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I have been working remotely for several years now. I have found it to be a good experience as I don't have to commute anywhere, and I get to spend a lot more time with the fam.

The company that I am working for is being courted for acquisition by a large company. They do not allow remote working. The pay increase would be great, and having some experience working for this company would be a big help later ofn when I decide to move on.

The problem is, I live in Hawaii. The company in question does not have a location here (on any of the islands). I am loath to relocate permanently as I just bought a home here.

Let us assume that I cannot sway the company to let me continue working remotely. They will not budge.

Do I have any bargaining power (when it comes time for the acquisition I will essentially be interviewing for a job) to do some kind of weekly commute (fly to San Francisco, stay in an extended stay for the week, fly back on Friday) or something like that? I would love to have this job, heck I would beat someone to death with one of their own limbs to get the job, but I cannot move.

If I could bargain my way into some slight concessions on their part, that would be great, but I don't even know if I will have that power. If they are courting us for acquisition, are they obligated to give me some grace period to fall into their paradigm?

I doubt that I will be making enough money to keep the house here and get something in Silicon Valley. Those properties are really expensive, and I can't see having a permanent residence in CA anyhow.

How much can I bargain with? Am I in any kind of position of power?

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    Unless you have an extremely rare skill set, you have virtually no bargaining power in this situation. Could you rent your Hawaii house for a couple of years? – HLGEM Sep 11 '15 at 18:58
  • Might be able to. it is set up to be rented, but it is a Japanese home that has been abused for at least a decade (tatami is in disrepair, shoji doors are in moderate shape, pest problems, etc etc). If I rent that portion of the house I would want to be on-island. We are trying to restore the Japanese portion of the house. – CodeWarrior Sep 11 '15 at 19:01
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    Do you know why your company is being acquired? If it's because of your IP/technology, you might be completely out of luck. If it's because your employees, maybe you can get a concession of some sort (maybe...). – enderland Sep 11 '15 at 19:42
  • We are told by the acquiring company that they like the concepts and software and what they see in the people. I don't know if that is fluff, though. I am expecting to have my shares in the company purchased in the buyout, and hopefully that will be money up front; if it is stocks in the acquiring company that will be a large buffer that I will be unable to do anything with until the liquidation period is up. – CodeWarrior Sep 11 '15 at 20:32
  • Are any of your colleagues in a similar position? Do you have the ear of any senior managers in the acquiree company? Allies could be v helpful. – A E Sep 12 '15 at 21:22
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Often, when a company is acquired, key employees have a tendency to leave. To counteract this, the acquiring company will often give key employees retention bonuses. I once received a retention bonus of $11,000 if I stayed for six weeks after the merger. I wasn't planning on leaving, so it was just free money to me!

Are you a key employee? Would your manager say you were? If so, then the company will want to retain you, and that gives you some amount of bargaining power. Hopefully it is enough to get what you want. If you aren't a key employee, then you should try to become one. Otherwise, you have nothing.

  • As one of a handful of developers, I am unsure. I have extensive knowledge of the codebase and it would be painful for a new person to have to learn it, but key? I am not sure. The company in question called all of its employees into the office or asked them to quite (essentially). It looks as though they are completely inflexible on the in-office requirement. So far as being a contractor is concerned, I will have to look into that. – CodeWarrior Sep 11 '15 at 20:27
  • @CodeWarrior Are you familiar with the Bus Factor? If not, try the Wikipedia Article. If you are, should you decide to leave, would all production/coding ground to a halt? A good example may be when you called in sick or went on vacation. If people were panicking, I'd say that you have some pull with the new company. But the question now is whether or not they see you that way. If the transitioning team (once purchased) is worth their salt, they'd get the right signals from your bosses that "hey, this guy is a key employee. Let's try to get him to stay". – Frank FYC Sep 11 '15 at 20:34
  • Production would not grind to a halt. It would slow down though. I am the only one who has been working on a sertain portion of the project which consists of a TON of javascript. While that is not a particularly difficult language to use, it amounts to a large codebase that someone is going to have to learn to navigate in. If they did not want to lose a few weeks in productivity, I would be a key developer I suppose. – CodeWarrior Sep 11 '15 at 20:37
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Although they may have a no remote policy for employees, you could see if they would hire you as a contractor/consultant. There are times during acquisitions that the new company gets rid of redundancies, but when there are staff with key skill sets, you'd be surprised at what they're willing to do.

You could also ask for a trial period. I've worked for companies that didn't have any remote employees, but when I relocated, they gave it a shot (Did this 3 times.).

  • I will have to look into the contractor thing. It has been quite some time since I was a contractor (and never as a developer). The trial period is likely a no-go. as I responded to another answer, the company sounds completely inflexible on the remote front. They used to have remote workers. Now they don't. – CodeWarrior Sep 11 '15 at 20:28
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    Yahoo, by any chance? Rest assured that in any large company, exceptions are quietly made for virtually any blanket rule... if there's a sufficiently convincing business reason for it. – jpatokal Sep 12 '15 at 13:24
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When being acquired, does an employee have very much bargaining power with the acquiring company?

Unless you have a contract mentioning what should happen in the event of an acquisition, or you are a C-level executive or founder, or you are a key member of a small company - you have very, very little bargaining power individually.

That said, acquiring companies often want an acquisition to go smoothly, and at least initially want to make as many people happy as possible.

You should get clear in your own head what you would like to happen, and present it to the acquiring company. You have little to lose by asking (they can only say "No".) and everything to gain.

They might agree to whatever you want, or they might compromise. You might also have more success if many others are seeking the type of concessions that you are (if many folks want to stay in Hawaii or want to continue working remotely, for example).

In my experience, you can often get some nice concessions initially, but inevitably you are eventually expected to conform to the acquiring company's norms - you are assimilated. So, for me, I would never expect any concessions to last. Your mileage may vary.

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