How to Convince Your Boss to Let You Work From Home After the Office Opens Again

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Amid a host of tragedies and travesties littering the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has yielded one positive trend I’m extremely grateful to see: a sweeping appreciation for remote work.

My mom has even gotten onboard the work-from-home train — and, folks, she’s a Boomer.

After getting a taste of work-from-home life for the past 13+ months, a lot of previously office-bound workers are reluctant to return to their daily commutes, watercooler chit chat store-bought salads, and hard pants.

But how do you approach your boss to say, “um, I don’t want to… see your face every day” without causing a stir?

We’ve got you covered.

Follow this guide to get clear on what you want out of remote work and how to ask for it in a way that addresses both your goals and your employer’s concerns.

How to Ask to Work from Home After the Pandemic

Hoping to hold onto those work-from-home benefits even after the office reopens post-pandemic? Follow these steps to convince your boss it’s best for both of you.

1. Get Clear on What You’re Asking for and Why

Before you just shoot off an email asking to work from home, figure out exactly what you want — and why.

Do you want to work from home full time, a few days a week or once every few months? Do you want the freedom to move to Europe and never come back, or just to stay home across town?

Knowing why you want to work from home will help you figure out exactly what you want to ask for and what you’re willing to compromise.

Maybe you want to be more available for your kids, travel the world, skip a long commute in inclement weather; or work from the couch occasionally to care for your physical, mental or menstrual health.

These are very different work-from-home scenarios. You might be OK with coming into the office for a few hours each morning, you might want the flexibility to work from a different time zone, or might just want to be able to stay home without being docked a sick day.

2. Understand What They Care About

Regardless of your reasons for wanting to work from home, what will your boss or manager want to know?

Anytime you ask for something from your employer, you have to balance your reasons for asking with the company’s priorities. For example, they might not prioritize being a family-friendly company, so asking for flexibility because of child care needs wouldn’t be a good selling point. Or maybe they do, and it is.

Also consider their potential fears. If you want flexibility for travel or moving elsewhere, will they worry you’ll be less committed and eventually leave the company? How can you address and assuage that fear?

3. Bring Receipts

You’ve been doing the work-from-home schtick for more than a year. That gives you tons of proof you can use to show your boss you’re totally prepared for remote work success.

Before reaching out, prepare a report of your performance to showcase how well you’ve thrived working remotely and demonstrate what it’ll be like to have you work from home long term. Find evidence to counter any concerns they might have about your productivity, focus, effectiveness and connection to your team.

This doesn’t have to be extensive — it might be weird if it’s too much. Just come prepared with clear responses to potential concerns.

4. Explain How the Company Will Benefit

Remote work options can benefit companies just as much as employees. Remind your employer of that by pointing out work-from-home benefits like:

  • Employees who work from home are more productive, because they’re less distracted by office antics, lunch breaks, meetings and commutes.
  • Employees are half as likely to quit when they have the option to work from home because of a higher satisfaction with their work-life balance.
  • Companies stand to profit more from remote employees — as much as $2,000 per employee, according to one Stanford study.
  • Cutting commutes reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reducing energy use at the office conserves oil and saves the company money.

5. Be a Problem Solver

A quick and unexpected shift to remote work last year has no doubt rattled some teams. The resulting chaos has probably left some employers staunchly opposed to permanent remote work.

Be sensitive to those concerns when you ask to work from home.

What kinds of issues has your team run into during the pandemic? Have there been common problems with communication or productivity? What can you recommend to solve them?

Here are some examples to get you thinking:

  • Chaotic email chains: If your company’s been in denial and refused to adopt modern remote communication methods, test some options yourself and bring a list to your employer. A chat program like Slack and productivity tools like Asana or Trello make collaboration among distributed teams a breeze.
  • Reduced productivity: Remind your boss that the past year included a boatload of extenuating circumstances and might not be a good example of how most people will function working from home. Point out how much easier remote work will be when employees aren’t simultaneously homeschooling, caring for immunocompromised family members, or powering through a daily onslaught of political and social upheaval.

Bonus points: Take these solutions to your employer before you ever broach the subject of working from home yourself, so it’s not even a concern by the time you make your ask.

6. Propose a Transition Plan

You know, that thing you didn’t get in 2020?

Without a deadly virus forcing everyone to evacuate the office “for a few weeks” with no notice, you’re blessed with time to actually think through issues that might arise when you ask to work from home and how to address them.

Once you understand your goals and your employer’s concerns, come up with a plan that’ll work for everyone. Some questions you might have to answer:

  • How will your working from home affect your team? Is your position well-suited for being remote?
  • Will the company create an official remote work policy, or will they make an exception just for you or others who ask?
  • How will your team keep up communication long term? Does it require new tools or training your company will have to cover?
  • Do you expect your work hours to change? How can the team or company accommodate that?
  • Does your company need to provide you with additional tools, software or devices to work from home long term?

Request to Work From Home: Email Example

Everyone’s situation is unique, so use the steps above to figure out how to ask to work from home in a way that achieves your goals and addresses your company’s priorities.

To give you an idea of how this could look, we’ve included a couple of example emails here. If you’re used to talking with your manager face-to-face, use these as guidance for a loose script for your conversation.

Email Example No. 1 — Fully Remote

Hi Mr. Draper,

I’d like to discuss the possibility of remaining remote after the office reopens. I’ve noticed an improvement in my performance and wellbeing working from home over the past year, and I think my team and I could benefit from making a work-from-home arrangement permanent for those employees who want the option.

I’m interested in becoming a fully remote employee, so I’d conduct all of my work and meetings virtually during our normal working hours going forward.

Since we’ve been operating this way for 13 months, I’ve learned that I can work more effectively without the distractions of the office and my commute. As you noted in my last review, my productivity was up 12% last quarter, and my team has completed 80% of our projects ahead of schedule for the past six months. I only expect this to improve once we eliminate the stress and uncertainty associated with the pandemic.

I’ve already trained my team to manage projects in Asana, which has significantly streamlined our communication and helped keep our projects on track. We’ve also agreed on the types of conversations we hold via Slack versus a phone or Zoom call, and we’ve been regularly holding one-on-one and team meetings via Zoom since last May.

Given the circumstances, I understand the company might be creating a companywide remote work policy, so let me know if we need to delay our conversation until that’s in place. I’m confident we can come up with a mutually beneficial plan.

Best,

Peggy

Email Example No. 2 — Hybrid Remote

Hi Mr. Scott,

I’d like to discuss the possibility of retaining a few work-from-home days after the office reopens. I’ve noticed an improvement in my performance and wellbeing working from home over the past year, and I think my team and I could benefit from building this flexibility into our schedules long term.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the office as soon as we can, but I’d like to continue to work from home one or two days a week to focus on projects that require deeper attention.

Since we’ve been operating this way for 13 months, I’ve learned that I can find room to focus on deep work more effectively without the distractions of the office. I believe this was a significant factor in the creativity my team was able to contribute on the Reynolds project last quarter.

I’m happy to work with you and my team to experiment with the best days to work from home versus in the office and ensure we settle on a routine that works best for everyone.

Given the circumstances, I understand the company might be creating a companywide remote work policy, so let me know if we need to delay our conversation until that’s in place. I’m confident we can come up with a mutually beneficial plan.

Best,

Pam

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask to Work From Home

A lot of people would love a 12-second commute and the ability to instantly bring packages in out of the rain. But, even after a year of making it work, many employees are still afraid to talk to their boss about remote work.

Don’t wait for your company to announce its remote-work policy. If you want to work from home, ask for it now. The more employees who do that, the more employers will understand the increasing demand for this perk.

Go into the conversation with an understanding of both the business’s needs and your own goals, arm yourself with proof of your ability to do the job from anywhere, and you should be able to come up with a plan that works for everyone.

Dana Sitar has been writing and editing since 2011, covering personal finance, careers and digital media. She’s written about work and money for the New York Times, Forbes, CNBC, The Motley Fool, Money Under 30, a column for Inc. and more. Find her at danasitar.com.






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