39

I will soon be applying for jobs. I'm still a junior developer with some but not too much experience under my belt. One thing I'd love from a new job would be the possibility to work remotely for 2-3 days a week. How would I best go about asking this?

I don't want to come across as too demanding, and I also don't know how to properly justify it. I don't want to sound just lazy. Which I really am not. What would be some convincing arguments here?

Part of the reason I want to work remotely is because this way I can work from a co-working space with my friends who are also working there. The atmosphere is pretty great there and I've worked there before and got a lot of work done while having a good time. Another reason is that I feel like I will get more work done if I can sit down by myself and figure things out, or also just work from home sometimes. However, I feel like the latter could easily sound anti-social, while the former might sound I want to just have a blast with my friends and not integrate into the new company. Both seem like red flags to future employers.

How do I increase my chances here?

  • 8
    Does the company have a remote access policy or offer employees remote work? It takes a lot of infrastructure to support remote access properly. For example, laptops with encrypted drives, two factor authentication, remote access servers, IPSec VPNs, etc. – jww Aug 14 at 22:43
  • 1
    Also, Co working space could be a massive confidentiality issue... Talking with friends about proprietary software modules, closed source code, company secrets and do printed out in public spaces. Working from home is a different kettle of fish in my mind. – RemarkLima Aug 17 at 7:15
  • Maybe a little OT, but I quit a very good and well-paying job after 17 years -and started my own business- because they would absolutely not let me work at home at all. I have chronic fatigue and needed time to lie down and refresh myself occasionally. If that is your case, you need to give them a good reason to trust you to keep track of your non-working time, as I would have done. – Mike Waters Aug 17 at 18:00
95

In the interview, simply ask what their flexible working policy is and indicate that you've found remote working to be productive in the past.

Then see what their policy/approach is and work from there. You'll probably find out here at what point you'll be allowed to work remotely (e.g. after the probation period has elapsed).

You need not make a big deal of this - it is common these days for people to work from home (or have the flexible option to do so).

  • 2
    work from home, although that distinction fits too! – Kaizerwolf Aug 14 at 14:54
  • 31
    +1, but OP don't forget that until they get used to you (probation; 3 months), you might need to be in their office. – Justin Aug 14 at 14:59
  • 2
    @Justin so if I were to negotiate remote for 2 days per week, for the first 3 months I should be full time in the office in any case? – bernhard Aug 14 at 15:11
  • 31
    Asking about the policy is definitely the best approach, versus approaching this as a negotiation point. Most employers will either have a policy allowing WFH, or they won't. Unless you're some sort of superstar, don't go in to an interview expecting you will convince them to change their policy, or suddenly come up with one if they don't currently allow it. – dwizum Aug 14 at 18:48
  • 6
    @dwizum, that's why it's important to ask at the interview, rather than after you start. If it's a hard no, you can drop them and look at other options. It's also possible (although unlikely) that they're relatively new and no one has asked yet, and there's room for negotiation. – Robin Bennett Aug 15 at 10:02
30

In a similar vein to Snow's answer, you're free to ask about how flexible their work policies are. It will likely come up in an interview, depending on the questions they ask, and you can seamlessly talk about your successes in that remote work environment without having to awkwardly bring it up out of context.

However, since you are relatively inexperienced in the work force, be prepared for them to say no. Most employers will want you in an office environment to get a gauge on how you fit with their culture, how you work, and the results you provide. This is not to say you will permanently be stuck working in this office environment, but be prepared for it nonetheless. Remote working tends to be a privilege that is earned, in my experience.

Best of luck!

  • 10
    Companies also generally want new employees in the office so they can get up to speed quicker. – DaveG Aug 14 at 14:55
  • 9
    a privilege, not a right. Typically you have to work for the company and earn your managers trust first. – Mister Positive Aug 14 at 15:35
  • 7
    I wouldn't accept "no but you might be able to earn the privilege at some unspecified future date" as an answer, just like you wouldn't accept a vague salary. If it's important to you, you can ask for a more specific policy, like "after the probationary period" or "if you score 'acceptable' or above in your annual performance review" – Robin Bennett Aug 15 at 8:41
  • 1
    @RobinBennett If remote work is a privilege reserved for seniors in a given company, then trying to get it as a junior can only result in either a no, or a promise that the OP will get it in the future, which is always somewhat vague and uncertain. – Dmitry Grigoryev Aug 15 at 10:57
  • 1
    @Dmitry - in which case OP should recognise that the interviewer is trying a negotiating trick - giving a vague answer to avoid the question when he knows the answer isn't what you want to hear. (Similar to "mom, can I have an ice-cream?" "maybe later dear"). Press the interviewer to admit that remote work is for seniors only, and then consider if you really want the job. – Robin Bennett Aug 15 at 11:42
24

You might consider negotiating your offer outside of the interview. Keep the interview to demonstrating your capabilities and asking questions that will help you decide if an opportunity with the company would be exciting.

Instead of asking for remote work in an interview, express you desire for remote days to the recruiter. He or she can help you understand what you can expect in the roles they are working to fill. You can also negotiate to have remote work promises included in your offer, but you should wait to do this until you have an offer in hand.

Focus on getting an offer first, and negotiate the offer if it doesn't match your expectations about the role.

  • 9
    This is an excellent answer. You may turn people off by bring this minor item up too early in the process. The main objective should be to get a job offer first. – Mister Positive Aug 14 at 15:25
  • 4
    @bernhard The best time to address this initially is when you are negotiating an offer, at the end of the hiring process. You can always bring it up again should the initial effort for WFH fail once you have proven your trustworthiness and productivity. – Mister Positive Aug 14 at 15:44
  • 4
    I for one would be annoyed by an applicant who didn't mention a desired benefit during the interview and only brought it up when their offer was already prepared. – Dmitry Grigoryev Aug 15 at 10:50
  • 4
    You can use the interview to ask about company policy and state a general desire, then negotiate the actual number of days (and when it would start) at the same time as salary. – Robin Bennett Aug 15 at 11:48
  • 2
    @mattumotu If its a requirement then I would only look for jobs that say Full Remote or ask on the very first call with the HR person. Furthermore if its a requirement then I would most certainly not waste anyone's time without know that intel *first. – Mister Positive Aug 15 at 15:26
3

If flexibility is important for you, you may want to consider picking job offers from companies which advertise flexible hours or remote work. It is now widely understood that flexible working conditions constitute an advantage, so companies which are able to offer such flexibility to you usually advertise it. Interviewing with the right companies from the start saves a lot of time.

Even if a company is unable to offer home office to a junior employee, if you're hired by a company which offers home office to seniors there's a good chance that you get this privilege once you prove yourself.

1

I've found that it's always best to do the ramp up in person, for all seniorities I've worked with. You being a junior means your ramp up will probably be a bit longer.

If I were in the company, I'd prefer that you work on site all days at least for the first month, for this reason. I suggest you straight up offer this to the company, so they can see you're committed to learning the ropes there (every company has different ropes, independently of your seniority). Once you're at a productive level and once people know you and how you work (and once you've learned how to make your productivity visible), I don't see a reason why they would deny your work from home request.

However, let me be clear just in case, don't wait a month or so to request working from home. Do it in the interview (as you were planning to), just don't ask to start working from home right away. One month, as I mentioned, is just a general number. Perhaps you can leave it to your team leader's discretion, but if that's the case I'd be clear in the interview that it would be once the ramp up is done and you're at full speed, not just whenever some other person pleases.

0

Your instincts are correct, you need to address this before getting an offer/starting. If you try to negotiate after then you may well seem demanding and might end up fighting the company culture (in which case you are unlikely to get the result you want).

Many companies offer remote work, some jobs are almost exclusively remote. For development it's pretty normal, so don't worry about justifying it or seeming lazy, if that is their response (unlikely) then just take it as a sign that's not the job/company for you.

So just ask; either at interview or when applying. Make your requirements clear upfront: in the covering letter or on the 'phone. If you have got to interview without asking then definitely sound them out. If they say it's a possibility then make your general feelings known. Don't wait until after an offer and surprise them, that's a rookie error an would probably annoy them. This isn't being pushy but being clear. It does mean you won't get some interviews, but only ones for companies that don't meet your requirements.

Broadly, most companies will fall into one of the following categories: Remote as standard, occasional (e.g. need to stay home for a plumber/builder/parcel etc.) or never; you need to be clear what you are looking for and willing to accept.

If you decide you must have some/all remote (which is reasonable) then you need to find suitable jobs and discount unsuitable ones without wasting too much time, so the earlier you ask the better. If they have a policy absolutely ruling it out you don't want to waste your time interviewing there (well unless you need interview experience 😉).

If, after a while (how long depends on how desperate you are) you aren't getting enough interviews/offers then you may have to reassess the feasibility of your requirements, but this will depend on your local job market (you haven't indicated where you are). Of course, you could go fully remote and get a job anywhere.

Make sure you make it clear to any recruiters you are speaking to that it's a requirement. This will rule out some jobs but rule in others.

0

First, I would not discuss this concern until you have an offer in hand.

Second, in the shops I work in, developers have frequent collaborative meetings, and while remote participation is possible, it is normally more awkward.

I want my employees to be happy with their work, but the quality and quantity of the work, and their integration with the team is extremely important to me.

  • Workplace culture can differ considerably. I don't think there is a blanket "do this" or "do that" answer that is always going to be correct without knowing anything about the specific job opportunity. – Christopher Hunter Aug 16 at 22:24
  • Ideally, the OP knows everything about the job opportunity. But we don't, and faced with his description, my suggestion is to not discuss the days and hours he will work remote until he has an offer in hand. Of course if the potential employer brings it up, then discuss at the interview. But even for jobs which advertise that some days can be remote, why make that an issue, until the employer has decided that they are more interested in you. It just doesn't make sense to get into specifics until it is clear they are interested. – mongo Aug 17 at 3:48
  • I am a hiring manager, and I want to hear about what you can do, not when you don't want to be here, in an interview. – mongo Aug 17 at 3:48
  • 2
    I see your point, but I also see that it may make a poor impression if your acceptance of the job is contingent on the work hours, and you don't bring that up until you've wasted a bunch of people's time doing interviews. I agree though that the interview is not a good place to discuss it. That should be brought up to the recruiter beforehand – Christopher Hunter Aug 17 at 15:57
  • There is a time for everything. The purpose of a resume is to land an interview. The goal at the interview is to land an offer. The goal after an offer is to tune the deal. Tuning the deal at an interview is presumptuous and in many hiring manager's minds, shows poor judgment. Besides, one wants to get the best offer possible, and negotiating work location and hours prior to receiving an offer may disadvantage one by attracting a lower offer. Similarly, if one wanta to take a 4 week vacation every winter, work that in after an offer is in hand, and avoid requesting it too early in the game. – mongo Aug 18 at 4:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.