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  1. Blog
  2. Negotiating
  3. June 29, 2021

The ‘Great Resignation’ Is Happening. These Are Realistic Ways to Negotiate Permanent Remote Work.

And what to do if your boss says no

Woman with a notebook on her computer
Photo courtesy of Mathilde Langevin

This article is part of InHerSight's Working During Coronavirus series. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, find helpful advice here on working remotely, job hunting remotely, dealing with anxiety and stress, and staying safe at work if you have to be on-site.

How to negotiate remote work

The pandemic may have nudged the world into remote work, but it was the increased flexibility, convenience, and productivity that has made many employees want to stay remote. If you’re one of the 81 percent of professionals who would prefer remote or hybrid work, negotiate remote work with your employer. Start with these best practices for negotiation: 

  • Don’t wing it. Schedule a specific time to avoid interruptions and prepare sufficiently.

  • Do your research. Familiarize yourself with the company’s return-to-work policy beforehand.

  • Talk face-to-face. Speak to your manager in-person or via Zoom to communicate more effectively.

  • Identify your dealbreakers. Are you willing to compromise or are you standing firm on your request?

  • Follow up via email. Restate the terms you discussed and reiterate your interest in staying with the company. 

If you were working from home and want to continue

As a current employee, you already know how the company operates and understand how to navigate changing business needs. Leverage your history with the organization during your negotiation. 

Example:

Thanks for meeting with me today! I believe I can do my best work for the company while working remotely on a permanent basis. As you and I discussed during my last performance review, my productivity has increased since working from home. And, I have a good grasp on how we can consistently meet our financial targets without exceeding the budget. The best way for me to do this is to have flexibility in where I work. How can we work together to make this happen?

Why it works

This negotiation starter works because it specifically highlights the benefits of continued remote work and includes a compelling call to action at the end. 

What to remember

  • Negotiations can be amicable! Be firm yet engaging.

  • Express an interest in working together to move the process forward.

  • Reference positive feedback you’ve received about your work quality, timeliness, or productivity while working from home. 

Read more: How to Negotiate Flexible Work Hours

If you are a new hire looking at an in-person role

Reiterate your interest in joining the team and be flexible about onboarding—some companies may want you to complete onboarding on-site. If you offer to do this, you may increase the chance of getting permanent remote work. 

Example:

I’m thrilled to be starting as the newest member of your team! During my interview, I mentioned that I work best in collaborative environments with lots of flexibility. Given that, I would find it ideal to work remotely full-time, with the exception of the two-week onboarding period. I believe I would fit right in, being that your team has been remote for the last year and you mentioned that the company is trying to better prioritize employees’ needs. What are your thoughts?  

Why it works

This negotiation starter works because you’re using the same language the employer has used. Note anything they have shared about creating a positive company culture, meeting team needs, or supporting work-life balance. Challenge them to adhere to their own claims by referencing it in your request. 

What to remember

  • The employer wants to fill the job just as much as you do, so advocate for what you want while you have the upperhand.

  • Don’t feel pressured to back down just because the employer has a rebuttal; this is a normal part of negotiating. Hear them out, then decide whether you can reach a mutually beneficial agreement. 

Whether you were already working from home and want to continue or you’re new to the team, you now have evidence that remote work can be successful! Earlier this year, Great Place to Work found that most employees reported “stable or even increased productivity levels'' after working from home. Another recent study showed that remote work is good for the economy due to decreased commute times and rapid technology adoption. Keep these findings in mind to support your work-from-home request and strengthen your negotiation.

Read more: How to Expertly Negotiate Your Start Date (Without Losing Your Job Offer)

What if they say no?

Although some companies, such as Twitter, Square, Nationwide, and SAP have announced plans to implement permanent remote and flexible work, other companies are requiring employees to return to the office. When preparing to negotiate, you must consider the possibility that your employer will reject your work-from-home request. Evaluate your situation using the examples below, then formulate a response:

If your employer didn’t say “no”, but they didn’t say “yes” either

Offer a mutually beneficial solution, such as coming into the office on an as-needed basis. You could also offer to take on more responsibility in exchange for long-term remote work. 

Example:

I can understand that permanent remote work would raise some concerns for you, but I can assure you that it won’t be an issue. In fact, since working from home, I have fewer distractions. As a result, I’m willing to take on more onboarding duties until we fill the Trainer position. 

Why it works

Negotiation is based on give and take. By offering to fill a gap on the team, you may find greater success in reaching an agreement that works for both you and your employer. 

What to remember

  • Your employer may feel uncertain that remote work can be successful on a permanent basis. Reassure them by highlighting how remote work has improved efficiency. Explain how you plan to overcome potential obstacles to successful remote work, such as poor time management or decreased team engagement.

  • Don’t offer anything you can’t reasonably sustain. If offering more of your work or time isn’t feasible, offer a three-month trial period instead. During the trial period, show your employer that you can still be productive from home, even if everyone else has returned to the office. Make sure your employer knows that if the trial period goes well, you intend to formalize a permanent work-from-home arrangement.   

Read more: How to Ask Your Boss to Let You Work from Home

If your employer says “no” and is unwilling to negotiate

If your employer won’t bend, you can wait to see if they change their mind. However, if returning to the office is a dealbreaker for you, you can stick around until you find a fully remote position. There’s a reason this period has been dubbed the “Great Resignation.” 

Example:

I acknowledge your stance and appreciate you making time to meet with me. If you do find that we have more flexibility in the future to make a work-from-home arrangement work, please keep me in the loop. In the meantime, I may need an additional two weeks to arrange my return to the office. Is that okay?

Why it works

This response sets an intention for the future (exploring remote work at a later date) and brings the negotiation to an amicable conclusion. It also buys you some time while you figure out whether you want to stay, go, or start job searching.

What to remember

  • Just because you weren’t able to negotiate permanent remote work doesn’t mean you should walk away empty-handed. Use this opportunity to ask for anything else you need, such as additional time to return to the office.

  • Not getting remote work right away doesn't mean you have to quit your job on the spot. Now that you know where your employer stands, use that insight to plan your next move. 

  • An increasing number of employers are offering remote and flexible work. Find them through websites like InHerSight, FlexJobs, and Build Remote.

Read more: Office Politics? I’ll Work from Home, Thanks

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Photo of Kaila Kea-Lewis

Kaila Kea-Lewis

Contributor

Kaila Kea-Lewis is a career coach and freelance writer, mainly covering career changes, job searching, and self-development. As a long-time advocate for remote work, she also enjoys writing about remaining productive while working from home. Her bylines include InHerSight, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, and ZipRecruiter.

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