Just a few years ago, it was hard to imagine a company where all employees worked remotely. Who knows; maybe it would still be the same now if the pandemic hadn’t forced so many of us to do our jobs from home, and employers hadn’t been able to see that teams could still stay productive that way.
Today, many organizations in the U.S. and worldwide accept new working norms. McKinsey's American Opportunity Survey demonstrates that 35% of U.S. employees across all industries work remotely full-time, and 58% have the opportunity to work from home at least once a week. Those numbers are even higher in tech companies. In this field, 52% of employees can work remotely on a daily basis, and 37% can do it part-time.
But what can you do if your company does not follow this trend? How can you negotiate a work-from-anywhere arrangement? It’s not the most comfortable conversation, especially if your employer believes that people work only when observed. To make this task easier for you, we've put together five tips on how to ask to work remotely full time.
Don't rely on your ability to improvise. Before you go to your manager with a request to work remotely, take time to think through all the details and prepare yourself for any questions that may arise. There are several things to consider:
Clarity on your "why." If you walk into your boss's office with this request, they will likely ask you for the reasons behind it. Whether you don't want to spend two hours a day commuting to the office and back, have to move to another state to take care of your grandma, or just feel that you are more productive while working from home, those are all legitimate reasons for wanting to do your job fully remote. And being transparent about your motivation will help your supervisor understand your request.
Proof that you are reliable. Your boss will be more inclined to approve a proposal to work remotely if they are confident that you are a trustworthy and responsible employee. So, prepare a few examples to demonstrate your ability to effectively manage working time, prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines.
Plans for a home office arrangement. The notion that you'll be answering important emails while lying on the couch may discourage your boss from approving your request. That’s why it’s essential to point out that you have a dedicated workspace at home and will work in a calm environment without distractions. But first, you will have to think about where to set up your home office and what equipment you need.
How to Start the Conversation
Everyone's professional situation is unique, and there is no one right way to ask your boss about working remotely. However, in most cases, it’s a good idea to first bring up this topic in a casual conversation. This way, you can find out how your manager feels about the idea and what their main concerns are, so you’ll be able to prepare yourself better. For example, let's say they see the lack of communication between team members as the main drawback of remote work. In that case, you’d have to carefully consider how to stay connected with colleagues and what tools you can use to collaborate effectively.
Once you have thought through all possible concerns and ways to mitigate them, you can ask for a meeting to make an official request. Consider sending an email where you outline the logistics before this meeting. It will give your boss an opportunity to think about your proposal and make a decision without time pressure.
Focus on the Benefits for Your Company
When you ask your boss if you can work remotely, it is critical to highlight the advantages such an arrangement could bring to the company. You can mention such things as:
You are less distracted and more productive when working from home.
Without a commute, you can adjust your schedule to be available for clients earlier than standard office hours.
You will take fewer sick days as you can work from home with a mild illness.
Emphasizing these will signal that you care not only about your personal gain but also about company success.
In addition, if you worked from home during the pandemic, provide examples of how your efficiency and quality of work improved during that period.
Explain How It Will Work
You need to show your boss that you can make remote work run smoothly. So, break down your day-to-day responsibilities and explain how each task can be completed when you and your team are not in the same office. Here are a few things you might want to cover:
Hours you will be available for colleagues and clients
Brief description of your workstation at home
Tools that you will use for communication, collaboration, and performing your daily tasks
Ways to monitor your performance
You can proactively address possible concerns and suggest solutions to overcome any potential issues. The more you show that you have thought through all the details, the easier it will be for your manager to approve your request.
Suggest a Trial
If, even after you have outlined the benefits for the organization and explained all the logistics, your boss seems hesitant, don't feel discouraged. Transitioning to a permanent, fully remote work arrangement is indeed a drastic change. Instead, suggest a trial period to see how remote work affects your productivity and team collaboration. For example, you can work two days a week from home and the rest from the office, or try full-time remote work for a few weeks. And after the agreed period, you can revisit the conversation and discuss your performance, unexpected challenges that might have arisen, and how you can resolve them going forward.
Of course, it may also happen that your manager will not accept any of the proposed options. Respect this decision and evaluate your next move. Perhaps your boss just needs more time to think, and it makes sense to wait a bit. Or, you can consider looking for a new job that’s more flexible.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data demonstrates that more and more companies offer flexible work arrangements for their employees—and your managers may be more open to the idea of remote work than you think. So why not ask them about it? When making the request, remember to clearly explain what you're asking for, how it could work, and how the benefits outweigh the costs.