The crucial denying work-from-home etiquette rules. How to turn down an employee’s request for work from home appropriately and constructively.

What denying work-from-home etiquette is

Denying work-from-home etiquette is the set of rules to turn down an employee’s request to work remotely constructively. Such rules include:

  • How to appropriately turn down an employee for work from home.
  • The behaviors to avoid.

As a manager or an employer, follow denying work-from-home etiquette to constructively turn down employees’ requests to work remotely.

how to turn down an employee request for working remotely

Denying work from home: the etiquette rules

1) Have an objective work-from-home policy

Managers and employers have the right to manage requests for work-from-home to avoid negative impacts on their team, company, customers, and business partners.

It is most appropriate to have a clear and objective policy to norm remote working. The purpose of the policy is to allow employees to request to work remotely according to a few objective criteria. When a good work-from-home policy is in place, most requests tend to comply with the policy. Thus, there is almost no need to deny or discuss them.

A good work-from-home policy should respect the employees’ privacy and allow them as much flexibility as possible. It should state the objective criteria that can justify denying work-from-home. For example, limiting remote work to a few times a month or objective situations.

2) Be clear and appropriate when denying work from home

It is best to deny work from home in person. Avoid doing it over the phone, via text or voice messages, or through email, as they are impersonal and the message and its tone can be misinterpreted.

Start by making your decision clear. Keep a positive tone of voice and positive body language. Do not question or mention the employee’s reasons for requesting work-from-home. Stick to the team and company policies and needs.

3) Explain the reasons behind your decision

When denying work-from-home, state the reasons behind your decision. Say why you think it is not the right time, or refer to the company’s remote work policy.

Provide some explanation based on objective data and facts. Make sure that you are unbiased and avoid any discriminatory behavior. Do not deny work from home without providing any reason, as it is incorrect and disrespectful of the employees.

4) Suggest an alternative path

If appropriate, you can suggest an alternative path. In other words, turn your “no” into a “not now”. State under what conditions you will be able to approve a request for working remotely.

5) Ask the employee for feedback and buy-in

Ask the employee for feedback about your decision and thought process. Let the employee speak. Listen to any concerns and frustration. Ideally, the employee should acknowledge the company’s or team’s needs.

If they do not agree, ask them to explain their reasons and provide data and facts in their support. Be open to their opinions and review your decision.

6) Allow the employee time to absorb the rejection

Be understanding after turning an employee down for work from home. The rejection can be disappointing and may take time to absorb. Allow the employee some time to reflect on the decision, accept it, and regain motivation.

denying work from home request mistakes

Denying work from home etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the worst denying work-from-home etiquette mistakes. 

  • 10/10. Denying a request to work from home because of bias (discrimination).
  • 8/10. Denying a request to work from home without explanation.
  • 6/10. Not having an objective work-from-home policy.