the reason remote work can go spectacularly wrong

Remote work is increasing, and that’s a good thing – mostly. It means employees are regaining time they used to spend commuting, fewer drivers are on the road, companies are better equipped to attract and retain employees for whom remote work is a significant draw, and more people can work in sweatpants with cats by (or on) their keyboards.

But for teams that allow remote work, good management is imperative, and all too often missing. Without strong management in place, you can end up with managers who resort to micromanagement or onerous restrictions on the practice – which makes good workers feel distrusted and demoralized. Or you end up with people who say they’re “working from home” when in reality they’re utterly inaccessible or unproductive, while their managers either don’t notice or won’t address it.

At Slate today, I wrote about what happens when you mix remote work and bad managers. You can read it here.

{ 259 comments… read them below }

  1. Keymaster of Gozer*

    Not in the same scale but I’m reminded of a manager I had when I worked for a large monopoly who put me on report for ‘unprofessional backgrounds’ when we did team video connections.

    First time: he could see the Star Wars lego on the shelves in the computer room.
    Second time: he could see the top of the headboard of the bed.

    I had to have a right go at him to point out I’m disabled and there are precisely 2 places in the house I can sit and work. It led to some really bad feelings and he cancelled the ‘working from home experiments’ shortly after.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I guess you could have gotten some kind of screen to put up in back of you? But I’d be tempted to get a screen with something obnoxious printed on one side, perhaps a picture of your bosses face, since he was clearly looking over your shoulder at every minute, judging you.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          …now I wish I’d left that as an image on his desk the day I left (took voluntary redundancy). That would have been way funnier than the ‘Euston, we have a problem’ one…

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Probably could have whacked a bedsheet over the back of the bed, but the computer room is tiny and any screen in front of the lego would land on my head!

        …course now I’m wishing I’d done it just to have me appear in a ghost costume from the head up. Drat.

      1. Rayray*

        Seriously. Heaven forbid people have personality and interests. I see people put decorations, pictures, and knick knacks in their offices all the time. Most people who are at least a little bit interesting do so.

        1. Melissa*

          Thinking about all the children’s book stuffed animals and Funko Pop figures on the shelf right behind my head…..including a flying monkey from Wicked wearing a birthday tiara…(I work in a library; they’re fine with the quirky cubicles)

          1. tangerineRose*

            I was thinking that at a previous workplace, Star Trek stuff on the desk/cubicle walls was no big deal and was really pretty normal.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I remember going to Exjob’s internal IT support section once to talk to someone and all their cubes were festooned with Star Wars items. There were stuffed Yodas peeking over the cube walls, light sabers, etc. The people in my row on my floor had mostly sports paraphernalia. I was like, “Oh man, I am totally sitting in the wrong section!”

              1. Keymaster of Gozer*

                I first started my IT career (was originally trained as a virologist) as a systems trainer and remember walking into the local IT department, seeing it looked just like the one in ‘the IT crowd’ and thinking:

                “YES! These are my people!”

                Star Trek, Firefly, Babylon 5, Red Dwarf stuff everywhere.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        They remind me of the people who won’t allow any personalized desk/cube/office decor. Yuck.

        1. Sam.*

          I wondered if no personal items were allowed in the office, because otherwise his objection makes zero sense (not that it makes any sense regardless; that guy was clearly a winner of a boss.)

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            They were, but he hated anything even remotely ‘geeky’ and wouldn’t allow any reference to those things on your desk. Still not sure why a) he objected to my bed and b) he was the manager of an IT department…

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              LMAO the idea of “no geeky things” I’m just imagining his mind right now. “They won’t take us seriously, break the “Geek!” stereotype!!!!” Yuck. At least that actually makes more sense.

              I can see why he wasn’t happy about the bed though. Honestly, that’s the only part I can see as “Unprofessional” because bedrooms are inherently private to many folks.

              1. Gazebo Slayer*

                I live in an efficiency apartment, so there would be literally no other place to work from home for me except my bedroom! Unless you wanted me to work from my bathroom….

                Such apartments are not exactly uncommon in my expensive metro area. Nevertheless, one of my former employers only allowed WFH if you had a whole separate room dedicated as your home office, despite paying like $17 an hour for most positions – certainly not enough for most people to afford an extra room.

                1. Diahann Carroll*

                  That requirement isn’t even feasible and I make significantly more than that! Lol. I work remotely from my dining room table because I live in a 590 sf studio apartment – there are is no room in my place for a separate room or even a proper desk.

                2. The New Wanderer*

                  How did they expect someone to prove that? Provide a floor plan? Or would you have to do a walkaround with the webcam to prove you were in a separate office room?

                3. AcademiaNut*

                  I have heard of work from home setups which require a site visit before approval – particularly in cases where there is a need to safely secure documents and computers, or safely set up equipment.

              2. Keymaster of Gozer*

                He did know, a longtime ago, that when my spinal injury flares I can’t get out of the bed (without Malcolm Tucker style cursing). That was part of the reason he agreed to trial working from home instead of losing my work output for days.

                His geek hatred was coupled with a serious dislike of women who don’t want kids, dislike of anyone LGBT+, distrust of anyone who wasn’t an able bodied white male playing golf really.

                We had legendary verbal fights.

                1. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Oh, yuck. He would have hated me – disabled, geek, LGBT+, afab, childfree, sportsball ambivalent, and not a wilting flower.

                  I’m glad you’re away from him.

                2. Keymaster of Gozer*

                  Pansexual, childfree, disabled, female, geek, overweight techie with a foul mouth who was a foot taller than him. I was everything he hated.

                3. Curmudgeon in California*

                  Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I swear… a lot. (Stroke in the left hemisphere can aggravate that, and I swore a lot before…)

                  Glad you don’t have to deal with him any more.

        2. No One You Know*

          I worked at a place that had “House Proud” policies that did not allow us to keep anything personal on our desks. This was enforced for everyone except the branch manager who had framed pictures of her family, paintings on the wall, and a flock of chickens made out of junk metal and painted bright colors. I, on the other hand, was told to remove a post-it with the phrase “crush it” written on it from my monitor since it violated House Proud.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            What sort of pride were they taking in being completely impersonal? My desk is admittedly a bit cluttered, but I spend more waking hours here than I do at home, and I’d hate not to be allowed photos, a handful of thank-you notes I have pinned up for a small pick-me-up on days that suck, or a little bit of industry-related nerdery.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I don’t think I could work somewhere I wasn’t allowed to let my nerd flag fly just a little bit. If I can’t put stuff up, that means . . . JEWELRY.

          2. Liz*

            Ouch. talk about a double standard! Reminds me of a former VP (who quite honestly did little to nothing) who told my boss that MY desk needed to be free of any paper, as well as not have ANYTHING on my desk, even things i regularly used and needed such as a stapler, etc., each and every day when I left. This was back in the just beginning of electronic documents etc. in my profession, we were very paper heavy, and MY job was to organize, file etc. said paper. He of course had nothing on his desk but his PC and phone, and expected everyone else to do the same.

            since the request was second hand, and not given very seriously, I ignored it. My desk was neat, as it was out in the open, and if he really wanted me to comply, he could darn well come and communicate that to me in person.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          At my current open plan hellscape, they want “clean desks”, with maybe a photo or two. I don’t obey that. I even have the much disparaged “forest of drinkware” on my desk, because they frown so hard at it. (I think open plan offices are abusive and demeaning. But they are so ubiquitous that all I have is petty rebellion available to me.)

          1. MsSolo*

            We hot desk, and have to leave desks completely clear at the end of the day (we have lockers for laptops etc), but you still get a fair bit of easily-packed-up personalisation. Mostly people just go for relevant desk-accessories, like mousepads and cute water bottles, but I can see one of my colleagues right now and she currently has two handbags, a coffee press, a box of herbal tea, a yoga mat, wet wipes, and probably a bunch of other stuff out of my eyeline surrounding her. And hey, if she wants to cart all of that in and out of the office and pack it up at the end of the day, that’s up to her!

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              Yup, I also hot desk so my personal items are limited to a small stuffed moose (my kids picked it out and gave it to me) and a cordless mouse (which tracks better than the corded ones they provide us). There is only so much I want to pack up every night.

    2. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      If all of your communications are with internal staff, I could see this being something he should have let go.

      If you communicate with clients or vendors via video conference, then he absolutely was right to insist on a more professional background.

      1. Rayray*

        But why is it unprofessional to have some personal items and knick knacks? Real people have personalities. We don’t have to be stiff and boring with plain white walls and brown furniture to be “professional”. I’d quite like a person if I noticed that kind of thing in their office. Shows they’re a real person, not a stuffy robotic bore.

        1. spock*

          I do think the bed is a little unprofessional, especially if external clients were involved. I would put it on a similar level as seeing someone obviously wearing PJs in that it doesn’t exactly affect me but it doesn’t scream good judgement.

          1. Ray*

            Agreed. Good point about the pjs…If you’re videoconferencing from home with outside parties, it’s best to have a plain background. Maybe it’s not indicative of anything, but if the paying client is watching, err on the side of caution and robotic.

          2. Keymaster of Gozer*

            Worst thing was he knew my disabilities would occasionally make me bedridden and that’s why he agreed to try WFH in the first place.

            (I always got dressed and sat on the bed. Really, the most he saw was part of the headboard and me in a suit)

            1. spock*

              The fact that disability is involved and he knew about it certainly changes the context for me at least, though I could still see it reflecting poorly if people attend these meetings that aren’t aware of the context. It might be an issue of mismatched expectations between the two of you? I am sending you good vibes and I hope you are able to get to a place where you get the support that you need.

          3. AcademiaNut*

            I do think that requiring a professional-ish background when videoconferencing with external clients is a reasonable requirement.

            And honestly, I’m quite happy not to see other people in bed or wearing pyjamas while video-conferencing – that’s a little more real person than I want to know about most of my coworkers. If I’m doing so myself (I frequently have odd hour telecons) I leave the camera off if I’m in the bedroom. If I need it on, I move to the living room where the background is a couch back and wall with art.

        2. Emily S*

          I think this is one of those things like dress code where there’s been a loosening of formality in the broad U.S. culture over the years, so it’s very common for offices to be fine with jeans/khakis and a nice well-fitting shirt, and for your video background to show whatever decor might happen to be behind you as long as it’s inoffensive, but some fields/offices will expect a neutral video background the same way they’ll still require a suit and tie.

    3. Orange You Glad*

      I’m laughing because in my office, the person with the cube directly next to me has their entire desk decorated with star wars legos. If I ever were to log into a video chat at the office, that’s all someone would see in the background.

      1. Ali G*

        If you use Zoom you can choose a lot of fake backgrounds. One day I logged into and internal meeting and my co-worker looked like she was about to be devoured by a shark. I wouldn’t do that for a Board or donor meeting or anything, but I don’t see what is “unprofessional” about having a little personality!

    4. Giant Squid*

      Thank you for posting this–required webcams definitely have an “adult babysitting” this is a big fear of mine that people often dismiss, and I’m glad to know it’s not unfounded.

      1. Giant Squid*

        Sorry, posted too early! Fixed:

        Thank you for posting this–required webcams definitely have an “adult babysitting” aspect to them (as someone else said the other day), and in my mind there’s some overlap between people who see webcams as a necessary form of accountability and people who are hyper-judgmental.

        That some people care about webcam backgrounds, or if you’re wearing a t-shirt instead of a dress shirt is a big fear of mine. It often gets dismissed, and I’m glad to know it’s not unfounded.

        1. Keymaster of Gozer*

          It’s another reason I’m against personally using video conferencing now. My house is messy too, and won’t change anytime soon. I don’t want any person seeing 2 weeks of laundry sitting there because I don’t have the energy to put it away…

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      I have a VP like this at my current job (only one day to go!). I bought a green screen and downloaded a variety of high-res pictures of offices and in-home libraries. So each call had me at a different location. Everyone but the VP thought it was hilarious. (But she couldn’t fault me for not having a professional on-camera presence).

    6. Ealasaid*

      Keymaster, that’s ridiculous! What a tool.

      I have a full-on bookbinding workbench setup complete with a big, cast-iron guillotine behind me in my video calls (my “den” has my dayjob desk on one wall and the workbench on the opposite). It’s mostly resulted in my coworkers asking about the book repair I do as a side biz.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Bookbinding sounds absolutely awesome! I’d be one of the ‘nope, not gonna talk about that security patch right now – tell me about the books!’ people :)

    7. Curmudgeon in California*

      Wow, what an a$$hole! If they’re going to nitpick about backgrounds for videoconferencing, what other trivia gets their knickers in a twist? I hope you aren’t working for him any more, he sounds like a garbage boss.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        He was. He was also fond of playing ‘pranks’ which were really outright cruelty. The time he tried to ‘prove’ I couldn’t possibly be allergic to decaf was the worst (I’m allergic to a chemical used in the decaffination process). That’s a story for a long open post!

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Oh. My. God.

          People who try to “prove” that allergies are “fake” are murderous jerks, IMO. They are willing to risk someone’s life to “prove” a point on them.

          I wish there was an actual law about that being attempted murder by poisoning.

          1. Keymaster of Gozer*

            It’s why I always want to go nuclear on the ‘lol I gave this customer decaf when she asked for regular coffee because she was rude lol’ stories on several sites.

            I didn’t drink that boss’ fake tea because the rest of the team actually grabbed it off him to chuck down the sink. That boss hated me and the feeling was entirely mutual.

    8. Sc@rlettNZ*

      Ha ha – he would have definitely written me up! I once attended a meeting via videoconference due to snow when I couldn’t make it into the office. Unknown to me, one of my cats hopped up on the bench behind me and proceeded to thoroughly wash his bits, legs akimbo. It wasn’t until the next meeting two weeks later that someone laughed and mentioned it :-)

        1. bluemonday*

          haha I’m a tech journo working remote. I no longer do video calls with interviewees in SF as the cat likes to parade her butt

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I work remotely from another state full-time and I love it. I have weekly one-on-ones with my manager, along with a much larger strategic group, and then bi-weekly team meetings. Outside of my manager stating he’d like us to talk more since he can just get up and go speak with my coworker about whatever and he can’t do that with me, thus, making him feel like he’s ignoring me (he’s not), I’ve had no one in my company voice concerns about having coworkers being remote all over the world. In fact, it’s made our company better and more agile to have people working from home offices around the globe because our products are sold everywhere.

    2. Gaia*

      I love it, but I was very careful to look for red flags while interviewing. Ask questions about management during the process. It’s good whether you’re remote or onsite, but it is critical to remote workers.

    3. Cold Feet*

      Personally, I love a mix of both. I work from home 2 days per week, an office in my city 2 days per week and an office about 1.5 hours away 1 day a week. I get very easily distracted by “background noise” in the office(s) so my work at home days are when I do all of my tasks that require heavy concentration.

    4. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      I’m about to become full time remote and thankfully I have a manager who treats me like an adult. Unfortunately it’s not always possible to know that would be the case in an interview. My manager at my last job was asked how she felt about remote work and she said she was cool with it. Nothing she said or the way she acted would have prompted to think she was full of it, but turns out she was full of it. She started micromanaging those of us who worked from home, and when one of my team mates quit (he was in another state and full time remote) she made no attempt to keep him even though he was awesome, but told the rest of us that “she did everything she could to keep him”. She was one who told everyone what they wanted to hear whether it was true or not. Unfortunately she was also very manipulative and my normal instincts for BS didn’t pick up on it until it was too late.

    5. Leela*

      Personally I don’t enjoy working from home at all for a variety of reasons that might not apply to you.

      *We don’t have kids or pets so I don’t really see anyone all day

      *We live far away from everyone we know and working from home just adds to the isolation

      *The roles I’ve held for this require other people having hands on my work and mine on there, but something that could take five minutes in the office takes three hours of e-mailing and trying to get someone’s attention and then you get a “oh just saw this I was so busy whoops haha!” e-mail that is never very convincing

      *Might be personal but I had a really hard time dislodging at the end of the day and really like walking out of the place where work is, rather than having that be my bedroom. It messed with my sleep schedule too but there’s literally no other space I could put a computer at our condo

      A lot of people love it and none of the above factors might apply to you, but they were what factored in the most for me! If I had a choice I’d much rather just have a closer job than a work from home option

      1. SebbyGrrl*

        Thank you Leela, interesting counter point.

        ;) 95% of the things that are negatives for you are HUGE positives for me.

        Yay, there is more than one kind of person in the world – who’da thunk it?

      2. Jessen*

        Yeah, I like the option, but doing it full time is just too much for me. I end up feeling very isolated. Plus for me I’ve found having the motivation to clean up and look nice and generally get moving helps keep my sleep schedule from completely disappearing.

        Right now my team does 1 day a week work from home, plus as needed for bad weather/sick days/home repair people/etc. That’s about right for me. And it means I don’t have to drag my dance class attire with me to work!

  2. Annie*

    I have been working from home for about 5 years now. I start at 4am, because that’s when the overnight data is uploaded. I mostly enjoy it since I’m quite the introvert. I have a strong work ethic and that helps.

    One thing that does bother me though is that I am pretty much chained to my desk. The benefits of working from home are enormous, but the downside is I have to be instantly reachable. My company uses Skype and if a message pops up, I have to answer quickly or the questions start. It is very confining, but I have gotten used to it over the years.

    But no gas, no tolls, working in my jammies. Yeah, that part makes up for it. I have a four year old car with only 8000 miles on it.

    1. Lavender Gooms*

      I work remotely fairly frequently (undiagnosed gastrointestinal problems = no one wants you working in an open office plan on bad days). When I have to step away from my desk, to go to the bathroom or to grab a snack or whatever, I change my status to “Be Right Back” or “Away” to signal that I may not be reachable for a few minutes. If I think that whatever I’m doing may take more than five minutes I’ll set an alarm for 10 minutes as a warning that I need to get back to my desk. Could changing your IM status be a solution for you?

      1. Annie*

        I do just that, but it doesn’t matter. Overcoming the “at home lazing away watching soap operas” mentality in some poeple is worse than cleaning out the Aegean Stables.

        1. snoopythedog*

          My FIL always comments on when I’m working at home with something along the lines of ‘oh, you must be having such a relaxing day, doing emails and hanging out’. Usually if I’m working from home it’s actually because I have a lot to do and need no distractions.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yes. WFH days are to actually get something done without a parade of people popping by your office every five seconds. I only get them informally, but I get a lot more done between getting my 2 hours of commuting back and having fewer distractions.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I’m going to be That Guy: It is “Augean stables,” so named as they were owned by King Augeas. “Aegean” refers to the sea in the eastern Mediterranean.

          1. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

            @ Richard Hershberger How did this contribute to the conversation? Why was this derail important?

            1. oops I guess*

              To be fair, I hadn’t heard this expression before so this gave me the correct term to google.

            2. Cordoba*

              If I were using a word or reference incorrectly I would like somebody to bring that to my attention; better I correct it now in a low-stakes anonymous internet chat and get it right later in a presentation or meeting where it *does* matter.

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            That is well within the Garbo factor of my telephone’s speech to text feature, so I looked right through it.
            And ha! I think my phone just proved my point. Garbo where I said Carmel garbell garble. Ah there’s the right word.

    2. Kimmybear*

      It has it’s own set of challenges but I have Skype for Business on my cell phone so that I can respond quickly even if I’m getting a snack or moving laundry to the dryer. I only work at home one day a week but I find it helpful even for answering from the office kitchen while I get a cup of coffee.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        We use Zoom and I have it on my personal phone and my business phone just so I can respond instantaneously, whether I’m in the office (which is remote from HQ) and grabbing a cup of tea or taking a bio break, or I’m at home and swapping out loads of laundry or talking to a repair/delivery person.

        It’s ridiculous that I have to do this, but at least there’s a workaround to being chained to my laptop.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I put gas in my SUV last week for the first time since thanksgiving week. :)

    4. Curmudgeon in California*

      We have Slack, and people expect instant answers if you show as “available”. If they complain, I look them dead in the eye and say something like “Biological needs are present in the office or at home. I didn’t take my phone into the bathroom.”

    5. Quiltrrr*

      My boss is the only one allowed to work from home because of medical accommodations. He comes into the office about 1 1/2 hours in the morning usually, and then heads home.

      I did finally tell him that he should stop telling us in every conference call that he’s working on his back patio; we know where you are. He said his wife doesn’t allow cigar smoking in the house, so he works on the patio.

  3. Brett*

    One significant problem I have seen that I am not sure how to manage around:
    Sometimes teams that are mostly remote can get too deep into heads-down mode. They talk and collaborate among each other, but have trouble reaching outside of the team. They will be busy making teapots and get to the enameling stage. Even though there is an entire team that does teapot enameling, they will start trying to figure out how to do enameling all on their own inside their team without even asking for help learning how to enamel.

    When this goes on for a while, this can start spreading down to the team level where they stop asking for help among each other.

    I don’t think this is unique to remote teams, but it appears to be a particularly deep problem with remote teams. For in person teams, I often times can solve this by getting the heads-down team in a room to discuss and whiteboard their problems while asking everyone to stop working and focus on the discussion (and pull back in anyone who drifts). This is more difficult with remote teams, often ineffective. It is also much more difficult to diagnose this problem with remote teams (for me at least) and I am not sure why.

    1. HarvestKaleSlaw*

      Do you think it’s a case of “can’t see it/it doesn’t exist”? If you chat with Jane from the enameling team at the coffee machine every day or walk through enameling on your way to your vape breaks, you remember that you have an enameling team. Tougher if you don’t see them.

      1. Brett*

        That’s is definitely part of it. Also easier to walk by Jane’s desk and ask a question about enameling if she is available than to set up an online web chat with Jane. Or for someone to walk by your desk and see you working on enameling and say, “Is that enameling? You should talk to Jane, she’s an expert on that.”

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      It should be part of project status reporting/checkpoints and who’s responsible for what should be laid out in a project plan or kickoff meeting. Do they not have to shoot any sort of, “Hey, we’re done with fabrication and onto enameling.” sort of update? That would be a good time to pipe in with, “Great! I gave Jane a heads-up that you’d be in touch to hand off the teapots/get trained on enameling.”

  4. Elizabeth Proctor*

    I work remotely for a small organization where everyone is remote. For me, there isn’t the expectation that I’m instantly reachable, though I generally have to be responsive from about 8-4:30. We don’t use any instant messaging but if my boss needs something urgently she’ll text me. It gets a little lonely but it’s overall a positive.

  5. Kiki*

    Does anyone have tips for remote workplaces hiring entry-level employees or interns?
    I feel like working in-person is tremendously helpful to a lot of people new to their field or office-work in general. (Someone is there to see you looking confused and pounding at your keyboard and can offer help.) A lot of remote-only workplaces in my field get around this by not hiring entry-level folks, which seems problematic/ unsustainable. If you were a remote entry-level employee or hired remote entry-level people at your workplace, how did that go? Any tips for other remote employers or employees?

    1. NotaPirate*

      Slack. Or other message system. Very easy to post and respond to questions or talk thru problems. Zoom or skype for screen sharing if screenshots of the application werent enough to demonstrate.

    2. Fikly*

      I’m not entry level, quite, but still early in my career.

      I’ve been working remote for a year, and was hired into a remote position. I did about a week and a half of training in person, and finished the rest of my training period (a total of 3 weeks) remote.

      Three things I’ve found immensely helpful: Slack, video meets (though we leave the video off and just use audio and screen sharing), and weekly 1-on-1s with a really good manager.

    3. Keeping up with the remote interns*

      I think the biggest issue is making sure that the new employee feels comfortable asking questions by whatever means is available. It can be more intimidating to ask for help when you can’t see the other person’s face and gauge their reactions to your questions. Frequent check-ins can help but generally the manager should be extra conscious about how they respond to interruptions by new remote workers.

    4. fieldpoppy*

      We are an entirely virtual office, and have two FT admins and a lot of occasional people cycling in and out. Slack is super important, along with clarity about what goes in Slack vs. what is so urgent it needs a text. Lots of zoom calls to review expectations and needs. Making yourself available for questions but with clear time windows (e.g., we’re not going to talk at 10pm or every 15 minutes, but I’ll talk to you at 2 pm for 10 mins etc.). Be clear about boundaries to their days — that neither email nor slack needs to have an immediate response, unless there’s an unusual and flagged need. Basically all of the usual management stuff, esp. around expectations and check ins about outcomes and questions.

  6. Cordoba*

    I’ve worked remote for years, and I love it. I think at this point I’ve gone feral and would find it very tough to return to a traditional work environment and probably wouldn’t bother to apply for jobs where that is a hard requirement.

    As much as I’ve taken to working primarily from home, I’ve had several friends and colleagues who really struggled with the same transition.

    From what I’ve observed it seems that the more somebody wants clear boundaries between “work life” and “home/personal life” the more difficult they find working remote to be; possibly because their definition of “spectacularly wrong” differs from my own.

    I like fuzzy boundaries between work and the rest of my life, as that big grey area gives me a lot of discretion to decide what my life looks like. I am happy to do emails and data analysis at 11 PM if that means that nobody cares when I decide to go for a run at 2PM. Other folks might regard this same setup as unbearable, even with the same metrics and management, etc.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I think at this point I’ve gone feral and would find it very tough to return to a traditional work environment and probably wouldn’t bother to apply for jobs where that is a hard requirement.

      I’m the same way – I will never go back to an in-house role again unless I absolutely have no choice (like, I’m-laid-off-and-need-money-ASAP-so-accept-the-first-thing-offered kind of “no choice”). I get sooo much more accomplished from home, and the quality of my work (which is writing and editing) has vastly improved because I have a quiet place to think. I’m not being distracted by a million and one side conversations or other people’s loud phone calls, work emergencies, etc.

      I also agree with you that not having an exact schedule and, thus, blurring the lines of work life and private life don’t bother me. Sometimes I have to be on a conference call at midnight (thanks to my colleagues in Australia and Singapore), but if that’s the case, I can sleep in and start around 10am or even noon (depending on how long my call was) and still pack it up by 6pm. If I want to run errands during the day, I absolutely can as long as I put in a few extra hours on nights where I don’t have anything going on – but doing this is rare for me.

    2. Fikly*

      I think it depends on the position. I like clear work/personal life boundaries, but working remote still works for me because there is zero expectation of working outside of my assigned shifts. So that’s a firm boundary. Sure, I’ll check Slack occasionally, but I would do that if I worked in person – it’s on my phone.

    3. ArtNova*

      I’m in that same boat. I’ve been working 80-100% remote since 2013. Onsite meetings, training events, trade-shows make up the onsite time I do have. I just finished a contract that I really loved, and my employer offered me a new onsite position at their new campus. Except that the commute during rush hour would be 1.5 to 2 hours each way. The position would also be a lateral move career-wise (no title bump or pay raise). I know it isn’t an issue for everyone, but long commutes had a huge affect on my health early on in my career. And I was happy to be rid of them. So I walked away.
      And just to clarify, I loved the job, but the pay was already on the low end. It was one of those “we are doing really good, necessary work” jobs.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, long commutes were brutal for me, so I moved to the city to be within walking distance of the companies I was working for at the time. And now, of course, I don’t have to worry about commutes at all.

        1. ArtNova*

          This would have been the opposite of that. I live in the city with my husband. For him the commute to his work is perfect. This position would have been to a neighboring town. Their original campus was an easy commute for me, even in heavy traffic. This new campus, not so much. I wouldn’t mind as much working for someone onsite if it was here in town, but the competition is huge for those positions. People are pouring in from all over the world (not just the country).

    4. Filosofickle*

      I am self-employed and work from home, usually solo but sometimes with remote project-based teams. For many years I’ve held the idea that *maybe* I would go back for the right position. It’s always been Plan B. But this year it finally clicked for me that I really can’t. This lifestyle works for me, and the office one does not. (I’ve taken a few onsite contracts over the years so I have some sense of it.)

      In grad school, I did a software project that, in a nutshell, was life management for freelancer type people. Part of my pitch was that people are always talking about work/life balance, but for folks like us it’s all just LIFE.

    5. Nanani*

      I am fully remote as well (freelance though).
      The time being fuzzy is nice. Can run errands when the shops are empty or schedule lunch with the cousin who’s in town once in a blue moon, then work until 2am. As long as the work gets done, no one cares! It’s great!

      I do however like to have a separate room for work – my home office has my computer and a few resources, as well as cat furniture because the cat is always watching. When I’m done for the day, I move to a different room and that works as a mental reset and separation.

  7. Princess Deviant*

    Yes, I’m glad Alison addressed the issue if bad management in general.

    I have a boss who works remotely a lot, but is very reluctant to let any one of her reports work from home. At least she doesn’t make us write out a list of what we do during the day any more.

  8. ZS*

    At my previous non-profit job, the bosses seemed hesitant to let people work remote, even though work was all online and could be done out of the office. They were stuck in this mentality that you had to be in the physical office sitting down to get everything done. I was allowed 4 hours a week, which is nice but really not that much. When I tried to ask for more, I was told no.

    My new job automatically gave me one full day remote as soon as a I started. I appreciate managers that respect people have higher productivity when remote (I am 2x more efficient when I am comfortable) and do not micromanage.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, ew, and I feel like half days are the worst of both worlds. You still have the commute, and you have a second adjustment phase.

      1. ZS*

        Yeah it wasn’t great. It was Tuesday afternoons. I actually lived a half mile from the office and went home for lunch daily, so I just went home for lunch and stayed remote in the afternoon on that day. But still, it doesn’t have the same effect when you go into the office at 8am.

    2. Jennifer Thneed*

      I guess that gives you an easy “dentist appointment in the morning; work from home in the afternoon” arrangement? But if they want you on-site during that morning, feh. You lose pretty much all the benefits of remote work, at least the ones that apply to people who have a vehicle commute.

  9. Miss May*

    At my partners previous position, the admin staff were allowed to WFH. He enjoyed it– for the most part. The biggest issue was his peers. This was a small, family run business, and out of the nine people in admin, four were “van dwellers” that didn’t keep regular hours. It was like pulling teeth if you wanted something directly from them. Problem was that these four individuals were part of the family, so it would be rather difficult to complain to the boss about them (also on the road all the time).

    Then, around the same time, two of the admins had children (separately). The one related to the family would post on instagram about how she would work/take care of the baby at the same time. The other admin (not related to the family) was chastised and told not to take care of a child during work hours (though he hadn’t).

    So while I appreciate WFH, there need to be some strong rules put in place otherwise it WILL go off the rails.

    1. DefCon 10*

      As with most other aspects of management, setting clear expectations from the get-go (oh, and not managing family!) can avert lots of problems. Have a clear, reasonable WFH policy that each remote worker must sign off on, that lays out expectations for caregiving, responding to email and IM throughout the day, etc. Then set clear goals for each employee as Alison recommends.

  10. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    Remote work can also go wrong with one’s coworkers!

    My wife’s coworkers have disconnected calls and headsets, turned off computers and modems, screamed, fought, and once disconnected the entire Internet for the apartment by pulling down the Ethernet cord that is strung near the ceiling (don’t ask how).

    But they’re so cute she can’t stay mad for long!

    1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      Oh yeah. They’ll barf loudly in the background while you’re doing your annual 1:1, too.

      1. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Hairball horking during a database maintenance. On the keyboard. Luckily the screen was locked!

      2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        This happened while she was trying to finish work.

        I feed the coworkers, all 4 of them at once. But Coworker #1 hogs the bowls and gets TWO meals. However she ate so fast she promptly barfed. Coworker #2: Yay, more food! And proceeds to eat the barf.

      3. Collarbone High*

        The litterbox is in the bathroom connected to the guest room I use as my office, and my cats think Teams calls are the absolute best time to use the box and then spend 5 minutes digging to cover it.

    2. Pipe Organ Guy*

      Sounds like the coworkers are cats. My husband and I have a cat who likes to “help” me practice by sitting on the organ bench jammed up against me. Um, that’s why “help” is in quotes.

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        I fostered a cat that was very friendly and went to a home with two guys who do online classes.

        He “helps” by jamming himself between their hips and the sofa or chair, then purring loudly and crying for pets while refusing to move.

    3. DefCon 10*

      My “assistants” like to stick their long noses between me and the keyboard and drool copiously while begging for food and pets. They’re lucky they’re cute.

        1. Gatomon*

          This is my coworker’s trick. He can be deeply asleep in another room but the second I say “hello” he’s warped into my lap and is howling into the microphone. I just put him away proactively now anytime I have a conference call.

    4. pentamom*

      The word “officemates” might have been a bit more apt than “co-workers,” because… I mean, them, work? That’s not what they do.

    5. we're basically gods*

      When I work remotely, my “coworker” really likes to hop onto my keyboard and ruin my code!

    6. NotAnotherManager!*

      In rearranging himself during a nap, one of ours once sat managed to hit the exact combination of keys to set our home printer display to Russian.

      That was the same one who’d drape all 17 lbs of himself all over whatever you were working on, when the mood struck him. I had to reprint review paperwork one year because he rolled all over it trying to get my attention, and I didn’t want to risk someone having an allergic reaction to their performance evaluation.

      I have one now who is the loudest cat I have ever met. If he can’t see his (adopted) brother, he will yowl until the other cat begrudgingly untucks himself from his afternoon nap in the sunbeam and comes to see what the hell was so urgent that he needed to come and see it. (It is never anything urgent, just that Loudmouth wants company and is too lazy to go to find the other cat.) He has a spidey-sense for conference calls, too.

    7. Tris Prior*

      My co-worker jumped on my lap during an important meeting – which would have been fine if she hadn’t just been in the litterbox, where she stepped in something. OMG, the stench, which was now of course all over my PJ pants. And I couldn’t do a thing about it until the meeting was over…..

      My other co-worker uses the times when I am tethered to my headset to jump onto surfaces he knows he is not allowed on and just sit there looking defiant.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I got a Bluetooth headset because apparently the local squirrel population learned my phone meeting schedule and used it to determine when they were going to set my dogs off at the back door.

    8. Adlib*

      Mine once jumped on my back during a call and dug in her claws.

      I miss working from home regularly though.

    9. Curmudgeon in California*

      On of my fully remote coworkers has a large ginger officemate who is just adorable. Most of the time the officemate is snoozing on a divan behind my coworker, or coming and begging him for petting.

    10. Newbie*

      I always joke with my husband that my co-worker (dog) and I have walking meetings. That’s one of my favorite things about working from home is being able to take my dog for short walks around the block. We’ll do one walk in the morning, afternoon, and evening. It’s the equivalent of time that I probably spend in the office getting coffee/chatting with co-workers/getting a snack, so I don’t feel guilty and my co-worker loves it!

    11. Nanani*

      My supervisor is always showing me new keyboard shortcuts. He just jumps right on there and finds shortcuts with no name and functions I never dreamed would need a keyboard shortcut!

      Life under cat is full of surprises.

    12. Jennifer Thneed*

      Cats or birds? ;-)

      I had a cat once who was happy as a clam to curl up into a shoebox lid and he never set foot anywhere else on the desk except to get there. And then there’s the other cats…. Did you know that a cat’s chin can weigh up to twice as much as the entire cat? That’s a scientifical fact, it is.

  11. windsofwinter*

    How fortuitous. I came across a 100% remote job posting this weekend that I’m interested in, and here seems like a good place to ask. The listing specifies that because the team is almost completely remote, prior remote work experience is a requirement. I wonder how strongly they truly feel about it. I don’t work remotely now, but my management is offsite so I am somewhat familiar with various interfacing platforms that we use to communicate. As well as things like self-management and time management and getting work out on a deadline. I still intend to apply with a cover letter spelling out how my current experience can translate easily into a WFH role. I just wonder if anyone has any thoughts.

    1. Angelinha*

      I wonder if they put that in as a requirement because they’ve had people start with them and really not fit in to the remote lifestyle. Either way, if you work on a different site than your management, I think you can spin that to your advantage! You could say that you “work at a satellite office” or something, depending how your offices are set up. “Working remotely” doesn’t necessarily have to mean “working from home” so if you have experience communicating primarily through video calls, building relationships in spite of geographical distance, etc. that might cover what they are looking for.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        This is good spin. I agree with you that they may have also made previous remote work experience a requirement because they either had employees who signed on saying they would love to work remotely, but then changed their minds because they felt isolated (a common complaint I hear about it, which I do not share) and then left or they had remote workers in the past who didn’t hit whatever metrics were in place, so they want you to show that you’ve had success in meeting business objectives by being remote.

      2. windsofwinter*

        Thanks for the input! My management is still in the same city, and so my boss does show up at least once a week. But it’s a small team and he basically trusts us to get our work done as needed without hovering. We use Skype for Business so he can see if we’re offline or away. That is something I am always conscious of if I step away from my desk for longer than needed. Recently I was having some IT issues so I sent him a quick email to let him know that even though my status probably showed I had been away for a long time, I was indeed in the office and working. Stuff like that. I think I fixated too much on the WFH aspect of “remote” work but you’re right that I do sort of do it in a sense already!

    2. aubrey*

      My company has that in our postings and it’s because some people who haven’t worked remotely think it will be so easy and either go nuts without in-person contact or can’t get any work done from home. It seems to take a certain kind of person and our most common bad fit has been people who’ve only ever worked in a traditional office environment. For our postings, you certainly wouldn’t be disqualified if you spell out how your experience translates – that you have experience self-managing, communicating with offsite management etc. Those are the kind of things we want you to have experience in.

  12. Ben Marcus Consulting*

    I love reading this articles. Especially in Bay Area, remote working is becoming more of a norm. The biggest hurdle is how to set expectations for each position type and individual employees. In the past, working in the South East, I’ve managed a remote work force. It took a lot of tinkering to get their duties aligned to what works well from a distance and could be tracked in a non-invasive way to ensure productivity. In that case, it was a small % of my total workforce and I could afford to experiment.

    In my present position, I would love to let my RCM team work remotely. The challenge is setting up efficient metrics to ensure productivity, set clear expectations, ensure there’s still a team-sense so that we always have coverage, and ensuring that employees have equal access to leadership and training.

    I would love to see a more positive spin on these articles. I think we’ve seen enough about how remote work can be a failure, or how managers can make it a bad experience. I’d like to see more from people that successfully migrated portions of their workforce to telecommute, and how they effectuated that change.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I just saw a video today about the future of work and how much more of it could be remote. You’re spot on about what needs to be considered.

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      Let me know if you’re looking for a sysadmin. I would love to have an ecologically friendly commute of 30 feet, instead of over an hour each way. I have full videoconferencing, and get more done without distractions.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      Do ya need a technical writer? :-)

      I think you could hire a whole team just from the commenters here. But what is RCM? My Google-fu is failing me here.

  13. Goldfinch*

    My company’s problem with remote work is that most of the time, it comes about because an employee moves out of the area and asks to become fully remote to retain their job. About 3/4 of those people use the arrangement as a buffer to have a leisurely local search for employment after they’ve moved, then quit within six months after moving.

    This pattern is souring management on remote work for everyone, which is SO frustrating, because it’s a self-built cage. There are so many ways to effectively deal with that behavior, and “take everyone’s crayons away” is not one of them.

    1. Ben Marcus Consulting*

      I think that’s indicative of bad-management. These people aren’t likely using this as a way to leisurely find a new job, they’re leaving after 6 months of transitioning out because they’re unsatisfied with how they’re being managed now that they’re a remote employee.

      I’d ask, are they receiving clear and reasonable expectations, did the company use this as an opportunity to reduce pay, did the company use this as an opportunity to adjust their work duties?

      1. Fikly*

        This. If people don’t have an incentive to leave, they generally won’t, job searches being a lot of work and generally demoralizing.

    2. WellRed*

      Don’t allow it for people who are moving? I also agree with Ben Marcus, there’s likely a problem here with how this is all being managed. I don’t think most people love to ramp up a job search if they have a perfectly good situation in hand.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Yeah, I’m with your first sentence – instead of taking away the privilege from everyone, your company’s management should just decline to allow employees to become remote workers if they move out of state. I mean, that still would suck for the people who actually did intend to stay after their move, but management could just say they tried it in the past and people didn’t stay on long enough to make the transition cost effective or the work efficient.

    3. NW Mossy*

      That’s interesting, because my company’s experience is the opposite – we have really strong retention for formerly on-site employees who’ve gone remote. In most cases, the relocation was due to personal/family reasons (especially for those with elderly parents) and there’s enough of them now that we have a good setup for it. It’s been crucial in helping us retain people that would otherwise have ended up quitting.

      1. Windchime*

        My organization will only let people work full-time remote when they move. In the three years I’ve worked for this place, one person moved to the midwest permanently and is allowed to work remotely full-time. Two other people moved out of state and were working remote “temporarily” until their positions were filled, but they’ve both been doing it for 6 months now with no end in sight. Meanwhile, those of us who live in the area are required to fight hours of traffic to make it to the office. We can work from home 2 days a week and I appreciate that, but why not full time? Even when I’m in the office, all of my meetings are done via Skype!

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Yeah, where I work we get two days WFH, but have to come in the other three unless we live **150** miles away. As if anyone in their right mind would travel 100 miles each way three days a week… My eyes rolled so hard when they made that rule.

        2. Beth Jacobs*

          Cue a sitcom, where one employee fakes a move. Shenanigans ensue as they attempt to telecommute in front of a cardboard Golden Gate Bridge.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Same here. We’ve had several people move out and go remote, and some have been remote now for over a year. Works fine, and helps us retain that important tribal knowledge.

    4. andy*

      Six months is quite long, they might be normally demotivated. It gets quite lonely and isolated to work remote long term. And unless teams are really careful, it is easy to forget about remote people and treat them as “second class” members. Four months might really be period it takes to get demotivated, figure out it wont get better and then still have tons of time to find another job.

      1. Nanani*

        It gets lonely and isolated for *some* people. For others remote work is a perk, as amply demonstrated in this thread.

        But when all your remote workers are doing it as a “this or lose the job entirely” measure, then yeah the people who aren’t cut out for it will be less likely to self-select out.

    5. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      Management should think about this – would they rather people quit the org when they move? It’s the same either way but allowing the remote work (assuming the staff is working well remotely) get more time with the same employees on the job. It stretches out the turnover period.

  14. Jean*

    At my previous job, working from home was technically allowed, but it was supposed to be for “emergencies” only. Of course we had people who had an “emergency” 1-2 days a week, and other people got a ration of sh*t if they ever asked to do it, and our spineless department director didn’t do anything to address the situation. Then we got a new director who was dead set against anyone working from home under any circumstances, emergency or not. He was a former cop and very much still had the mentality that everyone was constantly lying to him or trying to get one over on him, so anyone working from home was obviously just getting paid to do nothing.

    My current job doesn’t allow for remote work at all. Which kind of sucks, since my current job actually has good, competent management who wouldn’t ruin it with their BS. We’re just not set up for it. As much as I would like to have the option in case I do have an emergency (sick child, having to be home for an appliance repair, etc), I really prefer to work from the office. I like having that physical and psychological separation between work world and personal world.

  15. SusanIvanova*

    “She claimed to be so busy all the time, but doing what? No one ever knew.”

    This was Coworker Coffeecup – except he wasn’t remote, he was in the office. But he was an example of another thing that can go wrong with remote workers: for reasons we still don’t know, he decided to gaslight our remote coworker and pretty much push all the things we thought about *him* onto the remote guy: “they don’t respect you or your work, they think you’re slacking off” sort of things. RemoteGuy was one of the best people on our team but didn’t have any formal training and felt insecure about it, and being remote he couldn’t cross-check with anyone, so Coffeecup had fertile ground.

    As it turned out, *that’s* what got him fired, not failing the PIP that required completing at least one very small task per day.

      1. SusanIvanova*

        He was about to quit, that’s how it all came out. Coffeecup was expeditiously removed. We all (other than RemoteGuy) assumed it was for his complete inability to do tasks that we could’ve added to our own load by just drinking an extra cup of coffee; we didn’t find out about the gaslighting until years later.

        RemoteGuy is now LocalGuy at a much bigger tech company that has an awesome relocation program.

    1. Artemesia*

      It is always management. Most managers aren’t that great when managing people in an office. Some are slackers and confrontation avoidant bosses let them slide for years. Work gets piled on the people who are hard workers and have integrity and the slackers just slide on by till often they drive those working long hours to keep the business afloat, wise up and move on. If you don’t have some way to measure success and regularly hold people accountable for that success then you can’t manage. The in office guy shifting the blame to remote worker is an interesting twist.

      I worked with a guy for years who was a big shot with big foundation grants for vague sounding projects that I never saw any outcomes from. He was always jetting off here and there and facilitating this and that, but had so little to show for it — they kept giving him money. My favorite moment was when he invited a bunch of people in the organization to an important meeting about X important initiative and then turned to one of the guys at the table and said ‘Bill, I think this is your meeting.’ This was the first Bill had heard of this. I once flew to O’hare for a meeting of people flying in from all over and as the time crawled towards when we would have to be heading for our gates, no agenda or actual discussion had even started. It was totally not my place and I was wrong to do it as a grad student at the meeting, but I couldn’t help myself and finally asked ‘What do we hope to have identified as next steps before this session ends?’ or something like that. It was like a bad dream.

      It is always management when these things go sideways.

  16. Anonymous Contribution*

    The one thing I do find with working from home as a perk is that it can attract workers who would rather not deal with other people. Not great when working in IT support.

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Our 3rd line (long delving into code to fix problems) team operated ok with it, but then most of us were fairly stereotypical introverts who preferred using email and IM to communicate anyway. I can’t imagine how the first line team could have worked that way though.

    2. Fikly*

      I feel like you’re working really hard to find an example where it’s a bad idea. One subtype of people, one small subtype of job.

      1. Anonymous Contribution*

        I am just using an example in my own life to illustrate why I don’t think it’s as good as others make it out to be. I’m not going to avoid expressing my opinion just because you don’t like it

    3. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, if you don’t like dealing with people, you’re going to have a problem with some jobs regardless if you’re remote or not.

    4. Quill*

      Most of my work so far has been lab rat stuff… work from home generally isn’t feasible there. Currently in regulatory I have done it occasionally but I’d need to invest in quite the office setup to do it more than once or twice a month… Usually if I know I need to take the day I’ll save up data entry and other work that doesn’t require the internet.

  17. Ali G*

    Living in a high COL area where you are lucky if your (10-15 mile) commute is less than 1 hour, I think having flexible work policies that support remote work are becoming almost standard perqs to attract and retain workers. Most of my coworkers have standard WFH days (2-3 per week). We will all choose to WFH if we are feeling ill, but can get some work done, to keep our germs to ourselves I did this just last week!).
    I’ve also WFH on days where I have Doc appointments, waiting for a contractor, etc. I guess I’m lucky to work for an employer that values results over butts in seats. A lot of our folks could be making more money elsewhere (hello Amazon), but wouldn’t have the flexibility or trust they get from upper management here.

    1. Windchime*

      We may work in the same area, since Amazon is the big-bucks employer here as well. It makes no sense to me why my org insists that we have 3 butts-in-seats days per week; everything can be done remotely. I would love to move out of this high cost of living area and take my job with me, but it’s just not something that would be allowed. Except for certain people (I mentioned above that a few people have been allowed to do it; I don’t think I would be granted that privilege.)

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I declined a second interview at a company that shares Amazon’s turf because they have a butts in seats policy and the start/end times correspond with the worst of rush hour. The job itself would have involved regular coordination with global teams, all on-line.

      One of the absolute best things about my current job is the flexible attitude toward WFH. I might not be able to go full remote, but I could never go back to full-time in-office presence.

  18. RCB*

    I worked remote and mostly loved it, but it could be challenging with my manager who just didn’t get it. I was classified as “Permanent Remote”, meaning I was not expected to ever go to the office (a 3 hour drive roundtrip), but made a deal with my boss that I’d come in sometimes for important meetings and trainings, but sparingly. She got angry at me one day for turning down a meeting when I said I’d come in once in a while and I had to point out to her that she’d sent me FOUR request to be in the office that week, for different days, for an hour long training, and these trainings were ALWAYS worthless. And this wasn’t just one unlucky week, I was constantly getting requests to come in at least a few times a week. She just didn’t get how inefficient it is for us to come in for meetings and lose 3 hours of our day, and lose a few hours of client time for the meeting, plus the lowered productivity of being in the office in the first place.

  19. hello*

    I know that remote work is being promoted as something that should be used more in industries based in New York City, like publishing, so that the cost of living in NYC isn’t prohibitive to hiring a diverse staff. I hope that the managers all read your article so that it’s a possibility and works

  20. TeaTime*

    My current and previous job I work remotely full time. Neither position was supposed to be remote, but I negotiated for it. As an introvert who likes quiet, I hope to never have to work in an office again.

  21. Sharkie*

    I wish I can work from home. There is no reason why we can’t – its just that the CEO caught people abusing it and banned it. It would be perfect for me today. I have walking pneumonia and was out on Friday, I have been fever free for 48 hours so I could work but walking from my desk in an open-concept to the printer 20 feet away takes the breath out of me and I still have a cough/ sound like crap.
    Sorry for the rant.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      Oh man, that sounds terrible. Take care of yourself because walking pneumonia is dangerous.

      1. Sharkie*

        Thanks. Luckily the CEO is visiting the office today so part of me went in as a small protest over how silly this policy is (don’t worry I was cleared by a doctor to go back). Even he asked me why I was in today.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Until I got to this line I thought we were part of the same corp…but our CEO retired. Still on the BOD though so no change. (“We must COLLABORATE!” But they aren’t sending me to visit the 5 sites in 4 time zones that I support for 98% of my work week…)

  22. Jedi Squirrel*

    I wish I could work from home from time to time because I get some big projects that I just need a quiet space that doesn’t kill my brain cells so I can just work without the constant stream of interruptions. (Also, open offices suck.)

    I think if your boss is more interested in the hours your butt is in a seat rather than “did this set of tasks get accomplished?” they are never going to manage WFH properly. They need to change your mindset, because eight hours in a chair does not mean you were productive for eight hours. But six hours on the sofa at home could equal ten or twelve normal hours of work at the office once you filter out all the distractions and interruptions.

  23. Anonya*

    I feel like an outlier here, but I think I would struggle being a remote worker. And that’s despite being a 30-something introvert who has kids and is in a stage of life where flexibility is really valuable. I like doing it occasionally but I would have a very hard time with the blurred boundaries between work and home. And, as much as I gripe about dressing up for work and often dream of being in my comfy clothing, it does help with the mental discipline aspect of work.

    I don’t know; in this era of remote work/gig economy/flex jobs, I just feel like a total weirdo. I want my clear boundaries (and benefits).

    1. cat socks*

      I’m an introvert as well and I would struggle with working from home full time. There have been times where I have worked remotely a few days in a row and then I’m ready to put on some real clothes and get out of the house. I also find it can trigger my depression. And I constantly wander into the kitchen looking for food.

      I’m very glad to have the opportunity to WFH as needed and definitely take advantage of it for appointments, weather, etc.

      1. Anonya*

        I agree that being home *too* much definitely triggers depressive symptoms for me, too. Plus, when I’m at home, I want to be doing home-y things. Not working. I like being able to WFH occasionally, but that’s really enough for me.

    2. Leslie Knope*

      I’m with you! I feel like I get more done in my office setting and that I wouldn’t manage my time as well if I was working from home. I’m actually the only one currently in our office who can’t work from home, but it’s because of the equipment I use. I told my boss he didn’t even need to bother getting me a laptop since I can’t do much from my house anyway. Luckily I have a position that gets me out of the office from time to time – I drive offsite often for meetings with clients and vendors and I don’t feel chained to my desk. But when I do get back in my desk chair I feel like I get a lot done.

    3. Garland Not Andrews*

      I’m with you. I have voluntarily chosen to not have a telework agreement in place. I would rather take the leave if I need a snow day or whatever.
      Until recently, I did not have the option as I lived in an area without high speed internet available and since I moved, I just don’t want to telework.
      Part of it, is that I don’t have a dedicated space to setup for an office and I would be working from the middle of the house, with too many distractions.
      Not to mention the “supervision” of Mister Shadow McTavish Fuzzy Bottom who would hang over my shoulder, sit on my lap, or bug me to get up all day long!

    4. Diahann Carroll*

      I’m an introvert with no real “friends,” but I have work-related Teams meetings often so I get human interaction that way, plus when I go out to get lunch or run errands during the day. I also get dressed and do my makeup most mornings (because I know I’m going out for walks randomly throughout the day), so I don’t feel like I’m stuck in the house all the time.

    5. Lav Superstar*

      No, I’m with you too! I would kill to WFH one or two days a week. My days would be longer, I could be comfy and could get the kids to take the bus home instead of staying in after school care (once they are both in school). But every day? Nope. I’d miss people! I’m an introvert who really needs alone time, but I do like the regular chitchat and getting to know your coworkers that going into work does.

    6. Kiki*

      I feel like a lot of people actually feel the same way as you, but the internet commenting community as a group does tend to lean toward loving remote work.
      I personally get a lot out of working in an office even though I’m not a terribly social person. Having the ability to work remotely is incredible, but I wouldn’t want to do it every day. Working in an office engages me in a community in a way I wouldn’t get otherwise. Commutes can be a slog, but I like seeing my city from the bus: I can see new restaurants and business popping up, I can see all the new construction.
      I like working in an office and catching up with coworkers whose lives are completely different than mine and whom I probably wouldn’t meet if not for the fact we both work at the same company.
      I know I could actively choose to do these things on my own time and working remotely would free up more time to get into these things on my own time, but I need the push of obligation.

    7. we're basically gods*

      I’m totally in the same boat. I work best when I’m in the office, and even though I enjoy having one WFH day a week, I don’t think I’d do well if it was more than one day. I like being forced to get dressed and leave the house and generally be a person!

    8. Extroverted Bean Counter*

      I have a hard enough time focusing on my work while in the office in a semi-open floorplan (hello, commenting on AAM at 2pm!). Working from home is not for me.

      I’m also a millennial with small children who appreciates flexibility, but for me simply the ability to WFH “if needed” is good enough, especially when coupled with the real perk of unlimited sick days.

    9. lemon*

      Yes, the blurred lines between work and home can be a real problem! When I worked remote, I solved that by having strict working hours (e.g. only do work and answer emails from 9-5) and was really clear with people that I was only available during that time unless it was truly urgent. It can also be helpful to keep any work email off your personal phone, if possible. I would only check email from my laptop. I also found that getting dressed for work, rather than staying in pajamas all day, helped me feel mentally prepared. It also helps to have a dedicated work space (office or desk), or work from coffee shops/library/co-working space.

      So, if you’re disciplined about it, it can work. But agree that it’s not for everyone. After a couple of years, I found myself missing the office, so I looked for an in-house role. Now, I /have/ the in-house role, but the nature of my work still means that I mostly just sit alone in an office all day and don’t interact with anyone. So I’m rethinking the remote thing. The grass is always greener, I guess, lol.

    10. Quill*

      Yeah, I wouldn’t want to do full time wfh either. I find winter hard enough for doing things like “passing as human” and at some point I’d be eating raw rice out of the pantry because I cannot bring myself to leave the house.

    11. Nicki Name*

      I’m another introvert who’d rather be in the office for work. I focus better on work when I’m in a separate environment, and I feel better when I get out of the house and get some exercise.

      I do like having the option to WFH if I need to be physically at home during the day for some reason or if weather is making the roads dangerous, but I only use it once or twice a month.

    12. Mockingjay*

      I like structure, too. I keep my head down in my cubicle, but I really like the separation between work and home. I’ve done occasional telework; it’s fine for a day when I’m waiting for a plumber. More than that, I get distracted. Last year I worked for a week at home while my mouth healed from gum surgery and by the end of the week I was climbing the walls.

      1. Mockingjay*

        On the other hand, part of the team I support is in another location, while others nearby work full-time or part-time from home. Between routine teleconferences and a SharePoint site to corral and share information, it works pretty well. We have all-hands team meetings in person every month or so just to keep in touch.

    13. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

      I don’t want to work remotely either, mainly because I find being at home distracting. Where I am now, we’re in a global org with perhaps 60 employees, and abut 10 at my location. Many Fridays between work travel and working from home there are only a few people in the office. Which is fine for me – it’s quiet and not distracting, but kind of “just me” a lot of the time.

      And my commute is not bad – 25 minutes on a train and 10 walking.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For many of us when we work at the house, we do NOT dress differently then when we work at the office. And for me, setting up & powering off the laptop is a ritual akin to a commute.

    15. AcademiaNut*

      I know that I couldn’t do it well. I’m also fairly introverted, but I work better with a separation between home and work, something that makes me get out of the house on a daily basis, and regular contact with coworkers. Sitting at home all day everyday would be really bad for me.

      And while 90% of my job involves sitting in front of a computer and working silently, the remaining 10% is much more effective and efficient when I can talk face to face with colleagues and work stuff out with a white-board on hand. We had someone visiting last week from the other side of the planet to do work on coding stuff that theoretically could be totally remote, but was much more efficient with everyone in the same room.

      I do thoroughly appreciate a flexible workplace, though – the ability to leave early or come late for work stuff (and stay late to finish things or do odd hour telecons), and the occasional work from home day when I’m feeling a bit crappy, or am doing certain types of tedious work.

    16. Ranon*

      I’ve tried remote work and hate it, I’m not particularly extroverted but there are certain types of thinking I do for my job that just work better in my brain when I have another person to talk things through with verbally – and I think that’s often true for folks in my field because I’ve always had one or more people to do that with even in small offices. Phone isn’t quite the same, it’s just slower (plus it’s much harder to draw at the same time).

      My husband, on the other hand, is full time remote and loves it- he thinks things through in writing so a work environment where the vast majority of communicating happens in writing works very well for him.

  24. Dinwar*

    It’s always interesting to see different company cultures. The company I work for is built around working remotely–we routinely work on remote jobsites, often in places or doing things which preclude easy access. So it’s routine for folks to only answer email at night, or early in the morning, or the like. And when remote work is built into your culture, it’s pretty easy to transition to a “work from home” situation–give me a power outlet and a wifi connection and I can work from anywhere, so working from home is easy. Plus I get to play my music, which would otherwise annoy people (I’m a metalhead in the Bible Belt).

    The downside is that for us, the individual has a great deal of responsibility for finding work. Our managers help, but it’s OUR responsibility first. Generally not a problem, but occasionally frustrating.

  25. metronomic*

    When I tried to follow strong management practices last year with an employee working from home I got push back from her when I called her out on lack of productivity, she even went to my boss and complained (who ultimately had my back).

    The employee was out on medical leave for a couple of weeks after surgery, and the plan was for her to come back working part time from home for a few weeks. Given her workload, it can be hard to work on longer term projects, so we agreed she would have no operational responsibilities for the month she’d be working from home after her surgery so she could exclusively work on a documentation project that had been languishing. She could work at her pace – an hour one day, 5 hours the next, whatever worked for her physically and got her to the 15-20 hrs/week she wanted to work.

    At the end of the second week, it was clear she had done NOTHING. We had a shared Word document and I could see there were no edits, no track changes marked, etc. When I called her out on it she had excuses (IT/connectivity problems for two days, but apparently hadn’t thought to tell me she about it). At the end of the day, if she simply realized she wasn’t physically able to work as planned after surgery and said she needed more time off it would have been fine, but the deception and excuses pissed me off.

  26. Goliath Corp.*

    “And if remote workers aren’t accessible enough, good managers lay out clear expectations around that too, like that all phone calls and emails will be responded to within a day or that employees will set up “away” messages on office chat programs if they leave their computers for lengthy amounts of time.

    Ugh, I had a manager who required that our Google chat status always show as “active” when we were WFH (except during lunch breaks). It was so annoying because it only shows as active if you’re actually active in Gmail, and would show me as inactive if I was working in any other applications for more than a few minutes. So I effectively spent most of my day toggling back to Gmail and clicking on random things.

  27. andy*

    One aspect is that when work setup requires really really good management, it might be unrealistic on larger scale. We dont really know how to hire and pick good managers for teams. We dont really know how to train them. There are many stresses and systematic incentives in that work that push management toward some kind of problem. And the type of manager that is good to team is often exactly the same manager who looses in internal political fights.

    Similarly, if your process requires every programmer being great programmer that knows to do good code, makes good estimates and does not make bugs, then I am pretty sure that your product will be quite bad on average. Because majority of people is not flawless great, they are normal.

    It is much easier to recognize skilled programmer or tester or analyst during hiring then to recognize or even define good manager. It is much easier to recognize bad programmer/tester/analyst once they are hired. Meanwhile, manager can easily be one thing to team and entirely different thing to his boss. There is little feedback from teams about bosses and it is easy to dismiss that feedback as them being lazy or unsubordinate. And sometimes negative feedback about manager really is them being lazy or unsubordinate.

  28. Dave*

    A friend of mine works remotely and is expected to hit a key on his keyboard at least once every two minutes. That is how his bosses monitor their charges. I bought for her a darkroom timer at a flea market for $2.00, taped a popsicle stick to the minute hand and we take nice long lunches with no fear because the timer hits a key once every minute.

    1. Nee Attitude*

      This reminds me of a commercial I saw where an employee has an office with an open window. The window is to his back, and his monitor is large enough to block his face when he sitting down. The president opens the door, hears enthusiastic typing on the the keyboard, and exclaims “Great work, Johnson!”

      The camera pans around the monitor to reveal bread crumbs left on the keyboard and birds flying through the window.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        We always joke about putting food on the keyboard to get the cat/dog to be touching the keys every once in awhile so our chat status stays “active.” Or get one of those little birds that keeps pecking and is solar activated, so it just pecks at the keyboard every second.

  29. Elizabeth West*

    You couldn’t work from home and take care of a child at Exjob. Their policy explicitly stated you had to have childcare if you were a remote worker. That said, the company was very flexible if you had to take a day off to look after a sick kid who couldn’t go to school or daycare.

    Nearly all my team was remote. While I did WFH on snow days and when a plumber or someone had to come, I disliked working that way because unemployment made me feel very isolated. I liked going into the office every day.

  30. Meißner Porcelain Teapot*

    Show of hands: who among the AAM community is an employee (not a boss) and prefers working in an office, rather than remotely?

    *raises hands*

    I will readily admit that I could never warm up to the idea of working from home. It would be as much a deal breaker for me as a commute over 1 hour, because I know myself and I know I would get next to nothing done, not even with all the clear goals and good management in the world. Plus, I like to keep my work life out of my private life and space.

    I mean, I’m happy the option exists for people who want it, but I’m also happy that I work in a job where remote work is almost impossible.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I just said above that I like going into the office, but honestly, it depends on the work. For most tasks, I’d rather go to work. I like having the separation between office and home. For creative work, like say, if I were writing full time or if I were a graphics person, I need to be in control of my space–music, etc. If I didn’t want to do it on the sofa, I’d probably rent an office (assuming I could afford it) or a co-working space with a private room. No coffee shops!

      I guess you would call me an ambivert; I like talking to people, but I don’t always feel like talking to people.

    2. LlamaGoose*

      Depends on the tasks. I don’t mind doing writing or design work from home, but thinking of previous jobs, I found teaching or tutoring online (as opposed to in person) very stressful.

      Likewise, I once worked for a crisis hotline, and while that didn’t have WFH options, it struck me that I would hate to help someone navigate a situation over the phone from home. Even a non-urgent situation like tech support or something.

      I guess my take is, I like doing largely solitary work from home, but collaboration or conversation goes much more smoothly in person for me.

    3. Orange You Glad*

      I’m a fan of both, I like WFH half the week and from the office the other half. Certain tasks are better for me to do at home when I need to focus without interruptions for extended periods of time. Other topics are better to take care of in the office like phone calls, meetings (I prefer face-to-face meetings), tasks that require a lot of materials/resources, etc. My productivity has drastically improved once I started WFH 1-2 days per week.

      1. Mr. Shark*

        I did part time WFH for awhile a few years ago. I would go into the office basically 1/2 day on Monday and Thursdays, so we could collaborate and have face-to-face meetings. So I’d either eat at home and then head in for 4-5 hours, or I’d grab something to eat and then head in.
        It worked perfectly for me because I could get a lot accomplished at home, but still be able to not be so solitary and meet up with people a few times a week.

    4. Jessen*

      Yup. I have WFH 1 day a week and find that pretty ideal. And I have a 1h+ commute. I still prefer going into the office. We had an evening shift for a while that basically made people work from home and I honestly was going nuts with it. (I think I posted it on an open thread and people were confused why I would be upset over trading working a few hours late for an awesome perk like that.)

  31. General von Klinkerhoffen*

    I’m reminded of the person whose remote working contract was based on living at a particular location (still within a reasonable distance of the office for infrequent meetings, and so manager could visit for annual reviews, etc – move could have been negotiated if the distance was still reasonable).

    He met someone, and moved overseas with them, without notifying the employer. As his new home was significantly lower COL he could afford to fly over for meetings planned long in advance, so nobody noticed for a long time.

    Until Finance queried the roaming charges on his company-issued phone. The data showed he had been overseas for over 80% of the relevant time period.

    So they carefully called him into the office for a meeting the next day. Completely trivial if he had been where he said he was, but no flights available and too far to drive. He had to own up to everything, but was entirely unrepentant and very swiftly fired.

    Spouse has worked 90% remote and found it gave him cabin fever. He now does the odd day remote (maybe 5-10%) when he needs to focus on something urgently.

    I work 90-100% remote with almost total flexibility (monthly hours). It suits me perfectly. I couldn’t go back to a commute now, or office politics, or water cooler gossip. I just get my head down, put my music on, and churn it out. It helps that my industry is 99% paperless so remote working is straightforward and common.

    I get annoyed when spouse works from home – that’s my zone! Go away! – so I often arrange to be out if he’s in.

  32. AnonSocialWorker*

    I apologize this is a tangential question, how does one find remote work? Specifically, I am a social worker (at a supervisory level) and have been looking for a new job but can’t seem to get any traction finding remote opportunities…

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      I would think that social work would be hard to do remotely, no? Any social workers here who can either vouch for this or refute it?

      To answer your question, I found my current full time remote job on Glassdoor completely by accident, but if you go on that site (or Indeed) and type in “remote” in the search field, you should see a lot of results.

    2. MissDisplaced*

      I’ve worked remote a few days a week and would love to transition to full-time remote. But it’s proving difficult to find 100% remote jobs.

      My current company used to be much more flexible, but have pulled the WFH back to just one day a week to force people into a new building with open office. Unsurprisingly, people are pissed off and unhappy.

    3. Ladybug*

      One way to find remote jobs is using Google’s job search functionality, which they added not too long ago. Type “remote jobs” and it should bring up a list which you can then filter.

  33. OP’s coworker, apparently*

    I’m not the OP, but I work at the same place – I recognize the language of the email. I think we get them because all employees get emails of all press releases and media advisories, and for various reasons we put out releases about these kinds of major crimes. In the case of employees it’s because we are legally obligated to make some kinds of internal investigations public under some sort of transparency laws, and in the cited case the ex-employee was travelling on company business at the time of the crime so there was an investigation. In the case of customer arrests and convictions it’s a mix of asking everyone to be on the lookout, letting people know that a suspect has been apprehended, informing the media about what happened in our public facilities, etc.

    But yeah, I also had a WTF reaction to the out-of-the-blue email about the former employee. They aren’t usually quite that bad.

    1. OP’s coworker, apparently*

      Sorry, this was on totally the wrong post! Saw the post on my work computer but wanted to comment on my phone instead of the company network and got mixed up!

  34. LlamaGoose*

    I’m curious about something. Currently, in my office, working from home option vary depending on the job. Some of this makes sense, but there have been questions about customer service staff working from home. So far it’s not an option, but it’s being looked into for next year. Does anyone have experience with customer service agents (or other jobs that involve answering questions on the phone in real-time) working from home successfully?

  35. Not Today Satan*

    I love working from home. In all honestly, I only really need to be productive about 5 hours a day. On WFH days, I can spend those extra hours actually being productive–cleaning the house, doing laundry, making food, running errands–rather than mindlessly scrolling social media. And to be clear, when I’m doing those chores, I’m still accessible.

    Sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week is for the birds.

    1. WellRed*

      I think it’s sad no matter where we work, so much of it involves keying into a computer. Is that all there is any more?

    2. MissDisplaced*

      The biggest waste of time going into the office is a) getting showered, made up & dressed and b) commuting. That WASTES 3 hours of my time every day.

      Once at the office the time wasters are: a) people wanting to chitchat and b) all the stupid gatherings for birthdays, goodbyes, and food related crap.

    3. Pobody’s Nerfect*

      But do you get paid for doing 8 hrs/day worth of work? If you only need to do 5 hrs/day, then you should only get paid for 5 hrs/day. I know part-time people that get so much more work done in their PT schedules than their full time coworkers, but the FT people get paid a ton more for doing a lot less. It’s very unfair.

      1. Jessen*

        Depends on the job, too.

        Support j0bs like mine it’s as much about availability as anything. The company needs me to be available from 9am to 5pm so I can respond within a few minutes. But it doesn’t necessarily need me to be actively working those times – it doesn’t cause any issues if I’m folding my laundry while listening for my email to ding, so long as I deal with that email when it dings. However I have to be paid for those 8h because I’m available for them.

  36. Gwen*

    I very much want to pursue remote work, but it seems so difficult to find something legit from the start instead of going remote with a current role. Any advice on finding dedicated remote work? (I’m in digital marketing/social media/writing, which seems like the ideal role for it!)

    1. LlamaGoose*

      I’ve gotten remote writing + digital marketing jobs via Angel List. I think startups in general seem more open to WFH?

    2. Anonymity for this*

      I like flexjobs a lot. You have to pay for it but it’s worth it. They vet the companies.

      Angellist is OK. Also try googling “companies with distributed workforce” and you’ll find all sorts of resources for companies with entirely remote workforces.

  37. Nee Attitude*

    I travel extensively for a living, and I work offsite, so trying to chain me to a desk just doesn’t make sense. I have the best of both worlds: I have dedicated space should I need to be on site during a meeting or something, and I work from home otherwise.

    My manager trusts me and I trust my manager. The idea of working from home gains legitimacy when management are willing to work under the same burdens placed on the rest of the workforce.

  38. Leela*

    I’m curious about what people’s experience with working from home has been not on a personal level (am I personally just as productive, do I personally like it) but on a team level (does the team function as well as it would if people were regularly in the office communicating, because people speak more freely than they type and you miss some communication when everything is teleconferencing/checking in via slack)? In my experience individuals can certainly be just as productive if not more at home, but if I’m being honest, and I hate to be because I know that working from home is a huge perk for a lot of people, teams just never seem as productive or cohesive as a whole, and the workplace really does suffer for it. Perhaps it’s just the managers or implementation (I was always HR side for this)?

    What have other people experienced, especially managers who would have oversight on team performance?

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think the team should still try to meet once or twice a year in person to foster face to face interactions. We would typically do this The day after a trade show most attended anyway, or sometimes met at headquarters. Yes, it incurs some travel, but it’s worth it if your company isn’t cheap.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        I just came home from a face to face meeting with my immediate team members. But again, because my company is a software company that sells products all over the world, they’re set up to deal with remote workers all over the globe, so my team hasn’t suffered with my absence. We also have regular calls, so it’s not like I’m completely off the grid.

    2. Skeeder Jones*

      I work on a team that is nearly 100% remote. We are a learning and development team working a variety of positions that support training for 3 other departments. Most of our team lives in California but all throughout the state. Some team members do go into the office occasionally when they need to do in person training and our entire team meets together 3 times a year for “face to face” meetings. Sometimes we have other projects that require us to meet in person in small groups. Despite working remote, our team is really close and we’re always excited to get together in person. We really care about each other. I think part of what makes it work is that we are always partnering up with different team members on different projects and that helps us get to know each other better as people. The types of activities we do can range from people delivering training over webex, recording videos, documenting procedures, writing SOPs, and developing online training programs (70% of my current role). We have monthly team webex meetings and a Microsoft Teams chat. Somehow, it all works. And now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    3. Jack*

      I managed one team that would have been a nightmare to operate with 100% telecommuters. We greatly depended upon the ability to quickly have open discussions.

      Then I switched to another team that was larger and had very flexible hours. We had offices in 3 different time zones We had people starting between 6:30 & 9:30. Due to those schedules & locations, impromptu in person discussions didn’t happen. Several us of switched to 100% wfh because our location didn’t have any bearing on how the team interacted.

  39. WellRed*

    Random observation: tonight’s final wheel of fortune puzzle: the question was what are you doing? The answer: working from home. The universe speaketh.

  40. Ancient Alien*

    For those considering/desiring WFH, let me just say, CAVEAT EMPTOR.
    I’ve worked from home for 4 years for a very large corporation with offices all over the country and a few international offices. My team is spread all over the country and I’ve never met my own manager face to face. Honestly, I’m kind of on the fence about whether it’s a good thing or not. My company is quite liberal about WFH, because it saves them a bundle on office real estate, allows them to hire people in lower cost of living locations for lower salaries, but it also greatly widens the prospective labor pool and we are more able to hire better candidates.
    That said, the way it is managed is a bit problematic. There is an unspoken expectation that, because you can work from home, you are literally available for work 24/7.
    There are some advantages: 1) living in a northern state, i don’t have to commute across a sheet of ice in the winter; 2) there’s a certain amount of built-in flexibility (going to Costco at lunch on a weekday really is the best time to go); 3) it has been helpful with an elementary-age kid.
    There are some disadvantages: 1) I’m an ambivert and while i enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle sometimes, it is also isolating as hell; 2) any career growth at this organization is basically at a dead stop; 3) the company culture is basically that of a facebook comments thread (nobody is a person, everyone is just an email address and it is much easier to send a nasty email to someone you will never meet).
    All that said, I’m finding that I don’t really NEED to WFH and I don’t think i will push for that option in future positions. What I will push for is having the flexibility to WFH on an as-needed basis (sick kid, waiting on repairman, getting a major project over the finish line, etc.)
    Just food for thought for anyone considering it…

  41. Bookworm*

    My org has this issue right now. We’ve recently done some reorganizing and a telecommuting option has been a big, constant request/issue for us, especially since most of work can be done at home, we already have 3 separate offices across 2 timezones (and other employees who are contractors/temps who work in other areas which makes for interesting scheduling).

    They’ve been reluctant because apparently the informal policy was abused by one employee (no longer with us) and I guess leadership has some hangups (they’ve recently mandated we all be in the office by a certain time of the morning) even though at least two of them often WFH themselves.

    I do understand the potential for abuse but honestly? For a lot of people there is no traditional “9-5” anymore with so much being done online. Making us all sit in an office day in and day out isn’t always the best as we have Boomers getting older/retiring (maybe), childcare issues, other scheduling stuff, etc.

    I miss my old telecommute option and would love to go back to something like that someday. The ability to throw my laundry in the washer/dryer on a weekday, not having to constantly prepare lunch ahead of time, not having to deal with office politics to such a degree because we’re all in the same space was all great.

Comments are closed.