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Back in the day, most jobs required you to be physically present at the workplace to do your job. But thanks to the interwebs, there’s been a significant shift in workplace dynamics. Instead of spending most of your day (and life) in an office, you can access a growing number of remote work opportunities.
If your workplace hasn’t adopted the work-from-home trend yet, don’t despair. You might be able to convince your boss to let you work some, if not all, days from home. But before making the big ask, spend some brainstorming exactly how to ask to work from home.
Because even though you know remote jobs often provide better work-life balance and enhance employee satisfaction, your boss might take a little convincing.
How to ask to work from home: 4 pro tips
Here are four tips for telling your boss you want work from home — and having them say yes to your request.
1. Build a reputation for being reliable and trustworthy
Before telling your boss you want to start working from home, it’s important to set the stage for this conversation. Make sure your manager sees you as someone who’s reliable, communicative, and gets work done with little to no supervision.
Get to work on time, be efficient in your tasks, and build a reputation for competency and integrity. That way, you’ll build trust with your manager, and they’ll be more likely to keep an open mind when you ask to work from home.
2. Prepare in advance for the conversation
As with any important work conversation, it’s critical to go into it prepared. Get a clear idea of your specific reasons for wanting to perform your job outside the office.
What’s more, be prepared to discuss why you’d excel in this environment. Anticipate any concerns your manager might have so you can respond to them in kind.
Get specific about what you’re asking for. Do you want to work remotely full-time? A few days per week? Do you have a back-up offer in case your initial suggestion is rejected?
Outside of getting clear on your “what” and your “why,” it could help to back up your request with data on the benefits of working from home. For instance, you could share studies that show remote work arrangements enhance employee satisfaction and productivity.
As you’ll read more about below, workplace flexibility can benefit employees and the companies that offer it.
3. Suggest a trial run
Maybe your boss is open to the idea of having you telecommute part- or full-time, but they’re hesitant to give you the green light. In that case, you might suggest a trial run, so your manager can see whether this set-up works or not.
You could take one day to work from home initially, or even just an afternoon or two. During this trial run, make sure your team can easily reach you and there’s no loss of communication.
As long as everything goes well, you might get to increase your work-from-home days to several per week, if not ditch the office completely.
4. Emphasize how workplace flexibility can benefit the business
While your manager wants you to be happy and healthy (hopefully), they also want to make decisions that are good for business. So when you ask your boss to work from home, don’t just focus on the personal benefits this set-up would have for you.
Instead, elaborate on how this telecommute option could help the business as a whole. Here are just a few ways that remote work has been shown to benefit employees and employers alike.
There’s been debate about whether working from home boosts or drains productivity, so Stanford spent two years studying this issue based on a company in Shanghai. According to the study, telecommuters were far more productive than their in-office counterparts.
They were able to focus on work at home without wasting time on commuting, juggling personal appointments with their work schedule, or getting distracted at the office. Attrition dropped, employees took less time off, and sick days went down.
Of course, before convincing your boss about how productive you’ll be working remotely, you might want to experiment with this set-up yourself first. Staying on task when you’re out of the office can definitely be tough, so make sure you’re up for the challenge.
Not only can the option to work from home lead to more productive, healthy, and loyal employees, but it can also help the business save a bunch of money. That company in Shanghai, for instance, saved nearly $2,000 per employee on rent because they didn’t need to pay for so much space at headquarters.
Companies can also save on expensive internet connections and utility bills, as well as lower costs for work stations, office supplies, and office snacks. Some companies that are 100% remote even offer a generous home office stipend to new employees, since they’re saving so much on brick-and-mortar office expenses.
This perk can feel like a luxury, and it still probably costs the business a lot less than would renting an office space and providing all this equipment up-front.
Helps save the environment
With air pollution and climate change threatening the planet, we need to act on these urgent and dire problems. Although I won’t go so far as to say that working remotely will save the planet, it could help cut down on fuel consumption.
If a company’s employees are traveling back and forth in their vehicles to sit on a computer all day, they’re contributing to air pollution more than they need to be. If telecommuting reduces the time you spend driving (and increases the time you spend walking or biking), it could help reduce emissions and check the growing problems of air pollution.
It might be worth sharing these environmental concerns with your manager, as they might also want to play a role in addressing this urgent issue.
How to ask to work from home — and get your request approved
Telling your boss you want to work from home can be a scary conversation, like asking for a raise or heading into a remote job interview. But if you don’t ask, you might never know if your manager is open to introducing a remote option into your role.
Maybe you want to cut down on commuting time between your home and the office, or perhaps you’re moving to a new location and don’t want to lose the job you love. If your manager recognizes you’re committed to your work, ideally they’ll be open to this new arrangement.
Remember, you’re an asset to your company, and good managers want to boost employee satisfaction and morale. Allowing remote work might even help them attract top talent and retain top performers, as job seekers rate this perk as one of their priorities when searching for a new job.
Go into this conversation with clear reasons and data to back up your request, and hopefully your boss will start to see things the same way you do. And if not, it might be time to search around for a new role at a company that values flexibility, such as these remote companies that rely entirely on teams distributed around the world.