Is it safe to ask my employer about relocation?
October 5, 2008 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Is there any reason I shouldn't go out on a limb and ask my employer to be moved to a satellite office for personal reasons? I'm concerned about office-politic type things that I may not be considering. This is kind of a long story, so there are details inside.

I'm engaged to be married. My fiancee was originally going to school a few hours away from where I currently live, but she switched majors and went back to her home state, which is much farther away. The company I work at has an office that is ~2-3 hours away from her, which would be acceptable for the 2+ years that she has left in grad school. I'd be willing to drive down to our "home" on the weekends and just stay in the satellite office location during the week.

I like the company at which I work currently. It's really good to its employees, the work is largely interesting and exciting, and the company's future is very strong. I don't want to leave it, and even if I did, working in the city where my fiancee goes to school would be difficult given my job as a software developer and the fact that she's not going to school on a coast or near a very large city.

The company's satellite office has some software people in it, but it's a fairly small team with little room to grow. I'd also rather stick to the team I'm currently in. I know some people have moved to other offices because of personal situations before, but I don't know how those were brought up in the first place and I don't know if those people were seen as vital to the company (I've been around for fewer than 3 years, and while I think I've done a pretty good job I don't know that I could claim to be essential).

So what I'm wondering is if it's at all possible that I could hurt my career with this company by going to my manager and asking if this move would be possible? Maybe it's just a fear of rejection or something, but it seems like if they knew that I wanted to go to this other city to be closer to my fiancee that they would assume that I wasn't loyal to the company and as a result for any further time I do spend there (like if they say no and then I don't ever find a new job, resulting in staying there in the long term), I would fall out of favor with management, they would be conservative with raises and promotions or something like that. My career isn't everything to me, but I have such a good feeling about this company that I feel like it would be a bad idea to take it for granted and abandon it just because I can't wait a couple years to live with my fiancee. Am I being crazy? Should I put more trust into my employer's desire to keep its employees happy and just talk to them?

I've set up a gmail account at if there are more questions I could answer to help with any advice you could give. Thanks for making it this far!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't leave/work yourself out of a job right now. In retrospect you may find it's the worst time to attempt such a move. If you really have stellar talents, do whatever you want to do. If you don't have supreme confidence that you are the best of the best and can find work anywhere, now is not the best time to try to initiate a move for personal reasons unless you have specific knowledge that there is an absolute fit at your desired location.
posted by Rafaelloello at 10:03 PM on October 5, 2008

You have nothing to lose by asking. I can't imagine anyone being so vindictive they would punish or fire you simply for inquiring. If you're really worried, you could couch it as, "I was wondering what the policy on transfers was..." in some kind of anonymous "suggestion box" forum. HR people are also usually supposed to answer these kinds of questions confidentially.

Economic worries aside, life is too short to be away from the person you love just because you never asked a simple question.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:12 PM on October 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

What about asking your employer if you can telework? You don't say what kind of software development, but there's a pretty good recent history of companies allowing various rockstars (PHP; Zend; Matthew Weier-O'Phinney, .Net; Microsoft; Scott Hanselman) to work out of home offices and be "virtually present" as a matter of course. I'm sure that this is much more of a widespread trend than is apparent from the very small subset of major software architects that are also well-known bloggers. I personally telework at least once a week right now (and I work as a sysadmin for a major university) and am hoping to increase that since this is ragweed season in Texas and my head explodes if I leave my little hermetically sealed and HEPA-filtered bubble.
posted by SpecialK at 10:13 PM on October 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

You lose nothing in asking. However, it's how you phrase the ask that makes it an exploratory versus a demand type of request. Do a little research into the make up of the satellite office and see if there is something going on there that you can do which is to your companies benefit. The move you're looking for should be presented as a win-win situation for all parties. And the only way you can state it in that way is by making it bonus for the home office.
posted by ptm at 3:13 AM on October 6, 2008

Working remotely is not limited to just a company's rock stars. I telecommute several times a month. More importantly, however, more than 50% of my team is remote and work from their homes in 7 different states. We're a very cohesive, highly participatory, and high producing team. It can be done. You just need to use IM, conference calls and web meetings MUCH more.

Go ask. Good luck.
posted by onhazier at 6:00 AM on October 6, 2008

I think asking about a transfer rather than saying you're thinking of leaving the company would show more, not less loyalty. But if they say no, then what? Are you going to stay in your current city and be long distance to your fiancee while she finished school? In that case, you're showing even more loyalty by saying 'there's this personal situation, but I really don't want to leave XYZ, Inc as I value the X, Y and Z, can we make this work from a distance?'

I don't run your or any other company, mind you, but if I was approached from the perspective of 'love this company, don't want to leave it', I'd be pleased, not angry.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:07 AM on October 6, 2008

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