As the country continues to heal from the aftermath of the pandemic, more jobs are returning. According to the latest JOLTS report, there are 9.2 million job openings as of May 2021. Furthermore, over 850,000 jobs were added by the U.S. economy, significantly surpassing economists’ projections of 700,000. So, with so many jobs available and 42% of employed job seekers looking for greener pastures, more people are starting to dip their toes into the job market. But if you are looking for a new position and want (or even need to) work remotely, when is the best time to broach this question? Here is when you should ask about working from home during the hiring process.
WFH policies are usually in job descriptions
So, if you are searching for a new job opportunity and remote work is a must-have, when should you ask the hiring manager? Typically, job descriptions will give you some indication of the company’s work from home or hybrid policies. Explaining the onsite or remote work policies in job descriptions became the norm during the pandemic, and now that we are well into recovery mode, most employers are still making this clear. Job descriptions are either clarifying that they are onsite positions to avoid any confusion, or employers are giving a glimpse at their remote work policies to lure in new candidates. Either way, most employers are (and should) share these details in their job descriptions.
When to pop the WFH question
However, if there is no mention of the company’s policies, you may have to ask for clarification. So, if working from home is an absolute must, when should you ask about WFH in the hiring process? It’s usually best to ask at the beginning of the process to save both you and the employer time. If the hiring manager or recruiter does not mention the topic at the beginning of an interview or pre-screening, you can safely ask towards the end of your conversation. Generally, this topic will come naturally during an initial interview, as most employers want to make their policies know upfront. If they do not support any remote work or hybrid working formats, they will usually be straightforward to weed out candidates with remote work as a main priority.
Nevertheless, if remote work is a deal-breaker for you, you should ask about it during that initial interview. Even if a company supports remote work or a hybrid schedule now, that doesn’t mean they will do so, say six months from now. Many companies are still evolving to offer safe working environments for their staff. In other words, the employer’s remote work policy may not be set in stone and could change as time goes on. So, if this conversation does not arise during your initial interview, you should ask for details towards the end of your meeting.
How to ask about working from home
If you need to broach the subject, you can easily do so with a quick question. Here is an excellent example of how to ask about WFH during the hiring process:
“The job description did not clarify if this position is onsite only or offers the opportunity to work remotely. Can you please elaborate on your work from home policy?”
This question is a simple way to get a better idea of the company’s WFH situation. But if you absolutely must work from home and you need to ensure remote work is a permanent perk at the company, you can clarify their policy with the following question:
“So, you mentioned that some employees are currently working remotely. Is this a policy [company name] plans on supporting in the future?”
Asking this question is an excellent way to understand the company’s stance on working from home permanently.
Don’t be afraid to ask
At the end of the day, don’t be afraid to ask the employer about their WFH plans. Policies are changing, and remote work is more convenient in specific locations and industries. As long as you ask earlier in the hiring process, you are in good shape. Just like with the salary and benefits, never start the conversation off with the company’s opinion on working from home. And even if they do not support a hybrid workforce, that doesn’t mean they won’t make an exception for the right person. You don’t know until you ask, but you must ask at the appropriate time.