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Ask HN: How Would You or Did Convince Your Boss That You Can Work Remote?
129 points by johngorse 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 119 comments
.. and be as productive as if you are in the office or even more productive.



As someone who has been the manager in those discussions I see four things to help your manager be supportive:

1. The company policy: of the company has a no-remote policy this will be very difficult. If the company has a limited-remote policy, it’s already much easier, it means asking for additional remote days on top of existing policy and provides you an opportunity to show that you are productive working remote

2. Your productivity and mutual trust: on the individual level I like to believe everybody can be productive remote. On the aggregate it didn’t work that way though. Some people would use the remote time for personal matters and chalk up a day with limited output to ‘I was doing research’, others would have twice the output they had at the office. It’s difficult to know up front where someone will fall on that scale. If you can show with 1-2 days remote that you can be productive, it’s a huge help in this decision

3. Spill-over effects. If others in your team are (possibly) not productive remote it might be difficult to give you a full remote opportunity. Others will expect the same privileges and it might be easier to limit it for everybody rather than explaining individuals that I dont trust them remote yet.

4. Interactions: if the office has a weekly townhall, or if we have a quarterly long-term planning session, can you join these, or do we need to setup video and mics for that? It helps if you can be in person on these moments (even if you’re not convinced they’re always useful)


> Some people would use the remote time for personal matters and chalk up a day with limited output to ‘I was doing research’

Be careful with this, because it can be a form of selection bias. I've run plenty of errands and had plenty of non-productive days from the office too. This stuff is unavoidable. If you're going to put WFH under intense scrutiny, make sure to put office work under the same level of scrutiny otherwise it might just be that you notice unproductive days more because you're looking harder.

At a previous company, the WFH policy included a question "How will your performance be measured when working from home?" to which I answered "The same as when at the office", but the question implies a level of suspicion that sets the tone for the whole thing. If you want to allow WFH but are concerned about productivity, do it in good faith and allow enough time to get a statistically significant sample size, and actually compare it with office work rather than just looking at the raw numbers in isolation.

Edit to add: You might also find that people will choose to WFH on days they were planning to run errands, but they likely would have anyway had they worked from the office, so you need to account for this too.


The "Spill-over" effects are a great observation. In previous teams I had at least 1 or 2 guys I would really not trust remotely. They just needed fairly constant motivation and for lack of a better word "baby sitting". Their work and output was good, they were just not as disciplined or self motivating.


Remote has to be baked into the company culture, otherwise you'll forever be the outsider, and be the first to be let go when the company hits tough times.

Find a job that already offers remote.


Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Find a company that hires only remote and you're golden. Plenty of them out there. In my experience they're a good mixture of casual and results-oriented.

You can't really fake anything with a remote company. You don't get any points for showing up. At the same time, the amount of time-wasting activities created by people who are searching for 'participation rewards' is small or none.

Or, put another way, if you wanted to be treated like an adult, find a company that hires adults.


Agreed. I’ve worked remote for over 10 years but mostly all 100% remote companies.

My recent experience with a company that allowed remote work but was 95% in-office was absolutely miserable. They won’t accomodate any change in communication style, tools, and they’ll regularly have important discussions in the office without you. And you’ll never change their culture. Plus as others have said, those kind of places will never give senior positions to remote workers.


This has been my experience. I managed to switch to working remotely 100% by saying "I need to move to another town, either I start working remotely or I'll need to switch jobs". My boss wanted me to say, but not enough was done (by anyone, me included) to really make it work. I wasn't let go, they were still happy with me, but I decided to leave after about half a year, even though there were definitely aspects of working remotely that I loved.


^ this is the answer. I'm currently working my first remote job, and we have a robust remote culture.

Remote work is hard to do well. We're constantly iterating on it and trying to improve it. It's not always intuitive. If your company isn't focused on it, it will not work.


Not necessarily. Pretty much any company that is spread out should have no problem dealing with remote workers. Once you have people reporting to people who are not local it doesn't really matter who's where because you're either in the same building or you're not. Once you're not in the same building doesn't really matter if people are working in a house in Ohio or from an office in Bangalore.

People routinely work from all sorts of places do so in a manner that causes problems for others it doesn't really matter. Most managers don't care so long as they know what timezone you are in and when you can be expected to be available on chat/phone/whatever.


It still really does: the remote offices might have self contained teams, managers, etc. So only cross team collaboration has to handle remote boundaries. With remote workers, it's all interactions.


This has been my experience thus far as well. It hasn't really mattered how well I could frame productivity or measurable improvements in my quality of life to an immediate manager or team - ultimately if the senior leadership dislikes the idea of remote work, each level beneath them will hesitate to fully embrace it.

I've found that companies that promote work-life balance as one of their strengths are the best places to ask or test the waters.


"It hasn't really mattered how well I could frame productivity or measurable improvements in my quality of life"

First, your quality of life isn't really a selling point from employers point of view. To raise your odds at negotiations you should focus solely on the employers problems. The same applies when selling something - you should not focus on the benefits that you as a seller get (like money), but on the problems that get solved from the employer.

Secondly, focusing on raw productivity on alone seems to be quite a common thing on these discussions. I think it is quite limited viewpoint, since a ton of other things matter as well in addition to productivity. Communication with others, spreading your knowledge, trust issues, where to focus, etc.


I don't necessarily disagree with the first point that you raised, but I would posit that if my quality of life sucks as an engineer, eventually that will become the employers problem when I update my cv and find work with a better quality of life, potentially too soon or at the wrong time.

Moreover, an employer is 'selling' their reputation to potential talent as well as selling their product.


When it becomes problem they fire you, they don't give you some special cash suitcase and tell you, go improve your life first.


Where in my comment did I suggest that the employee be given a handout?

Perhaps I'm not working for companies who are as ruthless as you and the other commenter, but as my previous comments alluded to, I actually have updated my CV, and left jobs for other, better jobs, mostly because there was a work-life balance improvement to be gained from the move. And yes, the work-life balance improvement in all situations was a more accepting and flexible remote-work policy. And that was after using available avenues (asking manager(s), 1-1s, etc) to see if a WFH arrangement was viable.

In all cases, I did so with tact and professionalism.

That might be getting lost in translation, because your comment seems to indicate that I just walked into my bosses office and complained that my life sucks and I need to work from home, or else. And that I should be given a handout.

In my opinion, you use what avenues are available to you to see if WFH is possible. If it's important to you, and you aren't getting met half-way, then it's time to start looking elsewhere.


Remote work goes against having the best work-life balance.

When you walk out the door of the office, work should be over and done with until you return. Taking work home should be impossible.

Paid overtime helps greatly. It discourages the employer from trying to get free work out of you.

Having a non-zero commute doesn't have to mean commuting for 2 hours in urban traffic. You can pick a location where a tiny commute is possible.


Huh? I work 40 hours a week remote in my office. After 5pm I close my office door and I’m done.


In an office, many engineers surely _actually_ work well under 40 hrs most weeks. If you're remote, that time is yours to spend time with pets and family, do chores, run errands, relax, exercise, etc.


Ten minutes in the car on a 240-day work year is one work week. While commuting has some benefits, like decompression time and work life separation, even a short commute has an impact on your free time. Remoting has hazards that one ought not downplay, but the lack of commute is a bigger deal than we might realize.


I can second this. Working remotely is a skill that needs to be learned. I worked for a fully remote team. After that, I'm much more confident in convincing others I can be productive remotely.

As someone else commented in this thread, visibility into what you're doing is very important. Especially in the beginning, don't push your manager to just trust you. Show what you're doing.


This was the tactic I used successfully...

Firstly, ensure that you are always seen to be productive and delivering even when you're not being watched. The most important thing to build trust is for people to see that you can be trusted to do your work to a high standard without supervision.

Once this has been achieved, move to the next stage of your plan:

"I'm not coming in on Wednesday, I have an appointment I need to attend to a 11:45am and 4 hours of commute is unproductive so I'm going to get my work done from home."

Ensure that your deliverables are visible when you work from home - go the extra mile to ensure that your efforts are seen. Visibility is highly important here.

Do this periodically for a few months and eventually tell them that you will be working from home on Wednesdays from this point forward. This is much easier to do when you've got a reputation for delivering the goods. Continue to ensure that the work you deliver from home is visible.

After a little while of this, up it to two days a week and perhaps this will be okay. I find that 2-3 days a week from home is plenty for my sanity. I need to be in the office for the social aspect and to feel like I'm part of the team.

Completely cutting myself off from the camaraderie of the office doesn't do anything for my sense of wellbeing. So I usually try to be in the office a couple of days a week, just for my own sanity.

I worked over the summer for a company based out of Vancouver and never got to meet the team because it was work from home for 5 days a week. This was hard. I actually went so far as to get farm hands for my farm, as much so that I didn't feel alone as for farm labour. At the end of the summer, I negotiated a part time contract with them for another 6 months so I could take on a local client so I'd have a social outlet.


As an introvert, visibility has always been an issue for me. Last week I had a big task for which I put in well over 10 hours a day. When people see it's done sooner than expected they just assume that is was easier. Meanwhile, other people get a lot of credits for some things because they are apt at subtly (or not so subtly) mentioning it. Maybe it's something I still have to learn.


I'm going to probably be unwisely candid in this answer.

It's a game, and a game that often in large corps involves deception, but I don't think has to. (Or perhaps I'm just making myself feel better by calling it "Crafting perceptions.")

There was a post a while back about a topic, "status fungibility." In a perfect world, you'd be in a team where everyone knows how hard that task is and you wouldn't have to say a thing. I've been on teams like that. They're fantastic. But in most worlds, you have a team where, if you're lucky, a handful of the people know _deeply_ what you're doing and the rest have a general idea. They probably aren't _trying_ too look down on you for being silent, but next to the guy who gives status updates translating what might be a simple task into something they perceive as a journey and time consuming, the human mind tends to use flawed heuristics that benefit certain types of overcommunication.

I've wrapped this in a lot of flowery and clinical language to try and not get incendiary about of it, but the crux is that you sometimes have to help your team see the value you bring, (The positive side) while recognizing (the negative side) that this enables an ecosystem where this opaqueness can allow others to use this intangibility to try and boost their standing vs. yours, so there's a degree of "protect yourself."

Sorry if this is a ramble. It's a topic I took a while to build mental models for (similarly introverted) and something that I've had frustrations with which is why I now try to look at it very impassively. I hope these thoughts offer at least a useful point of view.


I just told my boss I was moving, and let them offer.

Working for HP in Atlanta, I'd already proved myself during the '96 Olympics, when even the 12 miles to work was impossible. In 2000, our rent went out of sight; we owned 7 rural acres -- about 800 miles away -- so we just decided to move. I figured my boss would let me telecommute, but I didn't ask for it: I just told him, very honestly, that I was moving, and why. He said, "That's fair. I support you in this move, if you understand that you won't have the same advancement opportunities as someone who's in the office." I agreed, and that was that. I worked another 15 years that way, until HP fell apart and I wanted to change jobs.


Same. I came back from a long work trip (3 mo in a foreign country) and said "I'm moving. I'm either moving and I'm going to keep working with you it I'm moving and I'm not. I'd like to keep working eih you." The reply was something like "Let us know when you get there." We a had no remote culture for a while but eventually started a couple small (3 people) remote offices. That opened the door and I've been working remote ever since.

I'm with a different company now. The original company didn't actually handle full remote well. Poor communication made everything difficult. The new job has a pretty strong remote culture. MKe sure you out in the effort of no one else does or you'll be unhappy.


same. i worked on-site for 1 year. then told them i was moving, from a 30 min commute to 1.30 hr commute (imagine DC beltway work-hour traffic), and that I'm not willing to do that every day. that's it, didn't say i'm gonna quit, or that i want to work remote etc.

they said 'would you like to try working remote for a few months, see if it works out for both of us ?'. I agreed and few months became 4 years. I'd visit the office once a month for department-wide meetings, so they wouldn't forget my ugly mug.

of course, database stuff is very well suited for remote work, so I might have lucked out there.. then again, when it came time for a promotion after 5 years, they gave me a decent raise, but on the condition 'you have to come in once a week'. i took the raise but left soon after.


My story is the inverse.

My company moved from Chicago suburbs to Tampa FL and I didn't want to relocate to Tampa.

I was already working 2 days per week from home, so I simply told them I wasn't relocating with the company and I would work remotely. It hardly matters at all since my manager and 2/3 of my direct reports are located in Germany so I would have effectively been remote anyway.


Ditto. I moved, and explained I'd love to stay at the company but that the condition was that I work remotely. They accepted.


Seems to be quite a common pattern here. So, trying to convince your boss is probably very difficult and maybe even waste of time. Instead just quit and try to find a remote job instead (which might be your current job - just tell your employer that you are quitting because you want a remote job, and they might offer a remote position).


Start my own company and become the boss. ;-)

(29 years ago. I guess Em Software is a "lifestyle" company (just 4 of us working out of our homes, so you can discount the anecdata...).)


What's your industry? Can you give any other details about the company? I've always been interested in these "lifestyle" companies but I'm not sure where to begin.


(Sorry, didn't revisit this until now.)

I started Em with the idea of a futuristic wysiwyg document editor, with the help of my brother's friend who wrote us a check for $50K to get started, "and cut me in appropriately" (which we later paid back since we never had a traditional start-up)). But after 6 months of writing a business plan (yeah, I know..) and talking to friends in the software business, it was clear we weren't going to get VC funding. (I think 1990 was the nadir of software VC investments.)

So in my deep-dive into the document production market (QuarkXPress, FrameMaker, etc) I came across the small idea of building data publishing plug-ins for XPress (Xdata, copying an idea I saw for Aldus PageMaker), and started there (then Xtags, Xcatalog).

We later (2000-ish) branched out into plug-ins for Adobe InDesign, initially the same XPress plug-ins just ported (underwritten by Adobe), and then later expanded into workflow plugins (WordsFlow, DocsFlow) which are our mainstay right now.

Funny how we're doing more or less the same stuff as 30 years ago (well, plus additional products) in a supposedly fast-moving market. I suppose print publishing hasn't changed a lot in the past 20 years.


Everyone pay attention to this comment. All of us here have this option.


Not if you have pre-existing medical conditions that marketplace medical insurance won't cover, like dwarfism or albinism - there are others but those are the ones I know of. You need big-company insurance benefits for these.


not in any real practical sense


I've been remote for 4 years and it all started at a company who didn't have a remote culture, but my boss wasn't too worried about me going remote.

I was on a software team for 2 months before finding out I needed to move. I told my boss I had to move in 4 months, but I really wanted to keep my position and wanted to switch to working remotely. More than half of the engineering team at the time was offshore; however, they were all in an office with close communication with the higher-ups there. My boss basically said to me that he'd been working with remote folks for his entire career and if the other engineers had no problem with it, he didn't see an issue either.

4 years later I'm still remote and I couldn't be happier. Not at that same company, but at a new remote position.

The offshore team, previous bias to remote employees, and potentially the need to keep me onboard to get shit done for cheap helped me here. There were other employees who inquired about going remote, but they were turned down - one even needed to move for their SO (same as my case), so they ended up leaving the company when they moved.

It's really hit or miss unless you find a remote position where the company expects you to be remote right off the bat or you just get lucky and your boss trusts you to switch. Just remember that trust goes both ways - if your company doesn't trust you, maybe don't trust that you'll retire there. Going remote is a great way to test both sides of trust.


We've been transitioning to be more supportive of remote work. We're a small company (~30), and have never had much an official policy. Generally, it's - you're adults, get your work done. But the culture was such that it was basically expected you'd be in the office most of the time, and whenever someone worked remotely they seemed to feel a need to explain why.

There were even times in the past where my boss talked to me about wanting me to be physically in the office more. These days I often only go in twice a week for less than half a day for meetings. Recently our boss worked remotely for a month from the other side of the globe. Our head of sales is considering moving 1000 miles away while staying on remotely.

We're tight knit and small enough that it hasn't been difficult to accommodate more remote work.


> There were other employees who inquired about going remote, but they were turned down - one even needed to move for their SO (same as my case), so they ended up leaving the company when they moved.

Do you know why they were turned down?


Short answer: A week or two after I started working remote, my boss realized that I could do it very effectively.

Long answer: I married a medical student, and due the matching process, had very little control over where I would end up moving to. I told my boss, boss's boss, head of the company, ect, that there was a chance that I'd have to move in about a year. Throughout the year, I periodically reminded everyone that I might move.

Once matching happened, I declared where I was moving. Our parent company happened to be local, and we worked closely with a team that was a 60 minute commute to where I was going. We arranged for me to have an office with the team that we worked with; but we all knew that I would primarily telecommute.

Except for a 1-month period of very bad weather, I commuted to my new office 1-2 times a week. It worked very well until our parent company announced they were closing my new office and moving everyone to what would be a 90 minute commute, in rush hour, for me.

I then asked to be a full-time telecommuter, and the answer was, "you work very well remote." A day or two after I packed my office up, our parent company sold us. I never went to the new office, although I honestly thought I was going to go there 1-2 times a month. It was a very nice location, and I was really looking forward to spending the day there when I needed to interact with our team there.


As a manager of software engineering teams I can tell you that: there are two options to be as productive remotely as within office hours.

1) Either the whole team communicates in a remote manner, e.g. holding meetings via videoconferencing only and writing down follow-ups, meticulously logging progress via special tools, putting a lot of effort into documenting everything, so any member of the team can quickly find literally any piece of information and manage most of the tasks without asking peers for help.

2) Or you should ask for a position as mechanical and routine and async and redundant as possible, like I don't know, fully scripted first line of customer support, or data markup, or monkey testing, or something like that.

This is because most of the teamwork is actually about information flow, and the bigger the team - the larger the stream. In case of partial remote working, when some team members are indulged with home office days or even full remote, other members, and especially leads and managers, are just paying these outstanding info bills, just to keep remoters in the loop with the team and company as a whole.

So in my opinion the only way to work remote in a close-quarters team is to either be extremely special and indispensable just to strong-arm your privilege, or be largerly underpaid to justify communication tax you will lay on your teammates and direct supervisor.


Now you should consider those effects.

1) most mechanical and routine jobs will be automated first. So in XXI it is not a wise choice.

2) Any team manager's duty is to reduce bus factor [1], so strong-arming remote job from competent supervisor should entail dissolving or breaking apart a unique employee's position.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bus_factor


I did it by violating company rules, proving that I was more effective at home, and then forcing them to either fire me or let me work remote. I had worked there for several years, and the rules were really stupid (nobody leaves until everyone is done with their work, and I had been there for 10 hours or so and had family obligations), so I wasn't really worried about explaining that to a future employer.

I don't recommend going that route, but I _really_ wanted to work from home and was ready to quit if I didn't get it. I had requested a trial period of working from home two days a week and didn't even get one day. I brought it up every few months, but no progress was made, so I stopped caring about their stupid rules and did what I had to in order to focus on my work (I even moved my computer to an abandoned room at the opposite side of the room to prove I was more productive away from distractions).

My boss has a weird phobia of people working remote despite everyone who does work remote getting more done than those who work in the office. It's weird, and your boss is probably not as bad as mine in this regard.

Honestly, I recommend asking your boss to give you a trial of working from home for 2 days/week and prove that you're able to get more done. Once that's done, push for more days until you're only coming in for meetings, and then start pushing for whatever other pieces you'll need to go fully remote (virtual meetings, move conversations to a digital format, etc). Even if they say no, they'll recognize your initiative if you keep the dialogue about you giving more value to the company.


I'm a bit (maybe more than a bit..) of a limit pusher too, and over the course of a half dozen years or so I've helped push our small company from saying they're ok with remote work - but yet I'd occasionally get talked to by the boss about coming into the office more - to personally coming in often less than half a day in a week (I work remote the most by a good margin), our sales lead considering moving across the country with full leadership support, and our boss recently working remotely for a month from across the globe.

Our boss is great, and does support remote work, it just seemed like there was this mental hurdle - inertia from social norms - that took a while to get past. He said he was ok with working remotely, but would still be bothered by simply not seeing a person for days at a time. There wasn't an issue staying in communication, and no issue with work getting done, so eventually he had to reconcile his position.


Should you expect a pay cut if you transition from on-site to remote?

Someone proposed something like that to me recently, arguing that if the cost of living in my home city is less than in the office city then I shouldn't be paid as much. I'm thinking pay should be based on productivity and value to the company instead of value to me.


"I'm thinking pay should be based on productivity and value to the company instead of value to me."

Value produced is the upper cap of the pay, the lower cap is dictated by how much competition there is on the market. The employer can look at it like buying any other kind of service. If you work remotely, you compete with all the freelancers/contractors around the world. If the company values local employees, and you can work locally at the office, there is much less competition for that kind of position.


Cost of living adjusted pay is a fact of life and you will struggle to find a firm that does not do it. GitLab the company has a cool salary calculator so you can at least see exactly how they do it. No one wants to be paid less for the same work, but if you take a small pay cut and are putting more money in the bank every month, is it a pay cut? :)


I've been on the receiving end of Gitlab's calculator. The pay cut isn't small at all; I was offered less than half the equivalent SF salary. And I live in North America, just not in SF.


Their calculator can be a little harsh for sure, I just appreciate how up front it is. Still, rent in SF is crazy if you compare it to anywhere that isn’t near a coast. I wonder do you think the pay cut was unfair based on other offers? I am biased because we only do genuinely minor comp adjustments for location.


Yeah, I appreciated the transparency of it too. The offer I got was okay compared to market rates here, so I do think it's pretty fair.

I guess I just find it a bit weird that your value to the company is so dependent on location that it can vary from 100% down to ~20% of the base SF salary. People living in SF _chose_ to live there despite the absurd rents, and it's not like that changes anything for a remote company.


Yes, but if they don't pay enough, they won't be able to hire those people to start with. On the flip side, considering if they starting hiring people from other countries and reducing your salary because you choose to live in a high cost country.


That's a good point, but looking at the other way, if a remote worker employed by a company in San Francisco moves from, say, Pecos, Texas to Manhattan, should he or she expect a significant salary increase?

(edit: moving for reasons unrelated to employment with the San Francisco company)


I think so. That can be hard for smaller businesses to manage, but it should average out for a larger one. It might also mean the business can’t support you (afford to pay you a SF rate). So that is always a factor.


Why would a boss want to pay you more because you live somewhere expensive, unless living in that place is part of the job description? The only reason I can think of is they believe that you might quit in favor of a local job which pays more, and so they need to raise your pay to remain competitive.

But if they know you're committed to remote work, this wouldn't seem to be a consideration. And presumably the possibility of taking a remote position at a company in a high-cost area exists no matter where you live, so by the same logic you'd think that a boss would want to always pay a rate that's competitive in expensive markets.

I guess the reality is that physical location is still enough of a determiner of job options that it influences what a boss understands your realistic pay range to be. But I wonder how this will change as more tech work becomes remote.


Why would a boss want to pay you more because you live somewhere expensive

Exactly. So why should a boss want to pay you less because you live somewhere cheap.


As with all things in employee/employer relationship it is about leverage.

Why should you get paid less for doing the same amount of work? What does it matter to the employer?

The question is, how much will it cost your employer to replace you? Presumably, they will be hiring your replacement locally so your salary should be compared to local wages.

The trick, is to make yourself indispensable (or at least very, very expensive to do so). Focus on being the sole owner of crucial products and knowledge (we are after all, knowledge workers). If you find yourself in a position where redundancy is being put in place (i.e hiring someone to shadow you, etc. then it's time to move up the knowledge chain or to a different product).


> Cost of living adjusted pay is a fact of life

So is most companies' unwillingness to allow full-time remote work. If it is possible to alter the mindset about the latter, it should certainly be so about the former.


Hey, I am with you. We (my company) are a remote first company that trends to merit based pay with minor COL adjustments at most. We have bands for each role and generally stick with them. Still, the idea isn’t bad. You want people to afford a certain quality of life and operate the business effectively. If everyone is happy with the arrangement the business and its employees win. If the business is doing it for a profit motive it shows up in employee satisfaction.


> Should you expect a pay cut if you transition from on-site to remote?

No, but you need to realize that you're being paid based on your value to the company.


I’ve been remote for 7 years. A lot of people seem to reference company culture as the seed for wether or not being remote will be successful. I disagree.

The company doesn’t care about you. And the company culture certainly doesn’t care about where you are. Success in being remote depends solely on your managers preference for keeping watch – and wether or not the majority of your teams talents and productivity takes place remote as well.

If your manager doesn’t like work happening outside of arms reach, you won’t be successful. If 60-70% of progress happens within reach of your managers arms, you won’t be successful.

The only other major impediment is top level company policy. Read: Yahoo and IBM.


While it's a gamble, one way that worked for me 2 years ago: Work extremely hard and dazzle them for 6 months. Make sure that you are extremely critical to the project you are on. Give notice and let them offer. I didn't plan it out when I joined but I needed to move out of the area because of elder care issues. I was hoping they would offer but wasn't counting on it. It worked out well for me and the company.


Our family was moving in two months due to my wife's job. I told my boss we were moving out of state and asked if I could work remote. Since I'm a developer, he said yes, even though we are a no remote worker company. I had been working at the company for about 2 years and I believe he said yes due to my punctuality, work ethic, and projects I was already lead on.

There were/are so drawbacks that I should mention.

-I didn't get a raise that year because he wanted to make sure this remote thing was going to work.

-Everyone in the office gets free lunch every Friday but me since I am remote.

-I miss out on every company team building event

-I miss out on the company big Christmas party

I could go to the company events, but I would have to pay for my own flight and hotel. So I don't see myself going.

-I often feel disconnected with the company and only know a handful of remaining employees that still work there when I was in the office

So there are downsides to bring the only remote employee. But I have an amazing schedule and don't have to travel. This works out perfectly with dealing with 2 kids and daycare.

Btw, the raises come almost every year now and are decent. I am very content in my current situation.

So my advice is to keep your head down, come to work early, stay late and get some good experience at your current job. My boss is a big time micro manager that said yes.


I worked at a small startup as the only senior back end engineer.

I bought my plane tickets to Asia for a 6 week trip and I told my boss 2 weeks before my trip that I wasn't happy living in the bay area. I loved my job, but I wanted to live anywhere else.

Rather than fire me / have me quit, he let me start working remotely keeping California time.


Similar story for me, only my wife accepted a new job outside California back in 2008.

I was in a small place, we both liked each other, and I simply explained my situation. Been remote every since


This is probably the easiest one, although it only works for small companies: if you're both indispensable and likeable, you can get a lot simply by asking nicely with the very distant implication that you might leave if you don't get what you want.

(Of course, someone will cite "The graveyards are full of indispensable men"..)


This was essentially my route as well. My wife got a two year postdoc position in Germany. I actually gave them over a month of notice, since I had a rather unique position and I knew they had trouble hiring me. After a few weeks my boss confessed they weren’t sure what they were going to do, and I actually hadn’t put any thought into finding a new job, so we agreed on me doing remote.


I accomplished it by showing first, although that's probably not very helpful for your particular situation. But for anyone else:

I started as an employee of a contracting firm whose offices are all in different parts of the country from my now-employer. As a contractor, companies can be much more willing to not have you on site, especially if you aren't independent. Demonstrate enough value, and you may get a full-time offer, in which case it's a lot easier to leverage the fact that you've already proved your ability to work remote effectively.

The biggest benefit in this case was that I was able to negotiate salary as if I lived where the company is headquartered, resulting in an almost 2x increase over what I could negotiate where I am physically located.


I'm the only remote engineer at my company, which has over 100 engineers. I'm also one of the more senior engineers. I told the company that I was moving closer to family (for medical reasons) and asked if I could continue working remotely. So far its been great. I've been more productive then ever. I did go back to individual contributor from team lead for a few months but now I'm back to leading a very small team.

So the steps for me were. 1) Establish myself as a valuable asset over several years at the company 2) Move closer to family and ask if I could work remotely 3) Work really hard to establish communication lines and insert myself into the same conversations that I would have been included in at the office.


Why convince your boss? Ask if it would be alright to work remotely sometimes. If they say no, you look for a new job that does allow it.

No convincing needed.


I've pretty much gotten remote from my last two jobs. I was a full time employee for at least one year before i negotiated remote. I worked my ass off for the first year and proved that i was a valuable employee, negotiating for remote was made easy by that. I just asked my manager both times during our one on one meeting. No company likes letting valuable employees go, if you can prove that you can be just as productive as a remote worker, maybe by having a "trial" period, then i think your manager will be ok with it.


Also I think it gos quite case by case. Some employees can be seen as more trustworthy than others, and with others remote work can work better than with others for other reasons.


i agree but the competition for true remote only jobs is really crazy. I've had much better luck getting an onsite job and transitioning into remote.


Finally a topic I can contribute to!

I am moving to Spain in April and will be working remotely for the company I started contracting with back in August 2018. I did a ton of research and prepared a pitch deck and presented to my manager, who then advocated for me and moved it up the line to get approval from the department.

Some key points:

1. The company already allows a very flexible work from home schedule.

2. Although primarily focused around my region, there are a couple team members spread across the world. So it's not unprecedented.

3. The person whose role I took over (contract as well) moved to another country but then quit when they had trouble adapting to the culture (there was an eight hour time difference). So I had some possible baggage to work around.

4. I tested my ability to work off-hours and remotely with a two-week long trip to another city living with a friend and performed swimmingly.

5. You must convince them that, other than your physical presence, they will not notice any difference in quality of work, availability, or communication. Being that Spain has long working days anyway, the transition from my time (-7 GMT) to Spain (+1 GMT) will actually work out quite well from a working hours perspective.

Best of luck!


If the company has multiple offices.. Work for a while from the second one and then rotate between them. Schedule meetings at each of the offices so you can justify this.

Also I find partial days remote works if your commute isn't so large. Work mornings from home and then afternoons in the office. Justify the work at home by early morning calls/meetings.

Have clear project plans with deliverables. Provide a weekly written update to your boss and other stake holders with the weekly progress.


As the manager of a half remote team at a company that supports it, but isn't 100% remote...

To me, it comes down to a couple of things.

- Have you proven you are a good remote communicator (eg: if you're always doing private messages in Slack or don't communicate much at all, so everything that you do is only in your head, you might not be a good fit)

- Do you have plans to have a proper work area once you're remote. If you're going to be working from the middle of the living room with your significant other interrupting you to do the dishes or the kids screaming during video conference....NOPE. You need a plan.

- Your reasons for going remote won't interfere with productivity. It's totally ok if you're doing it for work life balance and take better care of your family. However if you're going to do strictly 9-5 (which is ok!) and be out half of the day on top of it (no longer ok) to take care of the kids and be constantly cancelling meetings and other obligation, then you just won't be meeting expectations anymore.

If you meet those criterias, it's a no brainer for me. I personally much prefer face to face interaction, but Ill fully support anyone who's serious about working remotely in my team. But they have to be serious about it.


I lucked out to be employed at a company with a culture permitting remote work. I don't have the 'answer', but I can describe some factors which make it a no-brainer.

Our company is located in NYC a few blocks away from PENN Station, where Long Island commuters arrive in Manhattan. Several top peeps in the company live on LI, and commute to work. Sometimes the commute is terrible, and they work remotely. And, there are peeps in the company who have family obligations which necessitate a flexible schedule. The schedule gaps in their office attendance is filled by remote work.

It all just works. I believe my colleagues recognize this situation is not common, and therefore the flexibility engenders loyalty to the company.

Also, senior colleagues are not micro-managers, and my fellow colleagues don't need constant supervision and instruction.

Finally, there's one argument which comes up in this cultue that might be helpful. Some senior colleagues say they can't get a lot done at work with interruptions from junior colleagues and phone calls. If you're in this position, then remote work could increase your productivity and help you meet deadlines.

Good luck.


I was fairly senior when I made the transition (~10 exp) and I knew my bosses very well by that point. I decided to roll the dice when another employee moved to work remotely and that seemed to be going well. I didn't ask my bosses, I told them I was moving for family reasons but I would still love to work with them.

Having a remote job when moving to a new town is ideal as it allows you to quickly secure housing with your latest paycheck. In my experience neither landlords nor mortgage companies care that your office/employer is out of state.

I would advise against this approach if you are more on the junior side as you might not learn as much as you would in the office (of course you might not learn anything from coworkers regardless in some cases). I would also advise against trying to work remote from the same city as your employer without a really good reason. This usually just makes you look like a jerk.

As for productivity, this can be a major challenge. When I first moved I lived in a very small apartment and was distracted by a good many things. I usually felt like I had to work into the night to make up for distracted time during the day.

Going to libraries and coworking spaces a couple days a week helps me. It helps with the cabin fever and it helps staying on task. Communication with your team and manager will likely also be a huge challenge and all I can say is be nice to everyone, be willing to help out in anyway you can, and initiate conversation with your manager often. I check in with my manager several times a week outside of standup to make sure critical items aren't getting missed. Our team will also screen share with each other often which can be uncomfortable at first but is vital. Our team is a mix of remote and in-office, but as more people became remote things improved. Reminding your manager and team dispassionately about any remote work challenges your are facing can help.

Best of luck.


By showing them an offer to go work remotely somewhere else. But it backfired because being the only remote engineer while the rest of the team is collaborating in person is hard. The company needs to support remotees. So I again found a new job with a boss who was remote friendly, and a company with remote-first culture.


The easiest way I think is to quit and work as a contractor/freelancer. You can offer your services to your ex-employer and if you actually deliver value there shouldn't be problems to have remote work as a term in the contract. Otherwise you can look out for other customers who accept remote work.


This is what I did. Next employer was a freelance client first. They make me a pretty good offer to become an employee that included continuing to work remotely.

Since then, I've done more freelance and employed work, but I've only accepted remote roles.


I've been working there for over a year and the company was already distributed - this was critical.

I've used https://github.com/lukasz-madon/awesome-remote-job to find a new job


About one and a half years ago, I decided to move to another city, but very much wanted to continue working for my company, so I proposed to my boss that I would go remote at that point. Our company had two other engineers working remotely before me, so that definitely helped. As far as I was considered, it was mostly about making sure that my boss viewed me as someone who knows how to help myself or proactively seek help when I get stuck and make sure I am able to find new tasks to work on on my own. There was also a need for more proactive communication and more status updates. While it is pretty easy to know or find out what a coworkers status is in an office situation, it is far less obvious in a remote situation.


I interviewed for a position that supported/requested relocation but had other remote team members and an HQ that wasn’t in the same office in which I interviewed. We agreed in the interview/negotiation process that I could work from home since the travel would be to the HQ anyway (meaning even if I moved to work in their office, I’d still be mainly working with people in the HQ anyway). I go once a month on average to get in some face time meetings but otherwise get to stay home. It’s great!


I realized I was indispensable and just went home, never looked back. Not a single complaint was heard and this is a work place that does not officially condone remote work.

But I'm not alone in doing this, I might be relatively unique in doing it every single day though.


I needed to go to the other side of the world for three events spaced over a couple of months. My company wasn't a remote working company though. I suggested my three options were:

* travel to each event separately (my least preferred)

* have a couple of months off without pay

* work remotely for the couple of months while I was away

I'd earned a good rep at my company by smashing out the previous project on time/budget, so the working remotely was approved and all went well.

I liked it so much (escaping the northern hemisphere Winter), that I started my own consultancy and did the annual migration for the next 8 years. Most of that work was remote, so as long as I managed timezones, all was good.


I worked for my company for 1.5 years and then said I was moving in 6 months. So, with plenty of warning, my boss said he wanted to keep me... so here I am wor king remote.

I did have several things going for me:

1) We had a wfh day once a week

2) We had a few other employees (but not other devs) already working remotely

3) I already had a lot of freedom that came from tackling not fun (to some) issues, like build tolling, infrastructure interactions, etc. So I was already trusted to be proactive in what I was doing

4) I'd say perhaps the biggest thing that lead to it was having split management - a people top level manager over development and a tech top level manager of development. Both are great and work well together.


My boss is in a different office in a different city anyway, so it doesn't matter much to him whether I'm in the local office or at home or wherever, as long as work gets done.

It helps that my company, SAP, has a strong home-office culture: A lot of employees are consultants, who spend most of Friday doing time-recording and other administrative activities, so Friday is traditionally home-office day (for those who want it). Last year, a new company policy was adopted that requires managers to provide an objective reason for why mobile work (such as home office) should not be allowed for their team members.


I spent 3 months in Germany regularly interacting with SAP.

I was impressed at just how well they treat their employees. Kinda reminded me of the Simpson's episode where the Germans take over the power plant.


It's not just an SAP thing, it's got to do with German culture and German law. For example, the US concept of "sick days" looks really bizarre to Germans. When someone is sick, they get a doctor's note and stay at home until fully recovered. When someone goes into work sick, their colleagues and managers tell them to go see a doctor. There is a shared understanding that sick employees working regardless are a liability to everyone involved.

That said, it helps that IT is a white-collar industry. I have a few friends in blue-collar jobs, and working conditions sound worse over there, esp. for temp jobs where workers are considered fungible.


I sometimes work remotely, but most days I wasn't very productive. This is partially my own fault for not having a dedicated room to work in (so I sit in the living room, which is full of distractions). But it's also an infrastructure problem (my remote connection has stopped for multiple times, which means that I can't reach infrasupport anymore), and a culture problem (there is literally no documentation for the project I work on, the best strategy so far is to ask around if something isn't clear to you).


I had been with the company for 5 years and was the most senior employee. I simply said "I'm moving but would like to continue working with you remotely." They didn't like it but weren't willing to lose me either.

I worked remotely for them for two years before they laid off the entire engineering team, me included. My next and current job was remote from the beginning. It was easy to get because by then I had proven that I could be effective remotely.


In my experience if you need to convince them its not a good fit. An employer needs to embrace remote work as part of the culture for it to work well...in my opinion.


Does someone have best practices for remote work from the workers perspective? Example end of day email for work complete. Weekly check in for priority projects.


Communicating is probably the most important thing. I talk to my team on slack daily and on video chat about every other day.

A private office with a door you can shut is also up there. I actually lease a small office about 1.5 miles from my home. Normally a spare bedroom is sufficient, but we ran out of those in my home.

Keep a normal schedule. It doesn't have to be 9-5, but it needs to have a good amount of overlap with your team.

Have a backup computer and internet connection. (Cellphone tethering qualifies here.)

All that said, there's really no substitute for occasional face time. My company has a lot of remote staff, so we do quarterly gatherings where everyone comes to the same city to work together for a week.



For me, I've simply started freelancing. I love working remote so much that it became non-negotiable for me. I've then worked at one startup, where my hiring basically pushed the whole team to become remote (they were kind of on the fence before I joined, and the boss realized that not having an office was much cheaper).

I believe that the key to make it work is to have a remote-first culture, at least in the team you're on.


You should first ask yourself if it's really true.

Being one of a company's only remote workers can be a terrible experience. What you gain in focus may easily be lost in terms of missed communications, being left out of spontaneous meetings, etc.

Also, depending on how far you live, missing out on company events. That can negatively impact your level of engagement with the company, which could also hurt your productivity.


My wife got a job a couple states away and while I loved my job, I was moving with her. My responsibilities had been moving into more server-admin stuff for a while, so my boss was able to get approval to let me work remotely. It's been 3 and a half years now and still working well. I miss the ability to drop in on people and bounce ideas off them, but we talk a lot through IMs and calls.


If you can show evidence that you are at least as effective remotely than in the office, that will go a long way towards convincing a manger. Start working from home on off hours. Come in late. Show them timestamps from all of your commits, that you're most effective during non-work hours. Give them hard evidence, and most reasonable people will do the reasonable thing.


I used to manage a team with employees over 120 miles away. My VP was against remote employees, but I convinced him to allow my distant employees to work remote 4 days out of the week, and come to the office just on Thursday. The team remained productive and we slowly got approval to avoid even that one day in the office. It was a matter of trust, which was built over time.


3 years of remote work experience here:

1) Report frequently

2) Ask for paring if boss likes or whenever you need non-trivial discussion (it's better than chat obviously)

3) Tell boss what you will do today, your expectation on results

4) When problems occurs, let him know immediately or within 4 hours

I did all of these just for less than a year. After that he doesn't give a shit what I do anymore. It's kind of lonely now lol


"I really want to work with you, but I need to put myself first so I will be leaving that country. If you want we can find a way to make it work, otherwise I have already written up the resignation letter." That, with being a good employee granted me 2 years of amazing remote work.


Whenever I was asked to do something hard, I answered that I needed to work from home in order to avoid distractions and focus on the problem.

For I couple of years I did all the actual coding from home, and then I spent a few weeks in the office, relaxing, being social and drinking free coffee :)


If your company doesn’t have a remote culture I have seen people go remote mainly by moving away for family reasons or similar. Then the company has to make a choice.

I don’t think you will have much of a chance of convincing them with arguments about productivity. Otherwise we wouldn’t have loud open offices everywhere.


There is an extended discussion about this in Cal Newport's excellent book So Good They Can't Ignore You.

In short, build up "career capital" by making yourself valuable to the company, which you can later use as leverage. Or as others have said, just get a different job that's already remote.


Less context switching, less disruption, home as a quieter environment. When remote I feel I have to prove I've worked and tend to work more because of that. I've personally experienced a x2 gap in remote, compared to a noisy office. It's a bit like a code retreat.


- Hey $BOSS, I need tomorrow afternoon off as I need to go to the airport

+ Sure, picking up someone?

- No, flying.

+ Ah! Where are you going?

- Home.

+ Home? Where are you?

- I've been in $REMOTE_COUNTRY for the last 3 months, I told you...

+ Right, I thought you stayed for a week or two only

(laughs on both sides of the call)

It helps when your boss is 10000KM from you :)


I said "We're out of office space. If you want to keep hiring, we have to let people work from home." He accepted that immediately, and we moved on to logistics.


For me, the number one indicator is what did you do on the last snow day. If you put in an incredibly productive day and wrapped up a bunch of bugs and stories, let’s talk.


I took the day off and had a fantastic time playing outside.


Not very useful metric for people living in, say, the Mediterranean.


Substitute last time you “worked from home”


Some people have kids


That’s a “I’ve got two at home and I’ll do my best” day. Not a problem. Sub in any “work from home” day.


Don't try to change the company. Leave and find a company that already offers what you want. That way is way easier IMO.



I never really talked about it with my boss...I just stopped going in one day but kept hitting my deadlines and attending video meetings. We had a few offices in other timezones. Nobody said shit.

Finally, like a year later, my boss asked about it (in our first 1:1 meeting ever lol)... Apparently, a bunch of other devs did the same thing after me and now the office was becoming a ghost town. Leadership was super confused about it and tried forcing people back into the office.

Eventually, a re-org had the office "flourishing" again, with a new exciting "bro" culture and lots of mandatory after-work events (in the office...) - I left soon after and have been fully remote ever since.

Remote work isn't for everyone, and it becomes apparent pretty quickly if you aren't cut out for it... we're all professionals here and should be allowed to choose our optimal environment for getting things done.

TLDR; Be ready to walk, there are a ton of remote companies out there. Employment is a 2-way street, make it work for you!


I quit.


reason with him about income-protection (about 75 USD a month)?


i just stopped coming to work one day




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