How To Negotiate so You Can Work Remotely

Can you do your job just as well at home?

Flexible work schedules
Photo: Getty Images/Tara Moore

If your employer has reopened offices, or is planning on reopening offices, do you want to ask to continue to work remotely? Based on the scenario laid out by your employer, see how it affects your desire to request to do remote work from home.

Key Takeaways

  • Your employer can likely make you return to work unless your situation is covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Determine why you want to work remotely and if you can do your job at home
  • Show your employer how a remote work arrangement can help them

Employees Are Adapting Well to Their Remote Work Situations

As employers begin to slowly reopen their physical work locations, some may find that their employees are getting more comfortable with their remote work-from-home situations and are less anxious to return to the office.

Some employees may have underlying health conditions that the coronavirus could significantly and adversely affect. Other employees, meanwhile, are simply enjoying and thriving while working alone in their home offices, becoming meeting pros, achieving some sense of work-life balance, and increasing their productivity in the process.

In fact, according to employee-survey and people-analytics platform Perceptyx, just 4% of employees want to return to the workplace to work full-time.

This figure marks a considerable drop from the 33% who wanted to return to the office in early April 2020. (The responses were gathered from over 750,00 employees from over 100 enterprises worldwide that represent every major industry.)

The percentage of positive responses the company received to “My remote work environment enables me to work productively” has shifted during the same time period from 86% to nearly 100%.

Employees with families have had over a year to perfect the details of how to work successfully even with the distraction that children and a significant other may bring. In essence, they are in no hurry to change their new approach to working.

Can My Employer Make Me Return to the Office?

Employers have control over the work location and environment they provide for employees. They have the right to tell employees that the office has reopened for work on a particular date. If an employer has the right to fire, or at least not pay, an employee who refuses to return to work in person.

There are situations in which you may not be required to return to work, especially if your job can be done remotely. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) allows protected employees to ask for a work-from-home accommodation as long as the employee can still reasonably do their job.

Is Remote Work an Option for You?

Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of non-self-employed workers have a job that is compatible with remote work. According to the company, “Gallup data from 2016 shows that 43% of the workforce works at home at least some of the time." Global Workplace Analytics predicts that the longer people are required to work at home, the more they'll want to continue doing so.

Reasons to Work Remotely

You don’t want to undermine your chances when you go to your manager with your request, so a plan is essential. Think about what you want to negotiate. There are also several questions you should ask yourself: 

  • Do you want to work in the office a couple of days a week, just for the core business hours daily, or do you want to work completely remotely?
  • Are you sincerely concerned about your health for any reason?
  • Do you have a pre-existing condition that makes you more susceptible to illness? 
  • Do you have people at home whom you need to protect, such as aging parents?


The better you make your case to work remotely from home, the more likely your employer is to grant your request. You can negotiate with a reasonable employer. Even if you can't work remotely every day, you may be able to get more remote days than you would have otherwise.

Explain How Working From Home Will Benefit Your Employer

Once you’ve created your plan for what you want to negotiate, ask yourself how accommodating your needs will benefit your employer.

If applicable, tell your employer how you’ve been able to manage work-life balance better, as you now have more space to handle workflow schedule and important meetings while accommodating caregiving responsibilities and family time, which is especially important during a public health crisis.

Give Specific Examples

For example, maybe you’ve been working from home for three months, and it has had a positive impact on your productivity, quality, and sales. If you haven't been keeping track of your productivity, begin to pull together some numbers.

Point out that you will be able to work on your job goals for an additional two hours a day if you eliminate the need to get ready and commute to the office.

Finally, note to your employer that they will not need to provide space for you in the office, which will help them accommodate the needs of other employees for safety. 

Gather all of this information together, make notes, and get ready to make your case.

Negotiate With Your Manager

Assuming you have created a viable plan that benefits both you and your employer, set up a meeting with your manager. Keep in mind that your manager has the responsibility to carry out any existing company policy and to ensure fairness and consistency across his or her department and other company departments.

Discuss Remote Work Arrangements

If you are permitted to work remotely, you should discuss the details of the arrangement with your manager. You may want to discuss:

  • How long you're allowed to work remotely and for how many days per week
  • Communication standards; goal-achievement assessment; performance-evaluation markers; assessment of success; teamwork with colleagues; and ways to evaluate ongoing success with your manager, customers, and coworkers
  • How any concerns your manager has can be addressed in a timely manner. Your manager needs to be able to defend and support your remote work schedule in your work community. You need to make sure that your employer believes you are working and contributing to its best interests. Make sure you can measure the quality of your work even when you're working from home.
  • You need to ensure that communication with coworkers and customers is as successful as it was before the work-from-home arrangement. Keep in touch with your coworkers and attend all your meetings.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Negotiate Salary for a Remote Job?

A company might determine the salary for a remote job based on its location, where the worker lives, or general market trends for the role.

Can You Get Fired for Asking To Work Remotely?

Most normal offices or managers would not fire you for asking to work remotely. If you want to work remotely or work in the office fewer days per week and feel that your manager and workplace are generally reasonable, you should begin that discussion and see what your manager says. Workers do not have a right to work from home, so if you were to insist on teleworking when your boss wanted you in the office, you could be fired.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Perceptyx. “Just 4 Percent Of Employees Want To Return To The Office Full Time, Down From 33 Percent In April, According To New Data From Perceptyx.”

  2. The National Law Review. "Can Employees Refuse to Return to Work Because of COVID-19?"

  3. Global Workforce Analytics. "How Many People Could Work-From-Home."

  4. Global Workplace Analytics. “Work-At-Home After Covid-19—Our Forecast.”

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