What goes in a 'work from remote' plan?
July 28, 2010 7:01 AM   Subscribe

Talking with my boss about working remote and he wants me to put together a plan/proposal for working remote. What should go in it?

Company in Eastern time zone, I'd be living in Pacific time zone.
posted by ao4047 to Work & Money (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
It kind of depends on your job... what do you do?
posted by rocketpup at 7:12 AM on July 28, 2010

Just some ideas:

How you would communicate, what software (skype, VoIP service) or hardware (Microphone, webcamera, cellphone minutes, faxmachine and fax line, etc) would this require and how much would it cost. For both you and the company.

How you would prove/account for and submit your work. Any problems you can anticipate with this and how to deal with them. This might entail detailing out your time every day in a spreadsheet - for instance.

Solutions and cost for traveling to the office.

How you will be 'on call' if problems arise. What if someone needs to contact you Right Now and how to deal with it.

How this is a Win-win for you and the company. Prove your case to why this is a good idea.
posted by royalsong at 7:16 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

It really depends on what are your job responsibilities, but two things seem to be essential:

(a) Communication plan. You should explain how and when you can be contacted and how long it will take to get a response.

(b) Reporting plan. Your boss would like to read in the plan how he can know what you're doing, what you've done, what are the problems, what are the next steps - all of those without asking you every time. So you have to describe how often you'd report the current status, in which format, what the status report will contain etc.
posted by avysk at 7:17 AM on July 28, 2010

I work in Virginia and found this site very good on both the management and employee side. There are resources, training, etc. Telework.gov also has good resources.
posted by idb at 7:25 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

The time zone difference also should also be explicitly addressed. Are you working East coast hours or West coast?
posted by smackfu at 7:32 AM on July 28, 2010

Response by poster: Nearly all work is computer based. Everything can be done virtually or via teleconference.
posted by ao4047 at 7:33 AM on July 28, 2010

Make sure you're very clear on what your office hours and overtime compensation will be. Many bosses/clients equate "working from home" with "available whenever I want, even if it's 11pm".
posted by Wossname at 8:30 AM on July 28, 2010

I work virtually, and my arguments went something like this:

1. I was spending two hours plus a day in commute and more in preparing to go in to the office, etc. I would prefer to spend that time working than in transit. Commuting often made me too tired to work that night.

2. The nature of my job often required long hours to meet short deadlines with periods of dead time between When I was in the office, I would often ask, do you want me to work from home the few days and meet the deadline or should we push the deadline out? When there was dead time, I would explain I needed to catch up on stuff at home since I had been working extra hours...

3. Only very rarely was I in face to face meetings in the office. If I had a question for the person in the office next to mine we would generally IM. Since your work is computer based, there's an argument that almost all of the time your meetings are best mediated through a computer where you can share and edit documents in real time, etc.

4. Personally, I work better and accomplish more working from home. Other people work better from an office, and I completely respect that. It's just not true of me.

5. Most of my colleagues worked in different states or countries, so I was coming into the office to meet with someone in a different country over the phone.

6. Because I meet with colleagues in different countries our schedules differ. Conference calling India can only be done very early in the morning or late at night. Working from the office was a huge barrier to my ability to communicate them, because of the extra coordination required.

7. Working from home saves me money. I like money.

8. Work on their time line. Claim that you are an early bird and work much better in the morning hours. Also, opening up some of your afternoon hours would be extremely beneficial to you for some reason (e.g. class, picking up children, whatever).

9. There's no reason for them not to try it. Ask your employers to try it for a couple of months to see how it works out.

10. Computer video conferencing with a computer camera has improved tremendously in the last couple of years. Now, through my computer camera, I can draw stuff on a piece of paper and show it to someone over the computer to comment.

11. I assume there is a reason you are moving. Consider telling them that reason (e.g. my family is moving...).

Overall, it's the best balance of work and life for you, because of the nature of your work and life. For me, working virtually is something I edged toward (I'll be working from home 2-3 days a week) and then when they were comfortable I made the plunge (I am so much more productive from home I think we should try this as the norm). Asking for a trial period or something might make them more comfortable making the decision. Also, explain this is tit for tat. I'll bet the nature of your job requires extra hours at odd times. This helps you meet those needs.
posted by xammerboy at 8:33 AM on July 28, 2010

Response by poster: I guess I should have also said this move is because my partner has had a job transfer.
posted by ao4047 at 8:34 AM on July 28, 2010

Have you talked to your boss already, or are you looking at pitching the possibility to telecommute? If you haven't said anything yet, xammerboy covers the why well. As for the how, you'll need to address:
1. meetings with co-workers, consultants and customers
2. "office hours" when you can be reached, and how to reach you
3. if work is to be judged based on output or hours worked, and how to record work either way
4. how often you are to come back to the office, and how to pay for that
posted by filthy light thief at 9:31 AM on July 28, 2010

Response by poster: I have already talked to my boss about this - he wants me to draw up a proposal. I'm including a sample schedule of when I'd be onsite (every 5 wks). Thank you everybody so much for your help so far.
posted by ao4047 at 10:00 AM on July 28, 2010

Really I think managers want concrete answers to anticipated problems. So you might look at actual systems and standards around:

-- Time (Accountability and time zone difference)
-- Collaboration (Meetings, document sharing)
-- Costings (Skype, video conferencing, transportation)
-- Metrics (Reviews, both of the system and your performance)

Stuff like that. Use this proposal to anticipate the barriers and resolve them concretely. There are a lot of teleworking proposals online you can follow for examples.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2010

I did this exact thing once -- worked for a company on the east coast, then moved to the Pacific time zone and continued to work remotely for the company. If you can, make a case for any advantages there might be to you being 3 hours behind. I worked for an IT support desk, so I emphasized that I'd have a greater ability to provide support during evening hours on the east coast. However, I also agreed to be flexible about hours. It's a tricky area because you don't want to be taken advantage of or be "on call" 24 hours a day, but being off-site in a different time zone does require you to make some accommodations. For example, what do you plan to do if there's an important meeting at 9am Eastern? There were days I started at 6am Pacific because of things like this.

You already know that the work can be done virtually, so discuss how you specifically plan to do it. Are there any tasks that will need to be done differently than you do them now? One of my tasks was training new staff, so I proposed using our webmeeting software to assist me with that. Previously we'd only used the software for formal project-wide conferences, but remote training turned out to be another use for it, and I used that idea to strengthen my pitch.

Address potential technical issues as well. What if your internet connection goes out? I stated that I had access to a laptop and several local wi-fi spots if that should happen.

Definitely include a reporting plan. If you plan to submit status reports and there's no pre-existing format, draw up a template and include that too.

Good luck!
posted by spinto at 12:58 PM on July 28, 2010

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