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I intend to negotiate with my current employer to change my working arrangement from Full-time telecommute worker to Part-time telecommute worker. For context; I am a Software Engineer in Australia working for an Australian company.

I have written the below letter and I intend to email this letter to my GM and then discuss in person. FYI, the letter template is from an Australian Government website.

Is there anything you think I should change/add that will give me the best chances of success? Should I try to make a more persuasive case? etc.?

Dear Mr XYZ

I would like to request a change in my current working arrangement from full time basis to a part time basis.

I am making this request so I can engage in tertiary & independent study of Computer Vision in XYZ_COUNTRY and to further my career goals.

The changes I am requesting include; I would like to work a minimum of 20 hours a week during the hours of 0830 – 1700 XYZT (XYZ Time), a reduction in role responsibilities commensurate with any reduction in salary and that these changes take effect from *September 15th 2017 onwards or immediately after the release of BUSINESS_PROJECT – whichever comes first. In any such future agreement I would like to preserve the period of notice set out in my current contract.

I believe that the *time-period mentioned above best considers both the business and my personal needs and that the resulting changes will benefit the company as well as myself. Upon the aforementioned juncture; the most effort intensive and technically challenging system development is expected to have been completed. And the business will have transitioned from building critical operations systems to maintaining and expanding these systems with ancillary features. This new phase will require less time and effort by technical members and therefore coincide nicely with a reduction in my working hours and role. To make the changes in working arrangement as seamless as possible I would be happy to assist in the acquisition and training of any additional IT staff. I believe that the quality and quantity of my work produced to date whilst working remotely, autonomously and with regular tele-communication provide strong evidence that my location or physical presence does not impact my ability to produce quality software in a timely manor for the business.

I would appreciate your response to this request, within 21 days of today's date. I am happy to discuss this matter at a time that is convenient during work hours. I am willing to discuss possible alternatives to the arrangements I have outlined and I am also willing to work with you to make sure that this arrangement succeeds for both the business and myself.

Yours sincerely,

XYZ

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    "I intend to email this letter to my GM and then discuss in person" Discuss it first in person and then sent the letter after you have reached an agreement. If you have the support of your manager, the letter should be more of a formality. – Roland Jun 14 '17 at 5:50
  • You've certainly posted many questions about this! – Fattie Jun 14 '17 at 11:04
  • Jake, a couple times people have asked you to clarify, do all of you (I think you mentioned ten people) all work on site at the same place or are you all remote? Very specifically regarding the "GM", do you see him every day? This question is the most salient one bearing on the matter. – Fattie Jun 14 '17 at 11:08
  • @Fattie The IT team is remote. I physically see the GM every so often (once every 2 weeks, sometimes once a month). The whole company skypes once a week. Re my many questions; I'm preparing for this by canvasing others and planning - you only get one chance at this so better make the best effort I can. – sazr Jun 14 '17 at 11:14
  • Ahhh ... you have only a "remote relationship" with GM. Interesting. – Fattie Jun 14 '17 at 11:17
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I guess all you can really do is seek opinions on this one. From your many (interesting and thoughtful) questions on the matter I can tell it is an important issue. Inasmuch as you are essentially canvassing other's opinions on the matter, here's purely one man's opinion...

  • Really the letter seems fine in general.

  • Every letter can be edited to be shorter, by losing phrases here and there.

  • I am concerned about the final long paragraph ("I would...") as it seems drastically formal / distant in a situation where (I believe you have related) you're on a first name, all-in-the-trenches-together daily or hourly relationship with the GM in question

  • I personally - and this can only be "FWIW" - would take a drastically more concise approach to the entire thing, given the (as much as you've explained it) entrepreneurial / small team nature of your outfit. To wit:

    1. I'd step over to the guy and say "Look Steve, something's come up: I'm trying to go live in Prague - no really, I said Prague - for 12 months to study that new openCV library". Or if by email, a brief email "Hi Steve, something's come up, believe it or not I'm trying to go live in Prague for 12 months to study that new openCV library - is it possible we could talk about this?"

    2. Note that in my scheme here, in the "first contact" I've omitted all detail, whatsoever. I've just introduced the overall newsworthy concept. So, I'm saying to separate "breaking news of this drastic plan" from "details thereof". Note that in contrast your long, if excellent, letter approach is a wholly different approach: you're giving the guy the shocking breaking news, at the same instant as all the gory detail.

So, again "your" approach is all detail. Within that approach, really in general that letter seems fine and good. However do bear in mind the totally different approach, the "break the news first" approach. You could possibly argue that in today's typically antelope company, unicorn company, whatever-the-heck-buzzword fast paced tech team world, the latter approach is more how you'd do it.

And one more thing: consider a third approach.

The fait accompli.

(Or even better, the faits accomplis.) Also known as the "by the way..." approach to breaking major news.

Essentially, on the end of an email on another topic (ideally to BOTH the GM and the other boss you mentioned), type ... "and by the way guys, from September 15 I'm thinking of living temporarily in Prague of all places for some months. (There's that new blah blah institute there.) To discuss? Also that new EC2 is acting up, I'll get rid of it."

You know?

After all, you're (it seems?) a remote worker: companies get huge benefits from remote workers, and one of the few benefits the remote workers get is that you can live flexibly.

I've tried to outline your three possible approaches

  1. Full details approach

  2. Break the news approach; details later

  3. The fait accompli approach.

You seem to be particularly focussing on 1 and the "1-type" letter you suggest is fine, but don't dismiss 2 and 3.

2 is particularly good because it "starts a conversation" rather than being, let's say, a "declaration of what you want" (however well-phrased).

I think everyone on the list is now pulling for you to have success with this :)

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I would freak out as a boss if I got this letter as the first I heard of this plan. It's stiff and formal, like someone is trying to make sure they can force something on me, and all the details are in place. It demands I answer within 21 days when our normal relationship is to talk several times a week. It would really make me wonder what was happening and feel "off".

What would work for me is to request a quick meeting. At the meeting, tell me you have this great opportunity, and want to work out how to "have it all" by taking the opportunity while still working for me. "I think I'd have to reduce my hours" and "I would be in another time zone but could make sure we had overlap times every day" are both good things to say. Let your boss ask you things like "when do you need to make this change?" and "what about the blahblah project?" and "how long will this go on for?". Come to the decisions together. Maybe your boss has a "pinch point" about a certain number of hours a week in order to keep "head count" or maybe there's something else you didn't think of. When you both have negotiated something that works for everyone, and you're both smiling, wrap it up by saying "I will send you all this in writing to make it official; thanks for helping me work this out. I'm really excited!"

Then send the letter but not saying "I think I should" and "this will be good because" and "please reply" but instead thanking the boss for agreeing to all this and summarizing it. And enjoy your course!

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