How To Ask the Boss If You Can Work Remotely

chessYou’ve considered it. You’ve researched the implications. You’ve spoken to your significant other/landlord/dog and made sure they’re comfortable with the idea. You’re all ready to work remotely. All that remains is (cue suspenseful music) to ask the boss.

I don’t know your boss, and I don’t know whether you’re a dedicated member of your team or you spend half the day chatting with your friends, but for the purposes of this exercise, I’ll assume you’re both a reasonable person who is happy in your work and see that you have a future with your current employer.

1. What’s your motivation?

Do you want to spend more time walking Fido, reduce your travel time and costs, or simply get more work done? Once you can work out your key motivation, you can identify whether it’s a priority for your boss. Let’s face it, Fido is not going to be a standout winner in the Good Reason Stakes.

2. What will motivate your boss?

If you want to work from home for some (or all) of the week, you’ll need to figure out what will motivate your boss. If your motivation and his or her motivation do not coincide, you need to find a way for them to do so.

For example, imagine I want to work from home so that I can commute less and spend more time with my kids when they get home from school. And let’s say that my boss is heavily focused on productivity and, with recent redundancies, is trying to increase my workload.

Perhaps my reasoning would point out to my boss that currently I always need to leave work at five on the dot so I can get home to my kids, but the rest of the team is more flexible than that. So if I worked from home, I’d be able to be more flexible about my finish time, too, which could help me to work my time frames in more smoothly with theirs. Without the commute, I might also be able to start earlier in the morning on some occasions, which might be helpful to other members of the team, clients and others.

3. Suggest clear performance indicators.

If you can identify a clear reason why working from home will be beneficial (e.g. with less commute time and distractions, I’ll be able to turn projects around more quickly), your boss may find it easier to justify the decision to let you work remotely. They may also feel that they have a clear indicator of performance that they can use to assess the arrangement down the track.

4. Consider some sweeteners.

What if your boss is doubtful about the idea? What if they’re concerned about the cost of getting you a mobile phone, or that you’ll drop off the face of the earth as soon as you start working remotely? It’s not a bad idea to decide on a few compromises or sweeteners that might make the idea easier for them to get their heads around.

  • Perhaps you’ll be willing to arrange your own work phone and home office set-up, at no cost to your company.
  • Maybe you’ll be happy to make a trial arrangement for a couple of weeks or a month, with a meeting after that time to assess the success of the arrangement, and discuss any issues.
  • Perhaps you’d consider forfeiting the next scheduled pay increase, or accepting a slight reduction in your current benefits, in order to work from home.

5. Believe.

Once you’ve worked out your strategy, aligned your motives with those of your employer, and considered the sweeteners you’ll be willing to offer, there’s just one thing you need to do: truly believe that this arrangement will benefit both yourself and your employer. If you don’t think it has any real benefits for your boss, that will likely come across in the way you present and discuss the idea. If you believe in the benefits you’re telling your boss the arrangement will produce, you’ll be much more convincing.

These are my tips, but there are thousands of people here who have done the same thing with different approaches. How did you convince your boss to give you the opportunity to work remotely?

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