can you ask for your own office as part of negotiating a job offer?

A reader writes:

Is it okay to ask for an office when negotiating a job offer, and if so, how should I go about bringing it up? I can absolutely (and truthfully) justify needing one for work reasons, as my new job will be very very reading-heavy and the best way for me to maintain the speed and efficiency at which I typically read is to be able to shut the door on the office buzz for an hour or two a day.

For some background, it’s an early-to-mid-level professional position, I’d be relocating to the opposite coast, and I’ve got a decent (but not super great, as it’s a huge and competitive company) negotiating position as they’re looking for a specific skill and contact combination that not many have given how small the industry community is. What are your thoughts?

Sure, you can absolutely ask for that.

You might not get it, depending on the employer, but it’s completely reasonable to ask. If a spare office isn’t available, or if the next spare office is slated to someone with a greater need or more seniority, or if it would cause issues to give an office to you but not to others at your level, then they might tell you no …. but again, there’s nothing wrong with asking.

I’d start by asking, “Can you tell me about where I’d be working? Would I be in a private office or a shared space?” If they tell you it will be a shared space, you could then say, “Would it be possible to give me a private office? This type of work often requires concentration to read, and I’ve found that having a private, quiet space makes the job easier and lets me focus and get more done.”

Keep in mind, of course, that even if they say yes, things change … and it’s possible that after three months on the job, some sort of of horrible reorganization will occur and you’ll end up in a cube or other undesirable location anyway. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t try this — plenty of the time it will work and it will be a permanent arrangement — but do be aware that this stuff is to some degree tenuous.

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