How to Negotiate a Remote Working Arrangement

I’ve successfully negotiated remote working arrangements twice in my career, both at Fortune 500 companies. Working remotely immediately increased my work productivity by eliminating every distraction I had at the office (e.g. chatty colleagues, impromptu meetings, long lunches, excessive noise, etc.). When my work productivity increased, I freed up my time and arranged my schedule for the things that mattered most in my life, which included:

  • Dropping off and picking up my daughters from school
  • Eating lunch with my wife
  • Eating dinner with my wife and daughters
  • Raising my daughters
  • Exercising
  • Volunteering
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Traveling

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Working remotely absolutely was the best thing I did to improve my work-life balance. That’s why I was adamant about having a remote working position in my last full-time job, even though the company didn’t have a telecommuting culture. About one month into my job, I successfully negotiated a remote working arrangement with my boss. I was able to work full-time from home with an occasional physical attendance at weekly staff meetings. 

Yes, it’s a bit of a gamble to ask your boss for a remote working arrangement. You don’t want to appear disinterested in your job or the company and you don’t want to give an impression that you have other interests outside of your job. But, in the end, you have to ask yourself what is more important, your job or your flexibility (i.e. freedom with your time). I think freedom with your time wins every time.

Follow this step-by-step process to successfully negotiate a remote working arrangement with your boss:

  1. Prove your worth. Work in the office for a few weeks to a few months and show that you can get the work done. You want to prove your worth to the company. Showing that you do your work well builds trust with your boss and your team.
  2. Start with a trial day per week. Ask for Fridays at home. It’s when meetings are least scheduled and when you can actually get some work done. Be extra productive on this day for a few weeks and show your boss that working from home actually increases your productivity.
  3. Ask for a few weeks away from the office. You’ll need to condition your boss and colleagues that your physical presence is not mandatory at the office. How do you do this? You remove yourself from the office completely for a few weeks. Tell your boss it’s another trial to really focus on some larger projects that you cannot complete at the office because of too many distractions. During these few weeks, get all of your work done and do some extra work on top of that. Attend all meetings via video conferencing or conference calling and respond to emails and instant messages as you would at the office. The key is to convince your boss that you’re still working, even though you’re not in the office.
  4. Attend a staff meeting or all-hands meeting in-person. Some colleagues get a little sensitive when they cannot see you all the time. So give them some face time by attending a meeting when they’ll all be there. Go in-person to a staff meeting or an all-hands meeting. Then continue as you were at home, away from all the chatter of the office.
  5. Do weekly check-ins with your boss. Connect via phone or send an email to your boss with a list of everything you have done each week. This will help create clarity with your boss on how things are going with your projects. Your boss wants to make sure you get your work done and as long as you’re doing that, you should be able to continue working remotely.

Once you’ve established that you’re a more productive worker while you’re at home (or at Starbucks, or wherever you like to do your work), you’ll be able to work from anywhere, as long as you’re able to work on the same time zone as your colleagues.

And that’s the beauty of working remotely…You can be traveling anywhere in the world, getting your work down, and still being paid. Your life is on your terms and in your control.

Negotiating a remote working arrangement can be done. You just need to have the courage to ask. Get over this fear, and you’ll be free to live the life you’ve always dreamed about.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.

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