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I work in Europe for a startup, but my company has also an office in the US. So last Friday the director asked me if I wanted to go to the US for one week in order to finalize project X (with an extension of one week if project X wasn't ready yet).

When the director asked me that, I replied YES. However, I only had one day and a half to prepare for my trip (asked on Friday, left on Sunday). But I accepted anyway because I've never been to the US and I thought it would be a great experience.

Back to today, I'm in the US and I almost finished project X (so in less than one week), and I'm ready to go back to Europe. I actually WANT to go back, because I don't like it here for different reasons (I'll save you the reasons).

Anyway, yesterday my CEO came up to the office and said: "I have great news, you are going to stay 3 weeks!" (because some other projects came up), to which I replied: "well... 3 weeks weren't even planned, so I have to check back at home if it's actually possible". Of course, with an extension of 2 more weeks, they would rent me a car, and provide me with a better "situation".

However, I just checked, and for me it's not possible to stay longer. I've already mentioned that I have some pending personal stuff in Europe, and I don't like it here. I also believe that I can do the same work I'm doing here back in Europe.

So I basically wrote an email to my CEO and to the director which included something along these lines: "I don't want to sound like someone who doesn't appreciate what you have done for me, but I strongly prefer to go back this week. The deal was for one week, and I've done my job. I had only one day of notice for this trip, so I have personal stuff pending at home. Moreover, I believe I can do a better work in Europe for different reasons". I didn't phrase it exactly like that, but you got the drill.

The CEO replied: "Let's talk it tomorrow at 8:00 in the office". Then I received another email from the director saying: "I know we had a different deal, and I've already spoke to the CEO. Think about staying in the US or going back to Europe. If the outcome is the latter, please think about how you can help your colleague in the US".

What do you think about the situation? I've been honest with them, but I don't want to "destroy" my career because of this trip. How should I behave tomorrow with the CEO? What should I tell him (same things I already said?)? Any advice about it?

Thanks!

closed as off-topic by paparazzo, Michael Grubey, gnat, jimm101, Chris G Oct 11 '16 at 15:01

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    Seems like the director gave you permission to return - state how you can help from Europe, and head back (and then be sure that the work gets done). – Jon Custer Oct 6 '16 at 13:06
  • @JoeStrazzere I phrased that part incorrectly. By "not possible" I meant: if I stay longer I won't die, but I will feel very bad (and probably I will do a bad job too). English is not my main language, I'm sorry about that. – HBv6 Oct 6 '16 at 13:35
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Been there, done that many times. You go to a remote site and then find out that for some reason you need to stay longer. In my latest example my extensions was thankfully cut short because of hurricane Mathew.

From your post I think you already have the necessary information to present to your CEO.

  1. The agreement was only for a week1, and you had no time to prepare for a longer period. (Packing for a week can be different to packing for 3 weeks depending on your situation).

  2. You believe that you can achieve the work from your home location.

  3. You have personal reasons for not extending your stay in the US.

These are all valid points to put to your CEO. Point #2 is the only one that requires justification. For that you need to come up with a reasonable plan as to how you will do remote support and present it as definite solution. This will include how you will handle time zone differences etc.

Points #1 and #3 are valid as they stand and it could be a bad sign if your company ignores your personal position on them as it could indicate they want to abuse you by bullying you into staying. However a reasonable company understands that keeping you happy as a worker is a long term benefit to the company and they should not ignore your personal feelings.

At this point it becomes a negotiation between how you feel and what your CEO will offer you for compensation to put up with you feelings. Right now you have the power to board your flight as booked and go home with the possible consequences of losing your job (but I don't know about your labor laws). But if you do that then your company will suffer the loss of your projects and will have to find someone else to do the work so it becomes a lose/lose situation. Nobody wants that, so you need to strive for a win/win situation

On the other hand your director seems more aware of your feelings and how this proposed change will impact you. So if you feel so strongly that you have to return home, and can present it as a reasonable case then I don't think that it is a career ending move.

Finally, are you legally working in the US? Even if this company has an office in the US you can't just arrive and work without the correct visa. The comment below from Patricia is a good point. If you are working illegally then you are being asked to break the law as a part of your job. It is possible to get away with this, but visa infractions can have long term consequences if you get kicked out of the country.


On a more personal level of advice. Try and identify why you feel bad about being where you are right now. Is there anything that can mitigate these feelings? For example is it stress from being in a foreign country you are not familiar with? Is it having to choose between staying in a hotel room and your office, with no real relaxation? Is it to with having no time to consider the choices you had make? You are entitled to have any/all of those feelings plus any other ones that you have. But that does not mean there are approaches you could take that to help minimize them.

And your company obviously believes in your technical skills and gave you huge a vote of confidence when they felt that you could instantly jump on a plane and come to the US to do your work. That is something that you should keep in mind.


A long time ago, in a company far, far away when I complained about not being happy about doing business trips my boss said that I should consider them "character building". In hind-sight what he said was actually invalidating my feelings and me as a person. While the work was good, being in that sort of environment is eventually soul destroying and not good for you long term.


1. I am altering the deal

  • The last paragraph raises a good point. I suggest reviewing travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/… and travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/… to see whether what they want you to do is permitted. If it is not permitted, or is marginal, that is another argument for going home. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 6 '16 at 13:12
  • I discussed A LOT about my "personal reasons" with my friends as well, just to have different opinions from someone I know. I REALLY don't think that I can mitigate these reasons, and absolutely not for 3 weeks. About the work thing, you are completely right. It started as "business meetings", but then the director said something along the lines of: "you work from the US, and your other colleague from Europe, such that double of the time is spent on the same project". And I was like: "what? You should hire me in the US then. Because this isn't fair.". – HBv6 Oct 6 '16 at 13:37
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    @PierpaoloBagnasco Don't under estimate your personal feelings. I am not American but I live and work in the US so I know some of what you are dealing with. Working away from home adds stress. Doing it in a foreign country adds even more.. – Peter M Oct 6 '16 at 13:45
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    @PBv6 if your company is demonstrating such a blatant disregard for your circumstances, update your CV and be ready, just in case. Trying to deal with the huge cultural differences can be disheartening in and of itself without your management moving the goalposts back. I worked with a fellow from the UK who was on "temporary" assignment for so long, he developed a New York accent. – Richard U Oct 6 '16 at 14:27
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If you can manage the 3 weeks, the professional thing is to do them. From the question you have personal issues pending but nothing that can't wait. But I've always been committed to work and bosses appreciate this. A good employee does what is necessary when asked.

A mediocre employee is problematic and you have to cater to their wants and work your business around them. I've worked in places where I disliked almost everything from the hotel to the culture, to the religion, to the locals themselves. But I was there to work and had important stuff to do for the company so I just did them. The company invested quite a bit sending me there, and it would cost them more to replace me as well as other concerns. Basically it would cause a bunch of headaches all around.

Really this comes down to how much you value the company you work for, because this can make a difference in their outlook. The next job might be in Tahiti working out of a five star hotel, with it's own troupe of scantily clad dancing girls performing every night during dinner. But you won't be getting sent to that, because you're not committed enough and your work ethic isn't the best.

It would be almost unheard of amongst many people for an employee to do this unless there was an urgent and imperative personal reason such as a death in the family.

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    Your point of view is basically: the employee is a "slave" and has always to do something for the company. But we are in 2016, and employees have also rights... Sometimes the company has to do something for the employees. – HBv6 Oct 11 '16 at 19:03
  • They did do something, they gave him a free expenses paid trip to the USA, unfortunately it seems he had a chip on his shoulder and couldn't get along with people there and is now whinging to go home and won't go the extra mile for his company. – Kilisi Oct 11 '16 at 20:57

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