How to Ask about Telecommuting

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Asking a potential employer about telecommuting can be a touchy proposition. On the one hand, the employer may be a big fan of telecommuting and perfectly willing to accommodate you. On the other hand, if you misread them or ask at the wrong point in the interview process, you may really turn them off. If you’re thinking about asking to work from home at your next job, consider the following tips on how to approach an employer about doing so:

Ask early.

It’s acceptable to ask about telecommuting, even for a position that doesn’t mention it in the job advertisement. However, you need to be upfront right away with the company about your desire to telecommute. If they’re opposed to telecommuting, and you ask later on, you run the risk of upsetting them and damaging your chances of landing the job. In the worst-case scenario, they’ll see you as dishonest or untrustworthy for not being clear about your desires.

Know the company’s history.

If the company advertises telecommuting or flextime positions, the hiring manager may be more accommodating of your request. On the other hand, if the position clearly states that it’s in-house, and no other positions advertised by the company mention working from home, you might be out of luck.

Be creative and flexible.

You’re asking for flexibility from your future employer, and it’s only fair that you extend them the same courtesy. Prepare a variety of options to present. If you’re particularly worried that the company will be hostile to the idea of you working from home, consider waiting to ask until you’ve been there long enough to prove your value.

Be specific and come prepared.

Casually mentioning that you’ve worked from home before may not have much effect. Instead, come armed with stories and facts about how doing so made you more productive. Even if you haven’t telecommuted before, you should prepare a detailed plan for what your telecommuting arrangement would look like. How often would you come to the office? How much more work could you do without the strain of commuting?

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