You had a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when your employee sent you an email requesting a meeting. “He’s going to quit,” you thought. So imagine your surprise when your employee states that he would like to start working from home. How will you handle your employee’s work-from-home request?

Jennifer Parris, career writer for FlexJobs and outlets like and Mashable, offers her tips for managers who receive requests from employees wanting to work from home.

Ensure that it can be done.

Depending upon your own position with the company, you might need to get clearance from your own boss to determine if your employee can work from home. Since telecommuting is still considered a workplace perk, many companies might not even have a remote work policy in place.

Once you find out what the company’s position is on telecommuting, you’ll be able to consider your employee’s request in conjunction with the company’s policy.

Evaluate your employee’s position.

If your company does allow for its employees to work remotely, then you’ll need to evaluate your employee’s position. Does he have a job that requires him to be in the office at all times? What parts of his position could be done remotely? Go through all the aspects of his job to determine what can be done from home—and what must be done in-office.

But since many employees have various components to their positions, it’s a good idea to have your employee write up a very detailed list of all of his responsibilities. That way, you’ll have a complete picture of everything that your worker does, and if it makes sense for him to work from a virtual office.

Offer flexibility.

After considering your employee’s request, it may seem doable for him to telecommute. You’ll need to first think about the needs of your company and of the team your employee works with, too. If others have asked for (and been denied) the opportunity to work from home, granting your employee a full-time telecommuting job may cause a little chaos within the department.

So schedule a follow-up meeting with him and explain that you can allow him to work from home on a trial basis—perhaps just one or two days per week. Then, see how it goes. If your employee’s efficiency level stays the same (or productivity increases, which often happens with remote workers), and if he is easily accessible via phone, email, and IM, you may consider granting him a full-time telecommuting schedule.

With one in five U.S. workers working from home, it makes sense that at some point you will have members of your team who work remotely. By embracing the benefits of remote workers (e.g., the cost savings, increased productivity, and the eco-friendly nature of telecommuting), you may soon have most of your team working remotely, too.

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