How to Ask Your Boss to Work From Home

Man sitting at computer in kitchen of his apartment
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Now more than ever, it is possible for many different types of professionals to work from home.

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 5 million U.S. workers currently work from home at least half the time. That represents 3.6% of the American workforce, but many more people could work from home who currently do not. The firm reports that 56% of the U.S. workforce holds jobs that are compatible with telecommuting.

Allowing employees to work from home benefits employers as well as workers. Telecommuting saves the company valuable resources, potentially cutting down on real estate and utility costs, while boosting employee productivity and loyalty.

If you're thinking about working from home, you should make a strategic plan to approach your employer. Decide on what type of schedule you would be interested in, and what would work best for both you and your company.

Be prepared to be flexible when negotiating a work from home arrangement. The more flexibility you suggest to your employer, the better your chances of getting a “yes” answer.

How to Ask Your Boss to Work From Home

Prepare Your Case

Build a case based on business needs. Working from home may help you save money, cut down on your commute, and otherwise boost your work-life balance. But don’t lead with the benefits to you. Start by outlining the gains for the company. Emphasize cost savings, productivity gains, and other ways in which working from home will help the organization reach its goals.

Know company policy. Your employer may already have a formal telecommuting policy in place, in which case you’ll want to know it before you sit down to talk to your boss. If your employee handbook doesn’t refer directly to flexible work options, consider what you’ve seen around the office. Do other employees work from home, and if so, which employees, how often, and how does that work?

Do not reference other employees in your discussions with your manager. Keep the discussion to your situation and how your working from home would benefit the team.

Create a plan. Writing up a telecommuting proposal for how you can effectively work from home can help your supervisor make a case for you. In fact, you may want to put your request in writing prior to your meeting. That way, your boss isn't surprised by your request and you're prepared with a rationale as to why you don't need to spend all your working hours in the office.

Use sample letters to shape your request. Typically, it’s best to talk to your boss in person when asking to work from home. However, templates and samples can help you organize your thoughts and prepare to make your case. Review sample letters for working from home before you create your own. 

Request a Meeting

Ask for a meeting to discuss the matter. Don’t surprise your boss with a request to work from home. Schedule a discussion ahead of time and be sure to select a time when your boss is likely to be receptive. (In other words, don’t put in your request during your team’s busiest season or when things are otherwise more hectic than usual.)

Prepare to address any concerns. Especially if telecommuting is not widespread at your company, you may have to allay your boss’s fears before you receive approval. Your manager may be concerned about productivity, accessibility, or team morale. Have answers ready and remember that your goal is to persuade—don’t be defensive or lean on appeals to emotion.

Show That You'll be Available

Offer proof that you’ll be accessible. Commit to being visible, communicative, and available. Depending on how your team typically communicates, this might mean being on Slack every day from 9 to 5, or emailing your boss with progress reports at set intervals, or being available for Zoom chats on a regular basis.

Be Flexible

Ask for a trial period. Perhaps you’ll work from home every Friday for the rest of the quarter, or twice a week for the next month or two, and then reassess. Suggest a trial period that works for your team and your company and set goals for deliverables.

Be prepared to wait for an answer. Keep in mind that your boss may not be able to give you permission during your meeting. Your manager may need to check with their supervisor and/or the organization's Human Resources Department.