4 Things to Tell Your Boss If You Want to Work From Home

These days, more and more employees are working from home on a regular basis. In fact, Global Workplace Analytics says that about 2.8% of the total workforce work from home at least half time. Nearly all U.S. workers say they’d like to work from home at least part-time, and about half the workforce say they could  work remotely at least some of the time.

But what if you’re not one the lucky ones who stumbles into a job that already allows working from home, whether sometimes or on a regular basis? In this case, you might need to convince your boss that working from home is a good idea.

And, in fact, working from home is a good idea, much of the time. It can actually save you money, and it can reduce your overall stress level. And if you’re like many people, you might actually get more done in less time when you’re working from home.

But those arguments, especially the ones that are mostly beneficial to your personal life, may not be enough to convince your boss to let you work from home. Here are four more convincing arguments to try:

1. Better Productivity

Working from home isn’t a good fit for all jobs, but for some types, studies show that working from home actually increases productivity.

2. Reduced Overhead Costs

Outfitting an employee with an office or even cubicle comes with overhead costs. Not to mention all that water you flush down the toilet on bathroom breaks! In fact, many large employers started moving employees to work from home positions specifically to reduce overhead costs. (Of course, you’ll be taking on some of those costs by working from home — increased electricity and water usage can eat into your savings on commuting. You can try some of these easy penny pinching tips to help offset those costs.

3. Fewer Sick Days

Having the ability to work from home often curbs the number of sick days you take. You might not drag yourself into the office when you’re feeling under the weather, but you may opt to work as normal from your comfortable couch. Your fellow employees will appreciate fewer germs, anyway.

4. At-Home Workers Are Happier (and Stay Longer)

If working from home is really important to you, and if you’re in a field where it’s common, you may be more likely to stay in your job for the long term if you are allowed some flexibility to work from home. You don’t necessarily need to tell your boss this, but you can show that employees who work from home are happier in their jobs.

Making Your Proposal & Pulling It Off

Now that you’ve got some arguments in your back pocket, how do you go about actually asking your boss to let you work from home? Here are a few steps to take:

1. Create a Formal Proposal

Don’t just approach working from home by the seat of your pants, especially if it’s not already a common practice in your workplace. Instead, create a formal proposal for what working from home would look like for you.

What tasks would you accomplish at home? How would you handle meetings and phone calls? Would you be available during certain hours online? How would you keep track of the tasks that you’re working on at home? What sort of accountability system could you build in?

Put all this into writing. When in doubt, talk to someone else with a job similar to yours who works from home. See what kind of arrangements they have with their employers, and go from there. If others in your organization work from home, talk to them about their written work plans, too.

2. Pre-empt Your Boss’s Concerns

When you’re creating your proposal, try to think about it from your boss’s perspective. What concerns will he or she likely  have? You know this person best as a supervisor, so you can likely anticipate how the conversation will go.

Again, talk to others in your organization who work from home sometimes or regularly, and use that as a jumping off point. You’ll want to work those points into your written proposal, preferably, or at least address them in your conversation with your boss.

3. Propose a Trial Run

Don’t just jump in and ask to switch your in-office job to a full-time, work-from-home position. Instead, propose a trial. You may want to propose a part-time work from home schedule of one to three days per week at first. And you should also suggest trying to work from home for a period of thirty to ninety days before you and your boss formally evaluate the situation.

Starting with a trial period can help make working from home more palatable. Plus, if you’ve never worked from home before, you may find that a blended schedule of in-office and at-home actually suits you better than working from home full-time.

4. Be Flexible

Go into the conversation with your boss with goals and a proposal, but be willing to take his or her feedback into account, too. Be flexible in what you’re asking for, and be prepared to give up ground if that’s what you need to get your foot in the door. Maybe your three days a week goes to two, or your ninety day trial goes to thirty. It’s still a start!

5. What Else Can You Give Up?

Oftentimes, people who really want to work from home are willing to take a pay cut to do so, or at least forgo a big raise. This means that evaluation time can be a good time to ask for work-from-home privileges. If you get a great review and are offered a raise, consider counter-offering a smaller raise with the ability to work remotely part-time.

Maybe you’re not willing to give up a raise, but you have other privileges you could lay on the table in order to work from home. Or maybe you feel you’ll be so much more productive at home that you can tackle additional responsibilities. Either way, you could give a little to get a little in this conversation.

6. Prove You Can Do It

Finally, when you do get to work from home, don’t take advantage of the situation. Put 100% into your work each day, and set up your lifestyle so that you’re more productive than ever. Keep track of your goals, metrics, and to-do lists, so that if there’s ever a question of whether or not you can work from home well, you’ve got data to back up your answer.

[Editor’s note: It’s also a good idea to keep track of your financial goals. One way to do that is to check your credit scores. Credit.com’s credit report summary offers two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, plus tools that help you establish a plan for how to improve your scores.]

Image: AlexBrylov

The post 4 Things to Tell Your Boss If You Want to Work From Home appeared first on Credit.com.

7 Reasons You’re Less Productive in the Summer

less-productive-in-summer

Americans are terrible at taking vacations, and that’s a shame, because they aren’t helping their companies or themselves. People are just less productive in summer, for a whole host of reasons. So you might as well hang out at the beach anyway.

Americans wasted a record-setting 658 million vacation days in 2015, left on the table by 55% of workers, according to Project: Time Off’s new report, The State of American Vacation. The group says Americans’ vacation habits are amid a decades-long decline in usage. A pile of other past studies make this same point. The average American gives $500 of free labor to their employers every year; the average millennial works during vacation, with 1-in-4 working every single vacation day.

All this lack of sun isn’t really doing anyone any favors. Because the truth is summer slowdowns are real, and you probably aren’t getting much done anyway. Here are seven reasons why you, and everyone else, really is less productive in summer.

1. The Weather (Duh!)

As a writer, I loved living in Seattle. Yes, because it rained all the time. It’s pretty easy to commit yourself to sticking your face in a computer at a coffee shop when it’s gray and misty outside. When it’s beautiful and sunny? Well, it’s darn near impossible.

That’s not made up. One study of the Census Bureau’s American Time Use Survey found that, on rainy days, men spent, on average, thirty more minutes at work than they did on similarly sunny days.

2. FOMO  

It should be obvious that distraction is the enemy of productivity. And nothing is more distracting than looking outside a window to see sun you aren’t enjoying. Well, there might be one thing more distracting: Seeing pictures of other people enjoying the sun online.

We know that social media sites like Facebook can lead to a lot of wasted time at the office. But in summer, it can do lead to something potentially more problematic.

When the New Yorker covered why summer makes us lazy, it highlighted a Harvard study that found looking at pictures of people sailing or eating outside made them focus less at work.

“Instead of focusing on their work, they focused on what they’d rather be doing,” the New Yorker proclaimed. “The mere thought of pleasant alternatives made people concentrate less.”

And these were random pictures of people the subjects didn’t’ know. Imagine how much stronger the effect is when your old college buddy is at Folly Beach in North Carolina and you are sitting in front of Microsoft Outlook. (Thanks a lot, Tim).

3. It’s HOT

Your brain slows down when it’s hot and humid. In fact, heat lowers skepticism, making people more pliable, according to one study. Who wants employees with lower levels of skepticism making decisions? Meanwhile, humidity makes people sleepy and lose concentration. Again, that’s a terrible time to work.

4. It’s COLD

Oh, the irony. People who are cold also lose concentration, and given the prevalence of thermostat wars in most buildings, this can be a real problem. A Cornell University study that took place in an insurance office found that when temperatures were low, employees committed 44% more typing errors than when the office was a warm 77 degrees. The report said that employers also experienced a 10% drop in productivity when workers are freezing thanks to hyperactive AC. When you are cold, you can’t think.

5. It’s the Beginning of the (Fiscal) Year

Many companies go through a mad rush to finish projects as June 30 approaches. Then, in July, new planning begins. That has traditionally made July a time where many workers relax a bit from the end-of-year crunch, and also wait for new marching orders. Of course, this only applies to firms with tax years that span July 1 to June 30. But even if your firm interacts with a firm that uses a fiscal year, this can impact you. Which leads to the next point…

6. Everybody Else Is on Vacation

It’s really hard to get things done when nobody else is around. Try scheduling a meeting in Germany on a Friday afternoon — or for that matter on a summer Friday in New York City — and you’ll see what I mean. This shows the wisdom of August holidays that are adopted to a greater or lesser degree around Europe. When everyone agrees to take off at the same time, there’s a lot less frustration about the inability to get things done. And that leads to the final, contentious point about summer slowdowns …

7. The Summer Hours …?

A small number of companies in select industries — like New York publishing houses — close their offices on Friday afternoons in the summer. Born of tradition, workers tend to love these policies, as they can have a chance to beat the Friday afternoon rush hour traffic on their way to the beach. But they are not without controversy. Obviously, no-Friday-afternoons mean less productivity, right? That’s what the firm Captivate says it found when it surveyed summer hour workers. In fact, early Fridays make workers stressed out, the firm says – because they have to work that much harder earlier in the week. Some 23% of those who make up for fewer Friday hours by working more hours from Monday to Thursday report that their stress levels increase, according to Captivate.

“On the face of it, summer hours probably seem like a terrific idea and are welcome by all,” Mike DiFranza, president of Captivate Network, which manages office elevator displays, said in a press release. “Unfortunately, the impact is almost uniformly negative. Given the state of the economy and the unease felt by many workers, perhaps it’s time to reconsider these types of policies.”

Not everyone agrees.

Plenty of studies separate “hours worked” and productivity. The OECD found that workers in Greece clock 2,034 hours a year versus 1,397 in Germany, for example, but Germans’ productivity is 70% higher. So giving people a couple of free hours on a Friday just makes them that much more focused during the week, this line of thinking argues. Meanwhile, possible woe to the firm that is inflexible on summer Fridays. In a study that directly contradicts the Captivate one, a firm named Workplace Options found more than half of workers say there is no summer slowdown, but young employees look for perks like flexible summer schedules, that let them get away early when they have to.

So, theoretically, firms that don’t allow flex time – that is, beat the traffic to the beach time – could find their best workers heading out the door permanently. (If you are looking to change jobs, you may want to check your credit since some employers pull a version of your credit report as part of their application process. You can pull your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and see a free credit report summary each month on Credit.com. And you go here to learn how to dispute any errors you may find on your credit reports.)

In any event, it can be a good idea to take your vacation days in the summer. Enjoy the sun. The week after Labor Day is going to be frantic, whether you take vacation or not, so you might as well make the best of it.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: Ryerson Clark

The post 7 Reasons You’re Less Productive in the Summer appeared first on Credit.com.

How Getting a Promotion Can Backfire

a-promotion-can-backfire

Earning a promotion can be (and usually is) a huge undertaking, and is a step forward that most people only make a handful of times during their career. In some cases, it means you actually have to switch jobs or work for a new company in order to earn another title. Or, you may just have to play the part of the corporate ‘yes man’ for enough years to progress toward an advanced position. No matter how you do it, getting a promotion is usually a big deal.

But a big deal doesn’t always equal a good deal.

Promotions are typically sought-after feats because they come with additional responsibilities. When we’re given more responsibilities, it usually means we’re earning more money. Increasing your earning power and stepping into a new role that offers a whole new range of possibilities and opportunities (perhaps you’ll finally get to work on a project you’ve been putting off, for example) are the chief reasons that most workers make the push for advancement.

So, how can that be a bad thing? Everyone wants to make more money, after all. But the responsibility part? Well, we may not want that. But if the money is good enough, most workers are happy to take it on. Where things get squirrely, and when a promotion can ultimately end up being a net negative, is where those two things don’t exactly line up.

A Promotion & Work-Life Balance

When we work, we are essentially selling our labor — or our time — to the highest bidder. With that said, the question becomes this: How much is your time worth? If you at least have an idea, then you’re on the right track.

Now, when we earn a promotion and have to start shouldering new responsibilities, we need to recalculate what our time is worth. The real trick here is to figure out what, exactly, is expected of you in your new role, and how that impacts your life. If you’re a salaried manager now, for instance, whereas before you were an hourly employee, you may actually end up making less money per hour than you did before. It completely depends on your individual circumstances.

Perhaps you actively despise managing people and making tough decisions. Were you happier in a production role, where you were performing the tasks and completing projects that you’re now only seeing on a spreadsheet from a manager’s perspective? That’s going to differ from individual to individual, but the key question to ask yourself is whether or not you’re happier post-promotion than you were before.

The pay raise that came along with the promotion and the additional elements of respect and clout that came with your new title likely helped. But in each individual circumstance, you’ll need to ask yourself whether or not you’re actually in a better place.

For some people, they may have been better off earning less money, but being happier in their non-managerial role.

Time & Money

As mentioned, time is money. You need to realize that in managerial roles — or at least positions higher up the chain — responsibilities compound, and you’re more likely to spend more hours on the job. Your time can be seen as more valuable in these positions, but the stakes are also higher. People (be it shareholders, board members, etc.) expect you to get things done, and not just shrug off your responsibilities and let your boss take the heat.

Again, for a lot of people, the pay raise that comes along with a promotion in these instances simply isn’t worth the additional stress that comes with the new responsibilities. That’s what you need to ask yourself before taking a promotion: How is this going to impact my health and happiness, not merely my paycheck?

If you work at a restaurant, to use another example, and earn $10 per hour, would you be willing to accept a role as an assistant manager or manager, for a $2 per hour pay raise (or something similar), but with much greater responsibilities and longer hours? If not, in that case, you may be better off staying in your current role, and keeping your sanity in check. Especially if you plan on using the extra time away from work to go to school or explore other career areas.

Before gunning for or accepting a promotion, take some time to consider the trade-offs. Longer hours, more responsibility, as well as more stress and money versus less stress and a lighter paycheck — depending on your personal preference, one may be a better fit for you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push for higher pay or a better deal with your employer (or a different employer), but giving the endgame some consideration before jumping into a new role should be the first thing you do when charting your career trajectory.

[Editor’s note: If you get a promotion that comes with a bump in pay, it’s good to remember that doesn’t mean you should necessarily start spending more. You may want to consider using that added income to help pay off any credit card debt you may have or to help you build an emergency fund. You can monitor how your promotion is affecting your financial goals, like building good credit, by using this free tool on Credit.com.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: poba

The post How Getting a Promotion Can Backfire appeared first on Credit.com.

The Sleep Habits of Successful People

sleep_secrets

Have you ever wondered about the sleep secrets of wildly successful people? Wonder no more, we’ve got some tips you can start using today. A few simple changes to your sleep routine could help you be more productive, think better and make better decisions.

Sleeping like a champion is nothing to take lightly. A good night’s sleep is key to overall health. If you don’t put in an adequate amount of sheep counting, you could pay for it in the form of heart disease, diabetes, increased cancer risk and even early death. You can’t be productive if you’re dead, so you better get some shut-eye. Here are some sleep habits of highly successful people.

1. They Get Enough Sleep

Most successful people get close to the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. An analysis by Home Arena of the sleep habits of highly successful people found that 32% got five to six hours of sleep a night. Roughly 27% clocked in six to seven hours of sleep each night.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is good not only for your body but also your work performance. One of the keys to productivity is having a clear, sharp mind. This is made possible through rest.

2. They Get Uninterrupted Sleep

Getting enough sleep won’t matter much if you keep waking up. If you hope to wake up rested and ready for the day, you’ll want to hang out the “do not disturb” sign. A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine discovered that short, uninterrupted sleep is more beneficial for you than longer sleep that is met with several interruptions throughout the night. Those who had interrupted sleep were found to be in a worse mood than those who had solid sleep. In addition, study participants who were unable to get a good night’s sleep were at a higher risk for depression. Here’s what lead researcher Patrick Finan had to say:

To our knowledge, this is the first human experimental study to demonstrate that, despite comparable reductions in total sleep time, partial sleep loss from sleep continuity disruption is more detrimental to positive mood than partial sleep loss from delaying bedtime, even when controlling for concomitant increases in negative mood. With these findings, we provide temporal evidence in support of a putative biologic mechanism (slow wave sleep deficit) that could help explain the strong comorbidity between insomnia and depression.

A bad mood could hurt your career success. Not only will a sour attitude hamper your chances of getting a job but it could also affect your overall job satisfaction. So get some sleep so that you can shine at work and snag the best job opportunities.

3. They Get to Bed at a (Relatively) Decent Time

If you’re getting to bed late, you may want to change your ways. Getting to bed earlier can be good for your mental health. You’re better equipped to regulate your emotions if you’re rested. So if you want to prevent angry outbursts at work, you might want to change your bedtime. Another study found that those who go to bed late experience frequent negative thoughts. So go to bed earlier and be happier. Your co-workers will thank you for it.

[Editor’s note: Being on top of your finances can also improve your mood and even help you sleep better at night. If worries about money and paying bills keep you awake, you can start taking control by knowing what’s really in your credit report. You can monitor your financial goals like building good credit for free on Credit.com.]

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: grinvalds

The post The Sleep Habits of Successful People appeared first on Credit.com.

Here’s Why You Should Be Sleeping With Your Co-Workers (Not Like That)

Would you take a nap at work if your boss allowed it? If you’re like most workers, you could probably use one, but unless you work for one of a handful of companies that actually encourage napping at the office (Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, Google, Zappos, to name a few), chances are you’re just going to have to muddle through with a yawn and another cup of coffee.

Two recent surveys show that American workers aren’t as well-rested as they think they should be — and it’s likely costing both the employees and the firms they work for.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. workers surveyed by staffing firm Accountemps said they work while tired, with nearly a third (31%) saying they do so very often. Survey respondents, made up of more than 1,000 U.S. office workers aged 18 or older, said they lack focus, are easily distracted, procrastinate more, are grumpy and make more mitakes — whoops, mistakes — when they are tired.

Another survey, this one from Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, found that more than half of workers (58%) feel they don’t get enough sleep, and 61% say lack of sleep has a negative impact on their work.

More than 3,200 workers across industries in the private sector participated in the nationwide survey, and just 16% said they actually get eight hours of sleep each night. The majority (63%) log an average of six to seven hours each night during the workweek, while 21% average five hours or less. Worst of all? 44% said thinking about work keeps them up at night.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they’d caught someone sleeping at work, so it’s no surprise that 39% said they would take advantage of a designated “nap room” if offered at their place of work.

“Rest is an undervalued necessity these days,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a press release. “We see more and more workers check into the office at all hours of the day, give up vacation time and work even when they’re sick. Yet it’s not necessarily making us more productive, and companies are starting to recognize that. We’re starting to see companies put more emphasis on employee wellness and work/life balance – whether it’s providing designated ‘nap rooms’ for employees, encouraging them to take advantage of their vacation time or simply giving them more flexibility in their work schedules.”

Lack of Sleep Is Bad for Business

Sleep-deprivation doesn’t just hurt workers – it hurts business, too: 61% of survey respondents said lack of sleep has had an impact on their work in some way. And the workers surveyed in the Accountemps survey admitted to some pretty major mistakes due to lack of sleep, including a $20,000 mistake on a purchase order, the deletion of a project that took 1,000 hours to put together and ordering 500 more computers than were needed.

Productivity is even worse the week after the transition to daylight saving time. (Reminder: don’t forget to set your clocks ahead this weekend). One research study found, per the New York Times.

“…workers tend to ‘cyberloaf’ – that is, they use their computers and internet access to engage in activities that are not related to work – at a substantially higher rate on the Monday following the shift to daylight saving time than on other Mondays. What’s more, we found that for every hour of interrupted sleep the previous night, participants in our lab cyberloafed for 20 percent of their assigned task. When extrapolated to a full day’s work, that would mean daylight saving time and lost sleep can result in substantial productivity losses. In fact, a recent estimate of this effect put the cost to the American economy at over $434 million annually, simply from a subtle shift of the clocks. Unfortunately, we don’t regain that productivity when the fall change adds an hour to our schedules.”

Nap at Your Own Risk

While you may now feel armed with enough data to petition your boss for a “nap room,” it might not be a move any better for your career than getting caught napping. You certainly don’t want to lose hours, get demoted or, worse, get fired.

Without a regular source of income, you face the risk of defaulting on loan obligations, incurring late fees on a slew of bills or worse. Your income isn’t generally listed on your credit report, but your ability to repay a loan is often considered when a lender reviews a credit application. If unemployment prevents you from paying bills, you could see the effects of that in your credit scores and, ultimately, your access to credit products and decent interest rates.You can see how your payment history and debt levels have affected your credit by getting two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: IPGGutenbergUKLtd

The post Here’s Why You Should Be Sleeping With Your Co-Workers (Not Like That) appeared first on Credit.com.