There are all kinds of reasons you might need to work from home. Some serious, some casual. Regardless, sometimes it’s just easier to work from home. The WFH excuses below are segmented into time allotments, this should make it easier to pick a reason that matches best with your specific situation. I would suggest using these “excuses” as real reasons, but use them as you wish.
WFH Excuses (<1 day)
Maybe you need to take a break from the office or have something pressing that you want to keep private from your work colleagues. Regardless, this first batch of excuses can be used for a half-day (or so).
That emergency babysitter situation.
That elderly woman across the street who fell in her kitchen.
In close-knit communities or for those with older neighbors, there can be times when immediate and unforeseen assistance is very needed. Being able to work from home allows employees to be available for their neighbors in times of need, fostering a sense of community and mutual support. This reason, while perhaps less common, underscores the flexibility and potential societal benefits of remote work. Just be confident that you can sell “societal benefits of remote work” when you’re asking your boss to WFH ;).
Cable/Internet/Contractor is Coming
You might be able to move this into the “1 day” category, but that’s probably pushing your luck. Usually, you have a half-day window when someone will plan on being at your home. Assuming you can schedule this time around midmorning, it’s likely that you will be able to use this excuse until at least early afternoon (most windows aren’t less than 4 hours). If you can choose your window, I’d suggest between 10am – 2pm. That way, your boss is unlikely to want you in the morning OR in the afternoon.
This can cover a wealth of types of appointments. It could be for a dentist, dermatologist, chiropractor, or if you really want to lay on the authenticity, just say you’re getting a colonoscopy. There isn’t a manager in the world that’s going to question that.
Studying for a Certification
It goes without saying that this would likely need to be something work-related to have a chance at working. In marketing, for example, there are many certifications that Google provides that can help pad our resume quite nicely. They can be intense and definitely require lots of study (Google Analytics certification, as an example). When asking your boss to WFH using this excuse, I would suggest focusing on how getting this certification is going to help the company.
Whether you think jury duty is important, or it repulses you, it’s something that can’t be avoided. Even if you have a foolproof plan to get out of it, you still have to address it with your county. Your company should have a “jury duty” plan in place, so I wouldn’t worry too much about this. It’s likely you can go through the initial phase and be back before lunch. This would give you at least half a day to work from home. The complication may come if you actually get picked to be on the jury…
Other Civic Duties
Jury duty isn’t the only obligatory civic duty that you can use as a WFH excuse. There are plenty of commissions, boards, and councils that have meetings throughout business hours. Some of these might need your participation, or at the very least, have something to do with your neighborhood. Most municipalities have calendars where all this is listed for the public to see. Here’s the one for Dallas, as an example.
Assuming your employer allows you to use your paid time off (PTO) liberally, it’s very likely that you can use it for a sick pet (assuming it’s an emergency). Scheduling a visit to the veterinarian outside of work hours is ideal, but if you can’t do that then this is an excellent reason to be absent from work. If none of these options are available to you and you need to take time off work to care for your pet, using a PTO day may be appropriate.
Be ready to show a veterinarian’s note for a pet. The only time this likely wouldn’t be questioned is if your employer has pet accommodations built into their job descriptions.
Attend a Funeral
Grieving the loss of a loved one is a difficult time, and most employers understand and respect the need to attend a funeral.
You could say something like, “I’m sorry to have to let you know that a family member has passed away, and I will need to go to the funeral service on XYZ date.” Make sure that you are sympathetic to your workload that still has to be done, but that you will still try to get everything done in a timely manner.
Make sure to give your boss as much notice as possible so they can make arrangements for covering your work while you are away. I highly suggest checking any company policies regarding bereavement leave or time off for personal matters. Most companies have policies in place for these situations and will be able to guide you through the process.
Have to Pick Up Your Kid From School
Picking up your little one from school or daycare because of illness is generally considered a valid reason to miss work, as it is a pressing family matter that requires attention. Many workplaces understand the importance of family responsibilities and offer leave or other accommodations for such situations. That said, if you need to take time off frequently to care for a sick child, you may want to explore options for flexible work arrangements to help balance your work and family obligations.
This is a little vague, which likely won’t help your authenticity. However, it absolutely happens and is a perfectly understandable excuse for missing work. Hopefully, you can come up with an excuse that matches the technology of current cars though, otherwise your manager might be raise an eyebrow!
Prepping for an Important Event
Think: Christmas, graduation, or Thanksgiving. If you’re in charge of hosting, it can take a great deal of prep work. The food, cleaning around the house, etc, it’s all a ton of work! You will certainly need an understanding and trusting boss to approve this, but it’s definitely possible.
If you’re unfortunate enough to still have to go into the office for work, this is a perfectly reasonable excuse under the right circumstances. This is one of those things that can be verified by your employer, so I would suggest you be honest here, or at the very least, live in a place that has frequent traffic slowdowns.
Waiting for a Delivery
Some deliveries need to be signed for or are just super important and time-sensitive. This will only buy you a half-day max, but unique enough to probably not raise any red flags. Protip: let your boss know that it’s a food delivery and that you don’t want it to be left outside.
Locked Out of Car
If you use this excuse, be prepared for some teasing. Partially because your car is old enough for this to still be a thing, and also because you did it in the first place! But hey, if you live a far way away from the office, it’s perfectly reasonable. Not to mention, there’s no way for your boss to disprove it.
WFH Excuses (1-5 days)
Everyone gets sick, it’s an easy one to use because it’s true. I suppose if you want to also get some sympathy you can say it’s food poisoning. That is a perfect wfh excuse for a day or so. And if you’re in New York, you have laws on your side that actually dictate that your employer has to give you a certain amount of sick leave.
Driving Your Teen to College
This is dangerously close to needing to just call off the day completely, but if you assure your boss that you can take calls from the road, then you should be golden. This is unique enough, yet simultaneously plausible enough to be a perfectly reasonable wfh excuse.
Less Distractions During a Major Project
Personally, I think this is perfectly reasonable. If you’ve ever been on a tight deadline on a hard project, you can probably relate to this. Not only do you need every waking minute to work on it (i.e., not spending time commuting), but you don’t need all the office-related distractions either. Depending on the project, this excuse could buy you several days of being able to work from home. Just make sure you’re making good use of your time while at home.
You’d likely need a one-in-a-million boss who also has an affinity for basketball, but hey, it could happen. Maybe you could make a deal with them to get lots of your work done over a weekend so you can watch specific game(s) during the week…
Terrible Car Accident
This actually happened to me when I was a teenager. An awful accident that I witnessed involved me pulling a trucker out of his truck, and giving statements to the police. It had rained the night before as well, so my khakis and dress shoes were soaked in mud. Definitely not business casual at that point.
Similarly, you could just say there was massive traffic backup from an accident (protip: fatalities have the longest backups…).
There are plenty of wfh excuses that revolve around family emergencies, some of which are on this list. Choose one from here, or come up with your own. My suggestion is just to make it unique and something your manager can relate to.
Laptop is Destroyed
Hopefully this isn’t the company laptop! Assuming it’s your personal computer you’re looking at at least one day of missed work. Even in the highly unlikely event that you know exactly what laptop you want, and you have the money for it, you are still going to have to get to the store, buy it, go back home, then set it up completely.
If your home has been burgled, you will want to take the time to deal with the situation. Not just the physical violation, but emotional as well. Things you will want to do right away include: filing a police report, assessing any damages or losses, and taking steps to secure your home. Any reasonable manager is going to understand your need to work through this process. Keep in mind that you may be required to show proof of the crime via the police report or insurance claim.
This one might be a little tricky, as many employers aren’t as empathetic to military families as they should be. If your spouse is preparing for a deployment, it’s absolutely plausible that you will need to help him or her to do so. Between packing, arranging child care, or taking them to the airport, there can be a lot to do.
Death in the Family
This would be really messed up to use this as a wfh excuse if it wasn’t true, but realistically, if you have a remote position then it likely wouldn’t ever be uncovered. However, just know that the worst may happen for real one day and you may have some explaining to do in the event of a real death.
This is super risky if it’s not true, so use it at your own risk. That said, it’s a perfectly reasonable excuse to wfh for a day or so. The delay could be for weather or even a technical issue on the side of the airline. Assure your boss that you’re still able to work, but that communication may be spotty.
Depending on where you are, this may take on different meanings. I’m in Texas, so heavy snow or small amounts of ice will basically shut down entire metropolitan areas. Our infrastructure isn’t equipt with the tools to deal with that, so it’s actually easier and cheaper to shut the place down. However, this wfh excuse wouldn’t really work for you if you lived in NYC or Boston.
Flooding in Your Home
Unfortunately, this has also happened to me multiple times. Not weather-related, but leaks. It’s a pain in the ass for sure. The carpet has to be ripped up, and new carpet put down. Even after that, large blowers will need to be placed throughout the affected areas so that the sheetrock can be dried and hopefully salvaged. If you use this as a fake excuse to wfh, keep in mind that you shouldn’t “be able” to work from home in these conditions – you would have to work from somewhere else because of the noise of the blowers.
Honestly, if this is used falsely it’s kind of a jerk move, but you do you. This excuse would need to be true, but could revolve around an attack near wherever you live. This could be any number of terrible things: a bombing, stabbing spree, a threat to the subway, whatever. Either way, just make sure it’s true and you feel threatened by going into the office.
Training a New Puppy
I have a relative who has done this. He’s in a senior role, so I’m sure that helps too. It’s a reasonable excuse if your company is very pet-friendly, but will likely only work for a few weeks during the potty training of puppyhood.
Unfortunately, this only applies to those of you in a house, not an apartment. Fumigating for pests is painful enough as it is, so it’s only fitting that it’s the perfect reason to WFH. It’s a process that can take several days to fully complete, during which you’ll need to be out of the house. However, you’ll still need to be nearby to facilitate access for the pest control company and to handle any issues/questions that pop up. In such cases, working from home (or in this case, from a nearby location like a coffee shop or a neighbor’s home) can be a practical solution.
A vasectomy is pretty simple nowadays, and doesn’t take much time to actually complete (10-20 minutes for the actual procedure). However, the recovery period is several days. It’s not typically forbidden to go into work, but recommended. Most doctors will recommend working from home on the couch (somewhere comfortable), or not at all. This period is between 2-7 days usually, and easy enough to get a doctor’s note to confirm that timeline.
WFH Excuses (permanently)
Many employers are open to flexible work arrangements and may be willing to accommodate this request if it can benefit both you and the company. That said, many companies offer child care stipends for remote employees, so you may already receive a benefit that would make this wfh excuse moot. Make sure to check before asking.
You’re More Productive at Home
Plenty of people are more comfortable working at home, and in turn, can be much more productive without the consistent distractions of a workplace. This is becoming a more and more popular reason for workers to wfh. There have been study after study confirming (like this one from Stanford) that just because a boss isn’t watching over a worker in an office doesn’t mean they aren’t productive. In many cases, they’re even MORE productive.
Burnout is very real in today’s workplace, and perhaps the best legit reason to wfh permanently. Many companies are waking up to the fact that they can’t just whip their employees harder to make them more productive. There needs to be tenderness as well, otherwise, the worker will burnout.
Because of this, they are more sensitive to this danger and willing to entertain wfh scenarios for employees. If you’re going to use this as a reason, I would suggest going to your boss with reasons that support this need. You don’t want to have a conversation that just focuses on your feelings. Focus also on how a new wfh arrangement can ultimately help the company overall.
Working from home can reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating the daily commute. As more people become environmentally conscious, this reason for remote work is gaining traction and is often appreciated by employers who value sustainability. As with other suggestions on this list, I would say that this would work much better on some bosses than others. Tread carefully.
Your Commute is Rough
In Dallas, where I am, commutes can be awful. The city is very spread out, and like many other cities in America, bursting at the seems. This is a recipe for long delays and wasted time in the car. Conversely, if you live in Upper Manhattan and are travelling to Brooklyn in the morning, you’re still spending an hour on the train one-way. Either way you cut it, commuting can be a massive time-killer. In fact, 22% of all commuters travel longer than 30 minutes going to and from work.
Address this with your boss in a way that’s similar to burnout – by focusing on the numbers. If you’re spending two hours just commuting, that doesn’t make for a happy employee, and not nearly as productive either. Can you make an argument for being more productive on your work if you didn’t have such a burdensome commute? What about spinning it by saying it would be easier to make early morning (or late) calls if you didn’t have such a long commute?
Regardless of the reasons you provide, there are a lot of companies out there that are offering hybrid working arrangements, so maybe that’s a possibility at your workplace as well!