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I live in one of the EU countries and will start as a software developer on first of October. During my time as a student, I did multiple internships at the company I will be working for, within the team I will be part of. Actually I am already considered a part of the team and am doing daily developer duties since first of July this year. The company and the colleagues are great and the job is literally my dream job.

My girlfriend and I are planning on moving together at the end of this/start of next year, however she currently lives about 650km away (lets call it city A). As she is still in the middle of an apprenticeship and I just finished my studies, I suggested I could come and live with her in city A until she finishes her apprenticeship, so for the next year or two. However this would also mean I'd be about 600km away from my workplace (in city B).

Under normal circumstance this would be a no go, however due to covid-19 and the nature of my job, the entire team is currently working remotely all the time. I already spoke with my manager about the home office situation and his opinion on this is, that even after covid-19 most of our work will be done remotely. For occasional in person meetings or special team events I feel like I am able to commute to my workplace, however this wouldn't be possible in the long run (its about 7 hours one way...).

How can I best address this plan of mine with my manager?

In my employment contract, the place of employment, i.e. the place where I predominantly carry out my activities, is defined as the place where my company has its headquarters (city B). Would this need to be changed so I can work remotely most of the time? What might be interesting to mention here, is that my company has a subsidiary in city A. So maybe the place of employment can simply be changed from headquarters to subsidiary.

Additionally, as this plan is still in the making, I am not sure if I should address this at all with my manager. Also I think this is kind of my personal life and may not regard my manager, however it is quite impacting on my job in the sense that I would be really far away so I also feel like I should address this.

The obvious thing to do when moving house in such a way would probably be to look for a new job in the area. However I don't really feel like giving up my job, especially as I see a way how this can be done without me taking on another job. Ideally I simply work remotely most of the time and occasional go see my colleagues in the office when needed.

Is this something that can be done at all or am I just fantasizing and there is no way this is practicable?

EDIT: My employer's answer beeing "no" would be sad, but I could live with it.

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    Welcome to The Workplace Nicolas Brauer! There is a lot of text there but you're missing two key pieces of info: how long do you expect to be in city A? And how open are you to your employer's answer being "no"? I'd suggest you edit that information in while also substantially reducing this in length. In essence you can summarise this to a few phrases that boil down to "I'm considering moving 7 hours away from the new job I'm starting. How can I ask to work remote-only?" – Lilienthal Sep 2 at 13:15
  • Thank you @Lilienthal I edited the missing info in. Would a shorter version as follows suffise? I live in one of the EU countries and will start as a software developer on first of October. During my time as a student, I did multiple internships at the company I will be working for, within the team I will be part of. I'm considering moving 7 hours away from the new job I'm starting for the next one or two years. Due to covid-19 and the nature of my job, the entire team is currently working remotely all the time. How can I ask to work remote-only? I feel like there is some info missing. – whme Sep 2 at 15:28
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    As a non European I don't know if this is an issue of not. Are City A and B in the same country? And if they are not will there be any cross country tax implications? – Peter M Sep 2 at 20:06
  • Yes both cities are in the same country. – whme Sep 2 at 20:44
  • @NicolasBrauer Thanks for editing that in. I'd still advise you to maybe cut some of the extra detail from the post, but it's also fine to leave it. Now that the key points are in there and you have the core questions in bold it's fine even if the context is perhaps not that relevant. It's just always a good idea to keep questions short here, we have a bad habit of being overly verbose on The Workplace. :) – Lilienthal Sep 3 at 8:27
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Short answer: Yes, it can be done.

Details:

  • Do not make your manager nervous. If you feel you want to mention it to them, tell them that you temporarily(!) want to try(!) to live with your girlfriend in city A. That is not a lie (don't lie!), as her apprenticeship is not a commitment that will last forever and you might even sooner decide to move back.
  • If financially feasible: Do consider having a place to sleep in city B. Even a 8m² room in a shared flat will suffice. This way you can always spend a few weeks in city B whenever things at work seem tense. This way you can also build trust with your manager.
  • I am sure there are some legal caveats that theoretically could apply. But generally I would not try to change your place of work in the contract. I will simply make your manager nervous and force them to make "hard" decisions.

When in doubt: This seems to be your dream-job. At the same time it is not sure your partner will be able to stay at her job in city A after she finished her apprenticeship. So make sure you do not endanger the job you have.

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  • Thank you for this answer. I have family living nearby where I can always stay for the night in case things at work seem tense. Also the part about not making my manager nervous is excellent, I didn't think of it that way. Also not changing the place of work in the contract to avoid forcing my manager to make "hard" decisions is a very good point, thank you! – whme Sep 2 at 15:34
  • @NicolasBrauer : If you choose to talk to your manager, make sure to mention that you can sleep at your family's place. Also: I think there is a mechanism for "accepting" an answer - if this is the right answer for you, you can "accept" it :-) But you can of course wait, there might be better answers coming :-) – JW at Flavia Sep 3 at 8:40
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    I would suggest making it a bit more forceful than, “I can stay with family”, instead make an an actual arrangement (preferably a room and not just a couch), with family and include that fact in discussions with the manager. Pay someone to have a room open that you can drop into at any time. – jmoreno Sep 6 at 0:24
  • I don't see why a request like that would make a manager "nervous". First of all, as mentioned by the OP, their work is currently remote and may remain mostly remote after COVID, so it looks like it doesn't really matter whether they're in city A or city B. Second, looks like A and B are just about an hour away by plane, so OP can definitely travel to city B on occasion and stay in a hotel. To me, OP's request seems completely reasonable so I don't see why there's a need for any extra cautiousness to "avoid making the manager nervous". – Egor Sep 8 at 23:26
  • @Egor : I guess that may depend on culture. I have had (company-) bosses who would not believe an applicant would relocate to their city even if they wrote so in their application. I only got the job because I mentioned I already had an aunt living in the same place - otherwise they would have assumed it "too big a leap". Seeing "a plane-ride of an hour and a hotel-stay" as a trivial thing is certainly unheard of in my culture (aside from top-managers, perhaps). – JW at Flavia Sep 9 at 7:09
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How can I best address this plan of mine with my manager?

A private meeting, phone call or video chat. I wouldn't say "girlfriend" to him. Simply "family" or fiance/wife (if you had that option) carry much more weight, at least in my experience but maybe the culture is different on that issue where you are. I imagine that his reaction will be related to how often he thinks in person meetings will be required and how much advanced notice he thinks he'd be able to give you. You could ask him about the frequency of meetings and the lead time first.

An example question for the boss: "During the busiest time you can recall, how often did someone at my level and 1 level above me have to come to an in person meeting? And how far in advance did they have to schedule these?" Now this question hints at the other part of this, your role/seniority matter too. The frequency probably increases the higher up you go and ideally you're going to get promoted in the next 1-3 years. Your co-workers who are at higher levels can probably give you a better answer too since they will know the frequency of in person meetings with other departments. Your boss might not know that since if it's like anywhere I've worked, he's only interested in progress/results/issues. Not the details of where/how you met with others.

Typically if you're meeting with other departments there's a little more flexibility in scheduling than when your boss wants to meet with you so you might be able to get 2 meetings to occur on the same day instead of spread out over multiple days but it's unpredictable since the schedule of the people you're meeting with might be too packed for them to accommodate your needs. My other observation is that when you're a lower level person meeting with a high level person in another department, they tend not to like it if you're even 1 minute late for a meeting. If your mode of transportation has too much unpredictability in it you have to account for that. Now your 7 hour trip might actually take 8-12 depending on how early you need to leave to eliminate the risk of travel delays.

Is this something that can be done at all or am I just fantasizing and there is no way this is practicable?

I think you're fantasizing - not because it's impossible to get the change you want - because if you were to prioritize your life goals, I suspect that starting your career with all of the investment you've already made in this company is a higher priority than living with your girlfriend. Likewise it is a higher priority to her for her to finish her apprenticeship than it is for her to move to city "B" and be near you should you live 7 hours away from her school.

The risk of living in a city that is 7 hours travel distance from where you may need to make an in person appearance for business meetings on short notice is huge. Imagine if the boss calls a morning meeting the evening before. You would then need to start travel within the next 3-4 hours or beg the boss to excuse you. Imagine if there are multiple meetings in the same week called by people in different departments. Your boss cannot guarantee that this won't happen. When you eventually work on projects that require you to deal with management level people in other departments it's outside of your boss's hands. Or imagine if your boss transfers to another department, gets promoted or otherwise leaves the scene.

To give yourself the best chance of success you need to be near your office. I have known people who lived just 2 hours away from the company HQ and despite being department management level people working remotely, when the company had to reduce costs they were terminated long before lower level people working remotely in the local area.

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  • Thanks for your answer! Up until now there were very few, if any, cross department meetings that required in person appearance. But after thinking a bit longer about that, I remembered that sometimes other colleagues hat indeed meetings with people from different departments or even with external customers. So this is indeed a valid point I will have to consider. And you sure are right: my boss cannot guarantee for anything if such an agreement were to be made. How exactly would you approach asking him about the frequency of meetings and the lead time first? – whme Sep 3 at 13:20
  • We currently have about 4 to 5 meetings a day, none of which requires in person appearance. – whme Sep 3 at 13:21
  • @NicolasBrauer I added a section to my question to address asking the boss and some related thoughts that came out of that. – HenryM Sep 3 at 15:38
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This is something I did, short-term, in this year. It should be doable, but there are caveats.

First, you amend the contract

My contract with the company specifies that I work in my home town. When the work-from-home became mandatory, everyone in my company signed a contract amendment that allowed for remote work. Since you are already working remotely, talk to your manager about fixing this in writing. I see no reason why they should object.

Then, you talk to your manager about moving

It is well within your rights to move to another city, but I advise talking to your manager while you finalize your plans. Moving will take some of your time, you might be away from some of your belongings, your habits might change, your Internet connection might be worse than before, you might be tired more often. This, typically, will not cause (huge) problems with your productivity, but your manager should still be aware of that. Your best bet when talking to your manager is letting them know that you foresee these problems and you're taking steps to mitigate them.

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    Keep in mind it's also within the company's rights to fire the OP over not being able to come on-site easily. The conversation you describe covers some good points but not the most crucial: that this could be a deal-breaker. That should really be the starting point: not "how should we do this?" but "can we do this?". – Lilienthal Sep 2 at 13:18
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    @Lilienthal: Could you provide a reference for "within the company's rights to fire the OP over not being able to come on-site easily"? – guest Sep 2 at 14:04
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    @guest Will you accept common sense? The company simply makes presence on-site a requirement of the job and when the OP cannot fulfill said key requirement they can be dismissed. It's just like how you can get fired for consistently showing up late. OP wouldn't be showing up at all. Each country will have its own policies around this but this certainly isn't an area where employee protections would kick in. There could be legal gray areas where you could argue the "expectation of remote work" but most contracts will specify a working location (a very good point svavil raised here actually). – Lilienthal Sep 2 at 14:24
  • @Lilienthal: I understand it if the company says "There is an appointment tomorrow" and OP does not come they could be fired. I interpreted your comment as "the company can fire the employee preemtivly if he moves away" and I am not really sure if this is allowed in Europe without reference. (Also, I do think that if the boss especially required this employee to be there every day just to be able to fire him (and for others there would be no reason to come to the office), this could be illegal (bullying)). – guest Sep 2 at 14:30
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    @Lilienthal I assumed that the OP would be able to negotiate a "remote" clause in their contract, and talk about moving to another city after that. Let me make the order more explicit in the answer. – svavil Sep 2 at 15:28

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