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How to Be Persuasive (and Save Gas)!

Want to work a four-day work week but don't know how to ask?

By
Lisa B. Marshall,

These days, my husband, Armando, seems to be obsessed with finding the best price for gasoline.  Mostly because he's got a long commute and we're feeling the impact of the rising gas prices.

Everyone is feeling the crunch. Some people are buying hybrids, some are taking the bus, and in Washington, DC more people are using slugs (no, I'm not talking about slimy gastropods, slugging is a form of carpooling)   What's my gas saving suggestion?  Ask your boss to let you work from home one day a week. 

I understand, depending on your job, working from home may be difficult, but for many positions, it might be a possibility.  It seems though, that many are reluctant to ask, even somewhat afraid to ask, mostly because they are not sure how to ask. So although today's episode is specifically about how to ask your boss to work one day a week at home, more generally, it is a lesson to pump up your persuasive power.

It's about asking for what you want at work.

Plant Seeds and Manage Perceptions

At first, proceed slowly, deliberately, and discreetly. You'll want to casually bring up the topic just to gauge the initial reaction of your boss (or whomever you are trying to persuade.)   You could say, "Gas prices are sure getting high, have you ever considered working from home?"  Or if you already know he occasionally works at home, wait for one of those days, and then call and ask, "Hey, what's it like, working from home?"

The point  is to get an idea of perceptions.  Remember you are not asking for anything at this point. You are simply getting an idea of what benefits he believes in and what objections he might have. Once you've asked, move on to developing your reputation.

Begin arriving a few minutes early (if possible before your boss, but for sure, a few minutes before most of your colleagues arrive), and you might also consider staying a few minutes late. During work, stay focused. Don't sneak a peak at cnn.com or gossip with colleagues at the water cooler.

The idea is to show (and hopefully remind) your boss that you know how to use your time wisely. When you finally do ask, you want him to have recent memories of you as a dedicated, hard worker. It is very important not give your boss any reason to think you might goof off at home and not be able to get work done.

Do Your Homework

However, it's not your boss, who might be your biggest obstacle. It simply could be that your company may not have the technology infrastructure to support "at home" workers.  A big question you'll need to address is whether your company has the technology to let you work from home. Will you be able to have your work phone forwarded?  Will you be able to access e-mail, the corporate intranet, and software that you use on a daily basis?  The best way to find out is to try it.

Any persuasive plan needs to include at least three benefits that are important to the person you are trying to persuade.

Find an extra project to work on at home. This has two advantages. First, you'll work out the technical hurdles and you're also demonstrating that you have the self-motivation needed to be able to accomplish work at home.

However be warned. For some people working at home is very difficult. They find themselves distracted by household tasks, by their kids...(Mommy, can you find my Island Princess Barbie? Honey, mommy's recording her podcast now, I'll help you when I'm done. Where was I?  Oh, right...)  You need to be sure that working from home is for you. Will you have an area that is distraction free? Do you really want to begin to blur the line between work and home? This extra project will help you decide.

OK, once you've determined that it's possible to work from home and that you really want to work from home, then the next step is develop your persuasive plan.

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