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My Workplace

I work in a very agile environment in an IT agency, where I was given responsibility within a short period of time after graduation. My boss (CEO) often tells me that he likes my unique skillset and that they are very happy to have me in the team. Now he would like to talk to me soon about how I am doing in the company (annual staff appraisal) and how they can build up my department together with me. This means for me that a small team should be built around me to take the pressure off me.

My personal situation

My problem now is that I moved to a foreign city, several hours away from home, just for the job. I have a nice apartment, the colleagues are nice, but I never really arrived. Probably also because I am introverted. Most of the time I just count the days until I can go back home again, where I have a few selected friends, but at least I can see my parents and do more (e.g. DIY things that are not possible in the city)

Because of COVID19 everything has changed. We are all in the home office and are much more productive because I have more peace and quiet to engineer. I go to my own apartment on an irregular basis and otherwise I am with my parents. A situation that I would like to change.

A possible solution

My idea would be to move to the city where I studied. I know people there, it only takes me 1.5 hours to get to the city where I work, but I can be in my hometown and with my people in under an hour. I would mainly work remotely, as the whole Covid situation has shown to work well, and go to the office once a month for a week to spend time with the team and handle interpersonal issues. This would also relax our situation that we have too few workstations/space for all employees in the office.

My Question

The question now is, can I tell my boss about it and push him in that direction or am I gambling away future opportunities?

My concern is that he doesn't understand, because he himself is someone who is constantly on the road and loves it. But I hate being on the road and taking three hours to drive to my home town. Above all, I see the danger that I will either be seen as a person who will potentially leave the company soon because he does not like the personal situation. Or that I at least won't get any more promotions because he might be of the opinion that a team leader should be on site 24/7.

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  • how much experience do you have?
    – Kilisi
    Sep 12 '20 at 14:46
  • What kind of experience? Professional: Master degree, ~ 4 years of freelancing as developer during university, 1/2 year @ BigFour, 1 year @ this company. To give a comparison, the offers I have received from several large companies in the last few months were each for Senior Solution Architect positions
    – 0x30
    Sep 12 '20 at 14:58
  • I would also think about consequences outside of work if you move back to your home town. For instance, you’ll have to abandon your contract with your apartment and that is not cheap to do at all (you may have to pay the remaining months of rent PLUS reletting fees, check your contract). You’ll also have to move all of your stuff from your apartment which is kind of a pain. You also have to deal with unemployment and not having insurance. You are in the US, right?
    – user82352
    Sep 12 '20 at 15:05
  • @KingDuken I'm in europe like the tag says. Also there will be no unemployment, that's my question how I can work remotely for my company. And as I mentioned, I will not move back to my hometown rather than in another city. I have three month termination from my flat contract, so I would just stay for three month and move then of course. I'm not sure how it is in the US, but here you can rent a transporter for <100$/day to move your stuff. So it would be 1-2 days hard work and then the stuff is moved.
    – 0x30
    Sep 12 '20 at 15:14
  • 1
    So your dilemma is 3 hours vs 1.5 hours once a week(or is it month?) People put up with a lot more. In my previous employment I had to spend 1.5 hours in commute twice a day. It might reflect poorly on you. I suggest duking it out a bit more while you grow roots in your new city.
    – Rohit
    Sep 13 '20 at 13:52
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The question now is, can I tell my boss about it and push him in that direction or am I gambling away future opportunities?

Here you are clearly unhappy in your current situation, and you have a solution that will definitely work for you, and may also work for the company (you should have months of proof by now of it) and you won't know if they will be happy with it or not until you ask.

This can backfire and then they may consider that refusing the offer will make you go and look for other employment which... I guess it is something you should be doing anyway if you are unhappy where you are now, and there are many more remote-first opportunities out there than ever before as many business that would have never even considered it, have now fully embraced remote working.

Worst case scenario they as a result terminate you as soon as they can - can you afford to be without a job, taking into account that finding new employment during Covid can take substantially longer than usual? If not, it is probably not wise to rock the boat at all, but then that's not always true either, sometimes your happiness is more important than financial well being, though I would be very careful about that as financial and mental wellbeing are often directly related.

More realistic scenario (of this going wrong) is that it will go into your bosses notes as a negative for future performance reviews/promotions but, in all honesty, given how unhappy this working arrangement makes you, do you really plan to stay there? I don't know the answer to it, only you do, but this is certainly something you should consider, because if those conditions are unmet is unacceptable for you in the long term, you probably shouldn't care about future in the company as you likely won't have one and move to a job more suited to your needs.

It can go lukewarm, in which case the boss will nod, smile, mention that he needs to talk to his boss about it and you will never hear about this idea again. Overall this is what usually happens when employees ask for extraordinary work arrangements, but then this was before virus-time and top-talent is generally treated better than run of the mill employees. From experience I saw top performers given leeway's going way further than just remote working in a on-site company, at least in the companies with smart management (though this also depends on size).

And then you may just get what you have wanted.

Which one is the case you will only find by asking. Whether you should is not something I can tell you as I don't live your life, but I hope that I gave you enough of a framework to figure out the risk/reward ratio and act accordingly.

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  • Thank you. I think there would be no problem to find another job as I already had offers from FANG and other huge companies in the last weeks in the region I want to move. But I like my company/team and if I need to make a choice I would rather stay there for let's say another year than moving now and find a new job. I also don't think they will terminate me, because I'm the only developer in the company and just one of two architects. Also there is no boss above my boss. He is the CEO and has the main shares on the company. So he has to make a decision.
    – 0x30
    Sep 12 '20 at 15:22
  • @0x30 Firing is extreme of extreme, and you really have to make the choice whether the risk is worth it yourself, as I said, I can't make that for you. Though if the boss values you so much, i kind of like your odds of success. Sep 12 '20 at 15:30

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