3

My partner wants to move back home (across the country) to be near her family, so I told her we could do so in the next year. I am currently a Lead engineer at a good company with a great salary, equity, etc. with three direct reports.

When I move, I really want to stay with my current company, but they don't have any remote software engineers on staff. Many of the end users for the software are in office, but we do have a pretty flexible WFH and PTO policy with no restrictions.

I know that expecting a remote employee to be a good "Lead" in charge of other engineers is a stretch, but I would be happy with just being a Senior engineer if I could swing that.

What is the best way to propose becoming a remote engineer if I am willing to take a demotion, pay cut, travel for work as much as they need, etc? I was thinking of proposing this 60 days before we move to give enough time to either let them decide, or start looking for new jobs myself.

Added Context: I don't want to change jobs, lose half my equity, or have to lose the momentum I have with this company. I also hate interviewing, and I'm not confident in being able to just walk into any other place and work. By the time I move next year, I will have worked here for three years

  • Since nobody asked, what exactly does “across the country” entail? I do think a 2-hour drive or 4-hour flight makes a big difference in the options it leaves you. – AsheraH May 20 at 6:09
2

This is hard to answer without knowing the culture of the company and what your relationship with them is like, and I think that goes to why people are conflicted about when you should talk to them. How good your relationship is there will probably need to govern how much you tell them.

If you're not sure, I would suggest that you tell them you are thinking about moving in the next year instead of telling them you've already decided. Tell them what you've told us, that you enjoy working for this company and want to continue, and ask if they'd be open to discussing the possibility of you continuing in the role remotely. I wouldn't tell them it's a set thing, but I would bring it up now. You want to give them as much time as possible to discuss it. These wheels can turn slowly and if you rush the decision it'll likely just be "no".

I would definitely not suggest a role change or pay cut or anything up front. You absolutely can lead a team remotely. I have been both a line manager and a director managing multiple remote teams. Both teams that were entirely remote, mixed teams, and teams that were entirely co-located but I was still remote. It can be done and well.

That said, be sure you're ready for this and truly committed to it. Remote work is great when a company does it well, but it's not always great when you're the only one remote, or one of the few. You will have to do all of the heavy lifting in maintaining your relationships with others in the company, and you will have to work extra hard to stay in the loop. Lots of discussions and decisions will be made in-person and you may not find out till much later if you're not on top of that. Scott Hanselman has written a good bit on this and you may find his blog posts about it helpful in thinking through this.

  • I've seen this work several times, with enough notice. Sometimes it doesn't work (I've seen it fail because of tax laws). – Monica Cellio May 19 at 3:19
  • This is more or less what I did when I decided to move to a foreign country. I started talking about it with my bosses about 1.5 years before the actual move to probe their willingness to it and if they weren't willing then at least they'd have time to find a replacement. In my case everything worked out and for the first year and a half I worked remotely until I found a local job. (And notified them ahead of time that I was starting to look for a local job.) Due to tax reasons I "quit" and registered as a contractor in the country I moved to. It all depends on the company how it will end up. – yetanothercoder May 19 at 11:04
1

I know that expecting a remote employee to be a good "Lead" in charge of other engineers is a stretch, but I would be happy with just being a Senior engineer if I could swing that.

That, my friend, is not entirely true. Many good leaders and managers oversee and manage geographically distributed teams, from different cultural backgrounds and work ethics. So, not being physically co-located is not considered a restriction for being in a leadership position. Question is : are you confident enough to carry out the responsibilities while working remote? If not, you have some time to invest on developing some communication skills which are essential for remote collaboration. Be prepared from your side.

Usually, it all boil down to company policies - whether they (can) allow remote work or not.

I'd say, put the proposal forward for remote work - have no mention about the stepping down from your current role. Let the company get back to you with their answer. I can understand they don't have any remotely working employees yet, but unless there's something in company norms / contacts/ security agreements which prevents from working remote - you may still have a chance.

Flexible WFH (extended) and travel for work combined together can be a viable solution which works for both you and your employer.

Regarding the time to start the discussion:

Well, I would not advise to inform the company of the movement plan beforehand - plans change. Wait until it is close enough to the notice period or the max time you think you'll be needing to find another job - and start the discussion. If you can find a solution , it's fine. Otherwise, you need to search and get a new job.

1

What is the best way to propose becoming a remote engineer if I am willing to take a demotion, pay cut, travel for work as much as they need, etc? I was thinking of proposing this 60 days before we move to give enough time to either let them decide, or start looking for new jobs myself.

  1. Don't offer to make any concessions... initially. Why give up anything if you don't have to? Use those concessions as a bargaining tool if needed.

  2. Why wait until you're 60 days away from the move? If you know about it now, and it's a foregone conclusion, then I see no value in waiting. You want your employer to know that you are conscious of the impact this will have on them and want to give them as much time as possible to put together a solution that's mutually beneficial.

  3. Many people in management do so with employees who are remote. Why should the reverse not be the same? There's nothing about managing remotely that needs to be different other than geography.

Too often we see our relationships with our employers as adversarial. Look at it as a partnership. Present this in a way that lets them know that you value and want to continue this partnership and that you want to find a solution that's mutually acceptable and beneficial.

  • I'd advise against #2, it's same as advance notice, which is not a good thing in practice. – Sourav Ghosh May 18 at 22:52
  • I disagree. It's not the same as giving advance notice. The OP clearly states that she wants to stay with the company, not give notice that she's leaving. Leaving appears to be her last and least desirable choice. Giving the company ample time to discuss this move and find a solution that works for both parties will go a long way in making this something that the company will be more open to. Springing this on them 2 months before the move will likely put the company in "scramble mode" and they might not be as open to the OP working and managing remotely. – joeqwerty May 18 at 23:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.