How do I navigate working remotely request.
July 20, 2012 9:19 AM Subscribe
Could I get advice on how to navigate the politics of switching from working in the office to working remotely? The topic has been broached and the wheels are turning but I want to ensure that they are moving ahead and not backwards.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have been working for a medium-sized consulting firm for two years primarily on a single project which is ongoing. The project, although collaborative, has been designed, managed, and implemented by me to the extent that I have unfortunately become a silo of information regarding the finer details of the project. The steps are documented but there are technical issues that would require the company to hire someone (most likely at a higher cost) to handle the details. I work on other projects but not regularly as the responsibilities of my main work keeps me busy for 40+ hours a week on a consistent basis. I am moving out of the area (non-negotiable move) in the next several weeks to be closer to family and I had hoped to see how receptive the company would be to my continuing to work on the project as a remote employee as there are a number of people currently doing this, although most are higher level staff than me.
Initially, I had planned to speak with the person on my team whom I thought would be the best advocate for me in the company, but after weeks of not being able to schedule a meeting, I instead scheduled a meeting with my immediate supervisor, in which I told her that I was leaving the area for personal reasons, but strongly wished to continue working for the company and asked about the possibility of continuing to work for as a remote worker (while at the same time making the case that I would be able to perform my duties as a remote worker). She said that she would pass the request up the chain and requested that I outline my workload for her. The next day I heard back from her with an offer to keep me on as an employee but to switch into an hourly position (from my salary position) and lose my benefits. I would then continue to work remotely on an as-needed basis (read: until we replace your ass). Shortly afterward, I met with another superior who is more familiar with my work on the project. He felt that a no-benefits position would not be optimal for me or the project, and that there would be no way that they could effectively replace me due to my being the repository of this project. He contacted my manager and an hour later a new offer was out. This one was to continue with the company as a part-time employee and continue to receive benefits at a higher out-of-pocket cost. At a meeting with HR, I learned our tiers of employment and how I would fit in now that I would be working part-time (aside: their estimate for the hours per week necessary to deliver my full-time work product is unrealistically low). I would receive a prorated salary, with prorated benefits and no additional pay for hours over my weekly allotment. I asked if I could switch to an hourly rate to handle fluctations in hours and was told that of course I could do that, and keep my benefits (still prorated for part time status). I then asked, "could I work full time hourly?" to which HR replied, "yes, and then we would switch you back to full time status with full benefits." This left me perplexed, as she seemed to be indicating that I could continue in my same capacity, with the same compensation and benefits (albeit with tenuous job security), but this possibility was not put on the table as an option by the project managers with whom I had spoken earlier in the day.
This leads me to the advice request. Given that my goal is to remain gainfully employed for the foreseeable future (and not take a pay cut unless absolutely necessary), it sounds like staying with my current firm indefinitely is not likely and/or adviseable and I should put more energy into my job search in my new area. I would like to know if the situation reads that way to other people and, if so, how best to protect myself and negotiate for the best situation in the company going forward. My wife's salary will be enough for us to get by, but it would be difficult. Would giving up benefits and negotiating a higher hourly rate be better or worse than working part-time with benefits but potentially struggling to get everything done in a limited number of hours? Could proposing to be hired as an independent contractor work? Do I just give notice when the time comes and leave (semi-)gracefully?
Finally, any advice on how best to act as the news of my departure spreads within the company would be greatly appreciated.