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How to Negotiate a Remote Work Agreement

While the pandemic is far from over, with vaccination rates increasing in a very hopeful way, some employers have started to communicate their desire for their employees to return to work in the office. Perhaps you are dreading this change. You’ve found yourself enjoying remote work through the last year and actually performing better in these conditions. 

This might just be the best time to start thinking about how to negotiate a remote work agreement with your employer. Working from home is, in my experience, a fantastic way to gain more time and freedom along the journey towards financial independence. 

Back in 2018, in pre-pandemic days, I negotiated transitioning my position into working remotely on a full time basis. As a two working parent household, this new working arrangement was a total game changer. It allowed me to find a better work life balance as I could get little chores started between meetings and in the time I won by cutting down my commute. It even reduced part of our childcare costs by giving us the choice to opt out og after school care. 

Here are 5 steps to get you to start gathering evidence and create a strong proposal to negotiate a remote work agreement that can work for you and your employer. 

1. Identify the data that can play in your favor

The very first thing you will want to focus on prior to negotiating a remote work agreement is identifying the data that can play in your favor and demonstrate to your employer that agreeing to this will be beneficial for them. Start by brainstorming the types of data that can help support your request and creating a quick list of ideas of statistics you’ll want to gather.

First you have some macro level data. Think of this as the information that will show the big picture. These would be statistics that give information on remote work and it’s future across various industries and countries. What is being done in terms of policies on remote work and how many employees are working remotely? What are the statistics indicating in that sense for the future of remote work? 

Such data can help demonstrate to your employer that it will be in their best interest to sustain the practices they’ve developed during the pandemic with regards to remote work. As many different workplaces are leaning towards offering a hybrid of working from home and working in physical work locations, attracting and retaining talented employees might prove difficult for an organization not willing to allow any form of remote work agreements. 

It’s also important to include statistics on the benefits of remote work for both employees and organisations. On the micro level, you’ll want to specifically identify data that can highlight that your work performance benefits from a remote work arrangement. What kind of data could show that you are accomplishing your work well when doing so remotely? Is there a way to clearly illustrate that deadlines are being met even though all employees or some of them are still currently working from home due to the pandemic?

2. Get organized

The second thing you will want to do before approaching your employer to negotiate a remote work agreement is to get organized. 

As mentioned above, there is a wide range of data that you’ll want to gather in order to highlight the benefits to your employer of sustaining some of the telecommuting practices that were put in place throughout the pandemic. As such, it is crucial for you to be organized as you collect and prepare to present this data in a professional and convincing proposal. 

Create a simple document to keep track of any relevant resources that could support your proposal. You’ll want to include any pertinent links and an area for you to jolt down important notes. This will save time and simplify the future process of drafting your proposal.  

Furthermore, it’s important to have a system in place to stay informed of any communications or efforts by your organization pertaining to remote work. I would suggest creating a dedicated folder in your inbox to sort all of these types of communications and have a simple document where you can keep notes of anything that is communicated orally on this subject. Whether these relate to your organization’s intentions for the future of remote work or on collecting opinions from employees to evaluate their interest in continuing to work remotely in the future, this is information that can help support your plan to negotiate this agreement.

3. Gather the evidence 

Now that you’re organized and that you have identified the data that can help support your efforts to negotiate a remote work agreement, it’s time to gather the evidence! For data on the macro level, google is obviously your friend. You’ll want to start researching terms that can lead you to any surveys and research papers on the subject of remote work. In addition, conduct searches for data that could be specific to your industry or type of work.

What you are looking for is statistics on remote work and the benefits to employees and organizations. This might lead you to news articles on this subject. I suggest looking for the sources of any data cited through those articles to then go consult the original publication that likely contains more data. Survey results are generally presented through some form of document that summarize the findings and highlight any key trends identified. These will help you make sense of the data.

While it will be important to include recent information and statistics that highlight our current reality, don’t omit surveys and papers that were done prior to the pandemic. Many workplaces had already started to experiment with various forms of remote work agreements prior to 2020. Productivity may have been impacted by the weight and circumstances of living through this global crisis. You want to have a balanced and clear picture of what the data shows in terms of remote work for the future when things will, hopefully, be more stable. 

Additionally, start gathering your micro-level data, that is data that can demonstrate your work performance benefits from a remote work arrangement. If you have existing performance measurement tools in place for your role, use these to collect and present the data which can show that your performance benefits from working remotely. If at all possible, try to find ways to compare your productivity when on the work site and when working remotely. 

If you don’t have any existing performance measurement tools to rely on, create one by focusing on ways to measure the output of your work. This process itself can highlight your innovative skills and might become a very helpful tool in your role. 

4. Build your proposal

Now that you have gathered a ton of data to support your efforts to negotiate a remote work agreement with your employer, it’s time to build your proposal. 

This might sound like an overwhelming task but fear not! I’ve got you covered. I’ve prepared a detailed Work From Home Proposal Template which is based on the actual proposal I used to negotiate a working from home position with my employer back in 2018. Simply sign up in the form below to get access to this FREE template. 

Structure your proposal in a way to showcase the data that can help convince your employer that accepting your proposed remote work agreement will be most beneficial to them. It’ll be important to choose a proposal format that highlights solutions to the concerns that your employer has or may have on the idea of accepting a remote work agreement. That’s where being organized with regards to communications by your organization on this subject will prove to be useful. 

The final section of your proposal should be focused on your proposed next steps. I highly suggest offering the option of a trial period to increase your employer comfort with the idea. The benefits of this trial period will be two fold; first it gives your employer a sense of control and second, it will allow you to keep gathering data that shows your performance when working remotely is as or even better than when working on site. 

5. Take action 

Once your proposal to negotiate a remote work agreement is complete, it’s time to take action to present it to your employer. My first suggestion for this is to initially touch base on an informal basis with your direct supervisor on this subject. This will serve to get a feel of their own thinking on this subject and may help you tweak your proposal to address any concerns that come up prior to presenting it. 

Furthermore, your supervisor will likely be appreciative of not feeling blindsided when time comes to actually present your formal proposal. When you feel ready for this step, I suggest sending a meeting request to your supervisor in which you can attach your proposal in a pdf format for them to get familiar with prior to your meeting. 

Another way to take action and support your efforts in this negotiation process is to brainstorm back-up plans and subscribe to remote job listing alerts in your field. Entering negotiations with the knowledge that you have other options will serve to build up your confidence in making this ask. Additionally, you might actually find a new and better opportunity through this process. 

Conclusion:

By following these five steps, you’ll be well on the way to approach your employer to negotiate a remote work agreement. Over the last year, many jobs have proven to be suitable for, at the very least, a hybrid format of remote work and occasional on site attendance. I was curious to see what my twitter followers were seeing from their employers with regards to the future of remote work so created a simple poll on this. 

Although it’s not clear if all respondents have worked on a remote basis throughout the last 15 months, I’m glad to see that allowing full-remote or hybrid seems to be what the majority of these people’s employers are leaning towards. However, it surprised me that more than 16% of respondents have employers that have yet to discuss the future of remote work in their organisation. If you find yourself in such a position, I would encourage you to be proactive and follow the steps indicated above to begin discussing the future of remote work with your employer. 

What is the current status in your workplace with regards to remote work agreements as things begin to re-open? 

Sign up below to download our free Work From Home Proposal Template which is based on the actual proposal I used to negotiate a working from home position with my employer back in 2018. 

6 thoughts on “How to Negotiate a Remote Work Agreement

  1. This is a fantastic guide! There’s zero reason anyone in a non-receptionist (or related) role needs to have a butt parked in their local office, especially when there’s so much commuting time, car mileage, and cleaner air to save.

    Offering a trial period is especially clutch as it makes it really hard for good bosses to say no. The pandemic forcing this change means it’s proven, but sometimes management needs that extra push in the right direction.

    1. Thanks lady! I completely agree. It’s kind of hard to believe that some bosses continue to push the other way despite how we’ve seen employees do their job well remotely during the last year and a half.
      Thanks for your comment and yes I know that four months to respond to it is not ideal haha, I’m planning to get better at this part of being a blogger :P.

  2. These are awesome, very actionable tips! Thanks for sharing. I feel that a lot of people are prepared for their employers to just cut them loose to work remotely for 40 hours a week but (sadly) this will probably not be the case. However, if you approach your employer with valuable reasons why you should be able to work remotely then you have a much better chance of making it happen. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you Arthur! 🙂
      Definitely important to approach employers in a strategic way when it comes to this. Especially if you do enjoy your work and organization!
      Thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay in responding.

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