Remote Working

​#OfficeLyfe not cutting it for you anymore? You’re not alone. Flexible working is one of the top motivators for jobseekers. But what if your dream employer isn’t clearly offering?

In this guide to negotiating a remote role, we explore the current state of play in Australia and share a few things you can do to negotiate successfully.

Technology candidates demand flexible workplaces

If this pandemic has given us anything good, it’s shown how easy it is to work remotely (and productively). It forced us all to pause, reflect on our life purpose and motivators, and reset. As a result, job seekers and employees are voting with their feet – employers must offer flexible working, or they’ll miss out on exceptional people. Because really, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to grab their board and go for a surf in their lunch break?

To get clear on precisely what motivates tech candidates when choosing an employer (post-ish pandemic), we surveyed Talenza’s candidate database.

We found that employees working in technology regard flexible working as the third most important feature a new workplace should have. Flexible working trumped the usual favourites, ‘career progression’ and ‘long-term job security’ but was beaten by ‘supports good work-life-balance’ and ‘offers an attractive salary’.

For female respondents, flexible working arrangements was the number one most important feature when considering a new employer.

So, you know you want it, but what do you do if an employer hasn’t indicated a remote working option in the job ad?

Here are a few tips to help you position yourself to successfully negotiate a work-from-home arrangement in your new, yet to be accepted role.

3 tips to help candidates negotiate working from home

1. Choose a role where you’ll have bargaining power

You’ll find it easier to negotiate if you’re looking for a highly specialised role. Because these roles need people with a highly desirable and in demand skill set, you may find employers more bendable to your will (but you’ll need to ask correctly). 

2. Time your big ask strategically by the first interview

To improve your chance of success, you’ll want to commence negotiations at the right time.

If you’ve applied for an opportunity directly through the employer, you’ll want to negotiate remote working early in the recruitment process. Consider raising it during initial conversations or at the first interview stage. In those early days, you’re bound to hear, ‘do you have any questions for us?’, which is the perfect opportunity for you to speak up. 

Be mindful that it’s not a good start to your relationship if you appear to waste the hiring manager’s time or ambush them and cause a few headaches at the eleventh hour. But when you’re honest and upfront and make an impression, they may have more time and willingness to negotiate and plan for you.

If you’re going through a recruiter, then your recruiter can negotiate remote working on your behalf. Again, be honest and upfront early on to give them the best chance of success.

3. Be flexible with your flexibility

What do you really need from a remote role? Consider whether you need full remote or whether a few days at home will suffice. 

A lot of companies will be aware of what they’re looking for from talent. So, you may find it easier to negotiate on days working from home instead of a fully remote arrangement, because companies know they need to be flexible to attract their best talent (but not all are necessarily set up to offer full remote).

What if you only want to work remotely?

To be fully remote is a tougher conversation because some employers don’t have the structures in place, particularly when it comes to effective onboarding. If this is non-negotiable for you, then there are still a few things you can do:

  1. Show that you’re better than most candidates. The preference will often be someone closer geographically, so the question is, why are you the best?

  2. Separate yourself by demonstrating expertise and seniority (industry experience, similar projects, senior responsibilities). 

  3. Pick the right market. For example, Sydney is really different from Brisbane. If you’re in Sydney looking for a more senior role, try applying for jobs in Brisbane.

  4. Know your competitive advantage. Why would they take John over Jack? How long will it take to get there with training? Sell yourself with information that can help you win in the evaluation stage. 

  5. Know your employer, market, and offer. Where are they based and what is the market rate for salary? Are you asking for more money AND a remote position? Just like shopping for a house, you need to be clear on what you’re willing to compromise on before negotiating.

What about remote working in government roles?

For this one, I spoke to Rick, who works directly with NSW government agencies on their hiring needs. He advised that in contrast to the struggles of pre-pandemic life, government agencies have built up the capacity to work from home and onboard remotely. These days, everything is cloud-based and we suspect they’ll never go back to an everyone in the office setup. 

This means there’s a strong possibility that you could find remote opportunities in government. One agency we worked with changed their position requirements in one month – from in the office 100% to 100% remote. Additionally, we’ve placed people in NSW government who’re based in QLD, where previously some of these positions would have been required to be in the office full-time.

Flexible work has long been an important motivator for job seekers. With some thanks to the pandemic’s forced work-from-home orders and Australia’s current closed border affecting the supply and demand of skilled workers, especially in technology, there’s a higher chance of successfully negotiating remote work in your new role

Reach out to me if you’d like to discuss opportunities - Nathan Horwood - nathan@talenza.com.au