Employee Wellbeing

How to Ask Your Boss to Let You Work Remotely

July 14, 2023
IN THIS BLOG

In today's professional landscape, remote work has become increasingly common, and it is a fact that employees who excel in the office are equally productive when working remotely.

Remote work offers numerous benefits for your professional and personal life. In a report by Buffer, 98% of employees said they would like to work remotely, while 91% of respondents reported that working remotely has been a positive experience for them. In 2022, only 9% of employees said their employers were not ready to offer permanent remote work, a drop from 16% in 2021. 

It might be challenging to ask for remote work if it is not on the horizon in your organization. There are multiple reasons why your boss might be skeptical about it. Some concerns are understandable, but you can counter the usual objections through coherent and logical dialogue.

To make your case plausible, you need to have a clear view of your reasons and the apprehensions of the management. Whether you love your current job but crave the flexibility of remote work or want to continue working remotely post-pandemic, keep reading to know how to ask to work from home and when to present your idea to the management.

The timing and approach of your request are vital, and if you follow a methodical and step-by-step approach, you can position yourself for success in winning the approval for remote work.

TL;DR:

  • The remote work trend is rising, and many businesses recognize the importance of employee satisfaction and engagement in optimizing productivity.
  • Employees may have to ask for remote work if it is not a given alternative. To increase their chances of approval, they need to know how to make a sound proposal.
  • The advantages of remote work for businesses and employees include increased productivity and focus due to improved work-life balance and job satisfaction.
  • If your request is not approved as it is, be open to compromise and consider alternative arrangements, such as a trial run or a hybrid arrangement.
  • Transitioning to remote work requires a dedicated remote workspace, clear communication, effective time management, and active collaboration.

Benefits of Remote Work for Employees

Before we share our step-by-step guide, let’s look at how remote work can benefit you personally. If you know how it will help you perform better, you can align it with your organization’s objectives more convincingly.

  • Increased productivity and focus: Working on your terms has been proven to increase productivity and focus. You can optimize your efficiency and deliver high-quality work by eliminating distractions and creating a personalized work environment. Employee surveys show that flexible working conditions are the biggest advantage of remote work. You can choose where to live, where to work from, and how to manage your time, which empowers you to give your undivided attention to work. 
  • Improved work-life balance: Remote work significantly decreases the chances of burnout due to a lack of work-life balance. With the flexibility to set your schedule and eliminate time-consuming commutes, you are better able to carry out personal responsibilities. With flexible working hours, you can give due attention to family and self-care, reducing stress and guilt that might be weighing you down. 
  • Reduced commuting time and costs: Remote work eliminates the need for daily commuting, resulting in saved time and reduced transportation costs. It is not only your contribution to environmental sustainability but also allows you to invest more time in productive tasks. You can start working early, or if you are a night owl, you can get a few additional hours to hone your creativity before you hit the sack!
  • Enhanced employee satisfaction and retention: Businesses are embracing remote work to enhance employee satisfaction and retention rates. The freedom and autonomy that come with remote work foster a sense of trust and empowerment, resulting in increased commitment and a sense of personal responsibility. You can develop a healthy relationship with work knowing you have the confidence of your manager and your well-being is their priority.

How to Ask to Work Remotely: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Do Your Research

Before asking to work remotely, collect all the information about your company's remote work policy to understand the existing guidelines and expectations. This knowledge will help you navigate the conversation more effectively and structure your request accordingly. 

Look into the pros of remote work, particularly for your company. Identify how remote work has contributed to improved productivity, cost savings, and employee engagement within your organization and its competitors. This information will provide you with compelling arguments to present to your manager.

Do not forget to acknowledge and address the potential challenges associated with remote work. Understand the concerns that might arise, such as communication gaps, collaboration, or trust-related issues. Proactively plan how you will overcome these challenges: are you prepared to implement effective communication tools and provide regular progress updates? 

Comprehensive research will equip you with the knowledge and insights necessary to make a persuasive case for remote work while being mindful of your company's culture and policies.

Step 2: Set up a Meeting with Your Manager

As mentioned before, timing is crucial in presenting your case to your manager. You shouldn’t just know how to ask for remote work, but when to ask. Choose a time when your manager is not too busy and can give you their full attention. Once the meeting is scheduled, come prepared to effectively articulate your reasons for wanting to work remotely. 

As a professional, you must know how crucial it is to put any proposal in writing. Sending a well-structured formal letter of request before the meeting demonstrates your preparedness and thoughtful consideration of your decision. It will also give your boss the time to process the suggestion and increase the chances of a positive outcome. 

Clearly express your reasons for a permanent switch to remote work. Illustrate the benefits of remote work for you and the company, such as increased productivity, time saved, and reduced costs by avoiding the daily commute. Anticipate any potential concerns or questions your manager may have and be ready to address them with well-thought-out responses. If you are serious about your remote work request, it should be approached with due professionalism!

Step 3: Make Your Case

When you are called for the meeting, reiterate your suggestion by elaborating how working remotely would be a win-win situation for you and your company. Explain how you will need fewer sick days off as you can work through minor issues from home.

Communication, coordination, and productivity are potential concerns or objections against remote work. Your request will sound more credible if you have already worked on addressing these areas in a remote work arrangement. 

Your boss will be interested in how you will schedule working hours, avoid distractions, and maintain communication and collaboration with your team. Suggest a productivity management and time tracking tool like timegram to alleviate the management concerns about accountability. It could be the solution they have been looking for, earning you a bonus pat on the back!

You might be asked to show some record of your outstanding performance while you had been working from home. To make your case more plausible, bring up the references and stats you collected during your research on how flexible conditions and a comfortable environment increases job satisfaction and engagement. Show how it will save you more time to maintain a work-life balance while allowing you to be more focused on delivering quality results.

What really matters is that you and your manager come to an agreement on how to gauge your productivity while you work remotely. If you are prepared with the right tools and strategies for remote work, you will most likely get the go-ahead!

Step 4: Be Prepared to Compromise

When you are preparing to ask for remote work, don’t strike out the possibility that your manager may not be willing to let you work remotely full-time. Be prepared to compromise on what you initially had in mind. If a hybrid work arrangement or a trial period is offered, be willing to accept it. 

Many organizations are still invested in a work culture where being present in person becomes a ritual. It might be inconceivable for your boss that you can be productive without having the pressure of sitting in the office. Or, you might simply be refused to work remotely to avoid coworker resentment.

If your reason to ask for remote work is not something unavoidable, such as caregiving or a move to a new location, wait until you get another opportunity to bring up the matter. Being flexible will indicate your commitment to the organization while allowing you to reevaluate your situation. 

Step 5: Follow Up

You probably have already been informed of the management’s decision, and you are all set to go remote! At this point, don’t forget to send a letter of gratitude for your employer's consideration of remote work. It is important to acknowledge it as a concession rather than an entitlement.

If you didn’t get the approval or it is still in limbo, it is time to send a follow-up email to your manager thanking them for their time and restating your interest in working remotely. Take a moment to analyze if you have missed any important points in the meeting and reiterate your reasons concisely in the follow-up document. Be thankful, in any case, that you were given an opportunity to discuss the matter. 

Making a Successful Transition to Remote Work

Okay, now you are ready to kick-start your transition to remote work. Excited? We bet you are but wait a bit. Working remotely is not all peaches and cream!   

In fact, you will now carry a greater responsibility to prove you can be as productive as you have been, if not more. We have already stated the common issues that may arise in a remote work situation. Going remote is a whole paradigm shift from working in the office. You need a transition plan to check all the logistics are in order.

Let’s see what adjustments and tools you need to equip yourself to deal with any hitches.

  • Setting up a productive home office environment is the first requirement for maintaining focus and efficiency. Ensure you have a dedicated workspace with minimal distractions, proper lighting, an ergonomic chair, and a headset. Compare the cost of commuting and other expenses with this one-time investment: you will see it’s a valuable bargain.
  • Reassure your manager that you are maintaining unbroken communication with your team. It will also ensure that you don’t miss any updates. Make it clear that you are available and accessible during work hours. To stay connected and collaborate effectively, utilize various communication channels such as phone, email, text, and video conferencing tools like Slack and Zoom. 
  • Implementing effective time management strategies helps optimize productivity and minimize distractions. Prioritize tasks, create a schedule, and use time blocking apps and techniques like the 1-3-5 rule to stay focused and avoid burnout. Organize your schedule by taking full advantage of remote work flexibility. For instance, you can start early in the morning, utilizing the time previously wasted in your commute. 
  • Take the lead in establishing transparency and accountability in your remote work routine. Plan to announce your daily arrival and departure. Consider submitting a daily report via email or updating your tasks and project progress on collaboration tools. This ensures that your superiors and team members are kept well-informed and in the loop about your accomplishments, challenges, and ongoing tasks.
  • Leverage tools like timegram to enhance remote productivity and track your progress. It is the most comprehensive solution to all your productivity management needs. Find your most productive hours to work on your true potential. timegram will simplify logging work with full confidentiality and autonomy. It will allow your manager to see performance reports and give you timely feedback. A visual representation of estimated vs. actual time will enable you to improve time management and meet deadlines efficiently.

Conclusion

You have a comprehensive guide on how to ask your boss to work remotely: setting forth your commitment, communication skills, and willingness to use time tracking and productivity tools will demonstrate that you are valuable even as a remote employee. 

There is no reason you wouldn’t be allowed to work remotely if you can elucidate that by facilitating you, it will ultimately benefit the organization, 

Finally, to make a successful transition to remote work, you must have a solid plan on how you will address the potential roadblocks. Equipping yourself with the essential tools and strategies, such as a dedicated home office and productivity software like timegram, ensures a smooth transition to remote work. You can have a transparent record of how you spend your working hours on various tasks and present your best work for performance review.

It also helps you improve your time management skills by visualizing which tasks take longer than expected and prioritizing them accordingly. The best part is that you can search, select, and log only work-related activities and skip irrelevant ones! timegram is the only privacy-first tool strictly following a non-invasive time tracking policy.

You can confidently embrace a remote work life knowing your productivity like the back of your hand.

Learn more about timegram’s key features and sign up today for free!

FAQs

Is working from home better for employees?

Working from home offers many advantages for employees. It provides flexibility, eliminates commuting stress, and improves work-life balance. Additionally, remote work can reduce expenses associated with transportation and meals. 

While some people work better without distractions, others prioritize social interactions and find it challenging to draw a line between work and personal life. It ultimately depends on personal circumstances and preferences.

Do you need permission to work from home?

Yes. Employers have the legal right to keep you in the office. But it also depends on your organization’s policies and the nature of your job. Some companies have formal work-from-home policies, requiring employees to seek approval from their managers or HR department. Others may offer more flexibility, allowing employees to work remotely without going through formalities. It's important to consult your company's guidelines and communicate with your supervisor to understand the requirements and expectations regarding remote work.

How do I write a work-from-home proposal?

You must comprehensively research your company’s remote work policy and comparative data before writing a work-from-home proposal. Then draft a letter requesting the permission of your manager to work remotely. Structure your proposal around the following points:

  • Explain the benefits of remote work, such as increased productivity and cost savings.
  • State the specific reasons for wanting to go remote
  • Address potential concerns, like communication and accountability.
  • Outline a clear plan detailing your work-from-home schedule, availability, and communication methods.
  • Highlight your achievements and demonstrate how remote work will not hinder your performance.
  • Seek feedback and support from colleagues and supervisors.
  • Present your proposal professionally and confidently to your manager or HR department.
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Sidra Ali Shah

About the author

Sidra is a research scholar and a philosophy nerd who fell in love with language at a very young age. She believes it's words and their combinations that make the world go round. In her free time, she likes to brainstorm with her children.

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