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Build a business case for telecommuting

(MoneyWatch) For a number of years, it appeared that teleworking was in ascendancy; more and more businesses were allowing employees to work one day a week or more from home, and data suggested that this led to increased productivity, less traffic congestion, and improved morale. Recently, though, a few large companies have done an about face. As was recently reported, Yahoo is one of the most high profile businesses to bring all of its employees in from home.

If you were planning to pitch a telecommute agreement to your manager, don't worry. These could well be anomalies -- not a new trend -- and equipped with the right business case, you might be able to persuade your company to allow you to work from home one or more days a week. Here are some things to consider as you build your plan:

Don't pitch this as a convenience for you, the employee. That might be a benefit and something your manager might consider, but you should make the case that this is better for the company. Cite productivity statistics and explain how eliminating commute time might allow you to start work early or work later -- important if staff is thin at certain times of day when certain activities need to happen.

Be sure all the tools are in place. Make sure that you will have access to all the tools and applications you need to get the job done, including VPN access. It can be useful to create a "telecommute checklist" of things teleworkers need to get the job done, to demonstrate that you've thought it through.

Be able to deal with computer issues. You don't have to be able to replace IT, but you should be able to address concerns about being able to solve technical glitches on your own, since you'll be working remotely and computer problems do crop up from time to time.

Be available. Explain how you will use email, phone, and instant messaging to be available to collaborate and communicate with co-workers, partners and clients. Your absence from the office should be seamless and invisible to anyone who needs to talk to you.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Ed Summers

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