Summary: I am a hard-to-replace employee who has been highly productive working remotely and would like to ask to be allowed to relocate to another state permanently (with ~6 visits a year to the office). I have maximum leverage to make this request right now. I believe I can make the case that I am valuable to them long term, and that my value may even get stronger when I work remote. How can I make this request in such a way that I don't burn bridges, but motivate them to make a quick decision which is in their (and ideally also my) best interest?
Where I work: I work for a large global private company with a Fortune-500 vibe, located somewhere on the East Coast. I work for a division of the company that is highly compensated, and whose employees often come from much leaner companies, with smaller cultures. This is all just to say that while I am part of a big company, there is some awareness that employees have an option to be in a different environment. There are several sites across the world, so much of the company is remote/virtual to the other part, even when we are at the office.
My position: I am an employee whose job is "quantitative" and technical in nature. Domain knowledge is expected, in addition to strong statistical and programming skills. I have been at the company for two years and have been remote for the last 12 months due to the usual Reason. The company took half a year to hire me and the search was long and expensive for them. I am not easily replaced.
I am critical to the success of a very high-profile project that depends on my code, knowledge and ability to develop further. This dependence is at an apex now and over the next 4 months, but will last a couple of years at least in some way. I am also a dotted-line manager for a technology project involving several developers on a mission-critical project. This involves coordination with people across the world and interfacing with technical and business people. I have proven to the company that I can successfully drive big international projects while working remotely. In many ways, I have been more productive working remotely.
My situation: I want to live in the Midwest, for family reasons, and I would like to make this move this summer. I want to build my life with my young new family near my extended family. My brother's wife is having a baby - we are very close and I want our kids to grow up together.
Although 90% of my division works remotely currently, there is an expectation that we will return to the office sometime in the next half-year or so. I want to ask my company to allow me to work remotely - full time - and get permission to start ASAP. I am already allowed to work remotely, but I am not allowed to relocate permanently.
While I do not have a concrete job offer, if the answer is "no" I will strongly consider leaving the company and I have recently had several realistic opportunities to do so.
However, I want to stress that I enjoy working at the company. I enjoy my work. I believe I am really good at it, and I strongly and genuinely believe that I can add a lot of value to them working remotely. I am willing to visit the office 6 or so times a year to fly in for important meetings, check-ins. I believe that this arrangement would be optimal for the company, much better than having me in the office.
Assuming that I am accurately conveying the situation, what is the best strategy for how to bring this up to my boss? The reality of my company is that he will not have the authority to say yes, but will have to go to his boss's boss, and possibly a level or two above that.
I do not want to give an ultimatum, because if they say "no" I want the option to stay a couple of additional years without poisoning the relationship. But I do want them to be at least mindful of the reality that if they say "no", there is a decent chance that I could leave very soon.
I am more comfortable discussing the case for the company as to why this move will be good for them, and otherwise making the case. But where I struggle is in conveying the urgency, on their part, of making this decision. How can I do this?