How to Ask Your Boss to Let You Keep Working From Home

The secret to getting your boss to say yes may be in their Myers-Briggs personality type.

Because of the Covid-19 crisis, many of us are now working remotely. Fortunately, if you are an introvert, it’s likely that you enjoy working from home since you tend to be introspective, a deep thinker, and value alone time (working or not). 

In a research survey that my team has been running since April this year, 89% of people with an introversion preference agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, “I enjoy working from home,” and 83% with, “I enjoy the peace and quiet of working from home.” 

Less than half of introverts agreed or strongly agreed with, “I miss having people around me” (compared to 80% of extraverts) and only a quarter with, “life is too quiet now.” It’s not surprising, then, that 83% of introverts said they would like to keep working from home after quarantine ends.

This is great if your organization has decided, like many well-known companies like Google and Twitter, to allow employees to continue working from home. But what if your company is not so enlightened, or if your individual manager thinks that everyone in their team should come back to the office? How can you persuade your boss to agree that you can work from home? 

Below is a three-step process that will help.

3 Steps to Ask Your Boss to Let You Keep Working Remotely

1. Understand the importance of personality types.

Before talking to your boss about wanting to continue to work from home, the first step is to understand why the process pairs of personality types are important in influencing and persuading people. 

To do so, let’s look at The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) model, which assesses four aspects of personality:

  • Are you energized by, and do you prefer to focus your attention on, the outside world of people and things (Extroversion, E) or your inner world (Introversion, I)?
  • Do you trust and prefer to use information that is practical and based on the evidence of your senses (Sensing, S) or do you pay more attention to connections and the big picture (Intuition, N)?
  • Do you prefer to make decisions based on objective logic (Thinking, T) or based on your values and on how people will be affected (Feeling, F)?
  • Do you prefer to live in an ordered, structured, planned way (Judging, J) or in an open, spontaneous, unplanned way (Perceiving, P)?

Research shows that it is the middle two aspects of type, Sensing-Intuition and Thinking-Feeling, that are the most important in guiding the way in which we attempt to influence and persuade others. They also are crucial in defining what approaches will be most effective in influencing us. 

This is not surprising, for in making any decision, we will rely on information being communicated in a way that works for us (Sensing or Intuition) and then on our preferred decision-making style (Thinking or Feeling). 

Your boss will go through the same process in deciding whether or not to allow you to work from home. But how can you work out whether they have preferences for S or N and for T or F? See Step 2 below.

2. Read your boss’s behavior.

Another important step is to assess your boss’s behavior. In other words, pick up clues about their process pairs and influencing style based on their behavior.

It is very likely that your boss is giving away clues as to whether they have preferences for Sensing or Intuition, and for Thinking or Feeling. Using these clues is, of course, not in any way a substitute for completing a formal assessment using the MBTI questionnaire, but it will give you an idea on how to approach and influence them. 

Looking first at Sensing – Intuition, does your boss generally: 

  • Give you step-by-step instructions on how to carry out a task? Or set out the overall purpose or goal but leave the details to you? 
  • Ask you for detailed and factual information on what you are doing? Or want a broad overview of how your work is going?
  • Talk about past experience, or about what’s happening right here and now? Or talk about the future and where things are headed?
  • Pay attention to the details? Or pay attention to the big picture?
  • Talk in factual terms and stick to the topic at hand? Or use metaphors, make connections, and sometimes move off-topic?

If the first sentence in each point above sounds like your boss, they may have Sensing preferences. If the second sentence seems to fit better, they may have Intuition preferences.

For Thinking – Feeling, does your boss tend to:

  • Give you feedback on what you can do better, sometimes forgetting to give you praise? Or give you mainly positive feedback, sometimes forgetting to point out things you could have done better?
  • Talk to you mainly about work issues and appear to know little about your family? Or talk (and know) about your family and your work relationships?
  • Give you recognition at the end of a project or when you have excelled? Or show that they appreciate and value your effort throughout a project?
  • Try to help you by logically analyzing an issue and offering solutions? Or try to help you by being empathetic and supportive, and checking how you are feeling?
  • Be more concerned about a good result than on maintaining harmony in the team? Or be as concerned about maintaining harmony in the team as on achieving a good result?

Once again, if more of the first sentences apply, your boss may have a Thinking preference. If more of the second sentences apply, your boss may have a Feeling preference.

You should now have a working hypothesis as to whether your boss has preferences for Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), and for Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) then, you can work out their influencing style:

  • ST (Sensing and Thinking): state the facts
  • SF (Sensing and Feeling): be practical, positive, and supportive
  • NF (Intuition and Feeling): link to and support their vision
  • NT (Intuition and Thinking): give logical options

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3. Tailor your approach.

Once you have an idea of your boss’s influencing style, it’s time for you to present your request for continuing to work from home in a way that will appeal to them.

If your boss’s style is an ST, do:

If your boss’s style is an ST, don’t:

  • Be too emotional or overly personal; just present the facts
  • Be logically inconsistent
  • Hesitate or lack confidence

If your boss’s style is an SF, do:

  • Show them that you are listening to what they say
  • Use personal facts about them (and you) and show how you feel
  • Demonstrate that working from home does not mean you are disloyal

If your boss’s style is an SF, don’t:

  • Be dry and factual, or impersonal
  • Ignore or dismiss detail; any facts need to be correct
  • Exclude important facts and feelings

If your boss’s style is an NF, do:

  • Give them an overview and explain why this is important for everyone, not just you
  • Engage their values and challenge their imagination
  • Show how working from home helps well-being

If your boss’s style is an NF, don’t:

  • Bore them with too much detail
  • Appear to lack passion
  • Forget to provide the big picture when explaining why

If your boss’s style is an NT, do:

  • Discuss the pros and cons of different possibilities
  • Present, with evidence, remote working as the way of the future
  • Acknowledge their expertise and listen to their ideas; anticipate their questions

If your boss’s style is an NT, don’t:

  • Be too personal or emotional — what are the bigger reasons you should work from home?
  • Lack focus or, when asked, evidence
  • Use irrelevant detail

Other Benefits of Knowing Your Boss’s Personality Type

Knowing something about your boss’s personality isn’t just useful for persuading them to agree to you continuing to work from home. Once we understand each other more completely, this can mean more rewarding relationships in many aspects of our lives, both in and out of work. 

And there is one big caveat here: Having your personality inferred by someone else is never a substitute for finding out about it for yourself, and in an ideal world you, your boss, and the other members of your team might all have gone through a personality assessment and feedback together. 

One final tip: Never, never say to your boss, “I know your personality, you are a …” They probably won’t react well to this. Each of us owns our personality, and ultimately, it is our choice as to who we are and what type fits us best.

By using the three-step process above as a guide, however, you can be better equipped for a conversation with your boss in broaching the topic of continuing to work from home. And, in any case, it can help you strengthen your communication skills, as well as your relationship with them.

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Written By

John Hackston, head of thought leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, is a chartered psychologist with more than 30 years’ experience in helping clients to use psychometric tests and questionnaires in a wide range of contexts including selection, leadership development, performance management, and team building.