How to Negotiate a Remote Work Policy

In a world where most work—even within an office—happens over digital channels, remote work is becoming increasingly common. Some offices have gone completely virtual, enabled by cloud technologies such as messaging and shared storage. While virtual offices aren’t (yet) the norm, many companies have gotten more flexible when it comes to remote work, which can be particularly advantageous for employees with families or other commitments at home.

And tech workers are jumping on the bandwagon. Hired’s 2018 Brand Health Report found that 70% of survey respondents were interested in fully remote work (i.e. never going into an office). Further, nearly 20% indicated that they look for remote work as an option when evaluating a job offer. Austin tech workers are the most keen on remote work, with 86% indicating interest in a fully remote work schedule—perhaps because they’d like to enjoy a higher salary from a company based in San Francisco or Seattle.

Overseeing a remote team presents unique challenges, so not every manager (or company) will be open to it. But if you’re looking for some flexibility in your next job, it’s worth raising during the interview process. Here are some best practices for negotiating a remote work policy.

Address it early

If the ability to work remotely—even if only for a few days a week—is key when considering new roles, raise this early on in the interview process. It’s a good idea to bring up your remote work requirements (or preferences) in your first live conversation so as to not waste anybody’s time.

If it’s absolutely necessary, make that clear. Likewise, if you’d prefer a remote work policy (but it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker not to have it), explain your situation to the recruiter or hiring manager. They may surprise you with their willingness to accommodate your unique circumstance or help you discover another option that you hadn’t previously considered.

Propose an arrangement

If the team seems to be amenable to the situation, take the initiative to pitch them your ideal arrangement. Outline the details of how it would work, such as the hours and channels through which you’d be available, and any alternatives you’d like to propose.

In addition to the logistics, include a few reasons the arrangement would be better for the company—for example, you might be able to start working earlier if you can avoid a long commute or perhaps you’ll be more switched on if you’re not worried about coordinating childcare from the office.

Lastly, get ahead of potential concerns by outlining the additional safeguards you’ll put in place to ensure your quality of work remains high. This might look like Skype calls, shared task lists, and other measures to help your manager rest assured you will be held just as accountable as you would be if you were working from the office.

Be flexible

Go into the negotiation with an open mind and a few alternative arrangements to suggest, as your dream scenario may not always be possible. Decide whether working remotely is a nice-to-have or a must, and consider how this could impact what you’re willing to accept.

For example, your potential employer might not be OK with you working remotely one day per week, but could instead ask you to work extra hours four days each week and take the fifth completely off— or perhaps propose that you simply work four-day weeks. There may also be other benefits which you are happy to give up in exchange for the ability to work remotely, so make sure to have a mental list of tradeoffs ready, so you can come to an agreement that both you and your future employer are happy with.

About the Author

Napala Pratini

Napala is a consultant to early-stage technology companies. Prior to going independent, Napala led marketing initiatives across both consumer and B2B fintech for employers including NerdWallet and Earnest. In past lives she was a ballet dancer and a cancer researcher.