How To Convince Your Boss To Let You Work from Home

Asking To Work from Home In Your Job

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Ask your boss to work from home. Photo:

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Remote work has become a much more common way for people to work. Nearly 60% of Americans can work from home at least one day a week. More than one-third can work from home five days a week.

Still, some companies don't have a work-from-home (WFH) policy and others may require you to make your case if you want to telecommute. Before you ask your boss to work from home, there are a few factors you should consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Make sure you have the right disposition and home office setup before you ask to go remote.
  • If you and your job seem suited to remote work, put together a proposal for your employer.
  • Discuss why it's beneficial for the company, what competing organizations are doing, your value to the company, and the details of how and when you'd like to work from home.
  • If your boss says no, be prepared to accept the answer or look for a new job.

Are You Suited to Working From Home

Working at home is a lot different than working in an office. Before committing to a telecommuting situation, make sure you're going to be able to follow through. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.

Do You Have the Self-Discipline and Organizational Skills?

Many challenges exist with working from home, including distractions from family or household chores, and less of a direct push from your boss or fellow employees to keep you productive.

You'll need to make time for work and set a schedule if you plan to be successful working from home. That means pulling out your calendar or planner and scheduling work time. In other words, you'll need organizational skills and the discipline to stay focused amid distractions. Effective time management skills are needed for stay-at-home workers that include setting goals, planning the daily workload, and not wasting time. You must be certain that you can overcome any obstacles and stay focused on your work before committing to working from home.

Do You Have a Good Office Setup at Home?

You need to have a quiet home office space from which to work, as well as equipment and supplies. Will you need a desktop computer or a laptop? If you need a laptop computer, will you use yours? Or does the office supply them? Does your office currently have laptops?

If your employer needs to purchase a new laptop for you to allow you to work from home, you'll need to make the argument that the purchase is worth it for the company.

Is Childcare Available?

Raising children and working at home in a job can be difficult to do at the same time. If your employer knows you have children, they may want to know your plan for their care while you're working.

Is Your Job Suited to Working From Home?

Not all jobs can be done from home. And some can only be done from home on occasion. Here are a few things to do and research to find out if your job can be done at home:

Make a list of all your job duties.

Divide the list into tasks that "can be done from home" and "must be done in the office." 

Does Your Company Have a Work-From-Home Policy?

Find out if your company already has a work-from-home or flexible work program in place. Your employment manual or human resources is a good place to check. 

Investigate who is taking advantage of work-from-home or flexible work options in your company. Even if your employer doesn't have an official telecommuting program, there might be people in your office who have flexible work schedules, such as working a few days from home or flextime scheduling. 

Figure Out How Your Boss Views Remote Work

Determine how your boss feels about telecommuting or flextime. Before asking if you can work from home, you want to have a sense of how your boss views employees who have flexible schedules. Unfortunately, some employers believe that people who work from home aren't committed to their careers, which can lead to you being passed over for raises or promotions.

Assess Your Performance at Work

What can you show that proves you are trustworthy and reliable, and that you have the self-discipline to work independently? Think about your accomplishments and performance reviews. If you're well regarded by management, you stand a better chance of being approved.

Think About the Potential Company Savings

Determine how your working at home will be good for your employer. Many employers might be sympathetic to your long commute or childcare problems, but that's not why they'll let you work from home.

The best way to get a boss to say, "yes" to telecommuting is to show what's in it for the company. Telecommuting reduces the need for larger office space and resources. One study estimated that a typical employer could save more than $11,000 a year for each half-time telecommuter, through increased productivity and lower turnover, absenteeism, and real estate expenses.

Research Competitors' Policies

Research if your employer's competitors have telecommuting policies in place. Sometimes showing that competitors or other businesses in the same industry have work-at-home programs can help employers be open to the idea in their company.

Anticipate Objections

Anticipate any objections your employer might have. Having an idea of your bosses' concerns can help you come up with viable answers to make them feel more comfortable about a work-from-home arrangement.

For example, your manager might say, "If I let you do it I'd have to let everyone work from home." An appropriate response would be that not everyone is paid the same or has the same perks, and telecommuting wouldn't be any different. Other concerns to consider are: 1) How will the employer know you're working? 2) How will you report to the office? 3) How will the employer or your colleagues connect with you if needed? 4) What about child care? 5) How will you keep company data safe?

Put Your Work-From-Home Proposal in Writing

If after your research, you still want to ask your boss if you can work from home, the next step is to prepare a work-at-home proposal. A written document shows you've put thought into your plan, and offers something tangible for your employer to review. 

Your proposal should include the information discussed above:

  • Your value to the company
  • Company benefits of you working from home
  • Competitor policies, if there are any

In addition, you'll need these other sections.

Details of Your Work-at-Home Plan 

Your proposal should list the days and times you plan to work from home, and what duties you'll be doing while away from the office. You should also include how your office can stay in touch with you and how your boss will know about the work you're doing. If you think you'll need to report to the office, offer check-ins, whereby you would come into the office for a couple of days per month.

You can find many telecommuting studies online that show the cost savings and other benefits. If other companies in your industry have telecommuting programs, share that information as well. Also, research online webinar and video chat services. You can suggest to your boss that you can communicate via a live video stream if needed, which might ease any concerns that you'll be out of the loop due to not being in the office.

Arguments To Overcome You Anticipate 

Instead of waiting for your boss to ask, show that you understand possible reservations and have found answers to potential problems.

Consider a Trial Period

Offer a trial period to test out your telecommuting situation. Give a time that is long enough to work out any little problems, but not so long that your employer isn't willing to give it a test. If your boss is still hesitant, consider reducing the time you're asking to be at home. If you've asked to work at home full-time, instead ask to telecommute three days a week. If all goes well, you can ask for more time in the future. 

Present Your Proposal in Person

Make an appointment with your boss to share your proposal. Be professional and use your proposal to highlight the salient points of your plan. Be prepared to answer questions and have realistic expectations. It's unlikely a decision will be made immediately. So, leave the proposal and schedule a follow-up meeting to discuss your proposal and answer any questions or concerns your boss might have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you get fired for asking to work from home?

In many work places, it can't hurt to ask to work from home. Just be prepared to hear the answer "no." Workers don't automatically have a legal right to work (unless you have certain disabilities), so insisting you have to work from home could cause you troubles at work. Make sure you have permission to telecommute before you begin doing it. If you really want or need to work from home and your employer doesn't allow it, it's time to look for a new job.

Will remote jobs go away?

It doesn't look like companies will stop hiring remote workers or allowing their employees to work from home any time soon. A survey of 50,000 large employers in the U.S. and Canada found that a quarter of all jobs are now permanently remote. A sharp increase in permanently remote jobs in the first quarter of 2022 was higher than researchers had predicted and they said it represented a "sea change in attitudes."

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
    1. McKinsey. "Americans Are Embracing Flexible Work—And They Want More of It."
  1. Global Workplace Analytics. "Northeast Region Employers Stand To Lose $1.3 Billion per Snow Day."

  2. Ladders. "Q1 2022 Quarterly Remote Work Report."

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