Author Topic: Putting out feelers to move within company without seeming like a flight risk?  (Read 1138 times)

Tris Prior

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So, my partner and I want to move someplace that has no snow, within the next couple of years. One way to accomplish this would be if I could move to a different warm-weather location within my company. Though, we still need to visit the city in question; right now we're not all that excited about it for Reasons, but that's unfair as we haven't seen it. We are planning a visit for later this year.

I do not even know if this is something that I would be allowed to do, and I'm unsure how to find out without tipping off my boss that I might be a flight risk. I mean, I *am* a flight risk; it's my strong preference at this point to keep my job if I can do it elsewhere. I like my job and my boss and my team, and I have really good benefits and generous PTO and work-life balance is a thing that exists at my company. But if it turns out that's not allowed, then I need to job hunt and leave.

I feel like I can't talk to my boss about this (though we have a great relationship and she's very easy to talk to) because then I fear she would assume I'm looking to leave. This is a really stressful time for my company, and for her in particular, and I don't want to add to her stress. She is truly a really good manager and does not drink the company kool-aid and is very supportive of us.

I've looked around on the company intranet which has some company policy information, to see if there's an official written policy and there doesn't appear to b.e

I considered going to HR and inquiring, but, a lot of HR went in the last layoff and honestly I'm not even certain who our contact is right now or how to find out without asking my boss and thus tipping her off that something is up with me. (HUGE company, we are given 1 contact whom we're supposed to go through but I don't think we've gotten that yet.) Going around my boss to HR also feels weirdly adversarial, I guess? Because she and I do have a great relationship.

Possibly relevant facts:

- I do know one other person who has done this; however, he's in a different department and what folks are allowed to do is VERY dependent on what VP your team is under. Because of a recent reorg, we now are under a new VP and none of us have a clear sense of his views on such things. Also, I'm pretty sure this person was allowed to move due to a family caregiving situation. My boss knows I don't have family in the target city.

- 100 percent remote work is a thing some people do, but only one person on my team got it approved and, well, he's a lot more valuable than I am. I'm not being down on myself; he just has a skillset that I don't have and that, frankly, I likely don't have the aptitude for or any interest in. I am more interchangeable with the others on my team, though I've consistently gotten "exceeds" ratings in reviews. They have no incentive to try and keep me at all costs, the way they did with my co-worker. Our previous VP did not support remote work and it was extremely difficult for me to get just 1 day a week of WFH approved (though, it was approved. Unsure of the new VP's view on this.)

- My job exists in the other office, and I'd likely keep my manager because it is very common for a manager's direct reports to be scattered among our locations. This isn't a lateral move or a promotion or demotion, it's picking up my existing job and plopping it down in the other office.

I don't even know if this is the best plan. I fear moving and then getting laid off and then being in a city that might not be our first choice. But first, I need to find out whether this is a thing that I can even do.

Anyway, any ideas on how to approach this conversation would be welcomed. Part of me wants to just sit down with my boss when I have my review and ask, "is this a thing I can do?" But if the answer is no I feel like I would have to backpedal and be like, "oh, OK, I don't want to quit my job so I won't consider moving" and that is just not true. (I mean, it's true that I don't really want to quit, but I'm also not staying in my hometown for much longer.)


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Bring it up in a casual conversation. Explain that you were looking at other areas to retire and realize one of them has an office with the company. Your family had the discussion about maybe getting out there and working there before retiring. Is there any option to move there and keep the same position?

The more non-serious you appear, the less she may feel threatened that you are actually looking to move.

Tris Prior

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Bring it up in a casual conversation. Explain that you were looking at other areas to retire and realize one of them has an office with the company. Your family had the discussion about maybe getting out there and working there before retiring. Is there any option to move there and keep the same position?

The more non-serious you appear, the less she may feel threatened that you are actually looking to move.

This might work. My boss and I both hate the cold and everyone knows that. I might be able to figure out how to raise this in a casual way especially during our next bout of brutal winter weather.

I would not bring up the relocation until you have visited the other city with your SO and agree that you could possibly live there. 

The flip side of this is, if I learn that transferring offices is NOT an option, then we don't have to take a trip to this city (and pay travel expenses, though by the time we go I should be able to travel hack my ticket. But not Boyfriend's.). Which is a city we otherwise would not be planning to go to. It's only on the table because in theory I could keep my job. Though, who knows, maybe my job will not keep ME.

But, I do also think it is risky to start talking about it without knowing whether we think we could move there.

 Once one of you has an offer that you could live on (maybe this involves tapping into some of your savings, but most of your immediate living expenses should be coverable by the one salary, at least initially), then you let your boss know you are planning to leave (or move, if the offer is for your SO) and need a counteroffer from current org to either WFH permanently or transfer to the next office.

This is essentially what my 100 percent remote co-worker did. Though their spouse's job wasn't in a city where we have an office. Again, though, co-worker is WAY more valuable than me and I don't see that changing in the near future. I have been asking to learn the stuff co-worker does for years now but since the mass layoffs and reorgs there isn't anyone but me to do my role. To be honest, I'm not interested in their job or their tasks at all, but if it made me harder to replace I'd be willing to learn them.

In the meantime, experiment with upping the percentage of your time that you are allowed to WFH.  Your boss knows how much you want this, right?  See how much flexibility there is and push for as much of it as you can get.  See if offering to purchase your own equipment/software to let you do more from home without cost to the company is viable for them -- yes, it is a cost, but it is in the interest of you eventually being allowed to continue to work this job from wherever you want to live, so it is worth it.  Put it on a 0% cc if necessary.  The laptop would be yours to take with you or resell, so the software is really the only sunk cost. 

This could work! The only reason I got approved for only 1 day a week is because our then-VP was VERY strongly butts in seats. They are no longer our VP any more though. I can't yet get a read on how the new VP feels about it, and part of me feels like this is not the time to be asking for stuff because of the layoffs; I don't want to seem high maintenance. But, I can certainly explore it. I was already planning to ask for more WFH when we get the inevitable snowmageddon or 50-below-zero polar vortex or whatever else might be coming our way this winter. I'll have a review coming up in probably a month or two so I can ask for more WFH time then too. Or at least float the idea, as in, "I know Old VP hated WFH but since they're not here anymore does that change how much WFH I can be approved for?"

I already have everything I need to WFH; no additional equipment is needed. Though I'd like a bigger monitor, which I'd be fine paying for myself. My co-worker was allowed to take their existing computer equipment with on the move, with the understanding it gets shipped back at their expense if they quit or get fired.

Do you have teammates in the other office already who it would be beneficial to connect with in person?  If so, try to build that into your personal trip in a way that would make sense.  At a minimum, arrange to have lunch and/or after work meetups with them.  Tell your boss you are planning a personal trip to Austin and see if she is up for you working from there on the Th-F or M-Tu surrounding your planned weekend travel.  Don't demand the company support it, but see if she sees (and can argue for) a win-win arrangement.  Might get your rental car covered for at least part of the time.  If you are worried this might go sideways, then don't attempt it for the initial visit, but plan a follow-up if you and SO agree that new city is a viable relocation destination.

This is a really good idea! Most of the people I knew in this office got laid off but there are still a couple I occasionally work with. I agree with you that it might be better for a follow-up trip (that maybe I could take alone to save on petsitting costs and airfare for Boyfriend.)

You've reminded me that there's one former co-worker I can connect with now who used to live here but is now there (he didn't transfer offices, though; he had a different job here at my previous company, that's how we met). I wanted to talk frankly with him about how the transition from My City to New City was for him, but, well, though he is a GREAT guy he tends to have a big mouth and I didn't trust him not to let something slip before I was ready. But, he got laid off, so I guess now I can do that without harming myself.