As recently as three years ago, performing work from home or other off-site locations was a necessity due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, it is a form of employment that benefits both parties – both the employee (especially in terms of time savings and the ability to plan the day more freely) and the company (cost savings while maintaining appropriate levels of efficiency and productivity). At a time when most jobs require only a computer and Internet access to perform their duties, home office (HO) seems to offer an ideal solution. Nevertheless, there are still many companies that are not convinced of it- despite the reported desire on the part of employees. Below we suggest how to negotiate remote work should so that it translates into satisfaction for both parties.

Negotiating remote work – what matters?

As a supervisor, you are surely concerned that an employee’s performance of duties from home (or any other arbitrary location, instead of from the office) will not affect the person’s efficiency – that is, past performance in completing tasks or demonstrated productivity. Most opponents of HO are afraid that the employee will be occupied with other duties (e.g., cleaning the house, picking up the kids from school, hanging up the laundry, etc.) during work that they won’t do all the tasks.

For this reason, when negotiating remote work, it is so important to clearly and honestly communicate your expectations for the new mode of operation. When the employee knows exactly what the company’s requirements are in terms of working hours, availability, deadlines, goals, results, etc., it is easier for them to adjust.

Negotiating remote work – how?

Without a doubt, proper communication when negotiating remote work is crucial. But what else should be done to ensure that both parties are satisfied? Below we provide some tips that can make it easier to talk to an employee about the possibility of switching to home office.

  1. Set HO rules
  2. When working remotely, it is crucial that you mutually agree on how to carry out duties in a home environment. As a supervisor (if the company has not implemented remote working rules and regulations for all employees and provides freedom of arrangement within individual teams) you should have predetermined expectations that you will present to your employee (while remaining open to possible negotiations). In this regard, you should answer such questions as:

    • On what days and times is it possible to work from home?
    • Will systems be put in place to ensure reporting of performance?
    • How will communication be conducted?
    • What tools are necessary to perform duties from home?
    • How will the results be evaluated?
    • How does working from home affect benefit eligibility?
  3. Enter the trial period
  4. In addition, you may also decide to offer the employee a kind of “trial period”, under which for a certain time (e.g. a month) you will provide the opportunity to perform duties from home.

    After this time, you will make an evaluation (reviewing the results and comparing them with the results achieved during stationary work), determining whether such a model of cooperation brings adequate results, or perhaps not. If you notice that efficiency has been maintained at the same level, you will be able to allow the employee to HO without fear. If, on the other hand, productivity has dropped, you will have a strong argument for leaving the employee in the office.

  5. Propose a hybrid model
  6. As a last resort, if you completely lack the conviction to let an employee perform duties from home on a full-time basis, you can also offer to switch to a hybrid model – for example, 3 days in the office and 2 from home. You can also treat such a situation as a kind of trial period, within which you will examine the person’s efficiency. It may turn out for various reasons (e.g., maintaining direct contact with teammates) that the hybrid model will be sufficient for the person, and for you such a situation – is acceptable.

Negotiating remote work – summary

When negotiating a remote job, stay open to the needs raised by the employee and be flexible in terms of setting the conditions for performing the duties. Also take into account the fact that each conversation should differ depending on who you are having it with and the capabilities, nature of the job or the person’s responsibilities.

Only by proceeding in such a way will you be able to develop a model that will ensure the satisfaction of both parties and at the same time a positive image of you as a supervisor or the company as an employer. Also, be prepared for the fact that you will increasingly be negotiating remote work – employees have come to love the home office and will undoubtedly expect such an opportunity to perform their professional duties from their places of employment.

Read also: How to conduct a remote layoff effectively? 4 basic and easy steps

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.