Lesson #2: How to negotiate a work from home agreement with your current employer?

This is an extract of the Get that remote job e-book. Your step-by-step guide to get a remote job in any industry. Subscribe to get it in your inbox!

Learn how to get a remote job with our FREE e-book.

  • How to analyze job postings to get useful data
  • How to develop the required skills for a remote position
  • How to market yourself online prior to applying
  • How to apply for remote jobs and show you can work remotely
  • cheat sheet of the process you can keep at reach 🙂
  • A list of useful apps and resources you can use in your journey

If you can work remotely, but you are currently working from an office, we’ll try to negotiate a “work from home” agreement. You need to try this before looking for a remote company as it may be easier and less time-consuming. Also, it’s a good way for testing remote work.

Here are some steps to use in your current job:

I can’t make it this afternoon/morning

First, ask for an afternoon/morning working from home. If you are sure your boss will reject it, go with the “I can’t make it” argument. Call your boss and tell him/her you can’t come to the office for personal reasons. If you think your boss will ask you, better give them a complete answer from the start. Feel free to use some of these:

“Hey [Boss Name], my [daughter/son] has a fever and was sent home from childcare. My [wife/husband] can’t take care of her/him, so I need to go home. I don’t want to take the afternoon off as I have some important work to complete, so I’ll be working from home. I hope that’s okay”

“Hey [Boss Name], I’m not feeling well today and I’m afraid I can’t make it to the office. I have some important work to finish, so I’ll work from home instead”

When you ask for an afternoon/morning, make sure to avoid Monday and Friday. This can imply that you want a long weekend and we don’t want this as a first impression.

When you work from home, make sure to be as productive as you can. Take note of what you achieved as you’ll use it in your future negotiations.

Ask for a full day

Your next step is to ask for a full workday from home. Call it a “two-week experiment” of working from home. Tell your boss they can stop the experiment whenever they want to give them insurance they are in control. And be sure to talk about all the benefits you had the last morning/afternoon you worked from home. You can use something like this:

“Hey [Boss Name], I have an idea I want to discuss with you… You remember the last afternoon/morning I worked from home? I wasn’t expecting it, but I’ve been very productive. Actually, I managed to finish [X] tasks that afternoon/morning compared to [Y] tasks I finish from the office. It is amazing! So I was thinking, as a trial, I’d like to propose working from home Wednesdays for the next two weeks. It’s an experiment to see if I’m more productive working from home. Of course, you can stop this whenever you want, and I’ll come to the office if there are meetings. I’m confident I’ll get twice as much done from home. Does that seem reasonable?”

You are asking for a complete day from home. If your boss rejects the idea, ask for half a day. This is why we are asking for a full day at first so we can have a margin for negotiation. Do not forget to schedule a review with your boss after the two weeks experiment. You will discuss the achievements you made in your trial period and propose to make it longer.

Like the last time, be as productive as you can when you work from home and keep a note of your achievements.

Ask for more

In the review meeting, talk about your achievements and propose new trials. Each time add a day and repeat the same process.

When you start asking for 3 or 4 days per week, your boss will start rejecting the idea. That’s normal.

First, make sure to confirm all your boss’s rejections before giving solutions. This way, you don’t appear you are in fight mode. Second, make sure to communicate this is a trial period and your boss can stop it whenever they want.

Here are some of the rejections you may hear:

Boss: I’m not sure we can do that.
You: What’s your main concern? (Do not accept a vague answer, know the pains so you can fix them)

Boss: What if everyone wants to do the same?
You: Fair enough, good point. No one should be allowed to work remotely unless they can show increased productivity. And I’m the perfect experiment. If they can show it, why not let them do it on a trial basis? It lowers costs for the office, increases productivity, and makes employees happy.

Boss: Are you trying to quit?
You: To be honest, I am exhausted from my commute and all the interruptions in the office. But I’m feeling great now with the change in the routine. I hope I can have more days working from home.

Stop whenever you want

For some, working 100% remotely isn’t what they are seeking. They want one or two days working from home, but still prefer to go to an office for the rest of the week. If that’s your objective, then stop negotiating when you think you achieved what you want.

Once you reached your objective. Our new one is to maintain it. Remember? This was an experiment only.

Now move your talk from experiment to extension, then to permanent. Here is a suggestion:

“Hey [Boss Name], the few experiments we run were really beneficial for me and my productivity. I feel I can do this for more time now. What do you think if we can extend this experiment for an extra 4 weeks? Of course, you have all the rights to stop it…”

Once the extension is accorded, ask for things to be permanent:

“Hey [Boss Name], as you’ve seen, the extension worked pretty well and I’m now used to working from home. I feel I’m more productive than the first weeks I started. What do you think if we keep this as a permanent experiment? I’m sure I’ll be more productive. Also, I can rejoin the office if I’m needed for a meeting or if you think my productivity working from home isn’t up to the expectations.”

Make sure to state it’s still an experiment, and they can stop it whenever they want.

What if it didn’t work?

You can negotiate and do your best, but sometimes it still won’t work. Either your boss does not want you to work remotely. Or the company you are working with is too rigid to accept that. Either way, it looks like you need to change your employer.

And this is what we’ll be talking about next in the Get That Remote Job book

Learn how to get a remote job with our FREE e-book.

  • How to analyze job postings to get useful data
  • How to develop the required skills for a remote position
  • How to market yourself online prior to applying
  • How to apply for remote jobs and show you can work remotely
  • cheat sheet of the process you can keep at reach 🙂
  • A list of useful apps and resources you can use in your journey
Published by

Ahmed

Howdy 👋, I’m Ahmed from Morocco and I build things using code, a.k.a a Software Engineer. I hold an electrical engineering degree and I’m a self taught software developer. I figured out my love for building things when I started my first online business at the age of 17. I blog at elazzabi.com and remote.ma.

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