Career Advice

How to Negotiate Flexible and Remote Work Arrangements

By: Nina Petrov
Jan 31, 2022 • 5 min read

How to Negotiate Flexible and Remote Work Arrangements

In the last couple of years, we have seen dramatic changes in the workplace. Due to new social circumstances, a lot of people had to leave the offices and start working from home.

The new situation was a big challenge in the beginning for managers as well as employees. However, in time, people started to see that remote work brings a lot of benefits as well. In other words, the pandemic forever changed how we think about work.

According to surveys, more than 16% of employees see flexibility as a very important aspect of work. And the employers seem to notice this. More than 50% of vacancies are either fully remote or offer some form of hybrid work.

However, a lot of companies are still in the transition phase, and many resist going back to remote work or allowing it for the first time. So, what happens if your employer insists on in-office work while you would like to change that? It means you will need to negotiate.

It requires a carefully prepared agenda and an appropriate mindset. In this post, you will learn what it takes to go to such an important meeting ready and get the opportunity to work remotely.

woman wearing gray jacket

A Few Things To Understand Before Negotiation

The reasons a person might want to work remotely are many. They go from improving their work-life balance to having no other choice. 

There are cases where people have to take care of a sick person or a child. For them, staying away half a day and losing hours in traffic isn’t an option. Unless given a chance to work remotely, they are forced to start looking for another employer who can offer them a new job.

Whatever your reasons are, before you mention anything to your superiors, here’s something to have in mind.

Working Remotely is Multi-Faceted

Not every task can be performed independently. Therefore, you have to understand the bigger picture and see how your physical absence affects your team’s overall productivity. If you are away, there will probably be some downsides to it. So, make sure to think of solutions and alternatives in advance.

You want to show your management that you are aware of the consequences of the change you are asking for. Even more than that, you want to show them that you understand the workflow and that you are willing to adapt to it.

Revise Your Application Materials

This is also a good time to adjust your CV. When you first applied for your job, your resume may not have emphasized the experience you’ve had in working remotely or without direct supervision or collaborating successfully with coworkers in different offices or time zones – people you never met in person. Maybe you’ve had a period of doing freelance work from your home between past jobs. 

In preparing your CV for a remote work interview, make sure to highlight these experiences as evidence that you know how to manage yourself as a productive remote worker. Showcase your skills, use updated keywords, and even take a quick online course or two related to remote work so that you can add a current, relevant certificate to your training and education.  

Of course, you may not be negotiating for yourself alone. What if you believe it’s time for your department to have a remote group involving multiple people or far-flung time zones? In that case, to convince your company, you’ll want to outline how that remote team will be managed, productive, and accountable and how you can help meet those needs.

If Remote Is Not Currently an Option, You Can Still Negotiate

Although by 2022, the majority of companies already have at least some experience with remote work, it is not necessarily so. There are rare companies that still don’t want or simply can’t adapt to remote work for whichever reason. 

In any case, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for innovation. However, remember that the innovation you are suggesting should bring benefits to both sides. Therefore, take time to be clear about what remote work means to you and how it can improve results for your employer.

how to negotiate

Tips To Negotiate Flexible Working Hours

Now, it is time to check some strategies you can use to have a successful negotiation about flexible work arrangements with your management. 

Know Your Contract and Company’s Policies

Before entering the meeting with your managers, make sure to assume their perspective as well. It is very important to adjust your requests to your company’s policies and overall working culture. So, take a careful look at your contract and company’s handbook. Where does your idea fit in?

Also, it could be a good idea to consult trusted peers and experienced mentors. They could tell you more about potential issues and disruptions in workflow in case you went remote.

Make sure to understand how it would affect legal matters, training, performance evaluation, compensations, etc.

Then, pick out some of the many benefits of remote work that are a good match for your company’s policies and circumstances, and highlight them in your proposal or interview with your manager.

Present a Precise Plan 

When you get into the meeting office with your boss, it would be a good idea to offer a concise plan of how exactly your idea could be worked out. 

Also, make sure to stay humble but assertive about it. It’s better to come prepared than to waste their time with unclear propositions.

In this plan, try to be as precise as possible. Define how and when you would be available for them, your daily and weekly schedules, and working hours. Try to envision or set up the perfect surrounding for your home office to convince your boss that you know exactly how this new situation could work in your home.

Giving them the exact reasons why you are asking for this can be very helpful. Perhaps you need to be remote only once or twice a week because you can’t find a babysitter for that day? It is a perfectly reasonable argument for such a request.

Communicate the Possible Benefits with Your Employer 

It is true that having remote workers doesn’t make managers particularly happy. Their major concern is that it could negatively affect productivity and slow down communication.

At the same time, remote workers are mostly afraid that their working hours won’t be properly acknowledged. How will the team leader know that you stayed up late to execute a task? 

Explore Outsourcing

Luckily, we don’t need to learn everything from scratch. Remote work has become mainstream since the 2020 lockdowns. However, what many people forget is that the offshore outsourcing industry started developing advanced remote work management procedures back in the 1990s.

The outsourcing industry’s remote work experience teaches us some important lessons. With regular face-to-face meetings and proper recognition for advanced workers, the job can be done even better than in-office.

For example, to properly perform the aforementioned performance evaluation, a lot of outsourcing companies regularly implement different time tracking software. The software is a convenient way to track and award workers’ performance. But also, they are very efficient in keeping remote teams engaged while tracking KPIs.

Therefore, the example of workflow automation shows how a challenge can turn into an opportunity for innovation that benefits not only individuals but entire teams as well.

how to negotiate

Propose a Trial Period  

Before saying a definite “yes” or “no,” your boss might be unsure about the whole thing. Therefore, suggesting a trial period could give you both extra time. During this period, you could see how your plan unfolds and if it is actually manageable.

If you get the trial period, however, keep in mind that the process can be demanding. Most likely, you will need to keep up with the old ways while also working to show how it could work in the future. 

Therefore, it would be a good idea to do the negotiation and ask for the trial period when you have enough resources to go through the process.

Acquire a Problem-Solving Viewpoint

Attitude is very important for any type of negotiation. Since you will most probably speak with your superiors, you should find a way to be decisive without being arrogant. 

In fact, the best attitude is to focus on potential challenges and their solutions.

For example, the management might be reluctant to allow remote work because they are concerned with data security. Usually, the online security measures within the office are much stronger than on private connections.

In that case, you could suggest the company provide you with a VPN connection. In such a way, you would be able to work from anywhere without compromising the company’s sensitive data.

Be Flexible and Willing to Compromise

In order to be fair, each side at the negotiation table should be ready to understand the limitations. So, don’t forget to be realistic.

Also, know that you might need to modify your plan according to the feedback. It is a good idea to have a plan B, in case what they offer at first is unacceptable for you.

Finally, even if you don’t succeed this time, you might learn a lot from the feedback. The boss could tell you about obstacles you didn’t see coming. For example, he or she might be afraid that if they allow you to go remote, everyone else might ask the same thing.

how to negotiate

Be As Clear As Possible

Speaking to your superiors about introducing flexibility can be a tricky process. In order to get this opportunity, you will need to explain what remote work means to you and why exactly you want it. 

Even more importantly, you will have to be clear about how it can benefit the company as a whole.

The crucial thing about negotiating with your boss is to come prepared. You will have to show a full understanding of the workflow, legal matters, the company culture, etc. 

Understand The Risk

Finally, know that negotiating is a risky process. You are speaking with people who have more power than you, and you should do your best to leave no space for misunderstanding. If, however, they do arise, try to back off and avoid arguments.

In the worst case, you will ask again after some time or start looking for a new job. On the other hand, if your negotiation succeeds, you can start setting up your home office as part of a more productive and happier work-life balance. 

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