A friend recently told me her son — who has been working from home since the pandemic began — will likely be moving out of state with his fiancee. He likes his current job and is wondering how to broach the topic of being able to continue working remotely from another state. What are the chances of a company allowing such an arrangement? And what are some of the considerations involved?
The timing couldn’t be better for anyone who wants to continue working remotely.
According to an Azurite Consulting survey of 3,500 people, remote work continues to be the choice of employees and managers. Only 13% of managers and 11% employees prefer full-time return to the office, the survey revealed.
“Every company is facing questions on this in the wake of the pandemic — not just from staff, but internally as well,” says Ben Taylor, founder of HomeWorkingClub.com. “Inevitably, six months of paying rent for empty offices will have made plenty of CFOs sit up and take notice of the financial impact. And with big-name firms like Google and Twitter all laying out long-term remote working plans, companies risk looking stubborn and old-fashioned if they don’t take a proactive approach.”
Adam Sanders, director of Successful Release, an organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged populations find financial and professional success, agrees that the time is right — with a few caveats.
“High-performing employees who would be costly or difficult to replace are going to have a much easier time moving to a remote position than those who don’t fit that description,” says Sanders, who has successfully transitioned multiple in-house jobs with large corporations into remote positions and have allowed members of his team to do the same.
So, how can someone who wants to continue working remotely from another state broach the topic with their employer?
Sanders suggests asking if they’ve ever considered letting employees work remotely on a permanent basis. “Follow up with a few more questions about their personal feelings about it, and adjust your strategy accordingly,” Sanders says. “When you do make your case, be sure to address any concerns that had popped up during this discussion. In any negotiation the one who comes in best prepared often wins.”
What are some of the considerations employers likely will take into account before giving the go-ahead?
1. Your performance. According to Sanders, this is the number one concern that most companies have. “If you can tie your results to your working environment, you will be able to make a much stronger case for working remotely permanently,” he says.
Donna Lubrano, virtual exchange officer at United Planet, a nonprofit that offers volunteer abroad opportunities, agrees.
“If you have been able to maintain a high level of performance, please make sure to highlight that,” Lubrano stresses. “What were your successes during this time? How have you worked with others in communicating and collaborating remotely? What challenges have you faced and what ways did you innovate solutions.”
2. Bottom-line benefits. Lubrano suggests mentioning any cost savings the company can realize from the permanent work-from-home arrangement. “Your institutional knowledge and work experience inside the organization are hard to replace — and there is an opportunity cost to replacing someone rather than making the accommodation,” she notes.
Tax issues are another consideration. “Forced work-from-home policies have created a new issue — one that governments will have to resolve if remote working is to increase,” Taylor says. The question is whether an employee’s taxes should be based on the location of the company or the location where he or she did the work — and that can impact an employer’s withholding obligations. “It makes sense for employees to be aware of issues like this so they’re ready to speak about them in an informed way if their bosses raise them as an objection,” Taylor says.
3. Your commitment. “Employers will be looking at the individuals long-term commitment once the move is made,” Lubrano says. “Are they accommodating someone who is solely trying to maintain an income until they find a new job in their new location or is this person genuinely looking to contribute to the organization from a distance?”
4. Security. Can you reassure your supervisor it’s possible to keep all data safe? “As more and more employees work remotely it becomes increasingly difficult to effectively secure sensitive data,” Sanders says. “For some companies, it won’t be a problem but for others, it might make working remotely very challenging.”
In the end
Before making a formal request, Taylor says anyone seeking this kind of work-from-home arrangement should “establish their own ‘red lines’ before starting negotiations.
“Are you prepared to walk if the answer is ‘no’? Would a hybrid ‘x’ days per week at home arrangement work? It makes sense to know the answers to these questions before you begin,” he concludes.
(Article written by Kathleen Furore)