Your Most Pressing Work Questions Answered

Ask About Work-at-Home Programs

Q. The company I work for has a work-at-home policy, but my supervisor is a complete workaholic who wants everyone in the office at all times (even though she has young kids herself!). Is there anything I can do?

A. Smart employers know that work-at-home programs can save them big bucks in office space, help retain good employees -- and cut back on how much of that office coffee they need to buy. But most people have a better chance of getting a ride in the corporate jet than of snagging a sweet work-at-home deal. The fact that your human-resources department has a policy on the books puts you ahead of the game. Try to find out who spearheaded this program -- or which manager allows her staffers to use it -- and ask that person for advice. You might gain some insight into how to approach your supervisor. Also, knowing that it's working elsewhere in the company can be good ammunition when you approach your boss with your request.

Chances are, your supervisor is worried that you'll be home cooing at the baby or napping instead of working (after all, she knows firsthand how distracting those little ones can be). "So part of your request should be detailing what your childcare coverage will be," says Rose Stanley, a telework expert at WorldatWork, a global human-resources association based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Why don't you start small by proposing a trial run, such as a single work-at-home day a week? Then prove yourself on those days not only by being super productive, but by answering all phone calls and e-mails immediately. Your boss might want to give it a try too!

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