It happens in all jobs. There comes a day when it’s time to leave. Maybe you want to work for yourself, maybe you hate your boss, maybe there’s another job? It doesn’t matter why, what does matter is how you go about freeing yourself up to work the way you want.
There’s a fairly simple process to go through when you quit your remote work so that you don’t burn any bridges: you begin by working out why you want to leave, you communicate that and do so, whenever possible in line with your contractual notice period, then you see out your notice professionally and move on.
Why Do People Quit Their Remote Work?
There are a ton of good reasons to quit, let’s take a look at some:
- You hate your boss. There’s no better reason to get out of a job than working under someone for whom you have no respect. You don’t have to like your boss, but you do need to respect them. If they constantly dump on you, fail to supply you with what you need to work, or generally act like a jackass that drives you crazy, then you want to break up with them as fast as possible. Even when you work remotely, a manager that sucks is a sure sign you need to quit.
- You hate remote work. Let’s be blunt about this, we love working remotely but it’s becoming very clear that many people don’t. They miss the routine of the commute and the workday. They miss hanging out with folks in an office They miss have a desk and a filing cabinet. There is nothing wrong with that. We’d recommend that you examine your remote work routine before you quit but if you want an office job, then put in your notice as soon as you have an offer.
- You hate the work. Nobody likes being bored. Nobody enjoys work with no challenge. Nobody enjoys working on projects that they just don’t give a damn about. We’ve all been there. We took a job that we positively loved doing and over the years, it turned into something awful. It’s a good idea to explore the idea of change with your manager before doing anything hasty, maybe there are better opportunities in your current organization? If not, you might want to start job hunting.
- You want more money. Let’s put this bluntly – companies do not reward loyalty. Years ago, I went to see my boss to ask for a 10% rise, I put my market worth at that. He laughed and offered 2%. So, I went and got another job – they gave me a 50% pay rise. My boss offered to match it when I resigned – too late, he’d made it clear that he thought I wasn’t worth it. The easiest way to get substantially more money is to find a new job.
- You want to stop work for some reason. Some people want to go back to school. Some want to travel without working (you don’t have to be a digital nomad if you’ve got the funds to nomad without slaving away over a keyboard). Some need to care for a sick relative. Whatever the reason, if you need to free up your schedule to enjoy a better life – go right ahead and resign.
- You need to relocate. It might be a family member who gets a job overseas or whatever else. Sometimes, you need to move on. Remote work isn’t always flexible enough to let you take it wherever you want in the world. If you can’t be where they want you to be – you’re going to have to wave goodbye, even if you don’t want to.
We do recommend that you make sure that you have your finances in good order before you quit. Sometimes, it really is better to get a paycheck from a job you hate than to start looking for work with $0 in the bank. Panic looking can lead to you ending up in a worse job than the last one.
We talk about how to find remote work here, in some detail, even if you have little (or no experience). It may help even experienced remote workers find a new position.
How To Quit Your Remote Job Without Burning Bridges
Once you know why you’re quitting, the next thing to do is get out your contract of employment and check out your notice period.
When you resign, it is customary to offer notice that covers this period. For most employees, this will be 1 week – 1 month but for some, it may be as much as 3 months. You may need to negotiate with a new employer to delay taking up their work until you have completed your notice.
An Aside: Gardening Leave
Note: While you should offer to work your notice period, that doesn’t mean they have to take you up on that. Many companies will place their staff on “gardening leave” as soon as they quit. That means they pay out the notice period on the contract and you leave immediately.
Gardening leave is not a comment on your trustworthiness. It’s simply a standard precaution in some businesses to ensure that they only work with people who are completely committed to their business. In my experience, the more generic your job role, the more likely you are to be offered (or forced to accept) gardening leave.
In some cases, they may require you to do no other work during the period of gardening leave but if they don’t stipulate this, you may be able to start a new job and get paid twice for the period!
Years ago, I signed a contract with a 3-month notice period. I challenged it, in writing, when I signed, the role didn’t seem to merit such lengthy notice. They insisted. I signed.
Two weeks later, I resigned. The company had completely misled me over the nature of my work. The job I’d been hired to do wouldn’t materialize for about 2 years and in the interim they expected me to do something I didn’t want to. They’d not mentioned this at all until I started.
They then told me they didn’t want me to work for 3 months’ notice. I pointed out they’d insisted on this and that I’d be happy for them to pay me off and not come in. They did. I started a new job a week later and had a very happy 3 months of 2 salaries coming in. This kind of arrangement can be very good for you.
How To Resign From Your Remote Job
Resigning is easy and you want it to be painless.
The first step in the process is to e-mail your line manager and cc in human resources (if the company has an HR function).
Your letter should go something like this:
Title: Resignation Letter – Effective Of Today’s Date
Body: Dear Manager Person (put their name here),
I have very much enjoyed working for the ACME Trading Company but I am now moving on to explore something new.
I thank you for your support during my time here and would like to offer you my contractual notice period of x months starting from today.
I will be happy to work with you to handover any duties or documents that I have and to return any company property that you have provided.
I wish you and ACME company every success in the future.
You should expect a relatively fast acknowledgment of a resignation letter. It should be received within 48 hours or you should follow up with the line manager by requesting a meeting with them or HR.
You may be invited to a meeting to talk over options that don’t involve you leaving, or they may acknowledge your resignation and wish you the best or even place you on gardening leave.
You may be asked to complete an exit interview or exit questionnaire as part of the process too.
Note: One thing you should be aware of is that if you are resigning in the middle of a disciplinary process in the hope that it will avoid you being fired – there’s a 50/50 chance of it working. Many employers will take the easy way out and accept a resignation at this point, but they’re not obliged to, it is perfectly OK to sack an employee even if they have resigned.
And that’s it.
It’s a painless process that can be handled professionally with a minimum of fuss.
Don’t bring up a bunch of negative stuff and hurl insults because it will only burn your bridges and destroy any hopes you have of getting a reference. Just send a nice note. Comply with the exit process and then move on to pastures new.
There are many good reasons to quit a remote work position. The same as there are to quit any job, in fact. The good news is that once you’re sure you’re ready to go – it’s a simple process to leave without burning your bridges. Good luck with it.