.  Make it clear that you are available by phone for emergency questions.  However, colleagues and bosses can email low priority and non-urgent questions to you.

As long as you answer within a few hours, you should not have trouble.  This arrangement has the goal of freeing you from minor distractions.  That way, you can do high quality work during long blocks of uninterrupted time.

You should also include your work plans for the days that you telecommute.  A software engineer might write some new code in the morning.  Then, he can do a code review for a colleague in the afternoon.  A salesman might make calls in the morning, and organize notes in a CRM system in the afternoon.

This might look exactly like what you do at work.  However, you should write it down to reassure the boss that you have a system for completing your work.  A daily or weekly template for a “work completed” sheet will save you time.  Once your boss knows what to expect, he can see at a glance that you finish your work.

Example (Telecommuting Schedule and Hours)

I plan to telecommute on Tuesdays and Thursdays every week.  During work hours, I plan to be available from 8am-12pm and 1pm to 5pm.  I will check email before lunch and towards the end of the day to answer non-urgent questions.  I will of course be available by phone for emergency questions at (617) 123-4567.

This will give me two long blocks (about 3.5 hours each) of uninterrupted time.  My plan for the morning block is to focus on writing new software and optimizing existing programs.  For the afternoon blocks, I hope to perform code review for junior engineers.

On Tuesday and Thursday, I will submit work reports.  They will detail what I worked on and the level of completion for that day.

This proposal shows that you have a plan for how you will spend your time.  Any manager will hesitate on telecommuting if he thinks your plan involves the “wing it and see what happens” strategy.  Don’t give them another objection to raise.

Be specific about how you will spend your time!  You might go into more detail than in the example above, depending on your current projects.  Your goal is to prove to your boss that you can handle the responsibility of remote work.  You want to show them that you have no intention of abusing this arrangement.

Addressing Objections

In most cases, your boss will raise some objections to your proposal.  He might simply want to test you, to see how much you want it.  Perhaps your boss wants to test your sales ability, if you are a salesman!  Most of the time, your boss will raise sincere concerns about telecommuting.  If you can anticipate them and address them in your proposal, it will make your position stronger.

First, you should address the concern of information security.  You should install antivirus software on your home office computer.  Two possibilities include Microsoft Security Essentials or McAfee Total Protection.    Whatever you choose, you should keep this software updated.

In addition, you should back up your work files to a flash drive.  It makes sense to do this daily.  If your computer crashes, then you lose a day’s work, at most.  You should also take steps to secure your home office.  This includes using password protection for your computer, and locking your door.

Your kids likely will not try to steal company secrets.  However, they could still delete important files or cause other mischief.  Finally, shred any client or company documents before you throw them away.

Next, you should address the issue of ergonomics and safety.  You might have already mentioned some ergonomic equipment, such as a keyboard, mouse, headset, and desk.  You should also mention that you will educate yourself concerning proper use of this equipment.  At a larger company, they may have someone on staff who works with employees on this very issue.

You should also address concerns about work and availability.  If you have already addressed these in earlier parts of your proposal, then you should be fine.  However, employers may wonder about the following:

  • Can you finish your work at home? – Assure your boss that distractions will be at a minimum at home.  For example, the kids have school and sports from 7am to 4pm.
  • Will you be available to answer questions? – You should have already addressed this earlier in your proposal, when you talked about telecommuting days/hours and methods of contact.
  • How do I know you are working? – Tell your boss that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  Just kidding.  Assure him that the quality of your work product will tell him all he needs to know about your efforts.  Results, or progress, matter more than process.
  • We have never allowed telecommuting! – Times and labor markets change rapidly, and your company/department does not want to lose out.  Many of the best employees will expect telecommuting arrangements.  Companies that offer this perk will attract and retain the best workers.  Companies that do not will lose their best workers to other forward-thinking companies.
  • Your colleagues will want to telecommute too! – All the better.  You are not asking for special treatment.  If a job allows for it, the company should implement telecommuting.  Instead of having only one employee with increased productivity, your boss will have 5 or 10.  You can still meet in the office some days, as needed.  As your team becomes super productive, this will probably become less necessary.
  • Your absence will hurt morale. – Make the point that telecommuting will improve your own morale.  Further, a single member of the team with high morale can boost everyone else’s mood.
  • What about the cost? – Admit that your boss might have to reimburse you for a few home office expenses.  Then point out that the company can make up the cost with increased productivity.  In addition, if the company rents a smaller office space, they will save on rent and utilities.

Check Your Tone

When writing your telecommuting proposal, use the proper tone.  I would err on the side of caution, and make the tone more formal.  However, you should tailor your writing style to what your boss and company expect from an employee in your position.

Ideally, you should speak to someone at the company who has made the transition from in-person to remote.  Ask them for a copy of the proposal they used, and incorporate elements of style from their work.

It may be that you are a trailblazer, and are the first employee to ask for remote work.  If so, try to get in touch with someone outside of the company who has made the transition successfully.  Again, ask for the proposal, and use it as a baseline.

Potential Problems and Solutions

As mentioned earlier, your telecommuting proposal should address any objections your boss may have.  This includes any obvious problems you might run into while working remotely.  It may also include unforeseen issues, or problems you heard about when you spoke to people who already work remotely.

Show your boss that you have done your homework and anticipated possible problems.  It will work in your favor!

Internet

As mentioned above, you should give specifics about your internet access.  You should have high-speed, reliable internet.  You should consider springing for a higher tier internet from your provider.  For one thing, it will be faster and more reliable.  For another thing, you will offset the cost with reduced spending on transportation, including gasoline, parking, and repairs.

In addition to your own fast, reliable internet, make sure you have a backup plan.  This could include working on the Wi-Fi at a nearby coffee shop, bookstore, library, or coworking space.  It could also include working at a friend or family member’s house.  Either way, make sure to clear this with IT, in case there are any cybersecurity concerns.  I will talk more about this below.

Phone

You should give your work colleagues a way to speak with you directly, if needed.  A program like Skype would work.  A second cell phone could also work.  If you already have your own plan, adding a 2nd line would not be an outrageous expense.  You might not want to give out your home or personal cell phone number to everyone at work anyway.

Power Outage

This one is pretty rare in some places, but your boss will be glad that you thought of it.  You will too, if it prevents you from missing an important deadline!

One possibility is to continue working at a place that still has power.  If the outage is widespread, however, you could be driving for a while.  That would still put you out of commission for a while, which defeats the purpose of a backup.

A better plan is to buy an extra laptop battery and keep it charged, just in case.  That way, you have enough stored power to make it through a full work day, or close to it.  If the power is still out after a day, don’t fret. You might be able to recharge the batteries nearby.  Worst case scenario, you can go in to work if they have power and nobody else does!

IT and Cybersecurity Concerns

Talk to your IT department about any potential problems with working from home.  They will likely think of things that we wouldn’t even be vaguely aware of.  What’s more, some of these problems will be specific to your company.

If there are cybersecurity concerns, ask how you can address them.  This could mean installing antivirus software on your computer.  It could also mean having an IT expert configure your security settings and tools, such as a firewall and VPN.

Childcare

You don’t want your boss to think that you are pulling double duty with kids and work!  It is better to mention childcare specifically and address it, rather than leave your boss to wonder.  For instance, reassure him that you will continue to use your current daycare provider.

Isolation

This is both a personal and business concern.  Your boss will not want to see you suffer the effects of isolation.  He will also not want the company to lose your contributions if you are no longer able to work effectively.

Keep him posted on what you plan to do outside of work to go outside and spend time with others.  Also, plan some calls during the week, with your boss or coworkers, to check in and see a friendly face.

Motivation

Your boss may worry that you will have trouble starting work in the morning.  This is a valid concern if you are too comfortable at home.  Emphasize the dedicated office space you have set up at home.

Alternatively, remind him that you will be working from a coworking space.  These spaces often have an atmosphere that will encourage you to do your best work.

Overworking

On the other hand, your boss will not want to see you overworking yourself to the point of burnout.  Make it clear that you are setting limits on your time, and that you know when to quit.  This will depend on your company culture.  However, your boss will worry if you are sending emails every hour of the day.  Use your best judgment!

Telecommuting Proposal – Template

Good things come to those who wait!  As promised, I have a telecommuting proposal template for you.  If you don’t want to write your own from scratch, this is a good place to start.

You can just use it as a starting point or for inspiration as you write your own.  Make sure to add details specific to your company!  You will not impress your boss with a 100% copy and paste job from my blog (as wonderful as my blog may be).

You can find Word and PDF versions of the telecommuting proposal template here.

I hope this article has helped you to build your case for telecommuting.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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