Friday, February 9, 2007

Negotiating Telecommute Arrangements

A lot of people ask me, "How on earth did you get Mr. [extremely conservative and totally cautious boss] to agree to let you move across the country?" In my case, it was a combination of years of hard work, a demonstrated ability to be self-disciplined, and complete luck. I received an acceptable job offer in my target city, and I justed happened to walk into my boss' office to discuss it with him five minutes after another heavy hitter in the office had informed him that he was leaving to make a lot more money working for a soulless military-industrial complex company. Needless to say, he was at a particularly vulnerable moment. When I was willing to not quit and instead work with him to get a telecommuting arrangement worked out, we were both happy.

Over the course of the next nine months, I did my own proof-of-concept testing. I bought my own web cam and started using it informally with my customers, who reacted positively. I researched the institution's official stance on remote work arrangements, and wrote both an office-wide policy and a personal telecommute proposal for my boss. The policy was essentially a CYA -- it made the hurdles to get a part or full time telecommuting arrangement high, but not impossible, and spelled out responsibilities in any arrangement that might be struck. Who pays for what, what are the standards for communication, and so on, were all spelled out. We got our technology ducks in a row -- VoIP, Polycom Videoconferencing, IM, remote access to servers/systems were all set up and working smoothly before I got out of town.

And then I moved. All the planning meant that everything went very smoothly with the move, and I've been working pretty smoothly ever since.

So transitioning in a long-term job from a full-time in the office arrangement to a full-time in your slippers arrangement is one way to do this. I don't know if I'd be able to negotiate telecommuting for a new job -- I'm traditionally a poor negotiator, grateful as I am to simply have a job. This nagging feeling I have that I'm barely employable likely stems from the fact that I have a music degree and thus am essentially barely employable.

But the Wall Street Journal has this advice for bringing up telecommuting in an interview.

No comments: