Over the course of the life of this blog, other authors will approach this different ways. I convinced my supervisor at a wireless telecom company (this was in 2005) to let me become a workshifter for three out of five days a week. It wasn't easy, but I found several keys that got me the freedom to work out of a coffeeshop, and the flexibility to do more with the two hours a day that shift brought me. By Chris Brogan at Workshifting.com
Get On the Boss's Side of the Fence If you're going to convince your supervisor to let you workshift, it's not going to be because they really want you to enjoy an extra cup or two of coffee in the morning. Start the process by identifying what's in it for the boss. In my case, my commute was over an hour each way, so I told him that giving me a few days to work remotely would add two hours of productivity per day. Showing him the benefit up front gave him a chance to wiggle his eyebrows on what six hours (2 hours x 3 days) would give him each week: practically another working day!
Get Accountability Figured Out Right Away The biggest shift I encountered in workshifting was that my boss (like many supervisors) was still considering me productive as measured by "hours spent with butt in chair." Yes, sadly, with all the world has brought us in technological advances, it's human nature to equate physical presence with productivity.
The truth of the matter was, because of my position, people often sought me out at my desk to discuss technology changes and work-related issues. I pointed out to the boss that we had some fairly tangible deliverables to my work, and that if wasn't turning things in promptly, it would show pretty quickly, and he could reassess whether I should be a workshifter. He bought this reasoning, and I endeavored to deliver ahead of time as often as I could.
Touch: the Art of Presence Management When you're out of the office, silence on your part is always met with frustration and concern. It's again a matter of human nature. The cure? Connect with your supervisor often through electronic means. Send a brief email every hour or so with some work-related piece of information. If your company is cool enough to use something like Socialcast or Yammer, that would be the very best tool for the "touch" job.
Another point on this: brief emails with very succinct needs listed are better for you (and your boss) than longer emails that bundle things together. It would seem that bundling things is better, but most times, this serves two purposes: it allows you to properly thread pertinent conversations, and it keeps your supervisor abreast of situations. Is this the best? No. Does it ease tensions? Yes, indeedy.
Be Very Available and Flexible Early on in my workshifting efforts, I found myself suddenly saddled with lots of local chores. Because I was down the street at the local coffeeshop (I prefer to work out of the house, because if I stay home, I play with the kids too much), I'd be tasked with things like picking up prescriptions or all the other various family-related things. This was okay, but it meant that I had to stay very available.
Simple things like answering the phone as often as you can when the boss calls go a long way towards easing relationship tensions and management concerns around workshifting.
Sometimes, the boss might need you to come in on your "away" day. As long as this doesn't become a habit, I've taken the stance that it's still a job and that onsite is still the primary way of doing business. As a concession, you might ask for a different day that week. That said, be attentive to whether or not your supervisor might be potentially abusing your agreed-upon experience. Tread gently here, but be firm. It may be a sign that things aren't working out.
Chris Brogan is President of New Marketing Labs, a new media marketing agency, as well as the home of the Inbound Marketing Summit conferences and Inbound Marketing Bootcamp educational events. He works with large and mid-sized companies to improve online business communications like marketing and PR through the use of social software, community platforms, and other emerging web and mobile technologies.