10

I'm in software development. There appear to be some very interesting positions, but they are located in locations where I don't want to live. Has anyone negotiated flying in each week to work?

Can a company pay for the travel expenses? Would they be tax deductible for them if they did, or somehow for me if they wouldn't? Are there serious issues with the whole idea that would make it not work?

I know there are some consultant jobs that require flying every week, but I don't want a consultant job. There are some very interesting technologies, startups, etc. that are going on that would be interesting.

I know there are several question marks above, but the single question is: would it be reasonable to try to work out this type of arrangement?

  • 15
    I think you would be better off trying to negotiate working remotely from home. – HLGEM May 22 '12 at 20:46
  • 6
    "Telework isn't going to work. They're not going to do it." So really we're only talking about one company. If they won't let you work remotely, then it seems very unlikely that they'd spend thousands of dollars flying you to town and renting a room for you every week! – Jim In Texas May 22 '12 at 21:50
  • 6
    You would have to have really rare skills for most companies to even consider taking on all this extra expense, unless you're going to take a lower salary to compensate. Why should they pay weekly air fare, rental car, housing, etc for you when they can hire someone local and save all that? – Monica Cellio May 22 '12 at 21:51
  • 7
    I think that before you consider whether or not the company will go for it, you have to ask yourself whether or not you can handle it. 100% travel is very harsh even in the best circumstances. – Angelo May 22 '12 at 22:47
  • 5
    @taotree-If the difference offsets, then why bother your company about it? Just take the higher salary and pay for the expenses yourself. – Dunk May 23 '12 at 22:00
25

It's reasonable to try, most things are.

However, to follow up on what @Angelo touched on in his comment, the money is not the only concern. For most companies, I don't think it's even going to be the biggest one. I've seen this in practice a couple of times, where people would do weekly commutes from out of town (train and/or air) and it was always explicit that this was a temporary solution pending permanent relocation.

The reason is that people, in general, will get very tired of those commutes after a while and will either relocate or they will quit and find a job closer to home. As an employer, if you were to come to me and say that you wanted to negotiate for a weekly commute setup my first question would be:

For how long?

If your answer was "1-2 months until I can relocate permanently" then that's one thing. In your case, however, you say that you don't want to relocate so this would be assumed to be permanent. In that case, I would think "this guy is going to get fed up with constant travel in 2-6 months and quit" and I'd be very reluctant to hire you or keep you on.

So just a word of caution, this negotiation is quickly going to move from money to "are you sure you really want to be working here?".

  • Interesting answer, and I wondering if it is regional. In Germany, I have friends and colleagues that would travel (fly and train) on a weekly basis to their office. The longest I have heard is Cologne to Moscow. – tehnyit May 24 '12 at 22:07
14

You ask if there are serious issues as to why it might not work and I'm going to tackle that (I might point out that I did travel for my job over 50% of the time for 9 years and know what a toll it takes on your life):

Flying in every week means basically giving up weekends. You need to fly out on Sunday night to be there for Monday morning and fly home Friday night after work hours or Saturday mornings. You are always packing and unpacking. You would end up using some of your leave when your flight gets cancelled. You are going to be there 5 days out of seven and travelling at least part of the two days you aren't there. So really you are living there. It makes more sense to move, get the experience from the interesting job and then move to a different place later if you don't permanaently want to stay there. Plus without transportation, the things you can do outside of work hours are severely limited.

You say you would take a lower salary to account for the cost, but have you truly calculated out how much a week it would cost the company? It's not just the airfare and the travel expenses but also the administrative costs to manage this. That's a pretty big hit to your salary.

It sounds as if the jobs you are looking at are in large city since you assume mass transit. In that case they probably have far more local applicants than jobs. Usually when that is the case, the person from outside the area would have to bring something pretty special to the table for a company to consider such a thing. Ask yourself if the skillset you have is that interesting to a company.

And from a company perspective, I would be far more likely to want to hire someone from another area to telecommute than pay their airfare every week. The person would be more likely to be happy and be more likely to want to stay employed.

If you are single, this schedule makes it difficult to be in a long-term relationship. If you are married or currently in a long-term relationship, this will put a great deal of stress on it. If you have children, this schedule is utterly unfair to the spouse who stays with the children and is unfair to the children.

It is difficult to pursue many hobbies when you have a travel schedule like this or have pets. So really your life ends up being work and sleep, do you really want to commit to that?

If you have a family emergency, you will have to pay out of your own pocket to return to your home city if that is where your family is. If the reason why you don't want to move is your family, then consider how much less time you will have available for them and how much harder it will be to be with them if something happens. I know I got a lot of family resentment because I could not make it to some family funerals when I was travelling. This is true if you move too, but people are more likely to consider this when moving than when travelling.

Weekly travel is hard on the body. It also makes it hard to work the weekend as is often needed in the software industry.

-1

Flying in to work each week is the model that the "Consulting" arm of companies use. If it is a regular Cost Center/Profit Center kind of setup for software development activities, then it is unlikely that the request for the company to pay for expenses will be honored. In this case, pap's suggestions are good.

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.