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I'm planning on moving country but not company. While my employer has a presence in the country I intend to move to, that presence is not by my department and is a few hundred miles from where I will be living/working.

I have worked successfully remotely during the pandemic, but have been located only 10 minutes from the office, where my team is partially based.

I have been warned that a final question from upper management will likely be along the lines of how can I be somewhat alone on an island and still be effective, safe and supported?

Other than saying "I've done it for over 2 years" I don't really have an answer, yet.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

My job is performed entirely through my work provided laptop, does not always require a VPN and I have regular, daily communication with my colleagues who are mostly in other countries. However, tech support has always been just down the road.

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    And what about time zone differences? Have you thought about that? Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 14:59
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    "However, tech support has always been just down the road" . So what's your plan if you have an IT problem? Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 16:43
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    There can be major tax implications for companies having workers living and working in other countries. That may not be as much of a concern if they already have offices in your destination country, but it could be.
    – Grant
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 16:48
  • What Grant said above ^^. The legal/HR department has to accept such a move (and do some necessary tax and health insurance changes). Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 12:44

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My job is performed entirely through my work provided laptop, does not always require a VPN and I have regular, daily communication with my colleagues who are mostly in other countries.

So... that's a great starting point for an answer. Also probing for their specific concerns might be a good way to take that conversations. As a manager (who happens to now lead remote teams across diverse countries), my questions fall into things like:

  • Will there be any problems with fairness across team members working in different countries? For example, how overtime works, or the amount of notice someone is required to give when quitting can vary. A way to assuage that concern is being willing to work as closely to the rules of your home team as you can, which lessens the burden of figuring out the inconsistencies for your boss.
  • Time zones - concerns around commuting turn into concerns around timezones. If you're in the same time zone in the new location, then this is great. It's a harder sell if you are in a wildly different time zone. It's easy enough, if the delta is a few hours to say "well, working in the same time zone as the team is easy for me, personally, even in the new location because... (insert lifestyle specific reason here)". It's harder for a manager to buy it if we're talking 1/2 a world away (Asia to the Americas, for example) - because no matter how much you love shifting your time zone, the whole location around you is turned against you in terms of when stores, services, etc. are operating, vs. when you are awake and working. I hear you that you don't do a whole lot of team meetup time, but availability when something is urgent tends to be a viable concern.
  • Equipment - as you point out, you're no longer 10 minutes from IT. I would think the small stuff (wires, chargers, peripherals) should be something easy to handle as you should be able to get to some basic equipment almost anywhere. It's stuff like what if your actual laptop breaks, how do you keep working on a major project without risking any info sec concerns they have? Is this something you can handle with your own money or equipment? Or would you be dead in the water? Having a plan in mind for this might help.
  • Are they any other risks to having you in your role be alone? For example, they may have a sales office in that country, but are you an engineer working on company confidential data/code? - would it help to have a chat with info sec on this to see what mitigations you can figure out?

I've had to be on the boss' end of this conversation (in the before-pandemic times) when I had someone who wanted to work West Coast US on an East Coast US team (3 hrs difference, but same country). I ended up with a very regretful "no" because I had to think of what was fair for the team. What's hardest for an individual contributor to see is often the team side of it - having one person being very, very remote sets a precedent, what happens if everyone on the team wants this? Can it work for everyone? if not, what makes your role a unique case? How does the team do the team-level stuff like build trust, work out urgent issues, onboard new people, maintain it's own communication channels in the midst of big changes - if some people are permanently remote and can't come to the office at a moment's notice?

That's stuff you can't necessarily answer - it's stuff your team leader or company will have to figure out. You can offer ideas, but realize that this is something you are now asking them to figure out.

Fingers crossed - pre-pandemic, I'd have said this was an uphill battle, but these days, I think enough folks have been productive enough for 2 isolated pandemic years, that we should be able to say, there's ways to make this work, and it's worth figuring out to keep key staff happy with their work/life balance.

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    Very insightful answer, especially this: "What's hardest for an individual contributor to see is often the team side of it - having one person being very, very remote sets a precedent, what happens if everyone on the team wants this?" Guess it boils down to general company policies instead of comforting individual needs..
    – iLuvLogix
    Commented Aug 24, 2022 at 17:31
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    I'd offer "it's about balancing company policies and individual needs" not "instead of" - ideally individual needs can provoke teams thinking of new ways to meet organizational goals in ways that change company policy - but it's not fast and not universal, and probably quite a bit utopian. Definitely easier to swing in a small/agile company. Commented Aug 31, 2022 at 19:42
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I have been warned that a final question from upper management will likely be along the lines of how can I be somewhat alone on an island and still be effective, safe and supported?

Other than saying "I've done it for over 2 years" I don't really have an answer, yet.

That's the correct answer.

You should also point out that your work for those 2 years has been exceptional, indicate the great performance reviews that you have gotten in that time, and that you have not needed any non-remote help from tech support.

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Aside from convincing them about other potential issues, the legal aspect could also be stopping them. You will need to start paying taxes in this new country (even if you’re American and still need to do taxes at home too), and they will have to properly hire you there and provide a work visa. Anything else would most likely mean you’re an illegal worker there, unless there are special agreements between your countries (like in the EU). It does not matter for this that you’re working only online for a company in another country!

You should prepare to take away most of this headache for them to have a better chance.

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