Dear J.T. & Dale: I work in data analysis. From my desk, I log into an out-of-state server, and I support other groups all over the country via conference calls. I brought up the topic of telecommuting to my boss, and she mentioned her boss is not in favor of this practice. I suggested trying one or two days per week, but that was shot down. Should I take this to my boss's boss? This would save me more than an hour per day and would be a boost in productivity. - Lathan

J.T.: Just because you got shot down by your boss one time doesn't mean that it's time to go around her. When your ideas get dismissed at work, it simply means that your manager hasn't seen the value.

Dale: Whenever you're selling anything, there's magic in the old WIIFM strategy - the one where you assume the other person is asking, What's in it for me? It may not seem like it, but by suggesting to your boss that you telecommute, you're asking her to give up something: She'll lose some of her ability to check up on you, but also you won't be there for instant face-to-face consultation. What are you offering in return? Sure, it saves your commute, but what's in it for her and her boss? If the company has a green initiative, use that, but you're probably going to have to come up with something more - perhaps you offer to spend some of the time you save contributing to a special project that's important to your bosses.

J.T.: The point is that you've got to show your boss hard evidence as to how this will benefit the company. When you do that, your boss will have something to present to her boss.

Dale: Then when she does, the likely objection will be, It would set a precedent. Defend against this by offering your proposal as an experiment, not a new policy. Then it will be up to you to use your data-analysis skills to prove the concept and perhaps liberate some of your fellow co-workers. Let us know how it goes.