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I had an office job where I was sent to a few different locations. Most of the time it was one of two, but I was given very little notice (sometimes less than 24 hours). When I agreed to the job I assumed there would be a fixed schedule, like every other week I would work at the other location. But things seemed very random. I think the manager thought since I was the new, if anyone called in sick I got sent to where they were supposed to be. Part of the problem was I had to bring things like my laptop between locations, also I use public transit.

How can I ask about this in interviews? What locations I could be required to work from and how much notice would I get? Are verbal answers OK, or should they be in the contract? I don't mind going to a couple conventions a year that may be somewhere else. But 95% of the time I would expect the working out of the same location unless discussed prior to agreeing to the job.

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    Where in the world do you live? Where I live, this is mandatory to put the location of the workplace in the mandatory written contract... other countries, you can be fired for any reason any time, so contracts are pretty meaningless...
    – nvoigt
    Commented Mar 25 at 7:21

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Part of the problem was I had to bring things like my laptop between locations, also I use public transit.

The laptop isn't an issue, if they assume that you will be taking the laptop home each night, because you don't know the work location you will be tomorrow.

The issue is transportation. If you were being moved around in the same building, or the same campus, the transportation would not be an issue. If you were driving between offices and were using your own vehicle, then you would want to know how much they were reimbursing you for gas, tolls, parking and wear-and-tear on the car. But if you aren't driving your car, then you can only go by public transportation or taxi or ride share. Those can also cost you more than money, they also can cost you time.

The question I would also be asking is how is your time accounted for. Do they pay you only while on the job site, or are they paying you for a reasonable amount of time to get to the office, and then back home. Knowing that I might have a two hour each way commute tomorrow, if I have to work at site X; versus a 10 minute commute to site Y is important to know. How they account for transportation is a big issue.

If this is a standard position, then they should have a policy that you can review before you accept the job. If they don't have a written policy, then I would be worried that they aren't going to be easy to work with.

The best way to ask, is just to ask. If by asking they don't offer you the job, that is a sign that the policy would not be one that you would like.

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How can I ask about this in interviews?

"What locations could I be required to work from and how much notice would I get?"

Is a reasonable way to ask.

But things seemed very random.

Most positions like that they will tell you you may work in different places, and often you will have zero notice. 24 hours is pretty good for some of the jobs I've had. The main issue shouldn't be 'where am I working', but 'who is organising my transport from home and back'. A reasonable workplace will also handle the transport at least partially if they value their workers.

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  • Note that you can never get a complete list. Business needs change. Nobody could have predicted that I'd eventually spend a week in China.
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 3 at 18:17
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This will be country dependent.

Where I live, as an employee you have ONE fixed workplace, and it is up to you what time and money you spend getting there.

Working at other places has different rules. Your cost to get to a different place may be tax deductible. The time you spend getting there might count as working time. Your lunch may be tax deductible. That’s things you should be asking about as well.

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