10 ways to convince your employer to let you work from home

young woman making writing notes sitting at a desk in her living room
young woman making writing notes sitting at a desk in her living room

For many of us – and especially for those with young families and other caring duties – being able to work from home can offer much-needed flexibility. It can also allow any employee to better balance their working lives.

Since Covid, flexible working has become the norm among many office jobs, and many people are working from home at least for part of the week. Yet “flexi working” is also controversial – with politicians and some bosses warning that its rise has had a negative effect on productivity.

Under new employment law, you can now make a statutory request to work flexibly from day one of starting a new job – and this can include working from home. Previously, you had to be employed for at least 26 weeks before being able to do so.

Further changes to the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 which were introduced in April 2024 mean you are also now entitled to make up to two of these requests in a 12-month period; prior to this date you were only allowed one.

The aim of the new rules is to make it easier to ask for flexible working. Crucially though, the changes are to your right to ask for a change to your working conditions, your employer is well within its rights to refuse.

Employers are not required to say yes

While employers are required to consider a flexible working request – and to deal with it in a fair manner – they are under no obligation to agree to it. The decision is ultimately up to individual firms which must weigh up benefits, such as attracting and retaining talent, against any adverse business impact.

If your employer does turn down your request, this has to be due to one of a list of eight genuine “business reasons”. These include: the burden of additional costs, the inability to reorganise work among existing staff, or because it will have a detrimental impact on the performance of the organisation.

However, it is thought that these recent changes will encourage employers to take a more positive approach to flexible working so that requests are not rejected by default. There are also hopes that employers will be more willing to engage in an open dialogue about what may be workable.

How can you improve your chances?

While there are no guarantees of getting a “yes” from your boss to your request to work from home, there are certain things you can say and do to improve your chances of building a successful argument. Here, we take a closer look at some strategies to consider when trying to convince your employer to agree to you working from home.

1. Think about how to present your case

Before making your request, give some serious thought to how you’re going to present your proposal to your employer.

Natalie Ellis, director of HR consultancy Rebox HR, said: “Emphasise how working from home can increase your productivity. Apply it to your personal circumstances – and consider referencing the many publicised studies that show remote workers are often more focused and efficient.”

Point out that working from home can allow for a more flexible schedule, which can lead to better work-life balance and improved employee morale.

Ms Ellis added: “Highlight how being able to set your own hours can help you accommodate personal commitments without sacrificing work quality.”

2. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes

One of the key ways to persuade your employer to agree to let you work from home is to show in your request that you have genuinely considered it from their point of view.

This is according to Joanna Booty who has 25 years’ experience in corporate HR, and now runs her own company, Bergamot HR.

She said: “As well as talking about how it will benefit you, show that you’ve considered the impact on the business. While you’re no longer legally required to submit this information, having a measured, adult conversation about it can help build trust and confidence between you.”

This is a view shared by Greg Burgess, a partner in the employment team at law firm DMH Stallard.

He said: “Pre-empt challenges that your employer may bring by considering the following: How will you stay connected with the line manager, the team and the business? How will you maximise your productivity? Will you be able to attend the office occasionally if you’re suddenly needed?”

Remember to give some thought to your home working environment, too.

Mr Burgess added: “Are there any IT or health and safety concerns? Do you have a private working space at home which avoids disruption from family members and pets and so on? Will you still be able to protect the confidentiality of your clients, customers or employer’s business information?”

If you can, try and offer solutions to mitigate concerns, such as scheduling regular check-in meetings or implementing security measures.

3. Share success stories

You may be able to make your case more persuasive if you can cite some success stories you can use as examples.

Katie Elliott, HR consultant at HRKatie.co.uk, said: “Showcase previous achievements made while working remotely. Think if there was a big project that you delivered at the height of Covid, or any experience you have of working with a client overseas whom you never met in person.”

If you can highlight specific projects where you maintained – or even increased – productivity while working from home, this can help to reassure your employer about your effectiveness while doing your job remotely.

Also see whether there are colleagues who work successfully from home that you can use as an example.

Mr Burgess said: “Speak to them to see how they went about persuading the company to agree.”

4. Think about why previous requests have been rejected

Give some thought to why you – or others – have been turned down in the past.

Ms Elliott said: “Use this information to ensure your request more closely aligns with the company objectives. You could perhaps explain how remote working can contribute to cost savings, higher productivity, or better work-life balance, which can in turn lead to enhanced employee satisfaction, and better retention of staff.”

In addition, you might want to consider elaborating, if it is appropriate, on some of the more general benefits to a business of flexible working, such as broadening the spectrum of people working at the company, as well as reducing sickness absence.

5. Play the ‘family card’

If caring or parenting is behind your request, it’s important to share that fact, according to Sam Kennedy Christian, a career coach who supports parents navigating flexible working requests.

She said: “Refusing your request could be considered discrimination under the Equality Act.”

6. Get the ball rolling with an informal conversation

A clever approach can involve you inviting your employer to help you – and to be on your side.

Ms Kennedy Christian said: “Start with an informal conversation. Ask them to help you shape your request so you can do your best to suggest an approach that works well for the team. Problem-solve together.”

When trying to put forward a successful case, try to think about what’s on their mind.

“Reflect on what usually persuades them, and what worries them. Use these to shape how you share your proposal,” she added.

7. Suggest a trial period

This could be a good compromise to get started – plus it could be deemed “unreasonable” if an employer refuses to at least give it a go. At the same time, it’s also a great way to build evidence about what works well – and to find solutions to any challenges.

Ms Ellis said: “As part of the request, you could propose a trial period during which you can work from home for a set amount of time, such as a month or a few weeks. This allows your employer to assess the feasibility and effectiveness of remote work without making a long-term commitment upfront.”

The key here is assuring your employer that you will remain focused on achieving your goals and meeting deadlines, regardless of your location.

Ms Ellis added: “Highlight specific metrics or key performance indicators that can be used to measure your success while working remotely.”

Ensure you agree on a specific date for reviewing the trial – and what would happen next.

8. Be professional

Emphasise that you are committed to maintaining high work standards even when working from home.

Offer to provide regular progress updates, participate in virtual team meetings, and be available during designated working hours.

9. Follow the correct procedure

Make sure you are clear on the company’s policy and procedure for requesting flexible working.

Ms Booty said: “You want to make sure the request is submitted to the correct person and with all the required information.”

As well as following your company’s procedure, you should also check that you are following the official procedures, too.

“Hopefully it won’t come to this, but if you did end up at a tribunal over your request, the judge will consider whether you – and the employer – have followed the ACAS Code of Practice,” she added.

10. Be willing to compromise

Finally, don’t forget that flexibility works both ways.

Ms Booty said: “Be prepared to adapt your proposal during consultation if it becomes apparent that it could be rejected on the basis of one of the ‘eight business reasons’. It may be useful to think through a few alternative options that could work for you, in advance of a consultation meeting. That way, you are not thinking on your feet.”

Remember, if you are willing to compromise with your employer as part of the request process, this shows your willingness to collaborate – and find a solution that fits both your needs and the needs of your company.

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