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Negotiating your right to work from home

As working from home becomes increasingly common, companies and employees are now acknowledging and discovering the many benefits.  Company bosses are even finding that staff are actually more productive when they work from home.

But if you're employed in a traditional workplace it can be difficult to persuade your bosses to take the first leap of faith and allow you to work from home, especially if you are the first employee to do so at the firm and they don't have a procedure in place.

While your employer is not obliged to allow you to work from home, they must entertain your request, giving you a real chance to put your case. When you get this opportunity, make sure you have all your viewpoints and facts ready:

- Research suggests that many employees can be more productive when working from home due to the flexibility it affords them.

- The work/life balance of homeworkers tends to be better than that of office-based employees, which has been shown to reduce illness and stress, again boosting productivity for the business.

- Advances in technology mean that people working from home can still maintain contact with their co-workers and conduct meetings using video conferencing and webcams.

You can reassure your employer with studies and information regarding general trends in homeworking - the vast majority of them are positive and will back up your case. But bear in mind that your situation is unique to you and will differ depending on the sector and type of business you work for. Ultimately, you need to provide a plan of action to convince your employer that you will be able to continue to produce good quality work if you are given the chance to work from home.

There are a number of things you can do to help you here:

- Providing a list of technology requirements to prove that you will be reliably contactable and able to fulfil all of your usual responsibilities from your home office can reassure your employer that you are taking things seriously.

- There is also the matter of keeping to your normal schedule. Managers are often concerned that homeworkers will slack off or start work late. You can tell your employer that you will be stick strictly to your set working hours, but ultimately this is something you will need to prove to them by keeping it up over the long run.

- If there is significant time and cost being wasted commuting to your employer's premises, be sure to quantify this. For instance an hour and a half on the London Underground each day is effectively wasted time, as it is so difficult to do any productive work.

- If you find that you're really struggling to make your case for working from home in your current role then you might need to take a fresh look at the situation. Have you considered the possibility of creating a new role? Spotting a new business opportunity for your company that you could deliver from a homeworking role could put you in a very beneficial position.

We all know it will be nice for you to have the home comforts and flexibility of working from home but ultimately you need to prove to your company that allowing you to work from home will be beneficial to them. This isn't hard to do but be clear that you are prepared and organised and if you win the right to work from home then keep up your work levels and prove to your bosses that they made the right decision.

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