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I joined this company around 1.5 months ago on a contract basis. They are mainly based in the USA but there are 2 other employees in the UK including me.

We have been working remotely and just meeting on Mondays to discuss the upcoming week of work.

They've just hired one more person who is starting soon and now the lead person in the UK (London) says we will get an office (very small one in WeWork) in around 1 month. (I think the lead is just lonely at home and wants an office to see people to be honest).

Why I do want to stay remote?

  • My life is 10x better without commuting, more sleep, less stress, easy to go the gym right after work, I don't have to pre-prep my lunch, and more.
  • My home office environment is unbeatable, it's quiet and I have a giant monitor ultra-wide monitor, very good chair (all equipment is beyond the price that company would pay for btw).
  • I have a very high body temperature and I cannot regulate this in an open shared office (sounds made up but this is a fact).

They are very happy with the current level of work I'm putting out.

The other employees are Data Scientists so it may make sense they're in the office to collaborate with ideas on whiteboards which seems common in that role.

I'm the only engineer in the UK and I don't see any value being stuck sweating in a tiny open office.

How do I politely tell them I'd like to keep my current working setup if/when they move the rest of the UK people into that small open office?

I do not have any worry about them saying "no" as I can find another contract within a month or so.

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    Reffer to your contract. There should be information about where and how the work should take place. – SZCZERZO KŁY Sep 30 at 7:55
  • @SZCZERZOKŁY it's not on there at all – Richard Smith Sep 30 at 8:03
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    Do you have any reason to believe that they will change their remote work policy? If your hunch ends up actually coming true, talk to your manager. If that fails, leave. There are plenty of companies that allow remote work. – Hugo Zink Sep 30 at 8:08
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    @HugoZink 90% sure it's happening. I'd rather stay here since I'm paid much more than most other remote positions. – Richard Smith Sep 30 at 8:29
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If your contract don't state place (or method) of where work should be performed then adding such requirment would require appendix to your contract.
And that leave you open for negotiation. Requiring you to commute to workplace means your income will be lower.
You agreed on X pay based on the fact that you will work from home. Commute will change that pay to X - cost of commuting. And that should be your first argument.
Second would be price of matching office equpiment to yours.
In my personal opinion is always good to show increased cost on employeer side that can be held against "feeling of better productivity".

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    I forgot to mention I'm on a very high rate. At the top level for even in-office working at this job. So rather than say bluntly "this would need adding to the contract for me to do it" I was thinking of some informal way to do it. – Richard Smith Sep 30 at 8:28
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    Just because the contract doesn't explicitly state a place of work, doesn't mean that it needs to be redrafted. If the contract says something vague like: "You must fulfil your duties as prescribed by your manager", the manager can make it a duty to be in the office. – Gregory Currie Sep 30 at 9:27
  • @RichardSmith Look at this from company perspective. They agreed to your pay knowing that you will not commute and your availability will not be limited by office requirments (so you will be available at 8 at not at 9 when you arrive at the office). If you don't want to focus on yourself put more emphasis on equpiment that you would like to have. – SZCZERZO KŁY Sep 30 at 9:31
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    @GregoryCurrie In UK it's called "variation term" and "fexibility clause" and they need to be stated in the contract. So regarding place of work it would need to be something like "Place of work is to be pointed by manager". That's why I asked in comment to question if such point exist in the contract. CORRECTION: Regarding place of work it's mobility clause and also need to be written in the contract. – SZCZERZO KŁY Sep 30 at 9:40
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I joined this company around 1.5 months ago

They've just hired one more person ... and now the lead person in the UK

Your company has hired 2 people in less than 2 months, can it be on an expansion mode? Since the newest member is a lead, maybe he knows about these plans more than you would?

Now the lead person in the UK (London) says we will get an office (very small one in WeWork) in around 1 month.

Given this is WeWork, the lead is probably looking for a place for all to work together when required. And in case if newer employees join who want an office, then they have a place to do so. If so, the expectation from his behalf may not be that no more remote allowed (because they can end loosing a good resource like you).

I think the lead is just lonely at home and wants an office to see people to be honest

That looks like a personal opinion, which is not more than a conjecture at this point without supporting data :)

How do I politely tell them I'd like to keep my current working setup if/when they move the rest of the UK people into that small open office?

You can set up a 1 on 1 meeting with him, and discuss his plans around the future at work. You can even broach the topic of are we expanding with him in this discussion, and let him know the reasons that you've listed in your post to continue the remote arrangement.

I would suggest to do this in person on the Mondays you go to meet them, and try to avoid mentioning Pay changes for commute as that doesn't seem to be your primary objective.

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How do I politely tell them I'd like to keep my current working setup if/when they move the rest of the UK people into that small open office?

You just talk. You explain, as you have here, that you would prefer to continue working from home, and you explain why.

I do not have any worry about them saying "no" as I can find another contract within a month or so.

That's good. It seems that they are going through a fair amount of work and will expect you to join the others in the work space.

  • It might be worth adding that onboarding a new employee at the same level for the same pay is an expense a company should avoid if possible. – Underverse Oct 1 at 11:30
  • No, just another weight for consideration for business decisions. The OP is a high level high performing contractor - replacing such a person can be difficult and costly. Mt workplace has lost people like this, to our detriment. – Underverse Oct 1 at 11:50
  • Well, I sure wish someone had put this to managers I've had to deal with, because we've lost a number of good people who have been hard to replace. Know your worth, and state it clearly. I am currently doing this for one of ours and it may just come down to these factors. Threatening? Sure, if taken like that. True? Depends on the circumstances. The OP can always walk. Can they replace him? If it was me in the manager's shoes it would certainly be a point to consider. – Underverse Oct 1 at 11:57
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How do I politely tell them I'd like to keep my current working setup if/when they move the rest of the UK people into that small open office?

The most polite way is referring to the non-existing location in your contract.
When they first approach you about moving, you can say you are willing to renegotiate the contract if they plan on incorporating a fixed office in it highlighting that one of the reasons you joined them was home office.
The renegotiation terms, given your conditions would include:

  1. Being paid for commute time as worktime, as that is an additional invested time that wasn't in your initial contract
  2. Being paid for commute costs that weren't in your initial negotiations
  3. Getting your own office with brand model chair, separate AC controls, etc.
  4. Being paid for your further lost comfort, say 20% raise on the spot

Then they will evaluate their options and depending on how much you are worth to them and how much office presence is worth to them choose one of the following:

  1. Let you go as the office culture is an integral part of the company
  2. Let you work from home regardless what the general rules are
  3. Grant you what you asked for, in which case you need to be absolutely sure you can hold up your end

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