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Want to Keep Working Remotely After COVID? Me too. Here’s How to Ask Your Employer

Originally written Feb 18, 2021 for the

blog.

Recently, one of our career coaching clients brought up this interesting question:

I know you mentioned previously negotiating working remotely (full-time) when a job offer is made to work in-office (after COVID, of course). I was wondering if you would be willing to share what that might look like and if there are any caveats? For context, I have a third interview with {…} today. I applied to it because it’s a dream role. I’m wiling to put a lot on the table for it but wondering if I have any room to negotiate remote should an offer be made.

Simply put, this comes down to personal preference.

Some folks (myself included) absolutely will not work in-office if it’s required. (I love meeting up with colleagues in person, but I never want my job to be tied to where I do it. It’s the results I get that should matter.)

Other folks aren’t opposed to office work on principle, but simply prefer working remotely. If you’ve reached this article, that’s probably you! Here’s what to ask yourself when weighing a potential dream job with the possibility that it won’t be remote:

First, decide if you would still keep your job if they don’t allow fully remote work after the pandemic.

Is remote work a requirement for you? Why is working remotely important to you? Working remotely affords you AND the company all kinds of benefits:

Plus (and to the last point of the “companies” section on Chris’s list), every benefit to you working remotely is also a benefit to the company since you become happier and more productive.

Still, some companies simply have their own ideas and they may simply not agree to it.

If working remotely means more to you than a specific company

Be up-front with your point-of-contact at the company that permanent remote work is a requirement for working with you. You can mention this pleasantly and gently, at some point in the interview, by inquiring about their policies and engaging them in discussion about remote work.

Sometimes, companies aren’t opposed to it, but they are hesitant. If you run into this situation, the best thing to do is reiterate your value to the company and position yourself as a must-have. If they want YOU, they will be willing to have you remotely. Focus the conversation on the results you’ve produced in your past work—or, if there aren’t many yet, the results you know you can produce for them.

If the company is a flat-out “no,” you’ve already gotten clarity on your priorities: remote work is a must-have for you. You simply thank them for their time and spend no more time trying to change their mind or policies. Don’t worry. There are tons of companies out there that have transitioned to fully remote teams.

On the How I Built This episode featuring the founders of Atlassian, one of the founders dropped a quote that immediately became a new favorite. Paraphrased,

“The pandemic taught us the difference between how we work and where we work.”

This very insight has occurred to business leaders across the world over the past year that organizations have scrambled to restructure how they work and are realizing the benefits of distributed organizations.

As much as this one company might feel like your dream opportunity, remember you could be doing exactly the same work at a different company and be just as happy—if not happier.

To find them, start browsing remote job boards like Remotive and WeWorkRemotely—but more importantly, do your own prospecting of opportunities. Do what salespeople and freelancers do—actively hunt for possible openings, cultivate strong relationships with people doing work at the companies (or in industries) that you care about.

On the flip side of that coin, invest some of your energy into positioning yourself as a must-have candidate for the work you do—negotiating becomes much, much easier when they can’t find anyone else like you. 😉 Positioning yourself means having a strong online presence (yourname.com + social media) that proves your abilities.

If a certain company means more to you than working remotely

Make peace with the decision that, should they require in-office work post-pandemic, you have chosen the company, and are willing to sacrifice working from home in order to be part of their journey.

Now, when you ask, you can hope for the best but prepared for the less optimal outcome.

If you’re not sure whether remote work or a specific company is more important to you

You’d probably really benefit from a coach! Understanding ourselves is difficult and one of the most valuable parts of hiring a coach. We help clients every single day make these big decisions that require soul-searching, self-awareness, and experimentation. Book your complimentary consult to tell us more about your situation and see if we can help.

We can’t wait to meet you!

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