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How to Negotiate Working From Home


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Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

The coronavirus pandemic allowed more workers than ever to experience the benefits of working from home. Some didn’t want to go back, leading to a need to negotiate working from home.

It’s on the minds of many, as one Gallup poll found 90% of those who can work from home don’t want to work in an office full time. Most are OK with a hybrid working arrangement.

If you’re one of the many employees impacted by return-to-office mandates, what can you do to negotiate working from home? We’ll take a look at your options, as well as what you can do to request work-from-home days when you’re looking for a new job.

Why Should You Negotiate Working From Home?

Young man wearing a headset working at a laptop
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Before searching for work-from-home jobs or asking your current employer for flexibility, ask yourself if that’s what you really want. While there are many benefits, remote workers report having trouble connecting with coworkers. It can also mean fewer mentorship opportunities for younger workers.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to work from home one or more days a week. You’ll save time and money on commuting and avoid typical office distractions. There are distractions at home, too, which is why some people feel more productive in an office.

Once you have realistic expectations of remote work, you can look for an employer that offers the flexibility you need. Or, get your current employer to let you work from the couch sometimes.

Whether you’re searching for work-from-home positions or you want to shift the structure of your current job, the art of negotiation plays an important role. Here are some expert tips on convincing your boss to allow remote work.

1. Research Potential Employers

Woman using a laptop on her sofa and drinking coffee
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The best time to negotiate work-from-home days is before you have the job. You can skip applying for positions that require an office presence, but Elev8 Coaching and Resumes owner Lisa Dupras warns against that. Some of her clients have successfully negotiated working from home when a job was labeled as on-site.

Still, it’s important to research a company’s potential for remote work. Dupras suggests searching a potential employer’s website for a remote policy. Browse the company’s social media, blogs and articles for signs of a stance on work/life balance.

“It’s also helpful to read former employee comments on Glassdoor or talk to current employees,” Dupras said. “LinkedIn can be a good source of information by reaching out to current employees or reviewing job postings for a company’s remote work availability.”

2. Look Around

businessman wearing glasses and headset having virtual team meeting on his laptop
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If you already have a job, you likely know whether or not you can work from home. Has your employer taken a stance on remote work? How does your boss feel about work-from-home days?

Scott Lieberman, founder of Touchdown Money, recommends having a firm grasp of your employer’s policies before approaching your boss to work from home.

“Reviewing any handbooks or talking with the HR person will clarify exactly what the parameters are regarding your job description,” Lieberman said. “Find out if others have negotiated work-from-home days and been successful.”

3. Prepare Your Case

Older man making a list and working on his laptop at home office
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The key to success with any employer negotiation is to make a business case. Whether you’re interviewing for a new position or trying to make a change to your existing job, a business mostly cares about its bottom line.

Maybe your office space can be used for something else, or you have an especially long commute that reduces the hours you can devote to work. If you’re dealing with a return-to-office mandate, your own productivity data can help.

“The main talking points should include why you believe remaining a remote worker will benefit the company, such as cost savings and increased productivity,” Lieberman said. “Remind them of the excellent work you did in a timely manner when you were a remote worker.”

4. Be Willing to Compromise

Smiling woman at work using a tablet and leaving a meeting
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Working from home doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. In fact, hybrid jobs are more common than fully working from home, according to a report from the National Bureau of Economic Research. Accepting one or two days in the office could be a way for both parties to get what they want.

“You may have to agree to a compromise of some time in the office and working remotely,” Lieberman said. “Propose a trial period so the employer can see the effectiveness of the new arrangement.”

5. Know Your Value

two women meet in a professional job interview
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Bill Catlette, partner at Contented Cow Partners, believes the key to success in any work-from-home negotiation is the worker’s value. Showing you’re an irreplaceable asset gives you a better chance to work from home for current and potential jobs.

“The only real leverage you have relates to how desperate the employer is to retain your skills at a given point in time for an unknown duration,” Catlette said.

6. Be Prepared to Walk Away

Happy woman quitting her job
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Many experts say the key to winning a negotiation is your willingness to walk away. That’s not so easy with a job you rely on to pay the bills.

But if your boss says no, you only have two choices: stay and accept the work arrangement or find something else.

The best thing about work-from-home positions is they are often open to a wide geographic pool of candidates. If you launch a job search, make sure you aren’t limiting your options to local businesses. Even if you work on site a few times a year, it might be worth it to eliminate the daily rush to the office.

Working from home brings plenty of benefits, but not all employers allow it. Negotiate working from home just like how you negotiate salary and benefits. If you can gather information and make a good case for remote work, your boss is more likely to agree. You should also be prepared to compromise, even if it means having to go into the office a couple of days a week or more.

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