How to Negotiate for Remote Work (at work)

Want to try working remotely, but have to convince your team first? Here's how to start working remotely, when you've already got the job you love.

Published on
June 26, 2018

Here's how to ask for more flexible hours at work, or a better work from home policy.

1. Establish whether you really can work remotely.

Working online is not for everyone. It can be very isolating, and not all personalities are suited to solitude.

Thinking about why you want to work remotely will really usher out any anxieties or naivetes you have about it. If it's because you don't currently enjoy doing your work, it may not be your location flexibility that you should change. Establish the real reason why you'd like to be remote, and whether you think you're cut out for it - remote work can be pretty difficult for extroverts, and not all jobs are suited to being remote.

2. Formulate a debate.  

The next step is framing how you see the conversation going about becoming remote.

If you're office-based and have been for some time, you'll need to suggest how you'll replace methods of communication as a distributed workforce. This could include a daily stand up, or placing a heavier focus on IM.

However, if you're already spending the majority of your hours on a computer, you're chatting to your colleagues on Slack and your meetings could be condensed to a Monday (and done via Skype/Zoom/Google Hangouts), you're already remote.

Chances are, your boss might be totally cool with it, see eye to eye with you, and there will be no debate. If there is, back up your argument with a structure for how you see this working without it decreasing productivity for you or your colleagues.

3. Write the email (and wait on it).  

If you'd prefer to ask in person, go ahead, however this is a conversation best left for email - it allows both parties to wait, and formulate their answer. There are a few elements that need a mention: 

- Propose a trial period (for example, working from home every Friday for 1 month to see the effects/potential issues) 

- Outline that following period (if the trial period goes well, how does the policy continue?)

- Outline how you intend to communicate with the team whilst 'away', on that day. Show how you'll be available for conversations. 

- Potential benefits to your company, and your team! You could be networking with a community whilst you all work, in a beautiful place. That's definitely a benefit.

It's easy to get excited when writing it, so write it, leave it, then check it again with a clearer mind - image you were your manager, and think about how it will be received.

Press the button, wait for it. If the first email hasn't been received 'well', there's room for negotiation. Establish why your company isn't comfortable with remote work - if it's because the profession does not translate well to a remote job, it may be time to seek out a new opportunity. However, if it's the first request your manager has received for remote work, the proposal may need further reinforcement, and testing.

Looking for an alternative? Check out these companies hiring remotely.

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