By Joyce Lain Kennedy

DEAR JOYCE: Can you state the advantages of telecommuting that I can use to persuade my employer to let me work from home? - H.J.H.

Here are eight arguments to offer, thanks to Kate Lister and Tom Harnish, authors of "Undress for Success: The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home" (Wiley, 2009).

(1) More than two-thirds of surveyed employers report increased productivity among their telecommuters -- as much as 35 percent more productivity at some high-profile companies such as American Express and Best Buy.

(2) Teleworkers typically continue to work when they're sick without infecting others, especially important in flu pandemics.

(3) Flexible hours allow teleworkers to run errands or schedule appointments without losing a full day.

(4) Two-thirds of employees would take another job to ease the commute.

(5) About 78 percent of employees who call in sick are not really sick. They do so because of family issues, personal needs and stress. The American Management Association found that organizations with a telework program experienced a 63 percent reduction in unscheduled absences. Unscheduled absences annually cost employers $1,800 per employee.

(6) A poll of 1,500 technology professionals revealed that 37 percent would take a pay cut of 10 percent if they could work from home.

(7) Some 80 percent of employees consider telework a job perk.

(8) Average real estate savings with full-time telework is $10,000 per employee per year.

The opening step for someone who wants to bring the current job home is the preparation of a well-researched proposal, a task made easier through online search. Target your proposal to provide answers to your employer's key concerns, such as assessing the quality of your home work, producing the expected work load, meeting tighter deadlines and deciding who will pay for the technology required.

Caveat: When you don't already have a job you'd rather do at home and choose to search online for work-at-home jobs, remember to beware of scammers who are devilishly clever in advertising schemes designed to fleece you, not employ you.

"Undress for Success: The Naked Truth about Making Money at Home" offers more tips on successfully pitching a work-at-home program to your boss, working freelance and avoiding con artists.


DEAR JOYCE: Should a woman who is four months pregnant, but not obviously so, reveal her pregnancy to a potential employer? - Y.C.

She should wait until she receives an offer to bring up the maternity issue. If the company believes it can do without her services for a specified period, her pregnancy won't matter. But if she's to play a role where her absence would create havoc, it's in her best interests to graciously allow the employer to withdraw the offer, asking if she can check back with the company after she's ready to return to work.

Although the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 made it illegal for employers to discriminate against pregnant women, a wise woman will take a long view of working relationships. An employer who feels ambushed may get even in subtle ways that make your friend's working days intolerable.


DEAR JOYCE: You once wrote about getting what you want by asking questions. Can you refresh my memory? - U.R.T.

Learn to use innocuous, but powerful, sales-oriented questions to persuade others to accept your point of view:

"Should we take another look at the design we shelved last year?" "Why do you say that?" "Can we come to some agreement on this issue?" "You know, this job sounds like it is something I would really like to do. Is there a fit here?" "Is it convenient if I check back with you periodically to stay current with your decision process?"

Entire books and online articles articulate the concept of "The Art of Asking Questions." Explore.


Telework: Going Off-Road and Online | Jobs & Careers

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