I work in a field and industry where telecommuting is a feasible option for my role, and it is usually a matter of whether an employer will support it as a company policy. I've worked for both types: some that openly support it on a part-time basis (2 days a week usually), and some that don't support the idea at all. I usually find part time good, as opposed to 4/5 days, as it allows for in-person time to resync with employees or get face-to-face meetings done on those days.
At this point in my life I have a family and a young infant in daycare near our home. My wife and I both work, and commute 1-2 hr to our jobs in the NYC area. My wife is able to work from home and only needs to commute in a couple days a week. On those days, I need to be home to manage the child drop off and pickup, as well as any occasional problem that might occur.
My question is how do I work with potential employers in interviews or even an existing employer and express that this is not just a work preference, an occasional "cable guy coming by" event, but an actual family planning thing that is needed on a highly predictable 2-day a week basis?
For the interview: - I frequently bring up the question as one of company culture on working from home. This is usually met with, "we allow it occasionally for one off appointments, but we prefer everyone to be in the office". They usually back it up with management's opinion that this is best for cooperation, on a company level. Even at the end of a strong interview, it is very difficult for me to pose that it is a strong requirement for me. Even to the point where I might need to be an exception to the rule for a while. How can I express this need without disqualifying myself due to a blanket policy? Should I express this need before even interviewing?
Some people have advised to start with a company, and gradually try to work it in as an option. Prove yourself, start occasionally, and maybe they'll come around. I've not found this passive approach very effective.
For an existing employer: The topic can be challenging. It can be that several employees in the office do have a WFH arrangement, but new arrangements are generally rejected. As an employee, I end up with the conflict that I need this arrangement or I need to find a new job to accommodate the family schedule. Overall, what can be done to express this to an employer that you otherwise mutually value and wish to stay with?