FU Power – It Doesn’t Always Work

As I mentioned previously 2017 was a pretty busy year for us and at least for me pretty stressful.  The good news is that 2017 should be the last year Lady Kit apart.

When 2017 started I was on a temporary assignment on the east coast while Lady Kit was in Monterey, CA.  My temporary assignment was expected to be for one year (October 2016 to September 2017).  A few months into my assignment I started getting the questions I expected to get:

  • How do you like here?
  • Would you like to extend your assignment?
  • What about making a permanent move?

I was upfront at the beginning and let them know my wife had her own career and most likely we would be settling in California when my assignment was finished.  I think they figured once I got my foot in the door I would change my mind and want to move to the east coast for good (definitely not, sorry east coasters).

In June Lady Kit was offered a full-time career position which a substantial pay increase from internship salary.  At this point I informed my employer my plans to not only move back to California, but to move away from SoCal and up to Monterey (just south of Silicon Valley).

Bargaining From a Position of Strength

I figured we were in a pretty good position.  We didn’t really have FU money, but we were in an FU position.  Previously we had lived off of my just income, and now Lady Kit had an income that exceeded mine.  Therefore, even I had to just quit, we’d be okay.

I started with proposing a full-time telework option with my supervisor in D.C.  Most of the work I did there either required travel, or was done on the computer, or over the phone.  There were occasional in-person meetings in D.C. and weekly staff meetings.  This was a non-starter for them, but I appreciated them being up-front.

Next I spoke with my supervisor whose group I would be returning to in California.  I let them know when I would be returning, but that my plan was to move to Monterey at the end of 2017, but I’d be interested in continuing to work for them with some sort of remote work option.  They said they would look into and see what we could work out.

I checked back in every couple of weeks and nothing changed.  When I arrived back in California in September I had an in person conversation and clearly stated my previous intentions hadn’t changed.  They seemed a bit shocked that I was planning to move whether or not remote work was an option.  Things seemed to kick into gear finally and they started talking with upper management about the possibilities.  While they did this I redoubled my efforts on finding employment local to Monterey.

Trying to Make it Work Best for Everyone

As December rolled around my employer still couldn’t untangle to bureaucratic mess to allow remote work even with some considerations on my end:

  • Taking any travel they needed me too
  • Develop weekly reports to keep them informed of my work (and proof that I was working)
  • Spend one week each month back at the office (I had a friend local to the area I could stay with)
  • Travel back to the office for situations that required my physical presence

At this point I had received two job offers in San Jose, CA and informed them of my intention to leave.  I pushed my end date back to beginning of January 2018 to finish up some projects and transfer some knowledge.  I’m not sure they really believed I was leaving until a few days before Christmas I put up a calendar on my whiteboard and started counting down the days on it.

Ultimately the FU power didn’t allow me a remote work option.  But I was confident taking a new position, because we have a buffer with two incomes now and I wasn’t forced to stay at job 5 hours away from Lady Kit’s job.

My biggest take away from FU money or FU power is that it has to be real, because even though a power shift may occur you need to be willing to follow through on your intentions if your employer doesn’t meet your requests.

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