And third, Hansson suggests enlisting more of your colleagues to the cause. "Trying out telecommuting with just one or two people is doomed to fail, because that one person, or two people, will become too isolated from the group," he says. "A better way is to have all the people on your team work remotely some of the time, so everyone gets a taste of it, and no one is the 'odd man out' who's always calling in on the conference line at meetings." At some companies, he adds, teams or departments start with "work-at-home Wednesdays," so everyone gets at least one distraction-free day per week.
The hardest argument to counter is, "If I can't see you, how do I know you're working?" Says Hansson, "It reflects a deep-seated fear of losing control. Fighting that requires that you go slowly and start small -- 'I worked from home on Tuesday and look at all the great stuff I got done' -- and then gradually increase the amount of time you telecommute."
Hansson says that at his company, Chicago-based collaboration software maker 37signals, where most of the staff works remotely, "the biggest problem we have had is not people goofing off while working at home, but people overworking. They get into a state of flow and just keep going. Sometimes, to keep them from eventually burning out, you have to protect employees from themselves and insist that they take some time off." But of course, your boss may have to see that to believe it.
Talkback: Have you ever convinced a skeptical boss to allow telecommuting? How did you do it? Leave a comment below.