Asking your employer to work from home can be a challenging experience. Even after the pandemic, you may be the first in your company or team to ask, or you might have a boss who isn’t keen on the idea of managing remote employees. Whatever your case, here are some steps you can follow when asking your boss to work from home to ensure you get the flexibility you need while your employer gets the output they expect.

1. Before you ask, think about why you want to work from home

Working from home has its pros - but also its cons. Our 2022 State of Remote Work Report found that hybrid workers say working from home is best for activities like focusing, thinking creatively, and working independently. On the flip side, they said working from home is difficult for collaborating, getting consensus, and advancing one’s career. Although many workers would love to stay at home instead of having to deal with a long commute or the unpleasant aspects of in-person work, it isn't always necessary to work from home - it really comes down to the type of tasks you perform on a daily basis. 

It can be helpful to think about your role in particular and the types of work you take on. Are many of your projects accomplished independently? Do you find yourself working cross-functionally? How often do you collaborate with others who work in the office versus remotely? Does your company have the right hybrid tech to ensure you can collaborate effectively even when working from home? These are just some questions to start with.

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2. Think about the benefits for your team first and then for yourself

This might seem counterproductive, but it'll pay off when it comes time to ask to work from home. Companies and teams are going to be afraid of change. From their perspective, if your team works from the office and things are going fine, any change to that will make things worse. They might be worried about decreased productivity, less control over employees, and losing team camaraderie. It’s one thing that 67% of hybrid workers say that they are more productive when working from home compared to the office; it’s another for employers to believe them (even though they should!).

When talking with your boss, frame the conversation as to what the business stands to gain from you working from home.

  • Is your productivity increased when you work from home?
  • Are you able to put more hours in the day into your work?
  • Do you work more effectively without the in-office distractions?

When you have the benefits to the company figured out, you can move on to thinking about how to ask to put those effects into action.


3. Move slowly into working from home

Before you ask your employer to try working from home full time, you'll want to ease into this action. Demonstrate a test case for your team to show the benefits to the business materialize. Ask if you can take a day to try it out on a day off or a day you're sick (use our templates below!). This might take a couple of asks before they say yes, so don't be discouraged if it doesn't work the first time. All you need is one chance to prove yourself here.


4. Document what you accomplish on your practice run

It's important to provide as much information as possible so you have the best chance of being approved. Track all important metrics you think your employer would find meaningful (projects completed, hours worked, customers assisted, etc.) and write them down. Let them know what you found, and then transition the conversation to asking if you could start to do this once a week or what works best for them.


5. Gather data about others in your field to support your argument

Find out what others in your industry or job do when it comes to working from home. Use external data reports like the State of Remote Work to find out information about remote work frequency, productivity, and employee happiness. After the forced work-from-home experiment (i.e. the pandemic) there are great resources out there to back up your argument and show your boss that your interest in working remotely is a justified ask.


6. Word your request the right way

After gathering the data on what you've accomplished and tested out trial runs, it’s time to make your ask. Assemble your information and include it as reasons why you should be able to work from home - for the short term or the long term. Depending on how often you'll be trying to work from home, you'll be providing different amounts of support to your argument.

Frame the conversation so your employer knows what it has to gain from your shift to a concrete work from home plan (with the data you collected). Then talk about how others in the industry compare and if it's a common occurrence for them to work remotely occasionally or full-time. Finally, discuss the steps you'll take to avoid miscommunication and stay on top of your work. Having backup plans will show you're ready to go above and beyond and exceed expectations when working from home.

Lastly, remember this is a negotiation. You may not get everything you are looking for upfront, but just having an open discussion is helpful. Wording your ask the right way - with room to compromise - is critical.

Ask to work from home: do’s + don’ts

When asking your employer to work remotely, it’s important to do so in a respectful way. Don’t just send a text message or a quick email - put your thoughts together carefully and look to our samples below for suggestions. It’s also important to communicate things clearly so as not to confuse your boss and come off as demanding. Slack messages and emails are great, but one-on-one conversations can also be helpful when looking to take your remote work trial more permanent.


Asking to work from home: Email + Slack Templates

Aside from asking to make working from home a more permanent part of your work style, there are times where it makes more sense for you to work from home than to come into the office. These situations can be challenging as it's difficult for you to come into the office, but it could be different from your usual routine. Something a little more informal is usually acceptable when these moments arise, such as a slack message, quick email, a one-on-one conversation, etc. Here are some templates to ask your boss to work from home in some unique circumstances.


When you're sick

Slack:

Hi team,

I'm not feeling 100%. I'm going to take today to rest and keep it from going around the office. I'll be updating my status for when I'll be online and taking breaks from work. If you have any questions, feel free to Slack me, and I'll respond when I'm next online. Thank you!

Email:

Hi team,

I'm starting to come down with [X illness] and am going to take today to rest and keep it from getting to you all. I'll be available through email if you have any questions, and I'll respond when I'm online next. In case something is urgent, I've let [colleague/coworker name] know that they can handle your concerns.

Thanks,

[Your Name]


During inclement weather

Slack:

Hi everyone,

This storm is going to make it really hazardous for me to come into the office today, so I'm going to work from home until it blows over. I'll be available through Slack, email, and video calls, so nothing should be different than the regular office. If I lose power or can't work for other reasons, I'll be sure to let you all know. Thanks!

Email:

Hi team,

This storm is going to make it difficult and dangerous for me to come into the office today, so I'm planning on working from home. I'll be reachable through email and video conferencing, so nothing should be different besides my presence in the office. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know.

Thanks,

[Your Name]


To deal with an appointment

Slack:

Hi everyone,

I have an appointment I have to run to that will be from [X time] to [Y time]. After that, I plan on working from home to maximize the rest of the day. I've updated my calendar to reflect that, and I'll be checking Slack for anything that comes up in the meantime. You can next expect me online at [Z time]. If anything changes, I'll let everyone know. Thanks for being flexible!

Email:

Hi team,

I have an appointment this morning from [X time] to [Y time] that I need to be offline for. After that, I intend to work from home for the rest of the day so I can maximize my time for work without commuting. I updated my calendar to reflect this change as well. I'll update you all if something changes, but I'll be available for video conferencing and email the rest of today. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know.

Thanks,

[Your Name]

Use these templates to save you time and give you an idea of what you need to include when you ask your boss to work from home. Once you're working from home more often, here are some tips on how to avoid loneliness when working remotely.

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