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Working from home is increasingly common as employers and employees learn the benefits of remote work. Employees enjoy a better work-life balance, fewer distractions, and lower living costs while employers get more productive and engaged employees.
However, many companies still want to know why you want to work from home. So if you're applying for a remote job or work-from-home position, be ready to explain your motivations to your potential employer.
This article guides you through creating your answer and gives you example answers for inspiration.
What is work from home?
Work from home (or remote work, or working remotely) is an employment arrangement where you work outside a traditional office environment.
Working from a home office is increasingly accessible thanks to new technologies, changing social norms, and studies supporting its efficacy. A study from Stanford showed remote workers are more productive than their in-office colleagues.
Not only does it offer productivity increases, but it can also increase employee morale as it typically offers a more flexible schedule which gives people more hours in the day to spend on hobbies or with friends and family.
What interviewers want to know
Employers ask questions like "Why do you want to work from home?" and "Why do you want to work remotely?" to ensure you can be successful in an unstructured work environment without direct supervision.
If you're looking for a remote job, the hiring process will include an interview to verify your suitability for remote work. Employers want to know your motivations and whether you have the remote work skills required to succeed. Your objective is to convince the interviewer that you do, and a work from home arrangement is in the company's best interest.
If you're not looking for a new job but want to work from home, there are ways to ask your employer to let you work from home.
Related: How to ace an online job interview
How to answer "Why do you want to work from home?"
Preparation is the foundation of a good answer to "Why do you want to work from home?" Before you can answer it for your interviewer, you need a clear understanding of your motivation for why you want a remote job.
Follow the steps below to craft an effective response that will increase your chances.
1. List out your reasons
Start by asking yourself, "Why do I want to work from home?" then list out everything that comes to mind. Don't worry about crafting a compelling answer yet. Focus on getting everything on the page. Your reasons could include:
- Reducing workplace distractions
- Eliminating your daily commute
- Reducing your environmental impact
- A more flexible schedule
- More time for your personal life and family
- Desire to move to a new location
- Having young kids at home
- Caring for an ill family member
- Fear of contracting COVID-19
Once you're satisfied with your list of reasons, organize them into thematic groups and pick the top three to five reasons as your primary discussion points.
2. Research the benefits of remote work for employers
Now that you've got your list of reasons, it's time to think about things from an employer's perspective. While many companies now understand the value of remote work, it's still a good idea to show that you aren't only thinking about yourself.
Be ready to communicate the benefits of remote work for employers:
- Increased employee productivity
- Lower costs
- Easier recruitment and access to a larger talent pool
- Increased employee satisfaction and better employee retention
- Better disaster preparedness
- Better networked employees
- Lower carbon footprint
Related: Ultimate list of remote work statistics
3. Map your motivations to the employer's benefits
Once you have your list of reasons and the benefits the business could receive from supporting work from home, it's time to map your reasons to their benefits. You want to be as specific as possible.
For example, if you included better work-life balance as a primary motivation for working from home, you'll want to emphasize how this will lead to you being more engaged and productive when at work.
Your goal is to paint a picture of a world where personal motivations benefit you and the company.
Below are more examples you can use:
- You'll be more productive working from home because you'll have fewer interruptions and more time for deep work
- Working from home could help you improve your work-life balance, which would make you a more engaged employee who is less likely to leave
- No commute means a lower carbon footprint for you and your employer
- Both you and the company can save money because you can move to a cheaper locale and the company doesn't have to pay for your desk at work
- By supporting remote work, the company will have the ability to hire remote employees, which increases their access to talent
4. Don't forget to sell yourself
Remember, you're interviewing for a new job so don't forget to sell yourself! Read the job description in full, research the company, and use the STAR method to structure bespoke answers to highlight you have the skills and experience required to succeed in the position.
5. Emphasize your fit for the company culture
Contrary to popular belief, companies that support remote work tend to have robust company cultures and look for employees who can add to it.
Researching the company is the best way to understand the culture. You need to know what they value, find alignment, and emphasize why you're a great fit.
For example, if the company is fully remote and relies primarily on asynchronous communication, it makes sense to emphasize deep work and writing over real-time communication.
6. Practice your answer
Write down your answer ahead of time and ask a friend or family member to ask you different interview questions to get comfortable answering them. You don't need to memorize answers verbatim, but a few mock interviews can make you feel more confident.
Related: How to prepare for a behavioral interview
7. Show your remote work skills
Use the hiring process to demonstrate your remote work skills. You can do this by:
- Showing that you're self-motivated and time zone conscious
- Sending a follow-up email after the interview
- Emphasizing your communication skills
Example answers to "Why do you want to work from home?"
Here are some sample answers to help you explain why you want to work from home:
- "Preparing for and commuting to work takes me an hour each day. If I'm working from home, I'll be able to shave off at least an hour a day which will allow me to focus more on my work."
- "As a software engineer, I do my best work when I have hours of uninterrupted time. Hours of uninterrupted time are hard to find in an office environment as I don't control what other people are doing, making it hard to stay on task. The salespeople are very loud in the office, and it impacts my ability to focus and produce good code."
- "I'm trying to minimize my impact on the environment. Driving to and from work means I'm emitting unneeded carbon emissions when I could be working from home. WFH not only helps me save money and reduce my impact, but it'll also show that the company is doing its part to help the environment."
- "I want to pick my kids up from school. Working from home would allow me to start my day sooner. I find that I'm most productive in the morning too, so I'll be able to produce better quality work for the company while also being able to pick up my kids."
- "I'm more of a night owl, so I'm interested in a more flexible work schedule where I can start and finish later. I know I thrive when I can work at night and will be more productive working from home."
- "I want to work from home because I find I'm more effective when I have control over my environment. WFH would also save the company money as it wouldn't be required to pay for my commute, desk, or electricity costs."
Tips for answering "Why do you want to work from home?"
- Be honest and positive: While it's essential to sell yourself, you want to be honest. Don't say you plan to use the hours saved commuting to work if you plan to use it to work out. Instead, focus on why you'll be able to work better while working from home.
- Discuss the benefits for you and the company: Make sure your answer benefits both parties. It's OK to talk about why you want to work from home as long as it helps the business. For example, you might mention that you're most productive in the morning, but that is currently eaten up by commuting.
- Highlight your remote work skills: Remote work skills are a set of tangible and intangible skills essential to productivity in a remote work environment, such as accountability, problem-solving, adaptability, and written communication.
Mistakes to avoid when answering "Why do you want to work from home?"
- Don't disqualify yourself from in-office work: If you don't want to work in an office, look for fully remote jobs.
- Don't lie: Nothing good comes from lying in a job interview. If you claim that you'll be productive at home but need someone looking over your shoulder to work, it won't end well.
- Don't focus on yourself: You want to paint a picture of how working from home helps you become a better worker, not how it helps you do more of what you want.
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