Any nomads working for the big 5 tech companies?

I currently work at one of the big 5 tech companies (Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon), at the main campus as a software engineer. I was wondering if any nomads work remotely for said companies and how you came to that arrangement. Working for myself or moving to a smaller company that has mostly remote work seems less desirable than maintaining access to all the resources I have internal to my company.

I’m curious why it seems less desirable.


To put it simply, I get to work on problems at a scale that isn’t really achievable anywhere else. Where you measure users in billions, data in petabytes, etc. Access to internal research is also pretty nice to really stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening in computer science. The only disadvantage is having to be in one place.

Interesting. It’s about personal preferences then because for me being mobile far outweighs any of that. :slight_smile: Personally I’ve never met someone working remotely for any of those companies and I’ve been doing this for quite a while.

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Yeah, I have been recently hired so I may stick around for a while, but becoming a digital nomad is very appealing. Might be worth giving up the stability one day.

I have a friend located in Brasov, Romania, Romanian wife and family, works for IBM in New York. Great lifestyle and transitioned organically. Must live like royalty here. Why wouldn’t you work for a large international remotely?

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I fail to see how this is not compatible with working remotely. Does your “big 5” have poor security, or inadequate resources available for connecting remotely?

While I left the corporate world a while ago, I have done plenty of remote work for some of the biggest companies in the world, and had access to anything I wanted whenever I wanted it. My decade of doing such work showed me that the corporate types want you working under any possible condition, which = working remotely when youre sick. Thus, anything available to you in the office is available at home (except perhaps your favorite stapler).

BTW there are many tech companies much larger than those “big 5”, those just have the biggest branding towards millennials…

Also, staying on the “cutting edge” of computer science does not imply one must be some sort of company man. Technical nomadism is the cutting edge of computer science. Your own research is the cutting edge of computer science. Working on open source projects is the cutting edge of computer science. Dont let yourself get brainwashed by corporate culture.


I know someone who worked for Google and worked remotely for months at a time or took several month sabbaticals to travel. He had been with Google for 5+ years, and I think these were measures his manager took to keep him from leaving.

In my opinion, you’re correct about the scale of problems in relation to remote work. There might be some jobs out there that allow for both remote work and the type of problems you’re looking to solve, but they are much rarer than what you can find working on premises.

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I worked for Microsoft, but not remotely. In order to go remotely, I quit my job.

However, you don’t have to do it. As long as they let you work remotely, why would you quit?

I know a guy from Amazon who is working remotely. He made it happen by becoming irreplaceable. He’s the key to the project his team is working on and guys know if he leaves they will be in trouble. That’s why they let him work remotely.

As Tim Ferriss suggests in “4 hour work week”, talk with your manager and ask him to do a trial run of working remotely 4 days a week (or similar) for two weeks. Prove you can deliver more from home than from the office and ask for more freedom.

I worked for Amazon for 10yrs as a program manager. They offered a few remote positions (US based), but were not open to me hopping around to various countries. The biggest hurdles for them and most other large corporations isn’t management or HR, rather legal and tax. They can’t sponsor your work visa in a country they don’t operate in, nor would they want to open a tax nexus in that country.

For what it’s worth, I’ve been out of the Zon for a year now and still believe it was a great decision to work for myself.

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I don’t work for a “Big 5”, but currently work remotely as a Software Engineer for a Fortune 50 (and have experience at a very well known, non Big 5, SV tech firm). If you’re concerned about advancing your career, getting a “Big 5” on your resume opens lots of doors. Not to mention, I find the work way more interesting than “yet another CRUD app”, and the internal resources are definitely a plus.

My company is huge with lots of teams/departments. Some teams are way more amenable to remote work, others are a bit more conservative…it all depends on the manager. The team I work on is about 70% remote. Because we aren’t based out of a tech hub city, and our work requires specialized engineers, we were forced to open our hiring pool to remote workers. It works really well most of the time, but some things are just better when everyone’s in the same room. For these things, we’ll plan to meet in a central location every couple months.

I like to settle in one place for a year, and then move, so it isn’t much of a problem for me, but it definitely cuts down on the places I can travel. Western Europe and South America are ok, but Asia/Australia are just too far to make this feasible. Still have lots of options though.

I’d absolutely stay at your Big 5, but start talking to other managers/teams and try and find a team that embraces remote work, and then try and transfer there after you’ve proved yourself on your current team. If that doesn’t lead anywhere, after a year or 2 at the Big 5, you’ll honestly be able to chose any job you want…just search for remote jobs that sound interesting.


Thank you for this advice! Been a while since I’ve signed on here, but there’s a lot of good insight here. I’m probably gonna stick with working at my company for a year or two, because of the job options in the future that you mentioned. I just don’t want to miss an opportunity to be nomadic which is perhaps easier to do the earlier in my 20s that I am.

eh. age doesn’t matter that much. i’m in my 40s and nomadic.


I’m just curious, did you end up nomading? I’m working for The Big Blue and I’m leaving home this December. Tell me about your experience :slight_smile: