Monday, 22 February 2010

BLUESKIN 10:10 (column): Downsizing the commute

BLUESKIN 10:10: Downsizing the commute

by Meiling Blank

With Walk-to-Work day in mind, Blueskin 10:10 spoke with Waitati
resident Rosemary, who was able to slash her commuting time, distance
and greenhouse gas emissions after negotiating with her employer.

Rosemary works for a union and had to fly several times each month to
Auckland. As her discomfort with the unsustainable amount of her
travelling grew, she knew something had to change. She reduced her
hours and now works part-time from home, drastically cutting back her
commute. Rosemary reports that her employer has been very supportive
of her, and in fact "sort of knew it was coming." The new arrangements
have just started this year, and while there are some definite
concerns about the reduction in income, there is the bonus of having
more free time.

While not all of us stuck in the commuting trap would be able or
willing to take such drastic action as Rosemary, if your work duties
make it possible, working from home for even just a portion of your
hours could benefit both you and your organisation. If you're
fortunate enough to work for an organisation that already has a policy
on working from home it might be worth checking out. If not, here are
some tips to help make it easy for your boss to say yes:

* Pitch the idea with your organisation in mind – for instance, if you
want to cut your commute to spend more time with your family, sell it
to your boss by emphasising how much more productive you will be
without the stress of travelling each day, or highlight the cost
savings from not having to provide you with desk space in the office.

* Show how your job tasks suit working from home – if you spend all
day on the phone, staring at a computer and filling out paperwork, why
not do it in your slippers?

* Describe your home office space and be able to explain how it meets
all the requirements needed for you to do your work – for most people
this will mean at least a phone, computer and internet connection.

* Propose a trial period (eg two days a week for the next three
months) to see if the new arrangements suit both you and your
organisation.

* Suggest ways to keep tabs on your productivity – an organisation's
biggest fear is that you will be sipping cocktails in your bath robe
when you should be working. It's also a good idea to be clear about
how frequently you will be in contact with your boss, and what support
you will need from management to make it a success.

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