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Want a work from home day? Who doesn’t? But despite the well-studied ecological, health and even economical benefits of allowing employees work-from-home days in their monthly—if not weekly!—schedules, many traditional employers balk at the idea.
According to Business News Daily, a 2012 survey showed “55 percent of workers surveyed felt they were more productive when working from home, [but] only a quarter of bosses agreed with that sentiment.” So how do you convince your boss you’ll work better with a work-from-home day? One thing’s for certain: this is an easier task for DINKs than it is for parents.
Parents Working From Home
One of the most common reasons parents want a work-from-home day is to be closer to, and spend more time with, their children. A laudable and important goal, this reasoning doesn’t appeal much to employers who demand 100% commitment to the business at hand. Even parents who make up for hours lost during the day by working after their children are in bed don’t satisfy bosses who want them available during normal business hours. Indeed, the Business News Daily survey report shows that almost 50% of bosses surveyed “complained about the inability to communicate with employees in person.”
Parents themselves seem to understand this. Jennifer Birch, employed full time in San Francisco, says working from home “would be wonderful, but also challenging,”as she has two young children. “I specifically want to work from home one day a week so I can watch my children growing up. If they’re in day care until I get home and then it’s time for bed, I am missing so much of their lives. But on the other hand, I know I won’t be sitting at the computer when it’s time to make lunch, or take my sons to the park. And if one of my babies starts crying, nothing will stop me from going to him right away—that includes anything work related.” Janet Unitan, a mother of two in Portland, OR, agrees. “I wouldn’t even try a work-from-home day without a nanny.”
This isn’t to say that millions of parents aren’t working from home successfully; rather,the distractions are far more pressing, and possibly frequent, than those presented to nonparents. Even Café Mom Daphne Brogdon, the professed do-it-all mother, proclaims: “It’s easy to work from home—if you don’t have kids.”
How to Argue Your Case, DINK style
As a DINK, you’ve got the upper hand over your parent co-workers in negotiating for a work-from-home day. But note: most employers aren’t allowed to tacitly refuse to allow one worker to work from home but not another if the reason is children. Parents aren’t specifically protected by federal anti-discrimination law, but a fancy lawyer could probably spin the Pregnancy Discrimination Act which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.”
So your language needs to be more about what you do have (time, focus, commitment), rather then what you don’t (kids). Stress your home office as a sanctuary, free from distraction. You can be more productive at home, you can argue, removed from the unavoidable time wasters of office life.
You also need to understand why your boss is so resistant, even if you don’t have kids to distract you.
“I don’t love the idea of my employees working from home,” says Adam Hibble, small business owner in Orinda, CA. “I like to manage my staff. If they aren’t here in front of me, how do I do that?”
Such concerns are legitimate, so your first step is to allay such fears by conceding they exist. Next, work on convincing said boss that you will produce measurable results, and if you don’t, you’ll come back to full time in the office. That way you’ve agreed on something quantifiable, some goal you can meet to prove working from home actually is working.
From there, stress the economic benefits, the health benefits, and even the productivity benefits that have been so studied and published world-wide. I like this visual breakdown of said benefits, courtesy of Co.Exist. Present your case with precision and passion and you could leave the meeting with your work-from-home day an official part of your schedule.
DINKs working smarter...Continued
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