Many companies with remote work policies still don't encourage employees to take advantage of a flexible work schedule. 56% of global companies are either fully remote or hybrid, allowing both in-person and remote options. However, only 52% of employees report working remotely at least once per week. In a recent survey of 1,202 full-time workers in the United States, 38% reported that they never work remotely. Employees at companies with flexible work policies still don't feel comfortable taking advantage of these benefits.
In the past, remote work may have been reserved for special situations if allowed at all. Those with tough commutes, family or logistical challenges that made coming into the office difficult, or the unique cases of team members who lived in different cities were allowed to work remotely. Now, at many companies, remote work is not the exception, but the rule. Teams are still adjusting to the culture of working remotely, but with the right resources, structures, and communication options, working remotely doesn't have to be any different than coming into an office daily. In fact, many people who choose flexible work are more productive than their desk-bound counterparts. Companies save money, employees are happier and more productive, and individuals can find job opportunities when there may not be as many options where they live.
Here's a comprehensive guide on how to ask your manager to work remotely including the technology you'll need, how it will work, and why you deserve the autonomy to choose where you work.
Once you've thought about working remotely, it's best to slow down before you get too far ahead of yourself. Ask yourself questions about the norms of your company or industry. Does anyone in your office currently work from home? Are there any tasks to complete or equipment to use that are only possible in the office? Is a traditional nine-to-five workday enforced? What sort of cybersecurity or data protections would I need to work remotely?
Thinking about your company norms is good practice before diving into remote work. It'll give you an idea of what things you'll have to take into account when you're creating your plan to present. You won't waste time writing up a detailed proposal, only to have your boss point out all the tasks that must be completed in the office.
Before talking to your boss about your aspirations to work remotely full-time, spend time thinking about the primary reasons you want to work remotely, and what remote work would look like in your role. This exercise will help you build a compelling case that will make your boss want to help you achieve your goals, and it will help you set realistic expectations for what success will look like for you when you transition.
If you want to work remotely to achieve a better work-life balance, think about what your ideal level of work-life balance is. If you want to work remotely to reduce time spent commuting, think about what you'd rather be doing with that time. Additionally, think about the challenges you currently face in your role that could be improved or exacerbated by working away from the office, and what solutions you could proactively present when your boss inevitably asks you follow-up questions about what you working remotely would look like.
To convince your boss to let you work remotely, you'll need to build a business case the same way you would if you were asking them to purchase a software subscription or hire someone to join the team. How would working remotely help you do your job better? How would remote work help make your team better?
The specifics of making your case will vary depending on your career, your company, and your role, but when possible, try to rely on data and statistics to help convince your boss. If your commute into the office every day takes two hours roundtrip, working remotely will increase your productive time working every day. If you manage a team, working remotely will help your team get better at documentation, email and instant messaging communication, and running more productive meetings. If your boss agrees to open up the team to remote work, you'll be able to recruit from additional job markets to attract the best talent. Whatever your particular circumstances are, build a convincing reason for your boss to say yes when you ask them.
When you speak with your boss about making the case for working remotely full-time, offer to work remotely on a trial basis first before your boss makes a final decision one way or the other. Work remotely for one or two weeks to test it out, and make sure you keep all meetings and important events on your calendar so you and your team can test out what those will look like with you participating remotely.
During this time, you'll want to keep the trains running as smoothly as possible to make the case for yourself, so you'll want to take a few steps to ensure remote communications and meetings are done effectively:
Once your boss and the rest of your team get into the habit of working remotely and nail the best practices for working productively among a distributed team, it will be easier to make your case.
Once your boss approves your proposal and you decide you're going to start working full-time or part-time remotely, work with them to make a plan for your transition. Here's a list of tasks you'll want to review with your boss and/or with your HR department before you start working remotely:
Set up your home office with the right tools and technologies to allow you to do your best work from home. Here are a few of our suggestions for setting yourself up for success:
Convincing your boss to let you work from could be a big shift in some workplaces. You might be the first to have asked, or will be the first that is allowed to. Most managers don't like changing established norms, so letting an employee work from home can be scary.
Your boss might say no the first time - and that's ok. Think of a list of possible reasons that they might not want you to work from home. With this in mind, prepare counterpoints to make your reasons more valid. It'll show that you've done your homework and aren't asking to catch up on your favorite TV shows.
Now let's dig into the data about why remote work careers are compelling -- for employees, and employers. When explaining to your manager that you would like to take advantage of the opportunity to work from home, it's important to outline the reasons that people choose to work remotely. For those without experience managing a hybrid team, they may have assumptions that working from home is code for slacking off or doing less work. In fact, when over 3,000 global employees were surveyed, the top reason that people chose to work remotely was productivity and focus.
Here are other reasons that people opt for a more flexible remote work policy.
Easier flexibility for appointments (therapy, physical therapy)
Opportunities for jobs outside of their physical location
Employees do not work remotely, contrary to some popular myths, to slack off unnoticed. In fact, last year, the primary reason for employees to work remotely was work/life balance. This year, the primary reason for global employees to work from home was productivity and focus. Since remote work is beginning to shift from a privilege, a novelty, or a perk for special circumstances to a basic right given to employees with jobs not requiring a physical presence, it's time to speak up and ask for what you deserve -- the autonomy to choose where you are most productive. After all, you know yourself better than anyone, so if you can choose a schedule and location that work for you and remain present and productive, why should it matter where that is?
Employees who work remotely are 24% happier than those who don't.
Employees can create their own schedule and avoid a commute.
Team members are able to balance work-life balance more easily.
Remote work allows companies to reduce costs, improve employee happiness, and expand their talent pool. Companies that allow remote work open the door to candidates who may have otherwise been unknown to them. For nonprofits and startups, hiring a remote team or a hybrid team to start will help keep costs low.
Employers also benefit from remote work in the following ways:
Companies that allow remote work hire new employees 33% faster than those who do not.
Companies can save up to $2,500 per year per remote employee.
Employees can expand working hours for support or customer service by recruiting a remote workforce around the world.
Employees are more likely to stay at a company that has a flexible remote work policy.
Companies can expand their talent pool globally.
Now that you have answers to many of the questions your manager may bring up, we hope you will feel confident in your ability to ask for and negotiate the freedom and autonomy you deserve. To learn more, read about different remote jobs you can do from anywhere.