What's the best way to ask your boss if you can work from home? There are many reasons why telecommuting can be beneficial for both employees and employers. Long commutes and scheduling issues can make remote work an appealing option.
In addition, it's often easier to get focused work done at home than in a busy or loud office environment.
With video hangouts and meetings, office-wide chat programs, remote access to servers, and other technology innovations, working from home is often very doable.
Still, your manager or human resources department may be leery of allowing you to work remotely, especially if it's not common in your company. Many managers prioritize face time or have concerns about productivity.
How to Ask Your Manager to Work Remotely
If you would like to work from home, you’ll need to be able to make your case and it's best to put it in writing. Send your supervisor a letter or an email, outlining the reasons why you think working from home would benefit the company.
This initial written request may need to be followed by a formal application, forms, and documentation as required by your employer.
How to Address Employer Concerns
Before you ask your manager if you can work from home, put yourself in their shoes. Think about what their objections might be, and offer compelling reasons why these potential issues won’t present obstacles to your work.
For example, your manager might be worried about:
1. Information security, especially regarding confidentiality and risk of data hacking or theft.
Assure your manager that you'll adhere to the same security protocols at home as you do in the office.
It may be helpful to informally meet with someone from IT to get a sense of IT-related concerns. Your computer, laptop, or other devices may be inspected and loaded with security features and programs to help you access office tools remotely. Be prepared to take responsibility for any work-issued equipment you'll use at home.
2. Monitoring productivity when they can’t see you working with their own eyes. How can they measure whether you are as productive as you would be in the office? Share any metrics you have on your productivity in the office compared to at home.
In your letter and follow-up meetings, reassure your manager about your availability and commitment to work, regardless of your location.
You can mention specific strategies to keep your manager posted on what you accomplish each week, such as check-in calls or a weekly summary email.
3. Ensuring collaboration among members of a distributed team. How can you show that you are collaborating with your co-workers when you are working from home? Cite specific options—chat programs, phone, video calls, email, etc.—that will allow your colleagues to stay in touch. If you can address these concerns in your letter, you will have a stronger justification.
What Information to Include in Your Letter
Be clear in your letter about what you are requesting. Do you want to work from home one day a week, every day, or simply occasionally? Set the parameters of how this would work from a scheduling perspective.
It's also important to include a reason why you want to work at home. Ideally, you'll be able to frame this reason to show how working from home is beneficial to your manager and the company.
For instance, if you have a brutal rush-hour commute that you want to avoid, you might say in your letter, "The traffic on my commute is horrendous, and it's impossible for me to get to work before 9:30 a.m. Often, I'm eager to get my day started before then. If I were able to work from home two days a week, I'd be able to be at my desk focused on projects and setting up meetings earlier in the day."
If working from home is not common at your company, you may also want to include details in your letter about how you'll be reachable during work hours (phone, email, Slack, Zoom, etc.), and address potential concerns.
What Not to Say
Don’t say you’d like to work from home because you'd prefer to wear pajamas, need to take care of a child for an hour, want to avoid a co-worker, or for any reason that might make you appear unprofessional or as though you'll be less diligent when you work from home.
Sample Email Requests to Work From Home
Read examples of email requests asking to work from home, tips on what to include in your letter, and strategies for how to make a persuasive argument for why you should be able to work remotely.
Email Request to Work From Home - Example #1
This email example is ideal for someone who has already been working from home occasionally, and wants to make it a regular occurrence.
Subject Line: Request to Work Remotely
As you know, I have been working some hours from home on an occasional basis. I have found that my productivity has increased, and I am able to focus well on my work activities without the distractions in the office.
Would it be possible for me to work from home regularly, meeting in the office on an as-needed basis? I have really enjoyed working with you and your team, and look forward to our continued collaboration.
Thank you very much for your consideration,
Email Request to Work From Home - Example #2
Review this example if you're looking to work from home, but haven't before. Note how the letter writer provides specifics on how frequently she'd like to work from home.
Subject Line: Request to Work from Home
I'm excited about our plans for this year's revamped conference. As you know, pulling off this event will require a lot of planning and writing. We'll need to create an email plan to blast potential attendees, write event page copy, and then develop the agenda and presentations as well.
Leading up to the event, I'd like to work from home two days a week. In previous roles, working from home increased my productivity. Wednesday and Friday would be ideal work from home days, since we don't have any team-wide meetings. Of course, I can be completely flexible and come into the office if we ever do need face-to-face time, and I'll be available by phone and email on work from home days, in case anything comes up.
Eager to hear your thoughts on this plan.
Telecommuting Can Be Beneficial for Employers and Employees: Possible advantages include productivity gains and a resolution for scheduling issues.
How to Make Your Case: Be ready to explain why working from home is in your employer’s best interests and not just your own.
Write a Letter or an Email Outlining Your Case: You may also need to follow up with official documentation if your request is approved.