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My manager wants to hire me for a full-time position in a big IT company. My job is mostly programming / fixing bugs / developing features.. software engineering to cut to the cheese.

During the last months I noticed that this job can successfully accomplished at home by working remotely with a personal machine (not via WinVNC or something like that, by having data on your pc). Some people in the company already do that and I kind of envy them.

I just asked him once to let me work from home and he changed the subject of the discussion. He didn't seem upset, more of "uninformed" about the possibility.

The only point is: I'd like to work remotely from home... in my home country (right now I'm working abroad). Since working from home full time seems like working from home into another country (where my IT company has an office, though), it seemed logical to me to do it.

I'd be way more productive with a machine I can tweak as I want (the IT department is slow/sloppy when it comes to upgrading/changing stuff) and I have my own time schedules where I'm most productive. Furthermore I'd be less stressed and I wouldn't have to deal with time issues (half of the team is in another part of the world).

I'm unsure on how to convince him since he seems kind of reluctant to consider this hypothesis. Right now I can't really see a reason for which I should remain seated here since absolutely nothing would change for my work.

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    Are you sure that absolutely nothing would change for your work? There's a lot of value in face-to-face communication. – MrFox Jan 24 '14 at 14:54
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    How long have you been working for this manager? Working from home is often regarded as a risky privilege because the monitoring costs are high. If you just started, there is little trust. If you have proven yourself for many years, your manager is unlikely to have trust issues. I'm not saying that is behind his hesitation - it's just an easy possibility to think about. – Brandon Jan 24 '14 at 14:55
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    What sort of "data" are you talking about storing on a personal machine that the company cannot control or monitor? At a lot of organizations, that's a non-starter. Working from home using a company laptop that the company controls using a VPN would generally be a much easier request. Are you sure that you need/ want to combine both the change of physical location and the change of hardware in the same request? – Justin Cave Jan 24 '14 at 18:56
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    Show him this video vooza.com/videos/remote-working – Jeff Jan 29 '14 at 16:15
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    You are essentially asking for a raise as opposed to the original agreement. Treat it as such - both when trying to get it and when trying to keep it! – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Mar 3 '14 at 11:28
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If this subject never came up during your hiring process, you may have a difficult time. Progress will be slow, if at all, but keep at it.

First, try talking to as many people as you can who already work from home. Try to find out what kind of setup they have, and how it came about that they are able to work from home. Ask for tips and ideas.

Second, try talking to the IT department, as a high level person as you can.

You are looking for the company view on working remotely and finding ways to make it easier for them to approve. Making things easier for you is not quantifiable and should not be on a list you present to the company.

Without knowing any details about how other employees are able to work from home, I suggest clarifying these points:

  • Equipment, hardware. You have a better chance if you use company equipment on a company network. Security for the company network, data, and server connections are the key points here. The company cannot protect their code, data or network if they allow your personal machine to connect directly or even indirectly (by placing your code on any server that connects) to the company network.

  • Intellectual Property. Any code you write during work hours on a company machine is clearly company property. The thought of someone working at midnight on their own personal machine will cause any good manager to pause.

Finally, find out as much as you can about the company line on this topic, devise a solid plan and then ask for a meeting with your manager. Adjust your plan while working with your manager.

Let us know how it goes.

  • I will surely do, that might take a LOT of time (even a year or so). If I get fired, that might be faster :) – Marco A. Jan 24 '14 at 16:54
  • Finding another position that allows work from home works too. Consider this thought: If you start by asking for the wrong things from the company view, your topic might be shut down too soon, for too long. – Kevan Sheridan Jan 24 '14 at 16:55
  • @DavidKernin. more companies are finding that they are losing alot by having too many remote workers. It is not something that is easy to justify to management and it should not be. I have seen too many people abuse it and so have alot of other managers. – HLGEM Jan 24 '14 at 18:26
  • @MarcoA. How has this turned out for you? Any positive progress? – Kevan Sheridan Jun 21 '14 at 16:30
  • Hi Kevan, in a few months I might have to change team and division, so the entire matter has been delayed. Anyway I asked this question several times so I hope this will be taken into account. Thanks for your help, I really appreciated it! – Marco A. Jun 21 '14 at 16:40
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I think you are trying to present your argument with too many moving parts. Make a proposal to do this gradually.

  1. Request to work from home a day or two a week. Present it as a trial period of maybe a month, so you boss doesn't feel like this is a permanent commitment of it doesn't work out.

  2. If people already work from a home computer, why do you need permission to do the same? I don't know the implications of this. I don't know why you'd need to discuss this with your boss if it is common.

  3. You may have to wait to move out of the country. There's a difference between having a remote employee who can come to the office on short-notice and one who for all practical purposes, will never physically return to the office. Maybe you could take an extended vacation to your home country, but make a few of the days work days. This way you can prove you can do the job.

Working remotely is not as common as people may think even for programmers. Just look at the job sites and compare. It is a complicated trust issue that may take a lot of time. I've worked remotely (far enough away to require air travel) at 3 different jobs, but this didn't happen until I worked there for 2-3 years.

Edit: I recommend the section on how to approach a boss to work remotely in the book, The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss.. It is a pretty good strategy that I've paraphrased a bit here. (Side Note: I think he's back-pedaled off his claim by excluding things you like to do from his definition of work. As a programmer, I guess if I only spend 4 hours a week answering user email, I've made it.)

  • May I ask you why it didn't work out for you in the end? I mean: are you still working remotely? If not: why? – Marco A. Jan 28 '14 at 8:36
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    I still work remotely. I left the other two jobs because I found local jobs that were better in some ways, but I admit I also got paranoid and didn't think they'd last forever. I was the only person at the company who worked remotely. You never really know, but when you're off on your own, your imagination runs a little more. – user8365 Jan 28 '14 at 13:42
  • That's true, I'd like to get a permanent job as well... also if that doesn't pay very well. And you're right that you start to get a bit paranoid when you're on your own – Marco A. Jan 28 '14 at 14:52
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I'm not a big fan of working remotely, particularly from home. I think it's important for you to maintain face to face personal contact with the people you work with/for. Also, preparing and going to work puts you in a "working frame of mind", as does being in a formal workplace environment with your co-workers. If you goof off or fall asleep, at home nobody will notice - not so in the office.... I can and sometimes do work from home, but I am never as productive as I am in the office, for stated reasons.

Having said that, your question may to a great extent be dependent on the record you have established in the office: How long have you been at that job? At least a year or two? Do you have a reputation for a solid work ethic? Have you delivered a significant amount of good work to your employers? Do they know you well and trust you? I don't think a responsible manager would allow you to work remotely from home unless the answer to all those questions is "Yes".

At my current job, it took me two years to get a large project up and running and only then did I ask for some time to be able to work at home, simply because sometimes there is business I need to attend to locally, some distance from the office.

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