How To Resign When You Work From Home: We Asked The Experts

By Robert David Orr / Last updated: Nov 8, 2022

Has the time come to resign from your job as a remote employee, but you’re not quite sure what would be the best way to do it?

If you are thinking about quitting your job but the intricacies of working from home are making you feel uncomfortable or unsure of how to go about it, then this article is for you!

In this article I will:

  • Show you how to tactfully and diplomatically quit your job if you work remotely
  • Teach you what to say and what not to say when you resign
  • Give you candid advice from CEOs, HR managers, and business owners of all kinds
  • And much more!

In order to get you the best possible, expert feedback and input, I’ve consulted CEOs, HR managers, business owners and leaders of all types so you can get the behind the scenes look into how to handle your resignation like a pro, and leaving the door open for future collaboration all without burning any bridges or ruining your reputation in the process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Create a strategy for how you will handle letting your employer know, and how to handle the transition.
  • Treat the resignation from your remote job just like you would treat resigning from an in-person job.
  • How you handle your resignation is a reflection on who you are as a professional and as a human being, and carrying yourself the right way will help you more in the long run.

Real quick: before we get too far along here, if you want to get some great ideas for your home office and connect with other home office hackers to make your space the best join my free private Facebook group, Home Office Hacks here.

Whatever you do, don’t just ghost your employer

Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean you don’t need to take resignation seriously when it’s time to move on.

You should always be prepared to give proper notice and make sure that you have a plan of action ready before you tell your boss about your decision to leave, even if you’re thinking of quitting your job, be careful not to just disappear. Instead, be a professional and give your boss at least two weeks’ notice. This gives them enough time to find another employee to replace you. And if you quit suddenly, you leave behind bad references, and damaged relationships.

Demonstrate courtesy, respect, and professionalism. After all, you never know who else you may need help from down the road.

Employee ghosting is more common in remote work than you would probably think. This is especially true if you have a distributed workforce that is separated by miles or even international boundaries. It is so easy for an employee to just drop the ball without saying anything, and this can cause disruptions or at least some inconveniences to their employers.

For this reason, it means a lot to employers in remote companies to be given proper notices by employees who decide to leave. Whatever their reason for leaving is, resigning employees should allow at least a few days for a smooth transition or turnover to be possible. If the employer doesn’t schedule an exit interview with them, I highly recommend suggesting it to them.This will help you put your resignation into proper context and leave the company with no bad blood between employer and employee, preserving a relationship that may still open up more doors in the future.

Dawood Khan, CEO, Pixelied

Before you do anything else, prepare a strategy for your resignation

When you leave a remote job there’s more to it than just submitting your letter of resignation and being done with it.

When you’re ready to leave your job, there are several things you need to consider.

Write down everything you plan to take with you, including your resume, references, and anything else that may be useful to you that you are allowed to take with you.

Once you’ve prepared a strategy for your resignation, you should begin planning for its execution. Start by making arrangements to return your company equipment (such as laptops, phones, tablets, etc.) and transferring your documents to another employee. Then, contact your supervisor and let them know you’re leaving. Lastly, arrange for your last day at work.

In my opinion, before scheduling a meeting with your manager, you should finish developing your strategy. A sense of safety and confidence in breaking the news is impossible without the support of a solid organization…. Create a written outline of your plan, detailing each component and including the rest of the instructions from the blog post. But focus on what really matters to you and your company. Explain your plan for returning the home office equipment.

Steve Pogson, Founder & E-commerce Strategy Lead, FirstPier

How to quit your job as a remote employee

If you’re currently employed at a company where you work remotely, there may come a day when you decide to leave.

For just about everyone, there comes a time when it’s time to move on.

But how do you go about quitting your job as a remote worker? Here are some tips from Marilyn Gaskell, Founder & Hiring Manager of TruePeopleSearch to help you out.

Maintaining professionalism is the best approach for a remote employee to resign from a job without burning bridges. As an HR, I have experienced some unprofessional ways remote employees quit their job, which leaves a wrong impression about them. Some impolite ways I have experienced remote employees resigning from their jobs include tendering a resignation without proper notice, declining any form of conversation, ghosting, sending tacky resignation emails, etc. Resigning from a job unprofessionally creates a bad impression about an employee and limits the opportunity for future collaboration or hire.

How to resign professionally from a remote job

As an HR, I recommend four steps to aid remote employees in resigning from their jobs amicably without burning bridges with their employers. These steps include:

Schedule a meeting with your employer

The first step towards resigning your job as a remote worker is to meet with your employer and let them know your intentions. It could be a voice or video call, whichever works best for you, but ensure that you let your employer know of your intentions to resign. In most cases, you will be asked some questions; ensure to be polite in answering any question asked by your employer if you can.

Send an email

After discussing with your employer, sending an email for documentation is important. Ideally, whether or not it is in your contract, it is important to give at least a two weeks notice to enable you to finish up any pending task on your schedule or allow your employer to find a replacement. The gesture of giving a two weeks notice before your departure shows professionalism and respect to your employer.

Finish any pending task

In the final two weeks of your stay, if your employer allows it, it is important to finish all pending tasks on your schedule and take up some extra if necessary. If a replacement is found before your time is up, offer to walk them through your role and provide necessary assistance.

Leave room for future collaboration

Before you finally terminate your contract, it is important that you leave room for future collaboration by letting your employer know that they can reach out to you at any time.

Taking the four steps above before resigning from a remote job does not only portray you as a professional, it also helps you maintain a cordial relationship with your employer for future purposes.

Marilyn Gaskell, Founder & Hiring Manager, TruePeopleSearch

Treat it like you would an in-person role

When you’re employed at a company, there’s no doubt that you need to be prepared to give notice when you decide to resign. However, if you work remotely for a company, things may be different.

If you’re a remote worker who wants to resign, you should treat your resignation as you would if you were leaving an office job. This means writing a formal letter explaining your reasons for quitting and giving at least two weeks’ notice.

Remote employees can leave the best possible impression by treating it the same as they would an in-person role. It’s easy to feel disconnected from a company or team when working remotely, and therefore not offer enough notice or consideration when leaving. I would recommend giving a leader as much notice as possible to give them time to hire a replacement, and be as involved as possible with training them.

Shirlene Kyin, Director of Operations, Soylent

This is a formal occasion even if you’re a remote employee

If you work remotely, you may not have been able to meet face-to-face with your boss. But you still need to let them know that you’ve decided to leave. And you should do this in person, preferably at a meeting where everyone can hear you clearly.

Even though you may feel uncomfortable, try to remain calm and collected during this important conversation. Remember the reasons you’re leaving and keep things positive and friendly.

Even if you communicate with your manager by email or messaging apps 90% of the time, this conversation calls for greater formality. For this kind of event, digital channels are not ideal. Instead, arrange a telephone or video conference with them to break the news and let them know you need to discuss something essential. Make sure to tell your manager in person if you telecommute half the time and work the other half of the time. It’s much more deferential.

Alex Constantinou, Managing Director, The Fitness Circle

Expect the best but prepare for the worst when announcing your resignation

Part of your plan when you’re preparing to announce your resignation should be to prepare for the possible reactions you’ll get when you tell your boss you’re leaving.

I know when I’ve been preparing to have these conversations in the past that it can cause a lot of anxiety, and stress, especially if you have a good relationship with the people you work with.

You should always hope for the best reaction, but prepare for the worst.

Most of the time your boss will be understanding, but it doesn’t hurt to prepare for a bad reaction but then also have a plan for how you are going to deal with that.

It’s always better to be prepared than to find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to say or how to react.

It’s a good idea to prepare answers to questions that you think might come your way and be ready to talk about why you’re leaving and what you hope to achieve after you leave (more on that below).

You could also consider asking your boss for feedback on your performance before you resign so that you can improve your skills and make sure you’re doing everything you can to help your employer succeed.

In my opinion, we should try to prepare for the worst by imagining and discussing such scenarios. Despite the nerves associated with leaving your work, this can help you gain the strength you need to make the leap. Imagine the worst possible outcome (however unlikely it may be). I pictured our conversation going something like this with my boss: “It blows my mind that you would walk away from the chance we have as a company right now. We trusted you with this innovative product, and you turned your back on us.” Maybe I’m being overly dramatic, but that was the worst case scenario I could imagine. In my heart, I knew it couldn’t end up like this. I had faith that my manager, team, and coworkers would have my back, and they did. Multiple people told me how much they appreciated my work and how much I would be missed when I left. That’s an encouraging sentiment to have after making a career shift that involves leaving the firm. It was a jolt of confidence I really needed.

Robert Smith, Head of Marketing at Psychometric Success

Be prepared to discuss the reason for your resignation

When you make the decision that you’re going to announce your resignation then you should also be prepared to answer questions about why you want to leave because it’s only natural that your boss is going to ask.

And it’s up to you as to how much detail you’re going to provide. You don’t necessarily have to go into great depth on why you’re leaving, but you should explain what you think the next step is for you.

You might say something along the lines of: “I’m looking forward to exploring new opportunities.” Or maybe you could say: “I want to challenge myself in a new role.” Whatever you choose to say, just make sure you’re honest and open about your intentions.

If you do decide to discuss the details about why you’re leaving it’s best to be honest about your situation and not leaving out important details.

Be prepared for awkwardness. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your exit interview. And remember, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel, you must remain professional at all times.

I would prefer the employee to hand in their official resignation that contains all their details and their reason for resigning in person. If the reason is a valid one and there is nothing that can be done to make the employee stay, then I won’t mind letting him/her go. A reference would be given based on their performance so far. I have often seen some people malign their previous company’s name when they quit. This is not an appreciated behavior. But as far as I’m concerned if the employee has a good enough reason to quit and does not spring it on me, I will be okay with it. They must also be ready to work out their notice period.

Sharafudhin Mangalad, Founder & CEO –Edoxi Training Institute

Give plenty of advance notice

Give your employer plenty of notice. This gives them ample opportunity to find or train a replacement for you. Plus, it’s just the right thing to do.

When you quit your job, you need to let your boss know well ahead of time so he or she has time to find or hire a replacement. This gives them time to interview candidates, schedule training sessions, and plan for your absence.

This is the professional way to handle things.

I know there are some instances where you couldn’t possibly care less whether or not they sink or swim after you leave, but the way you handle your resignation speaks volumes about you as a person, and you always want to leave with your reputation in tact.

In addition, by not providing your employer with ample notice, you could be putting your colleagues – the friends that you made in your office – in to a really tight spot and they will not appreciate that. That’s especially important if you plan on maintaining any of those friendships going forward.

Even more important than the written document for most employers and managers is the notice period.. The norms differ by job and the employees level, but it is always good to offer as much notice as possible to help drive a smooth transition. One of the benefits of talking with your manager before submitting your resignation is writing is if you have flexibility you can discuss your last day. That may not always mean a longer notice period, some companies do not allow employees to work a notice period even when you leave on good terms.

Maly Ohrenschall, VP Client Experience, Mighty

Make sure you understand your contract or employment terms

How you handle your resignation so that you ensure you receive any and all benefits that your soon-to-be former employer may owe you, may be subject to your contract (if you have one), or a human resources policy that you’ve signed off on at some point.

For example, say your company has a policy where they will pay you for unused vacation time provided you provide enough notice when you submit your letter of resignation.

If, for whatever reason, you don’t abide by what’s outlined in that policy, you could be losing thousands of dollars.

Before you send that resignation letter, check your contract or employment agreement to see what happens if you resign without giving proper notice.

Check your employee arrangement terms, required notice period, ongoing projects, if any, etc., and take the next step accordingly. It will show your sincerity and responsibility towards the job.

Brigid Davey, General Manager, Marketing at Nimble

Keep your resignation letter concise and focused on the facts

When creating your resignation letter, keep it short and sweet. Don’t waste your time – or your bosses time – with unnecessary details. Keep your letter simple and direct. Focus on the facts, not emotions.

These are things like your last day, what projects you worked on, why you want to leave, etc. Even if you’re leaving a job you hate with a boss you hate, with a paycheck that does not adequately reflect the value you provide, keep in mind that you may want to use that organization as a good reference in the future, so keep it professional and succinct.

This isn’t a time to go all Jerry Maguire and write a manifesto.

A resignation email is an official letter, and it is sufficient for terminating a position that requires you to work remotely. Your resignation email should include information like your last day, any unfinished work, and an expression of gratitude for your time with the organization. Since you are leaving the position voluntarily, your resignation email need only be brief. When communicating via email, you have complete control over the direction the conversation takes, in contrast to a phone call when you have no idea where the conversation will go. That’s why it’s important to simply include information about your tenure at the organization and any outstanding work in your resignation email from a remote position. There is no more to add.

Steve Pogson, Founder & E-commerce Strategy Lead, FirstPier

Keep your resignation confidential until you’ve squared things away with your boss

When you’re ready to resign, keep your resignation confidential until you have everything squared away with your employer.

You don’t want to be responsible for starting rumors about your departure before you have had a chance to talk to your boss.

Don’t tell anyone at work about your plans, including your coworkers, and work friends.

After you have talked to your boss and let them know that you’re leaving, let them be the one to decide how it’s shared and what the next steps are.

This is not a good time to send an email to the entire company announcing your resignation.

Letting your boss handle the next steps is the most professional way to handle things.

If you want to send out an announcement, clear it with your boss first out of respect. The reason for this is they may want to have a discussion with someone else within your department about taking your place if they’re replacing you with someone within the company or want to get their proverbial ducks in a row before announcing things if they’re going outside the organization to fill your position.

Also, don’t announce your departure via social media unless you’ve spoken to your boss about it. This is a bad move because it puts pressure on your former employer to respond quickly.

Many of us establish solid connections, if not lifelong friendships, at work. Even so, it can be tempting to tell your coworkers about this significant change in your life. Avoid letting the cat out of the bag at all costs. As enticing as it is for you to tell someone, it can be just as tempting—if not more so—for them to tell others. The last thing you want is for your manager to learn the news before you get a chance to tell them. In the office, rumors may spread quickly.

James Crawford, Co-founder of Deal Drop

Handle your resignation with professionalism and dignity

When you resign as a remote worker, you need to handle your departure professionally and respectfully. This means being professional throughout the process, including during the final stages.

Respectfully handling your resignation includes notifying your manager and coworkers, providing them with appropriate notice, and giving them enough time to find a replacement.

Professionalism also requires showing respect for your employer by following company policies and procedures, keeping confidential information secure, and avoiding conflicts of interest.

It is not simple to resign from a job. It is considerably more difficult in the age of remote teams.. Resigning from a position is intensely personal, and it’s nerve-racking to plan and schedule how and when you’ll approach your boss to leave.. It might feel impersonal, unprofessional, and weird to do it virtually.

To avoid this and look ahead with clarity and purpose, think of the entire process as an exercise in respect. The respect you owe your organization for the chance they’ve provided you, as well as the respect you deserve for devoting your time, effort and work to them.

This is the golden rule of resignation, and it will go a long way toward getting a good recommendation and ensuring your notice time is meaningful, rather than uncomfortably and anxiously waiting for your final day. If you don’t have video conversations on a regular basis, a phone call will be sufficient; nevertheless, show as much respect as possible and provide as much (digital) face-to-face contact as feasible with your manager and HR leader.

My advice is to start with your immediate supervisor and work your way up via the correct chain of command established by your firm. You will explain at this meeting that you are quitting, giving two weeks’ notice and that you have produced a list of projects, tasks, or activities and their present status.

Yanis Mellata, CEO Kosy Office

Communicate your resignation face to face

When you’re a remote worker, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to resign in person. However, if you can do an old-fashioned sit-down, face-to-face meeting where you are your boss are in the same room, this is the best way to handle things.

When submitting your resignation, be professional and polite. Don’t just send a letter via email. Instead, hand deliver your resignation letter or call your boss in person to inform them of your decision. This shows respect for your employer and demonstrates professionalism.

In just about all instances, you will also need to create a letter of resignation to go in your HR file, but just sending it to the HR manager is poor form and will take people by surprise unnecessarily (unless you’re trying to nuke your future!)

Meeting and discussing your departure in person is always preferable to doing so over the phone or through email.

If you’re leaving because of a change in direction or new opportunity, make sure you discuss these issues before handing in your resignation.

When you are preparing to have that face-to-face conversation, it’s likely that you’ll have butterflies and get nervous, and that’s perfectly normal.

To help you combat that, a good strategy is to memorize the first sentence of what you’d like to say to serve as the ice-breaker.

This is important because it gives you a clear idea of what you want to say in your resignation letter.

Think through everything you’d like to cover in that discussion. Even having some notes at hand to make sure you cover all the pertinent points is helpful.

Once you’ve got your opening line down cold, practice saying it aloud. It might sound awkward at first, but if you keep practicing, you’ll find yourself getting better at it.

And once you’ve practiced enough, you’ll feel confident enough to actually use it during that conversation.

It’s easy to forget how nerve-wracking those conversations can be, but by using this technique, you’ll be prepared and ready to handle whatever comes your way.

You should also consider what you would like to say to your colleagues. Do you have any farewell words? Are you planning to stick around for a few days to help out with anything? Will you be taking any files/documents with you?

The most important thing to remember is that you should never badmouth your company or your former boss.

When you resign from a remote job it can be tempting to fire off a quick email to your manager or HR — “I’m resigning, see ya!” or something a little more elaborate. However, you should fight this urge and resign on a video call instead. By connecting with your manager in this way, you show respect and appreciation and may even be able to make a great exit plan together. For example, maybe there is a more positive way to transition out, an opportunity to celebrate with colleagues or similar. Your manager may also have questions about passing over projects and account access. Overall, aim for clear and collaborative communication and your manager will be more likely to help you with references in the future.

Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding

Train your replacement before your last day with the company

The last thing you want is to leave your employer with a hole in the organization and no training plan in place for your replacement. So, before your last day, make sure you’ve trained your replacement and set them up for success. This includes providing them with everything they need to succeed, including access to your network, knowledge base, and support system.

Help them understand the behind the scenes work you do so they everything involved with what you do and what made you successful in your role.

If you don’t do this, you could end up leaving your successor with a mess on their hands. And, if you’re not careful, you could also put your own reputation in jeopardy.

Offer to help with the transition When you resign from a remote job, offer to help with the transition by training your replacement or completing any outstanding projects. This will show that you’re committed to maintaining a positive relationship with your former employer. Some employees extend their notice period by a couple of weeks to help with the training process. This is always appreciated by the company, and it’s a great way to stay connected after you leave.

Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer, Checkr

Be mindful of your current connections

When you’re a remote worker, you need to be mindful of your existing social networks. This includes friends, family members, colleagues, clients, vendors, and others who may be important to your career.

If you’ve been working remotely for some time now, you should already have established a network of contacts. However, you still need to be mindful of these connections because they can affect your job search.

Your network of contacts may include former employers, coworkers, clients, and others who may influence your future employment prospects. So, when you’re looking for a new position, you need to be careful not to burn bridges.

That said, it’s okay to ask for recommendations from those you trust. But be careful not to overstep boundaries. Don’t ask too many questions or request favors. Instead, simply thank them for their help and move on.

Be aware of current ties if you want to operate in the same sector. Most businesses consider it improper to speak with former customers or work for a direct rival. Some employers may even require you to sign a non-compete agreement, which for a predetermined period of time prevents you from working for a direct rival.

Make sure you carefully read any agreements you sign to make sure you adhere to the policies of your former employer. If you didn’t sign a non-compete agreement, consider the effects of working for a rival. Employing the clientele or techniques of your former employer in your new position might not be a wise business decision.

Emir Bacic, Co-Founder, Pricelisto

Do Not Burn Bridges

To avoid burning bridges, keep your departure professional and respectful. Don’t complain about your job or boss. Be honest about your reasons for leaving. And, most importantly, never badmouth anyone involved in your decision to leave.

If you end up losing restraint and end up running off at the mouth, you will almost certainly find yourself unable to use the company for a reference when looking for jobs in the future. Even worse, you could end up in a lot of hot water. So, it pays to be careful.

It may feel like the perfect time to give full vent to your pent up feelings and frustrations. But, don’t do it. It is much better to remain calm and collected during this difficult transition.

In my experience, the exact words used on a resignation letter or email are not very significant to deciding how our organization feels about the employee resigning. Most of those are formalities. What is critical is: process, notice, and awareness.

We had a member of our product team recently resign. She was a key member of the team and it was devastating to lose her. I’ve since written multiple letters of recommendation for her, and offered to be a reference. Why? She gave us almost 4 weeks of notice and approached me with very specific reasons and feedback as to why she wanted to take on a new challenge somewhere else. She didn’t just fire away an email or letter. She scheduled a time to chat with me personally, and immediately offered to help us in the process of finding a suitable replacement.

When you resign, you are leaving a hole in the organization. It’s not your responsibility to fill it, but it goes a LONG way if you do acknowledge it and are willing to give enough time and effort to make sure everyone lands on their feet (you and your team at the company you are leaving).

Gino Ferrand, CEO tecla.io

Express gratitude for the things you’ve learned

When you’re leaving a job, it’s important to express gratitude for everything you’ve learned, the relationships you’ve built, and the work you’ve done. This helps others understand why you left and makes them feel appreciated.

Even if your work situation was challenging with lots of trials and tribulations there are valuable lessons that you’ve learned.

Also, let your boss know that you appreciate their support during this transition period. Thanking your boss shows respect and demonstrates that you value them.

I believe you should cultivate gratitude for the work and the colleagues you’ll be leaving even if you’re sad to see them go. Even in the toughest circumstances, there are aspects and coworkers you love working with. You must express gratitude for the positive outcomes. Giving modest parting presents or heartfelt letters to your mentors, direct boss, and coworkers makes a wonderful impression. However, if you’re dealing with a boss or direct reports who are reacting emotionally to your leave or accusing you of being unfaithful, you should just consider it collateral damage. Spending time and effort attempting to persuade someone to alter their views is counterproductive.

Dr. Flora Sadri, DO at PsyclarityHealth

Understand everything will change so be flexible

When you resign from your job, there are many things that will change. For example, you may not be asked to serve out the notice you plan on providing or, you may not be able to access company resources anymore.

Before submitting your resignation, understand these things will change so make sure you’re prepared to adapt. Then, once you’ve submitted your resignation, understand that you won’t have any control over how things play out. So, don’t get too attached to anything.

How you handle your resignation, regardless of how professional (or unprofessional) the company you are leaving is, is a reflection on who you are as a professional and as a human being, and carrying yourself the right way will help you more in the long run.

It’s just poor manners to leave a company with anything less than two weeks’ notice. Even though two weeks is the standard, if you haven’t previously committed to a start date at another company, you can think about agreeing to work even longer. You may need to offer closer to a month if feasible since the more up you are in an organization, the longer it will take to go out and maybe teach the next person coming in. Giving too much warning, say, more than three months, is not usually a good idea. When you announce your departure, you immediately come out as an outsider. You’ll probably not be invited to certain meetings, and team-building activities will have a new dynamic. You don’t want to linger for an extended period of time.

Fahad Jamal, Marketing Manager at VirtoCommerce

Complete your projects and hand off your responsibilities

Whatever the reason for your resignation, it’s important to complete your projects and hand over your responsibilities to the next person before you leave.

The transition is hard for everyone involved, and if you’ve established relationships with clients, you will need to make sure they feel like they will be in good hands after you’ve gone.

If you are unable to complete projects that are currently your responsibility, then you should let your manager know where things stand, what your next steps would have been and why.

You also need to ensure that all of your files are backed up and stored securely. This includes emails, spreadsheets, presentations, etc. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

You should also ensure that you have handed over all passwords and login details to your manager.

You should spend as much time as you feel is necessary finishing up any unfinished business or completing any assignments or chores for which you have special insight. When projects are on track and other people are contributing, though, it’s not essential to put in extra hours or work on the weekends to get everything done before you leave. Keep your coworkers and supervisor informed of your progress on your assigned tasks, and put your contacts in touch with the people who will be taking over their job once you leave.

William Kemper, Owner, Kemper DMD

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Robert David Orr

Robert is a writer & creator, author of the WordPress Website Blueprint, award winning web developer, and leader in digital strategy. He's also a tenured work at home veteran who's been working from home for more than 10 years. Learn more. Got questions? Reach out and connect here - Contact Home Office Hacks here.

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