How to Ask to Work From Home: 6 Ways to Sell Your Boss on Telecommuting

If you're wondering how to ask to work from home, it's about playing up the benefits.

It is time for a change. That last commute to work was one commute too many, and as you sit at your desk, your dread of the journey home is already building.

You’re ready to start telecommuting. You’ve got all the necessary video conferencing and office workflow equipment you need at home. You deal with clients exclusively through remote communications anyway, and there’s always someone calling in from another branch office whenever you have a team meeting.

You just have to convince your boss to agree. Sure, working from home means you’ll be happier, healthier, have a better work/life balance, and will recoup those hours of lost travel time…but what’s in it for the company? Why should your supervisor let you out of the building and trust you to perform your job from home? 

If you’re wondering how to ask to work from home, we have six answers to your question.

How to Ask to Work from Home

Your boss is not a machine. They’re going to understand your desire to ditch the 90-minute drive to work, the deli lunches at your desk, the fluorescent lighting, and the interruptions of office life. They’re also not running a charity, either. They have goals to reach, customers to please, and their own bosses to appease.

What you need is a series of valid reasons to prove that telecommuting is good for your company. So here they are. Six ways to convince your company that telecommuting is good business, beginning with the bottom line and going right through to good old-fashioned peer pressure.

1. “My Home Office Won’t Cost You a Penny”

The fewer demands you make on your employer, the more likely they are to support your decision. So make sure you let your boss know they won’t be on the hook for any expenses involved in setting up your new home office. And it’s true…in fact, you’ve probably got most of the important stuff already.

For remote workers in most professions, all it takes is a quiet corner (preferably a nicely set up desk), a personal computer, a quality webcam, and an internet connection and you’re set to succeed. The most expensive piece of that technological puzzle is your webcam, and you can get a state-of-the-art, 4K-capable, facial recognition-equipped camera for just a few hundred dollars.

Chances are, you can also keep up with all your meetings by using the same video conferencing vendor and account you’re already hooked up with at work. Unless the boss wants to spring for a new motivational poster, there’s nothing to bother their budget in your big move.

In fact…

2. “Telecommuting Will Save Us Money”

Some of the biggest companies in the world have been using telecommuting to save themselves millions of dollars. In fact, IBM once bragged that its liberal teleworking policy was saving more than $100 million annually on real estate costs alone. It makes sense. A smaller onsite workforce needs less space, fewer facilities, less equipment, and less coffee and donuts in the office breakroom.

Moreover, telecommuting staff cost less to maintain as they are generally happier and healthier and so take fewer sick days, less annual leave, and stay in the job longer, reducing the cost of hiring and training replacements.

3. “I’ll Be More Productive”

The above point doesn’t imply telecommuters are somehow immune to illness and fatigue, it’s just that having a better work/life balance makes them more likely to clock in for work each day. Research has shown, in fact, that remote employees are happier than their onsite colleagues (which alone leads to greater productivity, according to studies), put in an average of five more hours of work per week, and are as much as 40 percent more productive. That’s not to mention that remote employees are more likely to telework while mildly sick rather than taking a sick day in order to get comfy at home. And, the health benefits of working from home mean that remote employees are less likely to get sick in the first place.

By sending you home, your boss is unleashing your full potential and getting more bang for their salaried buck.

4. “I’d Prefer Telecommuting Over a Pay Raise”

No one wants less money, but if you consider the amount you spend on commuting every day and the related costs of spending so much time away from home, there are counterbalancing savings to be had–how many paid lunches would you shell out for if you had your personal fridge at your disposal?

There’s an obvious benefit here for your employer, and you’d be far from the first person to suggest such an exchange. Recent research found 36 percent of workers would prefer a work from home option over a pay raise. In fact, a poll of technology workers found that a similar percentage–37 percent–were actually willing to take a ten percent pay cut for the chance to work from home. Those are some serious savings for any company willing to set some of its workers loose to work remotely–and, if you’re willing to forgo your annual pay review, that alone could be a very persuasive argument for your employer.

5. “It’s Great for the Environment…Which Is Great for Our Reputation”

Green is trendy right now. The workforce is getting younger and younger each year as millennials rise up the corporate ladder and Generation Z starts to enter the equation. One thing we know about these emerging generations is they care about the environment more than their predecessors. So, if a business wants to attract the right workers and the right customers, they need to show they care about sustainability.

Telecommuting is one of the greenest initiatives a business can undertake. There are a host of environmental advantages to taking commuters’ cars off the roads, reducing power consumption at the office, and decongesting our cities. Consider, the following statistic: if everyone who can work from home did so just half the time, the reduction in greenhouse gases would be the same as if the entire workforce of the state of New York stopped commuting to work permanently.

You might ask your boss, “So, don’t you want your business to show it cares about the environment?”

6. “Everyone Else Is Doing It”

In the end, you’re not actually suggesting anything outrageous by asking to work remotely. About 40 percent of Americans currently work from home regularly and more than 50 percent of worldwide employees work from home at least half the week. Telecommuting is quickly becoming the new normal.

The digital revolution began long ago, and if your employer is not using this new hybrid of communication and travel to maximize their employees’ work/life balance and productivity, they are behind the times.

Subscribe to VC Daily