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How to Ask to Work from Home: Free Proposal Template & Examples

Let’s be honest, after the pandemic, a lot of us figured out that we could work from home, save money on terrible desk lunches, and leave the awful daily commute behind. However, many businesses had other ideas. So, if you want to work from home, but aren’t sure how to ask your boss, you’re in the right place. 

Here’s a step-by-step process for how to ask to work from home, complete with proposal outlines, email examples, and the answers to the common questions that managers ask. So, are you ready to work in your pajamas and wake up at quarter to nine? Let’s dive in and find out. 

Why Should You Work from Home?

First things first, why should you work from home? Well, honestly, unless you’re a huge extrovert who loves to be surrounded by people, it’s a much more calming and productive environment. I’ll dive more into the benefits in a moment, but with the increase in the cost of living around the world, and in business costs, it’s normally a lot cheaper to work from home. 

Increased flexibility in the working marketplace has fast become the norm. After the pandemic, many workers and businesses could see the benefits all around. In fact, a lot of jobs are at least hybrid now, offering one or two days at home versus three days in the office. It’s about striking a balance that works for everyone. 

What are the Benefits of Working from Home?

Okay, onto the benefits. I’m going to split this into benefits for you as the employee and benefits for your manager or business. If you’re trying to negotiate flexible working, you need to lean more heavily on how it benefits them, rather than talking about the individual benefits.

woman using the computer

Otherwise, it seems like a one-sided transaction.

Benefits for the Employee

So, some of the key benefits of working from home for an employee include:

  • Better work/life balance
  • Remove costly and time-consuming commutes
  • More flexibility to complete chores (like laundry) while you work, freeing up your evenings and weekends
  • Save money on lunches
  • Improve your focus
  • Lower stress levels
  • Actually utilize your lunch break 
  • Flexibility for childcare if relevant

Benefits for the Company

On the other hand, some of the benefits for the company can be:

  • Improved productivity
  • Improved retention
  • Lower sick leave
  • Improved ROI thanks to not being in the office using energy and supplies
  • Better communication due to digital availability
  • Attract more talent either locally or on a larger scale
  • Happier staff
  • Better focus so projects are completed with fewer errors and often quicker than with office-based distractions.

Figure Out Your Situation

Okay. now that you know the benefits that come with working from home, you need to analyze your situation and work out the best way to proceed.

a woman sitting with her laptop

I’d recommend asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are the responsibilities of your job?
  • Do you manage people?
  • Do you work collaboratively?
  • Does anyone else work remotely?
  • Are there comparisons for your job in other remote companies?
  • What stats and productivity numbers can you use?

Let’s go through them one by one. 

What are the Responsibilities of your Job?

Okay, this is super important, because say you’re in a customer-facing role or you work with giant machinery, it’s unlikely that you’re going to work from home. Outlining your roles and your responsibilities will help you figure out how you’d fulfill them remotely.

Would you need to come in once a week or once a month for broader team meetings or to make use of onsite facilities? Figure that out and add the answers to your proposal. 

Do You Manage People?

If you manage a team of people or even just one person and they’re either not allowed to work from home or prefer to be in the office, then you’re probably not going to be allowed either. Managing people is a big responsibility and bosses want to see you being hands-on with your team.

Even if you can communicate and run meetings through Slack or Google Meet, if your team is in the office, then you’re going to need to be too. 

On the other hand, if your team is remote or freelance, then you absolutely have a case for working from home. In fact, you have a better chance than most as you’re already using remote-first communication and project management tools! 

Do You Work Collaboratively?

One of the most common arguments against working remotely is that you won’t be able to collaborate in the same way. The theory is that you have to be in the same room to bounce ideas off each other. That’s just not true.

In fact, you collaborate more deliberately and thoughtfully over video chat or in a collaborative online workspace. Rather than shouting out the first thing you think of, you can have more time to consider your ideas and issues. However, if you work in a highly collaborative, in-office team, then this is something to consider. 

Does Anyone Else Work Remotely?

This is a huge thing to think about. If there’s already a precedent or blueprint for remote working in your company, you can use it as a template. It doesn’t necessarily matter if it’s in your department or at your level, you can find out how it works for them and use it to inform your own proposal. 

What Stats and Productivity Numbers Can You Use?

Let’s be honest, a lot of the time, these conversations come down to the hard numbers. Work out your productivity stats and how they can be boosted by working from home.

Think about things like office-based distractions, needless meetings, and other tasks that you end up dipping in and out of unnecessarily. 

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Sample Work-From-Home Request Email

This work-from-home request email is more of a request for a meeting about working from home. It might sound like a roundabout way of doing things, but you’ll want a meeting to discuss all the benefits and details of your proposal. 

Dear XXXX,

I hope everything is going well with you. 

I’ve been wanting to talk to you about a change to my working arrangement that I think will make me more productive and improve efficiency within the business. 

I’d like to schedule a meeting on [time/date slots] and can see that you have an open slot at that time. Can I book half an hour of your time to go through this in more detail?

Best, 

[Your Name]

What Should You Include in Your Work-from-Home Proposal?

Now, it’s time to start shaping your work-from-home proposal for your boss. This is done in three key sections:

  1. Demonstrate the benefits to the business
  2. Outline and alleviate communication concerns
  3. How this would work on a practical level, and the final request

This should be done in a meeting, rather than over email as it can get messy. Of course, follow up any meeting with minutes that detail what’s been agreed and the outcome. 

Demonstrate the Benefits to the Business

As we’ve outlined in the first section, we know the key benefits to the business are as follows. 

  • Improved productivity
  • Reduced stress and absence
  • Improved retention and satisfaction
  • Less reliance on a physical office

It’s important to acknowledge these benefits up top as it sets the scene for your request and makes it look like you’re doing the business a favor. It also shows that you’ve thought about the implications of working from home, and are willing to address them off the bat.

Communication Questions

Next up you have the common queries and questions. These are nearly always about communication and availability. Despite the almost three years that a lot of us worked remotely by force, people have forgotten that phones, video chat, and online collaboration tools exist. 

Some of the key criteria you’ll want to cover include:

  • How will you work with the team?
  • Accessibility and security issues
  • Time zones and working hours
  • Solo projects versus collaboration

How Will You Work with the Team?

This might include the different systems and websites that you currently use. Whether that’s Slack, Google Meet, Teams, or a shared Whatsapp group, it’s important to know how things are going to be managed. 

Accessibility and Security Issues

This part focuses on more of the network and hardware aspects of the proposal. If you have a dedicated home office with your designated work laptop and work through a secure VPN, then this will be no problem.

Similarly, you might not work on a secure network and everything might be cloud-based, so you can access from anywhere. 

Time Zones and Working Hours

If you’re being ambitious with your remote working proposal, you can state your proposal for being one or two time zones on either side of your base or shifting your core working hours to be online with the rest of the team.

If no one else in your business is remote and this is the first trial, I wouldn’t recommend changing time zones or drastically shifting hours around at the same time. Easy does it!

Solo Projects Versus Collaboration

Also, if you have any big projects coming up, mention them here. Your boss is sure to bring it up, so show that you’ve considered them.

Perhaps you have a solo reporting project and the quiet would be useful, or many you have a collaborative project with people from different offices, and not having to book meeting rooms would be useful. Factor these into your proposal to show that you have a plan. 

Illustrate the Practicalities

Now, to close out your work-from-home proposal, you’ll need to illustrate the practicalities and provide actionable outcomes. This is essentially when you ask for exactly what you want. 

Full-Time Remote or a Few Days a Week

Are you aiming for 100% remote or just a hybrid working role? Maybe you’re willing to come in once a month for an in-person update or meeting. This needs to be clearly stated.

My instinct is to go for full remote and you can always negotiate down to three days a week at home. Even if that’s what you want in the first place, it makes it look like you’re compromising. 

Trial Period

Next, you need to suggest a trial period of around two weeks to a month to see if this works for all parties involved. A week is not long enough to see everything flowing, and realistically, you want this trial to be as long as possible. The more used to something people get, the less likely they’ll want to switch back. 

Suggested Start Date

You also want to attach a hard suggested start date and an end-of-trial review date. Book a meeting to review things and make sure it happens.

Make sure the start date is in a week or two’s time as you don’t want to seem like you’re blindsiding your boss. This gives everyone time to prepare as well. 

Scheduling Options

Of course, many businesses love to surveil their employees. If this is the case, you can agree to clock in and clock out or track your daily tasks and progress in a collaborative way.

Open diaries are also a great gesture so that you can see what people have on. 

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Setting Up a Trial Period

Once you’ve got the green light from your boss, go ahead and start setting up your trial period. Make sure to let any stakeholders or team members what’s going on and ensure everyone is aware.

You’ll also want to start outlining communication processes with your team before the trial period starts and talk with IT about any new pieces of software you’ll need to make this a success. 

When you’re on your work-from-home trial, make sure you’re actually working and communicating well. It sounds stupid, but if you want this kind of flexible freedom, you need to earn it in the eyes of your bosses. Be squeaky clean! 

That means showing up early to video meetings, answering your phones, sending updates on your workload to your team members and bosses – all of it. It sounds like overkill, but you don’t want to give your bosses any ammunition to use against you at the meeting.

Follow-Up Email After Your Trial Period Meeting

Once you’ve had your end-of-trial meeting, you’ll need to send an official email with your intent and rationale for working from home. In this email, you can use the structure in your initial work-from-home proposal and add in any information or pertinent stats from your trial period. 

Hi XXX,

Hope everything’s good with you.

I’ve been with [Company] for [X years], working efficiently and successfully across several major projects, and have made meaningful contributions to the business.

I’d like to also take this moment to address the approved remote working trial which illustrated that I can work in a more productive, efficient, and communicative way while working from home. 

So, with this in mind, I propose working from home [insert how many days per week] starting from the end of the month. Since my role is entirely online and I work with fewer distractions and breaks throughout the day at home, I believe that this is a more beneficial working arrangement for the business.

Please consider my request; I am confident we can make it work and am happy to answer any further questions. For further transparency, I am willing to open up my calendar to the team and report my progress with regular check-ins. 

Thanks for considering this.

Best,

[Your Name]

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Frequently Asked Questions

Okay, let’s round out this guide for how to ask to work from home with some frequently asked questions. Now, pretty much all of these are in response to employer comments after remote working has been brought up. 

It’s worth remembering that you have to persevere when it comes to remote working. Not every business is going to agree, no matter how compelling the business case is. At that point, you need to consider if remote working is important enough to look for work elsewhere. 

My Employer has Flat-Out Refused to Let Me Work from Home, What Can I Do?

This is a pretty standard response, especially if you’re the first person in the team or business to ask for remote working. Again, if a business or manager is old-school, this is likely to be the response. However, there are a few things that you can do.

Ask for the Reasoning

It’s perfectly reasonable to ask why not when a manager refuses flexible working. Of course, be polite about it. Just ask “May I ask why that is?”, rather than a flat-out “why not?”. There might be a reasonable explanation for why they’re not willing to allow work from home right now, or not in that particular team.

Also, if you know the reason, you can come up with arguments against it at a later date when you try again. Knowing what you’re up against is half the battle!

Enquire if this is Likely to Change

While the company isn’t allowing remote working right now, they might be planning to change this in the future. Many companies want to implement remote working or at least hybrid working, but they want to have systems and processes in place before announcing it or letting single employees work remotely.

Ask if this is likely to change in the future. This will give you a good idea of the business’ intentions. 

See if Other Teams have a Similar Policy

If you don’t have remote working available in your team, but another team does, question why that is. It goes without saying that this should only happen if you’re confident that your role can be done remotely.

Ask the other team how their remote working policy works and see if you can use it as a template for a trial with your boss. 

My Employer Thinks I Won’t be Working at Home and Will Goof Off, What Can I Do?

Again, so many people think that we’ll just sit around and watch Netflix if we work from home. While I might have a show on in the background if I don’t have any burgeoning deadlines, on the whole, we’re too busy for that! 

Of course, you can insist on regular meetings, and daily check-ins where you send a list of your completed tasks and activities at the end of the day, or have online chat windows like Slack or Google Chat open to make sure you’re at your desk. Honestly, if the job gets done well and on time, it should be enough, but these updates and monitoring tricks help ease people’s minds. 

My Employer Thinks I Won’t Be as Available and Accessible, What Can I Do?

Welcome to the wonderful world of online communication. If you have a manager with a full inbox who loves to shout across the office at people while they’re mid-task, this is the FAQ for you.

Whether you use project management tools like Trello or Monday or communication tools like Slack, Whatsapp, Teams, Google Meet, and more, remote workers are arguably more available and accessible than their in-office counterparts.

Outline the different communication channels, make your calendar public within the team, and block out set project working hours, and then your boss can clearly see your availability. 

My Employer Doesn’t Want to Set a Work-from-Home Precedent for Others, What Can I Do?

This is a tricky one that I’ve heard a lot. There are ways around it though. The most popular way around it is to make remote working something that is earned. Maybe you have to work there a year before being eligible or you have to have specific solo projects. 

It might sound unfair (and it kind of is) but once the first person starts working remotely, many businesses and managers realize how much better it actually is. If a manager doesn’t want to set a precedent, you should also ask why not. Why wouldn’t you want people to be more productive and happier in their jobs? Obviously, not exactly like that, but you get the picture! 

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