I am a very recent grad and landed a job as a developer at a local company. I have worked at this company for about a month.

The problem

I live in a suburb more than an hour away from work which equates to 10-15 hours of transit weekly. I have had a hard time focusing as we develop on an open floor concept office space which lends itself to many distractions. What's worse is that my boss sits right behind me... which means I am literally being watched for 7.5 hours directly by my boss...

As much as I love programming and applied mathematics, I'm having a really hard time putting in my 100% which is unfair both to myself and my employer. I knew something was wrong when I went from thinking about programming all day to watching the clock every few minutes to see how much longer I had left before I could go home...

Why I want to work remote?

I have had an extremely productive graduate school career. This was due to both the fact that I worked for an amazing PI and the fact that I worked remote 2 days a week (which were by far my most productive days). I found that remote work allowed me to treat programming more as a "hobby" than "work" which led to great results as I was not flooded/surrounded by HR/bureaucracy, workplace cliques, etc.

My question

How soon is it "safe" to ask to work remotely 1-2 days a week? I have worked at this company for under a month and am still on a probation period. I am concerned about what my employer will think of me if I ask this early (we do have some people working remotely). It's clear to me, however, that I cannot continue like this.

  • Not saying it's a solution, but if it's only "noise" that bothers you, did you try using a headphone (not necessarily playing audio, just the earplugs)? Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 15:15
  • 1
    There are a couple of persons working remote, yes. But not many. And yes, I do listen to music but the big issue is more just me "not wanting to program at that location". I transit 2.5 hours daily literally to sit in front of my boss for 7.5-8 hours.
    – James
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 15:18
  • 5
    Why is this being downvoted? And by the way, both close votes are wrong.
    – rath
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 17:25
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    @Fattie Overmoderation at its best. That's why I rarely use SE to ask questions. People are way too quick to take action against any possible questions which don't fit some overly strict criteria.
    – James
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 4:15
  • 1
    Have the workplace been moved overnight after you interviewed for the position? Cause I don't think complaining about commute when you knew very well the situation when you accepted the job a few weeks ago would give anything good.
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 8:10

5 Answers 5


We don't know. When it comes to telecommunting, the attitudes of companies vary between:

  • "Why are you wasting expensive office space when you could just as well work from home?"
  • "Everyone should choose where they can work most productively"
  • "Everyone can have up to X days per week telecommuting, but there is mandatory attendance"
  • "It's a reward for the most productive and trusted employees"
  • "Only allowed in extraordinary circumstances"
  • "Nobody telecommutes ever"

We don't know your companies views on telecommuting, so we don't know whether they would allow you to telecommute, now or in the future.

The best way to find out is to ask your boss:

What is our companies policy on telecommuting?

and she will explain to you under which conditions it is allowed and whether you qualify or not.

  • 1
    A telecommuting policy is indeed in place. We do not need to physically be in the office but we do need to be "available" during standard work hours.
    – James
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:41
  • @David If you already know your policy regarding telecommuting, then why don't you ask your boss about what you need to do to be allowed to telecommute?
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:44
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    So we have 1-on-1 meetings with the boss to talk about anything and everything for about 30 minutes. Each employee has to do this once a month for some HR "bonding" reason. I plan on discussing my wish to telecommute once a week during one of these sessions with my boss.
    – James
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:47
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    @David Sounds like a plan. But you might want to be careful about complaining too much about the open floor offices and especially not about everyone speaking hebrew.
    – Philipp
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:49
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    Yes - totally understandable.
    – James
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 8:11

While it's usually OK to ask just about anything, sometimes who you ask, or don't ask, is just as important.

You can do some leg work without talking to the boss.

Since you say the company already supports domestic remote workers, you can ask one of them if you have a good relationship or someone who's been there a while with whom you have a good casual relationship.

Consider it just some basic research so you know what to expect when you eventually do approach the boss about it. Knowing the company procedures and expectations will help you better make your case.

  • I'm going to ask one of the remote workers about this, yes. I do feel this is the best course of action at this point.
    – James
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 15:28
  • David dude - why oh why would you waste one more hour at a company you don't like, which is on-site and a long commute?? I just found four spectacular opportunities for you. Who doesn't work remote these days? (Unless - and that's totally fine - you enjoy going in to an office.) What you're "really" saying in your question is "I want to leave this dump but I have fear of quitting since I'm a new worker." Just don't even go in today, forget they ever existed. My God, you're young, single, staggeringly employable and there are contracts laying around for you like sand on a beach.
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 17:32
  • "I just found four spectacular opportunities for you" ie in a 5 second search
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 17:32

First of all, I fervently endorse the second part of item 1 in @Fattie 's answer. Now, from my experience as a mathematician who is also a skilled programmer: usually, the best spot to ask for such thing is... during the interview. As in

Hey interviewer, I have a very long commute from home, is it possible to work remotely in this position once or twice a week?

If the answer is no, this is definitely the best time to know, as it will help you take informed decisions about your professional path. If the answer is yes, then it is also the best time to know.

Now, this does not help you with your current job. In that case I would openly discuss the situation with your boss/the corresponding person. Include the long commute issue. Just don't make it seem too concerning, make sure that you ask it in an informative and non-commiting tone and chances are that you'll get the information you need. The vaguer the answer, the less likely that they will allow it.

  • I'm all in for fevered endorsement! Where is the "SEND BOTTLE OF WHISKY" button?!
    – Fattie
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 17:29
  • Yes. I kind of wish I had asked during the interview. It was my first ever interview and my first ever job. I sort of accepted the job because [1] I was quite fortunate to even get an offer so soon after graduating (especially compared to some of my MechE friends), [2] the pay is very good, [3] all things aside the work is interesting. In hindsight, I do wish I asked about remote work during the interview.
    – James
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:40

How soon is it "safe" to ask to work remotely 1-2 days a week?

Will 1 - 2 days a week fix this ? I don't think so. Working with people from different nationalities might be an awesome experience. Maybe learning some Hebrew ? Can you imagine that ?

I live in a suburb more than an hour away from work

My friend, many people have way longer commutes than yours... Is it a problem, really?

How soon is it "safe" to ask to work remotely

That ain't no 8th world wonder. As a matter of fact, depending on your home environment, it might be worse than going to the office. On the other hand (don't know where are you from) , in my country it's kinda a privilege to be conquered.

Answering your question: "recently" is too soon buddy. But good luck anyway.

  • "I live in a suburb more than an hour away from work". It is when 10-15 hours are spent a week on transit, yes. It's also a problem when it costs $200 monthly....
    – James
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 4:19
  • @David Doesn't your company bear your commuting expenses ? If they doesn't... then i agree: this is a problem. It changes the scenario a lot.
    – the_piper
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 11:26
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    Nope unfortunately they don't. I live in Canada (for reference) and here in Canada transit to work is not a work expense. Some companies offer a carpool/shuttle program but that is quite rare (and hosts problems in itself).
    – James
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 15:44
  • Too bad @David In this case, as i said before, working remotely becomes necessary, considering this fact and if(yeah, i didn't consider that...) your commute is too long or too dificult. For reference: In Brazil, where i live, commuting expenses are beared by the companies.
    – the_piper
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 16:03
  • In Finland, most employers give zero commute support. At best, I have had about 8 % of monthly expenses (10 euros out of 125 euros on average) covered :) the commutes in our capital region can be more than an hour. Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 9:05

The best time to ask for this perk is: Before you get hired, not after.

Now you're going to surprise your employer where he thought he has an employee in the office 5 days/week, the employee actually only wants to be there 3.

This is something you should lay on the table from the get go, not wait.

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