Want to ask to work from home? That's not surprising. Remote work has become one of the most sought-after perks for employees in the modern era, with the pandemic ushering in an era of flexibility that many workers are simply unwilling to part with.
Unfortunately, with return-to-office policies run amok, some employees are feeling left out when it comes to work-life balance. This has led to a wide range of consequences for managers and workers alike, further illustrating the value of remote work in the business world.
In this guide, you'll learn how to ask to work from home, with a step-by-step plan that will have your manager begging you to ditch the commute and embrace the remote work lifestyle.
1. Make Sure Remote Work Is Right for You
Working from home sounds like a dream to those that have never experienced it. You get to sleep in, work in comfortable clothes, avoid the daily commute, and generally enjoy a more flexible schedule to accommodate other parts of your life beyond work.
Still, remote work is not necessarily for everyone. There are some pitfalls that you should consider before making the decision.
For starters, you could feel more isolated working by yourself all the time, removed from the company culture you've become accustomed to in the office. Working from home means that there are no coworkers to goof around with and no after-work happy hours to unwind from a long week.
On top of that, if you don't communicate effectively via video meetings, you could be in trouble. Remote work is largely facilitated by video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Meet, which means that, depending on your role, you could be in back-to-back video meetings all day to keep you in touch with your team.
Other potential pitfalls of remote work include added utility costs, less feedback from managers, and blurred lines between work and personal life. Simply put, make sure none of these issues are dealbreakers for your everyday life, as it's going to be pretty embarrassing to return to the office after going through all the following steps to set up your work from home life.
2. Create a List of Potential Remote Work Benefits
If you're sure that remote work is what you want, the next step is making your case to work from home. Trust us, you don't want to go into that conversation without being prepared, particularly because many CEO are dead set on getting employees back in the office.
Fortunately, there is plenty of evidence that remote work is as good for business owners as it is for employees. Here are a few helpful work from home statistics that will help you make your case:
- 47% of businesses notice increased productivity levels amongst employees who work remotely (Tech.co)
- Employees that work from home are more optimistic about work (89%) than those working in the office (77%) (ADP)
- Remote workers could have a 54% lower carbon footprint compared to onsite workers (PNAS)
- Businesses experienced a 22% performance boost when launching a hybrid work model (Stanford GSB)
- US employers can save an average of $11,000 per year for every half-time telecommuter. Savings are based on increased productivity, cheaper real estate costs, and reduced absenteeism and turnover. (Global Workplace Analytics)
- 97% of employees say they don't want to return to the office full-time (Forbes)
While all those statistics are very convincing, we don't recommend copying and pasting that list into an email to your manager. The best way to ask to work from home is in a genuine, personal way that is backed up by evidence.
3. Speak in Person with Your Manager
Now, it's time to actually make the ask, and we can't emphasize this enough: If you want to convince your manager to let you work from home, we highly recommend doing so in person. It may seem counterintuitive, because the goal is to establish that you can work productively beyond an in-office setting, but you're going to want to have a meeting at the office to start the process.
The reality is that in-person meetings are simply more effective when asking for something in return. In fact, one Harvard Business Review study found that in-person requests are 34 times more effective than emailed requests.
Beyond that, the meeting should be fairly straightforward. Be confident but polite, assertive yet even-tempered, convincing but not weird about it. The data is in your favor, so just stick to the facts, add a personal touch, and you'll be getting work done in your pajamas in no time.
Also, while the meeting should be in-person, you'll definitely want to get confirmation that you're going to be working from home in writing. After all, you'll want assurances that this kind of remote work arrangement will last longer than a few weeks.
4. Suggest a Trial Period for Remote Work
Commitment is hard for everyone, and not just when it comes to relationships. Even the best ideas, like the 4-day work week, typically require a bit of time to convince those in charge that it will actually be beneficial to employees and employers alike.
Subsequently, we'd recommend you ask to work from home on a trial basis, so that you can prove to them that you're not only more productive at home, but that you can remain an active member of the team without coming into the office.
If they're pushing back a bit on fully remote work, you could also suggest that you trial the process with a hybrid work schedule, in which you're in the office some days and working from home other days. This will give you a bit of freedom while assuage their concerns about your participation in company culture.
5. Collect Productivity Data During Trial
Convincing your manager to let you work from home is hard enough, but the job isn't done if you want to keep it up. After all, you can just rest on your laurels now that you've reached the peak of work-life balance.
To make sure your remote work future stays intact, you'll want to collect as much productivity data as possible, so you can continue to convince your team that working from home is in their best interest, as well as yours.
If you don't have access to this kind of data, your manager should be more than willing to provide it if you ask. If not, do your best to keep track of it yourself and present the findings if you're ever challenge on your work from home efficiency.
6. Turned Down? Apply to Remote Jobs Now
So, it didn't work out for you. Whether your boss is committed to their in-office policy or you're simply too valuable to the company culture to spare a single day away from your coworkers, working from home at your current job isn't going to happen.
Now, if you're one of the large majority of workers that would rather quit than return to the office, we have some good news for you. While headlines are riddled with return-to-office policy updates, there are actually plenty of jobs out there that are still hiring remote workers like its early 2020.
Here's a list of companies with remote work jobs that are hiring now:
If you want a remote working job with no qualifications, that's all right. There are actually a lot of jobs that are willing to train and onboarding new hires that are happy to work from home, like content writer, data entry professional, translator, virtual assistant, and many more.