our remote employees were excluded from our company appreciation day

A reader writes:

My company is kind of new to remote work. Covid forced us all home, and hiring developers remotely has been significantly more successful than trying to hire them in-person only. Because of those two factors, the small tech company I work for is now about 40% remote employees located all over the U.S. and Canada.

We have had some growing pains with appreciation and growth for remote employees. I myself am someone who was in office and then moved away to another state to be fully remote. I have been able to grow since I’ve moved away, being promoted to manager and getting an entire new team stood up. Other remote employees have also been able to grow, but we seem to be hard-won exceptions, whereas in-office people get promotions and raises thrown around like candy.

The other issue we have is with employee appreciation. The company regularly has in-office lunches and other kinds of perks for employees who come into the office. Most of these I don’t have a huge problem with. For example, breakfast is purchased for those in the office every Wednesday, with no compensation given to remote employees for that. I get that, I get the perk of not having to drive into the office twice a week (no one is required to be in-office every day). But then there are other things like big holiday parties with catered lunches and swag boxes. Sometimes the company is good about sending things out to remote employees as well, sometimes they aren’t. For example, they usually send remote employees a DoorDash gift card by email when they do catered in-office lunch parties, but they forgot at Christmas. I brought it up a couple of times, but then I just let it go.

The most recent and egregious example was all of the employees in the region where the office is located were invited to go to a theme park for the day. Anyone remote was invited to fly themselves out if they wanted to as well, on their own dime. All of these employees, so roughly half the company, got a day off work, transportation to or parking at the theme park, the ticket to the theme park, and a catered lunch in the theme park. The remote employees worked the whole day and got a gift box of cookies (worth $27 when purchasing one, and I’m sure there was a bulk discount) three days after the trip to the theme park. I was kind of expecting something somewhat equitable, like also getting the day off and a $100 Amazon gift card or something, but nope. So we were all working and watching the in-office employees in the region posting pictures of their company day off to the company Slack channels.

This coupled with some other ridiculous remote work policies (can only work from your home address and nowhere else, and yes they monitor this) has made me pretty angry and sour. I’m wondering if I’m overreacting and there is nothing wrong here or if I’m right to be mad and this is not how other companies are approaching having some remote and some in-office employees. And any strategies for fixing this — I manage a team of seven fully remote employees, only two of whom are anywhere close to the office, which makes it feel really important for me to stand up for my team, not just for me.

Well … I’m not terribly bothered by any of the appreciation perks, including the theme park day.

The thing is, the benefits to working from home are significant if you’re someone who prefers to do that and has chosen it. It’s not just all the stuff that’s been repeated ad nauseam the last few years — doing your laundry while you work, walking your dog at lunch, taking calls in sweatpants with your cat on your lap, having access to your own kitchen, focusing without distracting coworkers, and reclaiming your commute time — but it’s also things like not having to use PTO when your kid is sick or furniture is being delivered or when you’re too under the weather to drag yourself to work but willing to work from your laptop in bed. You also control your own environment, and your time, in ways that in-office workers generally can’t. And that’s before we even get into the ways that in-office workers often end up covering for remote colleagues on things that require a physical office presence.

All of which is to say: Even if you got absolutely nothing every time in-office workers get a perk, you’d still generally be coming out ahead.

Plus, a lot of the perks you described are things that don’t translate well for remote workers. Take that theme park day. That’s not just a perk for the sake of doing something nice for people; it has an actual business purpose. Having people spend time together having fun is a camaraderie-builder, and it’s supposed to pay off in more cooperative, collaborative work relationships. Sending remote employees a gift card wouldn’t achieve that, and giving you the day off wouldn’t either (and if they did offer you that, they’d undoubtedly have some in-office staff saying, “If a day off is an option, I want that instead” — and that’s defeating the whole purpose of what they were trying to organize).

Ultimately, I think you need to accept that you get a ton of benefits from working from home that in-office staff don’t get … and that conversely, sometimes they’ll get something from being at the office that you don’t get. Even accounting for those differences, I suspect you’d still prefer to be remote. If you realize that you don’t — that those sorts of in-person perks are important to you — then it might not make sense to choose a remote job. But your company can’t make it perfectly equal for you, just like they can’t mirror your remote perks for the in-office staff either.

Now, to be clear, if your employer wrote in for advice, I’d come at this differently. If I were advising them, I’d say it’s smart to find ways to ensure remote employees feel included and like part of the team. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do things like the local theme park day or that they need to send you DoorDash every time they do a catered meeting, but it does mean they should be thoughtful about inclusion in general and make sure remote staff isn’t routinely ignored.

That said, it sounds like ultimately your company has bigger problems in its management of remote employees — if remote staff are feeling like they won’t ever be promoted even if they’ve earned it, that’s going to eventually affect things like retention and engagement — and I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s coloring the lens you’re seeing the other stuff through.

{ 504 comments… read them below }

  1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    Like Alison said the theme park day (although pretty crappy to say you can come if you pay your own way and not giving the day off to remote workers) is the thing you can point to. The real problem is the micromanaging — only your home address and the lack of actual recognition like promotions and raises.

    You noticed that you can get better employees by allowing remote work. But the lack of promotion and raises is going to affect that in the long run. That is what you need to raise, not that they forgot to include remote employees in the Christmas party. Good people with options will leave if they can’t get what matters — CASH.

    1. OP remote worker*

      Yea, the micromanaging of remote workers is rapidly becoming a problem. Especially the not being able to work from anywhere but your home address (since many remote workers see the ability to travel and work as a huge perk).

      1. Unipotamus*

        It’s a state income tax issue though – and one that a lot of US states have cracked down on since the world has become more remote. I know it’s a pain, but there’s a legal reason for it much of the time.

        1. Cj*

          I took that to mean that you can’t work from a nearby coffee shop or anything, not just if you’re in a different state on vacation or something. Working at a coffee shop, etc, may be a security issue if they’re not using VPN. I am definitely not an IT person, so I’m not sure it’s secure even with VPN.

          1. Unipotamus*

            Yep – the specific home address sounds like a security issue. I came at it from the tax standpoint, because of the comment about “ability to travel” being a perk of working remotely. But the nomadic remote worker is not something a lot of companies are actually okay with. I live in a state where there are county taxes on top of state taxes, and that can cause companies to take issue with more that just leaving the state while working.

            It’s all so unnecessarily complex, but here we are.

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              The rule of thumb I’ve seen most places is that tax issues don’t come into play if you’re primarily in your residence (or state or county) in a 30 day period. But obviously this can vary.

              The much bigger issue to me would be not being allowed to leave my house at all if my work is transportable.

              1. Fred*

                You can leave the house – and go to the office. It’s work from HOME, not work from ANYWHERE.

                1. L-squared*

                  Totally agree.

                  I just feel its really hard to be angry that you can’t work from ANYWHERE, when other people are forced to go to the office, even if its just a couple of days a week.

                  I’m guessing on their office days, they can’t just choose to go work at a nearby starbucks. So if they can’t, I’m not sure why you should be able to (barring an emergency like an internet outage)

                2. stacers*

                  My company calls it remote work. As in, don’t work from the office, work anywhere else. The anywhere else is up to me.
                  But we came to this agreement when I was hired. I think the friction is coming in when pandemic-era situations were cobbled into hybrid or remote work situations without everyone agreeing or understanding what the parameters might be and why.
                  As with so much else, it comes down to good management practices and communication.

                3. Rob*

                  Exactly, FT WFH people already get to not use PTO for all the things Allison listed. It’s just makes my jaw drop when it becomes why cant I also go on Vacation or visit family in another state without using vacation time.

                4. Karo*

                  @Fred That’s a bit pedantic. If we call them “remote” workers, are they allowed to work someplace other than their homes? Beyond that, unless it’s explicitly stated otherwise, most people assume that being remote means they have some flexibility in where they work (and in my experience, companies back this up). My boss doesn’t care if I’m working from a coffee shop, my house, or a friend’s house as long as I’m getting my work done and I’m available to talk if they need me.

                  You’re also assuming that all remote workers have a nearby office to go into. OP certainly doesn’t – they say they live across the country from the office.

                  @Rob I don’t know the conversations you have had, obviously, but I think most people saying they want to go elsewhere or visit family without taking PTO are still working during that time, and I don’t really get why that’s a problem. If I go visit my brother and he’s working all week, I could either take 40 hours of PTO and spend a lot of time twiddling my thumbs waiting for him to be done…or I could work while I’m there and spend time with him in the evenings.

                  If I am available during work hours and getting my work done, AND I’m already a remote worker, I don’t get why it matters that my desk and background are different when I’m on some calls. If I’m not getting my work done, then the problem is that I’m not getting my work done, not that I’m working in a different house.

              2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                Yeah. I’m a freelancer so I work wherever. I mostly take my laptop with me in case one of my favourite* clients sends me a job. If you can do your job anywhere in the world, why should employees have to be chained to their desk?

                *that pay more than average, on time, and for interesting work with an easy deadline

            2. Cj*

              I just Googled to see if pandemic exceptions were still in place where you can work from a state and not have to pay tax there. apparently they are, including in my state, but I think there are only 10 or 12 States listed.

              the article said that in Arizona you can work for 60 days before you need to pay tax there, but in New York you have a tax liability if you work there only one day. so you definitely need to look this stuff up if you’re going to work when traveling.

              1. Drago Cucina*

                Wow! Thanks for this. I hadn’t thought NY would be one day. I was going to visit family and work, but this keeps me out of trouble.

              2. Rosemary*

                I really don’t understand how states can enforce these things – at least with regards to your “average joe” worker, not an NBA player who makes more playing one game in New York than most people make in a year.

                1. mbs001*

                  Just wait until an employee working in California remotely for their firm in Virginia files a workers comp claim! Or a wage claim that they weren’t paid overtime for working 8 1/4 hours in a day rather than 8 hours. No way would my firm ever allow anyone to work in California and rightfully so.

                2. MCMonkeyBean*

                  I think realistically they only have those rules for non-average people and don’t care about the rest. Like in NY in particular I bet they have a lot of people who come into town to perform in a show or a concert or to film something for a short period and they obviously don’t want to miss out on that income tax. But I really don’t think they care if Jane Smith the accountant is in town for a week and logs on to do a little work while she’s there.

              3. Souperchef77*

                I wonder how this is managed for those of us who travel FOR work? I frequently go place (out of my home state) to a vendor or customer where my company does not have business locations. Yet, the whole point of me being there is to work.

                1. DeafNerd*

                  You have to pay and file taxes for every state you travel to. I had to when I was a consultant.

          2. David*

            With a properly configured VPN, your internet connection is safe from eavesdropping while working at a coffee shop – but VPN or not, eavesdropping on internet traffic is much less of a problem these days compared to five or ten years ago, because connections to individual websites and servers are (almost) all encrypted. For the most part, you don’t need a VPN to get that kind of protection nowadays.

            The bigger risk of working at a public place like a coffee shop is that somebody is watching your screen from behind you, or that someone could steal your laptop, or plant a virus on it if you step away and leave it unlocked. If that’s what the OP’s company cared about, though, I’d think they should say so: make a policy about not working from public places, or have guidelines about how to do so securely (like never leaving your laptop unattended), instead of just saying working from anywhere other than the employee’s actual home is forbidden.

            1. Emmy*

              yes, I am a federal employee and this is apparently the big reason we can’t telework from public places in my agency–not just the VPN but people catching glimpses of the screen. We have to access law enforcement and agency databases containing closely held information and they just do not want the chance of someone seeing anything…even in the building we have to use privacy screens, lock or terminals or lock our doors when we leave those systems up unattended

              1. Random Dice*

                There are films that keep people from seeing what’s on your screen. They work well.

                1. mbs001*

                  Only if they are looking from an angle. If they are right behind you, they will see what you see.

                2. H3llifIknow*

                  I use one of those 3M screens on my govt. laptop. Once while traveling the person next to me was clearly trying to see my screen and said, “How can you work when your screen is black?” and I said, “oh it’s ok; I’m blind.” And she said, “Oh that makes sense.” It hit her a few minutes later I think that I was 1) wearing glasses and 2) began reading my kindle just fine.

          3. Allura Vysoren*

            My boss and HR has told me they don’t care where I work as long as I’m actually working, logged into the VPN, and I don’t go out of state.

          4. This_Is_Todays_Name*

            VPN definitely makes it more secure. I work in government cyber security. But, they’d be hard pressed to know exactly where I’m working because the VPN also masks and dynamically changes my IP address. So, if they’re using the employee’s IP address to ensure they’re at home, install a VPN or a proxy server and tell the company it’s for added security of your data and it’s to their benefit!

        2. Presea*

          The company should still be communicating the reasons for this policy. It doesn’t sound like they are, so it just feels arbitrary and controlling to the OP. Plus, we don’t know enough about the OP’s job or what jurisdiction they’re working in to be able to confidently say that it’s for sure a security/legal/tax issue.

          It really seems like this company is just dropping the balls with remote employees in ways that breed resentment, so when something like the theme park day happens, it stings so much harder, and that stinging gets in the way of having a reasonable logical understanding.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            I think this is probably part of it. It’s been my experience that it’s easier for me to accept not being included in certain things when I feel that my overall contributions are being acknowledged. But if I’m already feeling overlooked or unseen, these kinds of things will hit a lot harder.

            1. Despachito*

              I have gladly traded any opportunity of raise or recognition for being able to manage my own time.

              For me, the company can stuff all the extra gifts and perks, I do not care for them. I only require decent behavior and payment on time.

              What grates me the wrong way here is the requirement to work only from home. If it has a reason (taxes, security), this should be mentioned. Otherwise it takes a chunk out of the perk it is meant to be (if I can’t take a walk and go shopping in between jobs, it would be pretty annoying – I do not have to communicate with clients or anything that would make this awkward).

        3. Dubious*

          You don’t become liable for paying state or county income taxes just because you’re visiting another state temporarily and doing a bit of work there.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            It varies wildly by jurisdiction in the US. The amount of time you have to work from some of them would fall into a temporary visit. This issue keeps my organization’s tax person up at night. We’re not big enough to have an FTE dedicated to assessing travel locations and tax implications.

          2. Adam*

            Depends on the state! California imposes income tax on any amount of work done in the state, whether or not you’re a resident, even one day. Other states have other rules.

            Of course, most people just don’t file a tax return and nobody is the wiser, but legally you can owe taxes for very short visits.

            1. popko*

              Yep, New York is another state where you’re liable for income taxes even if you only do work there for one day. Taxation only kicks in at the 30+ day mark in a lot of states, but not all of them!

              1. J*

                It’s a big part of why I don’t visit my employer’s HQ. I’m fully remote but they’re in NY and working there for a brief trip can trigger major tax implications for me. Going to the other office across the country would theoretically have no tax implications for me but thankfully they haven’t asked me to come.

            2. SpaceySteph*

              This is wild to me because I know people who have gone to conferences and/or remote site work in CA on a regular basis. I bet a lot of those people have tax obligations they don’t know about.

        4. Karo*

          Ok, but having to work ONLY from home is different than having to work from your home state. Let’s say I live in Charlotte, NC and want to spend time in my Aunt’s vacation house in the Outer Banks over the summer without using PTO. As a remote employee, I could do that without causing any tax issues.

          But beyond that – what happens if their wifi goes out? If mine goes out – assuming I’m using the VPN and not working on anything sensitive – I can go to a coffee shop, book a room at our public library, or go to a friend’s house in a pinch. If the OP’s wifi goes out they just have to charge PTO? That’s a rotten policy.

          1. J*

            My employer has a 3 hours rule. If I can get home internet restored within 3 hours, I don’t have to take PTO but anything over I do. I work with PHI among other things and while I can go in public, I’m not authorized to like our other workers. Our allowed-public workforce has specific network settings in place and screen protectors and they aren’t allowed to take calls in public places whereas I’m on the phone half the day it seems some days. The 3 hours is nice and flexible for me and generally if it does go over that, like an ongoing storm outage, I do have permission to rent a drop-in coworking space but only in those scenarios. We had one employee do that when a tornado hit her area. Do I love the policy? No but I think it’s fair given the work I do.

          2. mbs001*

            Sorry – you can’t have it both ways. If you want the flexibility of working remotely, you also have to take the risks that your internet connection may not be reliable and you will have to take vacation time if you’re unable to work the full number of hours in a day. If you want reliability and to avoid these extra PTO days being used, go into the office.

        5. Also-ADHD*

          That wouldn’t be your home address though—those rules are about working in state AND usually you can have a certain number of days out of state too, though I understand if that’s too tricky to enforce. But why can’t they work at other places in state? That is truly just micromanaging, I think.

      2. Anonymouse*

        I wonder if only working from your home address is an over reaction/misunderstanding of “work anywhere philosophy” there are real issues regarding states/countries that companies are set up to do business in. it’s absolutely an over reach for them to say you can’t go to the local we work or restaurant to work. especially if there are mitigating circumstances that make WFH difficult.
        however it’s not an overreach if the company puts guidelines on working outside your home state/ home country for a specific and limited amount of time.

        I know that has been a huge topic of conversation as we move to a more remote work space.

      3. M2*

        It’s a tax issue you can’t work from any state or country. Many companies only let you work from certain states or areas for this reason. Being able to WFH is already a huge perk and if you are traveling will you really be working? It’s not micromanaging to say you can’t work from certain states or countries, it’s a legal and tax issue.

        Honestly this is why many companies are going back to in-office or hybrid (with more days in office) because the benefit of remote work at home is now wanting more benefits like “working” on your two month stint to France or two week trip to California.

        1. Booky*

          My job certainly expects me to be working when they send me to 15 other cities each year, I don’t know why that wouldn’t translate to leisure travel as well

          1. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

            Yeah, I find that argument confusing. I have family who may have to travel to other countries for work for weeks or months at a time. If that doesn’t affect how an employer handles taxes, I don’t really get why *short-term* work from your non-home location would be an issue. (I definitely could see a problem if you did a long-term relocation though. But a week at the beach or something similar? I don’t get it.)

          2. TechWorker*

            If the purpose of those visits is to meet with people locally or visit certain locations (which… it probably is or why would they send you :p) then they are getting a business benefit and thats worth the cost of your work probably being a bit disrupted (jetlag, the odd bit of travel during the work day, potentially timezone differences to others you work with in your normal location). There are definitely people who solidly put in their hours and work just as effectively on a ‘working vacation’ as they do at home… but there are also others who don’t. (My company says 2 weeks a year – which is great as a perk – but I definitely don’t think it’s the case everyone is exactly as productive in those 2 weeks as they are from their normal location).

        2. Yorick*

          There may be legal and tax issues, but “if you are traveling will you really be working?” is not a legal or tax issue!

        3. Specks*

          It sounds like you have a fairly fantastic view of “travel” while remote working. For most people, it’s not a “two-month stint to France”, where you get to sip wine in a cafe while getting paid. It’s getting to go spend a week staying with your elderly parents or for other care-giving or, if you want something particularly exciting, working from your sister’s house for a couple of days because the Tuesday flights were so much cheaper than the Sunday ones. Or getting a day of work in on your vacation because deliverables are due and you couldn’t take that week otherwise. None of those trigger any state tax issues unless you’re going for weeks at a time.

          But I will say I do know people who did a several month trip abroad to work from wherever. As far as I could tell, their work output hasn’t changed, they just got to spend their evenings in more exciting ways. And I’m totally ok with that. I’d much rather a really competent, excellent coworker call me from Hawaii or France for a couple of months than have them leave in favor of someone who’s just ok (but works from their house at all times) because they don’t get enough flexibility and have other options.

          1. maringe*

            Okay but that’s just one scenario.

            My grand boss was forced to take an early retirement or be fired because she secretly traveled to another country to work, and knew that our university’s policy was that if you did travel, you had to return within 24 hours if the university requested you to (to walk buildings, meet with people who’d been working on campus all along to see their workspaces, etc.).

            She had trouble getting out of the country, and you got it: now she just gets partial SS payments. Not worth it.

            It’s more complex than just “Hawaii and France – who cares, as long as their work is done.”

          2. amoeba*

            Yeah, I’m hybrid and have a long-distance relationship, so I’m quite happy about being able to work remotely from my boyfriend’s place for a day or two every two weeks or so! Luckily, our company doesn’t care – officially, the rule is “everywhere in your home our work country” (we have a lot of cross-border commuters), but in addition to that, they explicitly stated that they don’t care about a few days here or there in addition to that. (I don’t live or work in the same country as my partner – many of my colleagues do, though, as we’re very close to that border!)

        4. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          As long as you are working on your two month stint to France and the work that needs to be done is done and the deadlines met what is the problem (other than tax issues). If work is not being done, then you address that. Just the same as if the person who works exclusively in their home but is actually chatting with friends, walking the dog, taking care of a small child and NOT get the work done.

          You can slack off work anywhere. You address the slacking, not limit where you can do it.

          1. maringe*

            Why not address the limit of where someone can work, especially since the policy is work from home, not from anywhere you choose? All kinds of security issues, etc.

        5. Never Boring*

          However, remote work meant that my employer got the benefit of my actually being able to produce work while being with my father in home hospice out of state instead of taking FMLA leave as I was legally entitled to do. They would have been screwed otherwise, because there wasn’t anyone else to do the work. Dad also had a full-time aide, so when I needed to duck out to be there for a medical visit, etc. I just clocked out. I bill my time in 6-minute increments so they could damn well see that I was actually working.

          1. mbs001*

            You may have been entitled to FMLA but that’s unpaid. You also benefited, I’m assuming, from getting paid while being near your father.

      4. mli25*

        The home address part is trickier, to me. I work fully remote and have for the entirety of this job. What’s the difference between working from my house and working from the family lake house 2 hours away, but in the same state? If my things are getting done, it shouldn’t matter. (and truly my boss does not care at all). Is there a state reason? Is it info security (understandable, mostly)? If it seems arbitrary, that might be adding to the feeling of being treated different

        1. Momma Bear*

          There could be local tax laws or it could be that it matters state to state so they just standardized the rule for everybody. Along the east coast, for example, a 2 hr trip could put you in a different state every day. They probably just want one guideline to cover most situations.

          1. Kella*

            But if state lines were the issue, the guideline that could set would just be “Only work within your home state.” The fact that other states are close by doesn’t have to be relevant to the decision at all.

        2. Mockingjay*

          Because it’s work from home, not work from anywhere. It’s an employment agreement between you and the company: “we agreed upon X with these specific conditions.” You don’t get to arbitrarily change the agreement.

          I WFH and I have a laundry list of conditions to meet, including a separate dedicated workspace, robust internet, set working hours, etc. And I meet them.

          That said, my company does a lot to include remote employees. We have quarterly award ceremonies that prepandemic were luncheons at each office site. During the pandemic, we switched to townhall online meetings that worked so well we kept them. Onsite employees get a catered lunch, every single remote employee gets a grubhub certificate to order lunch. We get gift certificates at Thanksgiving and bonuses at the end of the year. There are occasional onsite events that remote staff can’t participate in, but I’m not going to begrudge our hardworking IT team a fun evening at the ball park when their hard work provides a solid intranet and vpn that allow me to work at home.

          1. stacers*

            Well, that’s your arrangement, so you’ve agreed to the specifics. Mine is a remote work agreement, so it’s a don’t-work-from-the-office agreement, with no specifications on where I do the work. That said, I do work for people at two different office locations, one 45 minutes away, the other an hour and a half. I can decide at any time to drive to one of the offices and work (or enjoy any in-office perk), and they’ve occasionally asked me to come in on specific days for specific reasons.
            But I accepted this job less than a year ago with full knowledge of what I was agreeing to. For those adapting pandemic-era situations into continued hybrid or remote situations, it may be dramatically less defined, with requirements/specifications thrown out at random.

          2. Dona Florinda*

            That’s not necessarily true for everyone. Remote work is not just work from home. I sometimes go to my boyfriend’s apartment to work if for some reason I can’t work from my own home, like spotty internet, construction work that is distracting, and so on.

            Working ONLY from my home address would have me looking for a new job.

                1. Uranus Wars*

                  And so yours also aren’t valid for everyone. Like Mockingjay we have workers with the specific WFHome stipulations to meet. I feel like we are getting into everybody can’t eat sandwiches territory with the back and forths on this..

          3. New Jack Karyn*

            During the pandemic, my girlfriend had minor surgery and asked me to come stay for a week during her recovery. She mostly slept, and I checked in on her during my breaks, made lunch for us both, and still did all my work. It went fine, and no one at work noticed or cared.

          4. Joron Twiner*

            What a bizarre semantic distinction. We can call it “telework” or “remote work” instead. Most places define it as “not in our office”, not “it must be in your own physical house or else”.

        3. Somehow_I_Manage*

          This kind of policy at least makes sure that you request approval, so they can have time to assess and advise if there is any difference. Depending on the nature and frequency of these kind of requests, it may be reasonable to offer flexibility, or it may not be.

          It’s at least complicated enough that there are many reasons to understand why a company may need to control some of these things- but we just don’t know enough information about OPs situation to say for sure. It’s would be a reasonable expectation for OP to get a good answer if they sought clarification.

        4. NotAnotherManager!*

          Off the top of my head, local tax issues and worker’s comp/other insurance coverage that may be localized to the remote employee’s official “office” address.

          Frequently the *managers* with remote workers don’t care, but the risk management folks who have to deal with tax liabilities/penalties and incident coverage care very much.

        5. Lizzianna*

          I don’t know if it is the same for the private sector, but for government, I had to sign an agreement that certified that my home office met certain safety and privacy criteria. The way it was explained to me, if someone got hurt while on the clock (even if it was their own fault, like they tripped over a chair or spilled hot coffee on themselves), it could be a workers’ comp issue.

          Just to be clear, I think limiting things to home address is silly, but I could see an organization coming up with this as an overreaction to a legal or risk management evaluation of the company’s liability.

      5. M2*

        A family member of mine was an executive at a top tech firm and recently retired. He WFH as he traveled a lot but was required to be in their US state HQ at least one week a month on top of other traveling. At one point he was flat out told you won’t be promoted anymore unless he work at US HQ and WFH in that state. He declined and wasn’t promoted again but had a really good job until he retired. It meant more to him to live in the state by family for his kids. People were promoted above him who worked at US HQ but he knew that as they were open about it once he hit the ceiling if promotions.

        He didn’t complain and said they were honest with me about why and gave me time to decide and he choose what worked best for him.

        No job is perfect and many will have + and – so you should decide what works best for you.

        1. Hannah Lee*

          The openness and the communications is key.

          As you said, your family member knew what the “rules of engagement” were because his employer spelled them out. So he could choose what he valued most, flexibility to work from somewhere other that the company’s home state.

          It sounds like LW’s employer isn’t being transparent about the “why” RE only allowing work from home addresses (security? taxes? corporate policy vs individual boss’s bias/preference) and is also not being transparent about treating remote employees differently WRT promotions, pay increases. So LW is left to fill in the blanks of why they’re seeing what they’re seeing, such as keeping tabs on the advancement of remote vs office based workers and resentment is brewing.

      6. stacers*

        The only-work-from-your-home-address rule would be the biggest issue for me. And not because I want to work from a vacation destination.
        Sure, doing laundry and no commute are major plusses for me, but it’s the other flexibility I get that are the true ‘perks’ of remote work: when my home internet goes down or for a change of scenery, I can work from my husband’s business. We don’t have central air, so on the hottest days of summer, I reserve a study room at my lovely library branch for the afternoon and work from there. Some especially nice days, I take my laptop with me on my morning walk and work for a few hours from the park along the river.
        None of those locations jeopardize my tax status, my concentration on my work or company security (I dial in to company VPN). And they’re the perks of work life that I prefer over company-paid lunches and days at a theme park. Taking away that small flexibility would be a deal-breaker for me.

      7. fhqwhgads*

        Is it micromanagey like literally home address? Like you can’t work from the waiting room at your mechanic’s while your car’s in the shop, or from your also-remote coworker’s house around the corner from yours (all things my colleagues do)? Or are the intention to prevent people from working out of state on long trips that’d cause issues with tax nexus? If they ban the former, that’s micromanagey. If the latter, it’s not. If they say the former when they mean the latter, they’re bad at communicating policy.

        1. Don't Call Me Shirley*

          Work on your patent application from the mechanic’s waiting room? Or review the new commercial story boards? Or discuss employee performance? Lots of things that should be in a private space, I don’t begrudge them not having to nitpick who can do what where.

          1. DataSci*

            You wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen people working on on airplanes. Unless they have similarly strict rules about in-person employees working from other locations when on business travel, this doesn’t hold water. People who work under very strict privacy or security rules either don’t WFH at all (classified information) or have stricter rules than just “you have to be at your home address” (like requiring closed doors and soundproofing).

            1. Observer*

              People who work under very strict privacy or security rules either don’t WFH at all (classified information) or have stricter rules than just “you have to be at your home address” (like requiring closed doors and soundproofing).

              Nope. They probably *should*, but often they don’t.

            2. maringe*

              “You wouldn’t believe what I’ve seen people working on on airplanes.”

              Well, yeah, most workplaces actually would believe you; hence, the policy is to work from HOME.

          2. fhqwhgads*

            Having specific tasks that shouldn’t be done in public is a totally separate issue of “can you ever be physically somewhere that isn’t your home address”, and falls more to “do you have good judgement?” than any kind of physical location rules.

            I’m not going to do anything that involves outloud discussion from somewhere else. Can I sit at my laptop doing whatever I gotta do in silence and in a way that it’d be very unlikely someone could read my screen or have a clue what I’m doing (or it wouldn’t matter if they did), sure can. Hell my employer regularly encourages people to work from somewhere that isn’t their home office every once in a while. But they usually mean, like, your backyard or a park or the library or a coffee shop. Does it make sense for all jobs? Nope, but OP said they’re talking about developers.
            So in terms of if the policy OP’s employer has is reasonable or not we’re talking “do you have power and internet and ability to use your laptop and are you not causing nexus issues?”

      8. aussie remote*

        I’m in Australia and my remote job requires me to work only from my home address. One, it’s a security issue – the nature of my job would not allow me to work in a cafe or other public space. But it is also an Occupational Health and Safety issue. Our home office set up needs to meet certain requirements (type of chair, height of desk, distance and size of computer monitor, adequate lighting etc).

        1. TooMuchOfAManager*

          This is the reason that many work from home agreements dictate that you work from the address that you put down as your remote work location. That home office space needs to meet certain criteria to ensure that you are working safely and with the appropriate privacy to do the job.

        2. Emmy*

          in the US but same for me on telework days. some folks are saying no one would understand or be able to access secure info in a few minutes at a coffee shop. I have access to criminal record databases and have to use them for work among other systems…30 seconds with something
          like that and someone could get all sorts of information they are not supposed to have….

      9. Malarkey01*

        As others have mentioned there are tax reasons (including local jurisdiction taxes) for work from home, there’s also the issue of employee safety. This is a huge, largely back burner issue for remote work that is emerging. If employees are injured during work there are repercussions. Our legal counsel had real concerns over workplaces when people went remote pre-CoVid. Yes, a library or coffee shop is pretty low risk, people calling into meetings while DRIVING (which is a thing that happens a lot), people going to other less structured places to work, people running errands while on the clock and having a car accident (we’re they moving between worksites on stopping at the grocery store?) These are real issues in the legal liability world right now.

      10. Observer*

        Yea, the micromanaging of remote workers is rapidly becoming a problem. Especially the not being able to work from anywhere but your home address

        That’s not micromanaging. That’s security.

      11. sdog*

        I don’t think think this is as micromanaging as you think. I worked remotely even pre-remotely, and our rule was that we had to pick one alternative location that as our remote location, and that was the only place (other than the office) where we could work from. I now at a different place post-COVID, and I have been part of the team helping to draft our new remote work place, and it specifically includes a provision that is very similar to my old workplace. It generated a lot of discussion because at least folks within my organization wanted maximum flexibility, with the ability to log on anywhere, but this raised multiple logistical and security issues. Plus, while it sounded good in theory, many managers just did not want to deal with individuals trying to ask to work while on vacation or things like that.

        1. J*

          Ooh, I kind of like that addendum. For my work I do a lot with PHI so I don’t have authorization to work offsite without a lot of security changes but there’s a small library room I could reserve that would match our security standards (I should know, I helped write them) and would be a nice break sometimes. That’s definitely something I’m going to bring up at our next monthly security meeting.

    2. Tired at Work*

      The home address requirement is likely tax and legal reasons. The company needs to be sure the employees are doing their work in a state they are being taxed in, and that the company is following the laws of that state.

      1. Dell*

        If that’s the case why not just tell them they have to stay in-state? This requirement seems pretty silly – what if someone’s home internet goes out, or there is some other reason their work from home would be temporarily disrupted (like remodeling, for example). They can’t even zip up the road to coffee shop to continue work uninterrupted?

      2. Momma Bear*

        This. I was on the wrong end of that once (not my fault) and the company decided to form a tax nexus that did not include my state. It is one thing to check in while on travel or vacation (our sales team is always logging in from wherever they are), it’s another to consistently work from there.

        1. DataSci*

          Not the same thing at all. “You need to be based in a state we have a tax nexus in” isn’t even on the same planet as “If you’re remote, you can’t go work from the coffee shop or library once in a while”.

          1. J*

            Unless the reasons are workplace safety or security related. In either or all of the cases, a little communication would go a long way.

    3. Aelfwynn*

      We’re only allowed to work at our home address for information security reasons. This may not be an issue in other industries, but it certainly is in some.

      1. Lexie*

        I had a job where I could work remotely but pretty much everything I dealt with fell under HIPAA. So it was one thing to work from home where the only other being looking at my screen was a cat and a completely different thing to work from a coffee shop where countless people could glance at my screen and possibly see the name of someone they knew.

        1. Scooter*

          Exactly this. My role doesn’t often handle protected information but I have access to it so I’m subject to the same work from your actual home rule as everyone else. I don’t feel oppressed by it.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same. Our remote agreement has some very specific info sec requirements. You absolutely cannot work on public wifi or in public spaces, for starters.

        1. I have RBF*

          But you could work from a friend or relative’s home, right?

          I can see the rules being:
          1) You must work in your home state or another state where we already have an office or tax nexus
          2) You may not work in a public location such as a coffee shop or a public beach. Private homes, private yards or rented co-working spaces are fine as long as it is not public.
          3) Your work environment should be quiet enough to not excessively distract you. (Kids, spice or pets, fine. Major remodeling, no.)
          4) You must log on to the VPN and lock your computer when you step away.

          This is all IMO, YMMV.

      3. maringe*

        Yeah, there’re practicalities in my industry that make me grateful for company regulations where WFH is concerned, as they protect me. I love WFH and would never pout over not being able to work from wherever.

        As such, kind of surprised at the pushback here. As with any other condition of working for a particular company/school/etc., if you don’t like the terms, go work elsewhere where you do agree with the terms, illegal and unethical activity excepted. No one is owed a personal preference.

      4. Observer*

        We’re only allowed to work at our home address for information security reasons. This may not be an issue in other industries, but it certainly is in some.

        Yes. That was my first thought.

    4. The Person from the Resume*

      I work for the federal government and we have to declare the address where we will work remotely and we are required to work there. It’s not terriblly onerous requirement and fairly reasonable for business reasons

      Yes, sure, some people work from vacation/other locations, and we cannot (without supervisor permission). But mostly I don’t mind. I have a better work setup at my home office. I know what kind of internet speed and service I get. I arrange a quiet location. All of those things can be iffy if you work from a secondary location you’re not famialir with in advance.

      I’m much happier being totally off when I am on vacation and not trying to squeeze in fun around work. But I am also glad I’m not on meetings without someone apologizing for all the noise in the coffee shop they are trying to work in or complaining about slow/unreliable WiFi in their hotel room/airB&B etc.

      1. Festively Dressed Earl*

        Same with my spouse. It’s a security thing that covers more than just the internet connection, and just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean no one’s out to get you. That being said, my spouse was allowed to work remotely when we had a family emergency in another state, so long as he met the other requirements for WFH.

      2. Lizzianna*

        Yup. When I had to travel out of state to work at my parents’ house while I helped my mom after her surgery, I had to update my telework agreement. The expectation is that if I’m working, I’m working at the address in that agreement.

      3. I have RBF*

        I WFH, and it actually is my home. I could work from a coffee shop, or anywhere in my state. I actually have my own wifi hotspot that I use if my internet goes out. I have logged in occasionally from a hotel – still in my own state.

        My company has offices/data centers in California, Illinois, Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona, and Australia. I could work in any of those states/countries too, local laws permitting, but I have to be on the VPN to access any company data. We have an entire policy about data security, including employee data, though, but it’s rational.

        In the three companies where I’ve been remote, none have required that I only work from my home address, only that the place I work is reasonably private and that I keep my computer secure.

    5. Momma Bear*

      Agreed. Remote workers (speaking from experience) can get forgotten in ways that really matter. While I’d also be like “heeeey, so you forgot the holiday gift”, I would push for recognition and promotion more than equality with a fun outing.

  2. Potatogrip*

    i think a less discussed downside of fully remote work is that it actually is harder for management to see who is ready for a promotion in terms of additional capacity and emotional skills when you’re by yourself all day.

    1. L-squared*

      Depending on your job, that is very true. Like I imagine its much harder to really get a sense of who would be good managing people if you never actually see them interact with others, outside of zoom meetings.

      1. Off Plumb*

        This is a really good point, and it reminds me of things that have come up in my own career working in cube farms. Things like:

        – hearing the feedback my boss gave to a new employee, and then approaching said employee after our boss left and offering some informal coaching to help her contextualize and implement the feedback (which she very much appreciated)
        – having a coworker encourage me to apply for a leadership position that I never would have considered on my own, because she’d been able to directly observe my interactions with others
        -getting better insight into the issues certain problem teammates were having, because I could hear their arguments and complaints
        – being approached by someone on an entirely different team, because I happened to be sitting next to him during a temp assignment and he’d heard me on the phone and talking to colleagues and was very impressed, and he turned out to be much more helpful for networking than the people I was actually working with.

        I could go on. But there’s so much informal interpersonal work that gets missed when working remotely. There’s less opportunity to make those connections, and less opportunity to be observed doing it. I can demonstrate my skills as an individual contributor remotely, by being very good at my job. But if my boss wants to know who might be a good team lead, in-office employees have a real advantage.

        1. J*

          That’s all very true and I agree as a satellite employee for 6 years who got fantastic reviews but sometimes struggled to know general workplace news and be on my boss’s radar. That said, I’m in a role now where I definitely don’t want a promotion and it’s kind of handy to be able to deflect that kind of attention. My boss and I are both remote but also very well connected but neither of us is looking for more responsibility and remote is fantastic for that.

        2. toolate12*

          Certainly agree with this. Especially if you are in the early phase of your career, these informal communications are incredibly valuable. I’ve not seen a good explanation of how to replicate this kind of educational interaction (spontaneous, unplanned, proximate, not connected to your work in an obvious way but still valuable) virtually

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Yes, I remember working and listening in on the boss’s conversations to understand how the place worked. Then when we were bought out by an agency in another city, we had a lot of trouble integrating into the team because their modus operandi was completely different and so we were often talking at cross purposes because of that. When we went to head office for a meeting and saw how stressed out everyone was there, we started to understand that things were definitely different.

        3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          yes this is all true. Also when you’re remote you are sometimes quite simply forgotten about. At the agency, I was at an office but not the same office as the people who sent me my work. We used to get emails chiding us for not answering emails… that had only been sent to those at head office. Or the email was simply forwarded on, so we could see that everyone else had had the info for days and had had time to mull things over, then we only got the email at the last minute and needed to decide on the spot what our response would be.
          At one point the HR woman was talking about a project manager who had been fired, saying that she had been rather short with clients, and I laughed and said she hadn’t exactly been “long” with us either. HRW had a moment of epiphany, looking at me wide-eyed and saying “oh yes of course you worked with her, I suppose you experienced first-hand what the freelance translators were complaining about!” Yes, we had indeed, and hadn’t said anything because nobody ever took what we said into account.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      That’s just it, though–you’re not by yourself all day. I work from home and I am in constant communication with the people I need to communicate with all day long. I’m just a lot more efficient because most of the water cooler chat is not a thing.

      If you are by yourself all day, every day, your company (or you) is doing this wrong.

      1. Potatogrip*

        You are by yourself, though. When the zoom call ends, no one knows whether you get started on work again or scream cry for 45 minutes.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Ha! Yes, I can work AND cry when needed.

            It all comes down to managing to the productivity metrics as Alison always talks about – is the person doing their work to the expected standard? If they are, does it really matter if I know exactly what their post-Zoom activities are?

            1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              If you’re determining whether someone has the soft skills needed to become a good manager, it matters. How many times have we seen letters on this very site posted by frustrated employees subject to terrible bosses who were promoted because they were “doing their work to the expected standard” but totally unable to manage people with fairness and good judgement?

              1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

                My worst boss was promoted in person. I have to believe at least some of those letters are from people whose bosses were promoted while working in the office.

              2. NotAnotherManager!*

                If you are a manager and awful with your team, you’re not doing your work to standard.

                If we’re talking about promoting an excellent individual contributor, you should be looking at how the interact with people on the Zoom call, communicate in email/slack/collaboration, and the outcomes of their team contributions/mentorship, not what they do when they get off the call. Anyone promoting people with zero idea how they interact with others or without determining if they have the skills or aptitude for learning to manage, has a problem with their promotion criteria. (Even a conversation with a few relevant situational/behavior questions provides some good insight.) None of this is dependent upon being in-person/remote.

                1. I have RBF*


                  Whether in-person or remote, one of the critical skills for a manager is the ability to effectively communicate.

                  Some people don’t communicate well without being face to face. These people should just suck it up and commute.

                  I have spent over 20 years in online communities communicating solely by text. For several years while I was recovering from a stroke this was my sole social outlet. I learned how to make connections with people without even being able to se their face. Yes, it’s a bit of an art, but one that is not that hard to learn.

                  Effective communication in the workplace is a learned skill, both remote and in-person. A good manager is, in part, someone who has learned this skill both in-person and remote, IMO.

              3. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                To be fair, it’s often when employees are promoted because of their charisma that things go wrong. Such people just coast along, kissing up and powerplaying down, but then don’t manage to deliver as managers, because charisma only gets you so far, whereas you do actually have to knuckle down and get the work done too.

      2. doreen*

        Sure, you are communicating with other people all day long – but does anyone else see that communication ? I had a couple of jobs where I worked in an office every day and the people I supervised worked in different offices- as many as eight. I could have worked out of my office most days and visited the other offices once or twice a year (and would have if those offices had not been in the same city) but I made it a point to work out of each of those other offices at least once a month. Because I wanted to see how Wayne interacted with the people he supervised and how Lorraine interacted with the other bureaus in the same building and I can’t get that if I never see them in person

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Our IM chats are absolutely active all day. I am currently on a team where every last person that was local to me or that worked at the company pre-Covid, has left the company, and the new staff is all multiple states away from me and are all people I have never met in person. I talk to them, I see them interact with our and other teams and I absolutely have a clear picture of everyone’s strengths, communication styles etc. Then again, I pretty much spent the last 23 years being active in online communities, and am now active in a nationwide org where most of the interaction is online with in-person events a few times a year. I’m used to it.

          1. I have RBF*

            Yep! I have 28 years experience in online communities, and I am part of an event committee that doesn’t see each other until the actual event once a year. Communicating by text/email/chat/posting is as natural to me now as talking face to face.

            It’s an acquired skill, but it doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn once you decide to.

        2. M*

          This depends on how remote work is implemented. We have an informal policy to ask questions publicly whenever possible. People do see that I am quick to respond to messages that come up in slack, because it’s not over DM. I have been able to establish myself as someone who is responsive, friendly, and helpful at work, by asking and answering questions where other people can see. I’ve had people I’ve never worked with before reach out to me because of this, and great discussions with colleagues across the country. But many companies don’t use communication tools very well, and then they assume that it’s impossible.

          1. I have RBF*

            Remote communication is a learned skill, and most companies don’t realize that. It’s unfortunate, because they can save a lot of money by not having huge offices.

      3. Mango is Not For You*

        People hate to hear it, but that water cooler chat is important for building rapport and vibe checking your coworkers.

        I have a remote guy who wants to be a manager and loves to tell his teammates that he’s much more efficient than they are because he likes to get! to! the! point! and not spend a lot of time chitchatting. Pretty sure most of his teammates hate him, and he doesn’t know anything about them because he’s just! there! to! work!

        He’s not going to manage that team at any point in the foreseeable future.

        1. Well...*

          I build lots of rapport with chatting over various IM chats. I’ve seen hella drama unfold there too (unfortunately). There are people I’ve only met a handful of times who I’ve supported and who have supported me through truly awful collaborations, etc. It’s not enough to be fully socially stimulating for me personally, and I go back into the office all the time now. Still, I have built strong relationships with colleagues across the globe via remote collaboration. Most people in my field can say the same.

          1. Mango is Not For You*

            Oh I fully agree that working remotely doesn’t mean that you can’t build rapport with coworkers – my company has been fully remote since the start of covid and I’ve never met many of my teammates face-to-face. It’s more the “I’m much more effective at my role since I don’t have to talk to people unless absolutely necessary” attitude. I understand that in many roles that level of tight focus is helpful or necessary, but as Alison said, the theme park is more about teambuilding than it is just a perk of being in the office.

            I direct a few teams, and I’ve had a number of folks come to me asking about promotions to managerial roles where they’d be in charge of teams of people. While many of these employees are fantastic in terms of throughput, some of them really don’t have any of the soft skills needed to manage effectively. Weirdly, a number of them seem to feel that being fully remote means that those people skills aren’t important anymore and therefore shouldn’t count when assessing who is ready for promotion.

            1. I have RBF*

              Weirdly, a number of them seem to feel that being fully remote means that those people skills aren’t important anymore…


              IMO, people skills and communication skills are even more important when managing remotely. I’ve seen managers who are good at it, and those who… aren’t.

              Being able to effectively communicate when you can’t see each others faces is a learned skill, and applies to email, chat, and writing documentation.

        2. Momma Bear*

          I agree. Getting around to the offices you manage, even if it’s just once a quarter, can be important.

          I had a manager who pretty much refused to come up to our main office. He only really interacted with us when we were at the client site or occasionally at the satellite office. I think he missed a lot by not getting to know us as individuals. I actually like my hybrid schedule. I have my time in my home to babysit the plumber and time in the office for someone to stop by my desk for a quick chat. I admit that my role requires those one on one chats to really be effective.

        3. SpaceySteph*

          I’m not sure that is particular to remote workers though. There’s always been people who think that watercooler chat doesn’t matter and they are just there to work.

      4. Tio*

        Some people do have jobs that do not require a lot of intercommunication or oversight, if they do not seek it out. Some of them like it that way. My husband has one, but he also doesn’t want to be promoted basically ever. However, for entry level people (who are most likely to be in this sort of job) not understanding this or how to get out of this invisible rut could be hard.

      5. I have RBF*


        I chat a lot with my coworkers over Zoom chat and in Zoom sessions. Including definite “water cooler” talk. We talk about vacations, pets, who is looking for a new apartment, what to see when in X, Y or Z tourist spot, even who is being a jerk in other groups.

        Now, it’s true that I had to initiate some of this, starting with “Good morning” when I logged on. But it works. I don’t feel like I’m working in a silo, because I make a point to communicate. We’re all geeks on my team, so some of the others didn’t quite have the habit yet, but that just means we have less sports talk and more movie/TV/book talk. The vacation, family, pets, and housing costs talk is the same.

        Remote work requires a bit more deliberate communication than in-office, because you aren’t sitting cheek to jowl with your coworkers. I’ll take the trade-off, personally.

    3. ferrina*

      It’s not harder, but it’s a different way of looking at it. If you are used to evaluating metrics like Who Is At Their Desk and Who Seems Nice and Who Do I See Training Other Employees, yes, that’s easier to measure in person. But if it’s metrics like Who Makes the Most Wickets, Who Has Repeat Clients, Who Hits Deadlines, Whose Work Quality Speaks for Itself, that can all be measured remotely.

      The challenge is changing the way that you manage to encompass remote work. You need to 1) identify what KPIs you are currently measuring (consciously or unconciously) 2) what KPIs you should be measuring and 3) changing your management style to collect data for the KPIs. Sometimes this is easy (how many widgets were made), sometimes this is more challenging (who has strong working relationships with other departments)

      So really the challenge is managers learning how to manage remote work and making the necessary changes. Otherwise they are just promoting based on proximity rather than who is the best fit.

      1. Smithy*

        Giving managers time and support to genuinely develop KPI’s that reflect professional development in a given field – and then also resources to support their staff’s development – is a massive blind spot in this.

        Because when the KPI’s aren’t well address, I also thinks it makes it harder to clearly articulate if someone actually needs to be in a regional/HQ office so many times a quarter/year for a promotion. And then to advocate for the resources to support that as a professional development cost if that’s part of it. Or on the flip side, if a KPI has to do with someone working with Internal Person/Team Z who are difficult to work with online but easier to catch/nag in the office – a manager who has the time/willingness to address that issue.

        For whatever reason, a lot of managers are really uncomfortable with KPI’s – especially when their field doesn’t have super straightforward ones. And instead of seeing them as genuinely helpful tools, it can feel like a situation of promising your parents to get all A+’s.

        1. I have RBF*

          I have had bad experiences with managers setting garbage KPIs, to the point that even the term makes me cringe. Because it does feel like being forced to promise your parents straight A+’s, when you already know that you will get a D in PE.

      2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        “If you are used to evaluating metrics like Who Is At Their Desk and Who Seems Nice and Who Do I See Training Other Employees, yes, that’s easier to measure in person. But if it’s metrics like Who Makes the Most Wickets, Who Has Repeat Clients, Who Hits Deadlines, Whose Work Quality Speaks for Itself, that can all be measured remotely.”

        Oh heck yes – I never thought of it that way, but *maintaining an appearance* of being a good performer without actually being one must be more difficult when everyone is remote! (FTR, I like this!)

      3. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is how I feel about it. About 10% of my current team is full-time remote, and we manage them to metrics, not to butt-in-seat or hours worked. We have clearly defined standards, they’re regularly interacting with their team, with collaborating teams, and with customers.

        Some managers need help defining KPIs and what success looks like, especially the ones who are really married to facetime as a measure of performance. They also require closer monitoring to make sure they are not viewing their in-person folks more favorable based on their own personal beliefs about how critical in-office is.

      4. delazeur*

        “Who Is At Their Desk and Who Seems Nice and Who Do I See Training Other Employees”

        One of these things is not like the others! In many cases, training other employees is a better metric for promotion than something like making the most widgets.

        1. M*

          This is true!

          And remote employees that I work with have run workshops to share their skills, and give a lot of written feedback to reach other. So definitely something that can be done and measured with remote workers.

        2. ferrina*

          That was part of my point. Sometimes the things that managers see in person are really good metrics of overall performance, like who is the go-to person for questions and who does the training. But sometimes the things managers see aren’t actually performance indicators (like general niceness or that someone shares a sense of humor with you). It’s a trade-off and managers need to think critically about what they are measuring and how.

      5. cabbagepants*

        For managers, being able to easily work with other managers is really important. The sort of soft relationship building that is easy in office and hard to do on a hybrid team can easily suffer if the would-be manager is remote, especially if upper management all prefers spontaneous in person conversation to IM.

        Even for purely technical people, in my experience you do reach a professional ceiling if you’re siloed.

        Anyone knows that the most senior someone is, the less spare room they have in their calendar and the more you need to rely on spontaneous interactions to build a relationship with them.

        1. ferrina*

          Remote work is not the same as being siloed. I’m 90% remote, and my entire job is built around my ability to build relationships and communicate. I’ve managed remote teams; I’ve impressed remote higher ups (and had remote junior staff impress me).

          It’s different approaches that you use when working remotely than when working in-person. I have standing coffee dates with a couple people. I find excuses to chat with SMEs (bonus: my own knowledge grows and my projects have stronger foundations).

          If you have a senior leader who is committed to spontaneous interactions or in-person interactions, that’s going to be limiting. That’s not just limiting for junior staff trying to work their way up, that’s limiting for the company. (same way that it would be limiting if only people who came to happy hour got promoted). If you work at a company where the culture is to limit remote workers, you can expect that will be applied to you. I work at a company where we are consciously taking steps to break down siloes and increase access so promotions are based on talent and accomplishments, not location.
          I’m sure there are consultants that help companies do that. If not, let me know and I’ll happily fill that void in the market ;)

          1. I have RBF*

            I’m sure there are consultants that help companies do that. If not, let me know and I’ll happily fill that void in the market ;)

            Me too! I’d be happy to lurk in your chats and meetings to see who needs help on communicating more effectively. Email, chat and video calls are not hard to look at and see where there are communications breakdowns. It just takes time and good reading comprehension.

        2. AD*

          There are a lot of odd, inaccurate assumptions being made about remote work in response to this letter today but the generalization that they’re all de facto “siloed” because of their remote status is pretty ridiculous. That entirely depends on the organization in question and on other factors.

          I work in an organization that’s half remote workers and half hybrid (in-office and remote) and the level of and quality of engagement that individual staff have with colleagues and with the org in general varies due to the nature of peoples’ roles and the effort put in by individuals. I work with remote staff some of whom are far more engaged with others around them than the in-office or hybrid staff.

          If we’re going to keep holding on to dated views of remote work, then I’ll just come out and say that some of the in-office stalwarts I’ve seen who hold these views are sometimes older folks who are less comfortable with technology, and less adaptable to changes in the workplace in general. The old maxim that people who prefer to (or are privileged to be able to) work in-office are all entrepreneurial, engaged, dynamic workers is not a given in 2023 — IMHO.

          1. cabbagepants*

            I’m my workplace 80% of the time you’re up and about, not sitting at your desk waiting for someone to IM you. If the only way you interface with people is in meetings on a common project, yes you do end up siloed. Setting up a deliberate “getting to know you” phone call is not a substitute for all the spontaneous interactions many people have listed in the comments on this post.

            By the way, I’m in my 30s and loved remote work. I’m specifically responding to the LW’s comments on remote workers not being promoted. You can do a great job making your widgets at home but tasks requiring more creative problem solving get way harder, and doubly so if half your team is in an office together.

      6. Greg*

        I’ve found that promoting people who are the best at doing something to manage people doing something is the sure-est way to be looking for a new manager sooner rather than later. Not to say it never works, but the best managers are people who can manage a team to do a task rather than doing that task themselves.

        1. I have RBF*

          Generally true.

          IME, there are kinda four types of managers:
          1) Good technically, good people skills – rare, but the gold standard
          2) Good technically, poor people skills – kinda suck to work for, unless you need technical mentorship
          3) Poor technically, good people skills – okay to work for as long as they don’t try to get too technical
          4) Poor technically, poor people skills – rotten to work for, time to find a new job

          Remote or in-person doesn’t matter as much as the good communication and people skills.

      7. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Yes! I’m a remote manager at a university and there are lots of metrics that are super relevant and highly visible to me: Who Has Been A D*ck To The Professional Staff, Who Has Had Multiple Justified Student Complaints, Who Has Managed To Get Something Done In A Complex Policy Environment Because Of The Rapport They Have Built Across Divisions, Whose Name Makes Their Colleagues’ Faces Light Up (Or Fall) When Mentioned, Who Always (or Never) Provides Constructive Input On New Ideas, etc.

    4. Boolie*

      I mean sometimes. I have been fully remote at my position for only a year and have gotten significantly promoted, not only because I am friendly and receptive even over the phone/Teams but also because my work speaks for itself. Months-long backlogs turned into day-to-day operations and stayed that way. External people get their materials on time without having to send a single follow-up email (let alone several). I earned professional certifications. I helped my team organize their work to deliver like I did (at the request of my boss). Results, people!

    5. Well...*

      I’ve had remote collaborators forever, long before Covid. I get a very good sense of who is good to work with, who can manage well and who can’t, and who has emotional skills from constant Skype/Slack contact and weekly Zoom meetings.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Same, been working on distributed teams since 2000. If we could figure it 0ut 20 years before Slack and Zoom, why would it be hard to figure out now?

        1. Fieldpoppy*

          Same. I’ve been working in a distributed context since 1996. It’s much easier to figure it out now than it was when phone and fax and clunky dial-up were the tech avail.

    6. Cj*

      I was interviewing recently, and was worried about this very issue. I asked one perspective employer how they keep remote employees in the loop. they don’t even have them call into the weekly team meetings, they just send them minutes. that is a job I don’t want.

      I started a new job this Monday, and so far so good with keeping in contact with me when I am fully remote.

      1. I have RBF*

        I asked one perspective employer how they keep remote employees in the loop.

        That is an excellent question when interviewing for remote positions! Thank you, I’m adding it to my list.

    7. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      Only if the manager doesn’t know how to manage, it’s not hard to determine that if you talk with your people regularly and understand their goals and career aspirations. I’m working on a promotion for one of my remote people now based on their growth and progress.

    8. DataSci*

      People say this all the time, but I’ve never seen a good explanation for why it’s any different from geographically distributed teams in general. If my manager is in Seattle and his directs are there and in New York and DC and London, does it matter if we go into the office or not as far as our visibility to him matters?

    9. Zzzzzz*

      Really? This seems off… The mangers you work with [nearly] every day don’t “see” you when you are working on projects for/with them? I am not buying this.

    10. Remote work, remote minds*

      Exactly. Out of sight, out of mind. Half the battle is showing up. These aren’t just aphorisms.

      1. I have RBF*

        “Showing up” can also mean participating in team chats and meetings. I don’t need to go to an office to be “seen”.

  3. L-squared*

    I love this answer.

    As someone who is hybrid, but “forced” to go in to the office multiple times a week, there is nothing I find more annoying than when people complain about the few actual perks we get. Oh, we get free lunch and maybe 2-3 times a year a company outing, and you think you need to get something of equal value? Come on.

    Fact is, as Alison said, if you choose to look at how much time our hourly rate is worth, and you added up all the time we spend commuting in to work, and how much time you get to do other stuff while working from home, the fully remote people would come out WAY ahead.

    I’m actually all for remote work. If you gave me the choice to give up all “perks” I get for coming to office to work remotely full time, I’d 100% do it. But the fact that people can’t just be happy with the fact that they get more freedom, and want to make sure they get all their stuff PLUS what little extra we get is ridiculous.

    Now, as Alison said, the whole idea of a lack of promotion is definitely a problem. But don’t mix that in with everything else.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Yep. I’m remote and I wouldn’t care if my coworkers in the office got free lunch every day and a season pass to Disney. The time I save commuting, more time for my personal life, not needing an extensive wardrobe, etc. far outweigh whatever perks in office people get.

    2. Artemesia*

      This. Just not having to buy an office wardrobe and commute is such a huge perk both in time saved and money saved that all the bagels in the world aren’t going to come close. Yes, at Christmas they should send a thoughtful gift basket to those who are remote; yes when a huge outing is planned, another gift basket. But the people getting those breakfasts are getting up early, having to waste time commuting, having to take PTO when the plumber is coming or the kid is sick. The Remotes are WAY ahead.

    3. anne of mean gables*

      Agreed. I have a hybrid (e.g., some folks fully remote, across the country and some local folks in person 3 days a week, WFH 2 days) workplace. Balancing ‘fairness’ between those two groups of employees has been a years long conversation, ever since we returned to office in 2021 – especially re: those who live locally but would like to WFH permanently. Why can’t they? I don’t have a great answer, other than we stand to lose our office space if we don’t fill it with bodies. But the one thing I really don’t have patience for is the fully-remote folks complaining about the ‘perks’ the in-office workers get (especially in a government environment, where those perks are basically limited to a couple potluck lunch parties/year and getting chitchat in person).

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      I agree with this. For a staff appreciation event, there will be a lunch for in-person workers that the remote folks miss, but everyone will receive the staff gift (typically a case-based gift card that can be used anywhere) with the remote folks’ being mailed to their home.

      I would happily give up sandwiches and happy hours if it meant I didn’t have to put on hard pants and commute.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      I agree. I think the pendulum may be swinging too far towards accommodating remote workers – they have so many more opportunities and flexibilities than they would otherwise.

    6. Hell in a Handbasket*

      Could not agree more. There are massive perks to working from home, and at one time people were very grateful to be allowed to do it at all. Now they’re complaining about missing a (business) lunch once in a while? And want a gift card to compensate?? Having lunch with my boss and co-workers, while nice, is not nearly the same as having someone hand me money to go out to eat on my own.

      1. L-squared*

        Right. Espcially an Uber eats gift card.

        If its a work lunch, its usually I have to go to a certain place, with specific people. I’d much rather get a card to order in what I’d like. Its not the same.

    7. allathian*

      Yes, I definitely agree. The lack of promotion for remote employees is the key issue here.

      That said, now that I’ve become used to hybrid working, I really wouldn’t want to be 100 percent remote anymore. I like my coworkers and enjoy seeing them face to face a few times a month. I’m happiest working about one day a week at the office and the rest at home.

    8. Knope Knope Knope*

      Op, you come out way ahead. I’m in the office 2-3 days a week. I’m tied HCOL areas where I pay nearly $20k a year in taxes for a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house. Why? I’m in office.

      I pay nearly $5k a MONTH in childcare. Why? To cover the time it takes to commute to and from the office.

      I’ve had to buy a whole new wardrobe. Why? In office.

      I get up at 5am 2-3 days a week without any personal benefit, get less time to exercise, am always tired and am struggling with my weight and have exacerbated anxiety… ever since I was sent back to the office.

      I pay almost $500 a month on gas and train tickets.

      I have paid almost $300 on computer chargers lost on trains and phone chargers lifted from desks etc.

      My husband now works 7 days a week because his company offers overtime from home. Why? To cover the cost of going to the office.

      I, too, would like a day off and a $100 gift card. Let the non remote employees have the perks. Sheesh.

      1. ClaireW*

        OK it’s clear that in-office work isn’t working for you but this is a bit of a ridiculous response. It is not the FAULT of remote employees that you have these experiences. You can’t blame remote employees because you lost a charger on a train or you needed to buy new clothes, for example.

        I feel like too often in the AAM comments, people who work in office hold a HUGE grudge against remote workers, as if we are running around sunning ourselves and sleeping and just occasionally bothering to do work or answer an email. For many of us, remote work is the only way we can work (Long Covid fatigue means I can literally only manage 1 day in office per week and I still suffer the next day) and not something we’re doing AT you. Why do I not deserve to feel like my company appreciates my work and efforts just because your situation isn’t ideal for you?

  4. Trout 'Waver*

    I strongly suspect that every single attendee of the theme park event would rather have the day off and $100 as well.

    1. Melissa*

      Yepppp. It makes sense that the choices are “come to the theme park, or don’t.” Everyone wants $100 but that isn’t the point of a theme park day!

    2. I should really pick a name*

      Some would, some wouldn’t.
      I’d happily go to the theme park. It’s not something I’d typically do myself, but it’s more appealing when someone else is paying.

    3. foobar*

      Speak for yourself; I’d really enjoy something like that.

      Not everyone dislikes being around their coworkers.

      1. Well...*

        Yup, I’d 100% go, and I often find myself not relating to the comments here because I actually like most of the people I work with. And even if I didn’t, I like doing something new and getting to know people in different contexts. Conferences are my favorite part of my job, and I love the conference hikes/outings/dinners/drinks. Nowadays conferences are a chance to see colleagues I don’t get to hang out with often, but earlier in my career they were mostly strangers to me, and I still loved these events and meeting new people.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          I love all that stuff too. But that all is still work. Time off with my family is always going to win out over that.

          I like my colleagues as well. But I already spend more time with them than my immediate family.

          1. Well...*

            Are you sure they can’t bring their families to the event? I’ve been a +1 to similar type of events for my partner’s work in the past…

      2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        “Actually like my co-workers” is unwarranted and unnecessary snark. People can like their co-workers and not want to work from the office and not want to/be able to go to an amusement park.

        1. not bitter just sour*

          I tolerate my coworkers but I A) hate the heat (around here it gets into the triple digits + humidity) B) can’t actually go on most rides without getting violently ill and C) can’t eat most of the food offered at amusement parks.

          So standing around in the blazing hot sun picking at fries that may or may not have been fried in lard? No thanks, gimme the $100 or the day off.

          But if it was a water park? Totally different story.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yeah, I like many of my coworkers and wouldn’t mind hanging out somewhere air conditioned and with things to do that I can actually participate in (B is 100% me – I get horrifically motion sick, and it’s only gotten worse as I’ve aged). No event is going to appeal to everyone, and not wanting to attend doesn’t always mean we’re antisocial loners. But I also don’t need the $100 admission fee for politely declining.

        2. Well...*

          You didn’t reply to me directly but you quoted my wording, so I’ll respond (apologies if I misinterpreted who you’re talking to though). I didn’t mean to couple “I actually like most of the people I work with” with going to the theme park directly. I agree there are plenty of other reasons to not be all that into theme parks. Accessibility seems like a big one to me off the top of my head.

          I’m not trying to be snarky, but I do think this commentariat has a very specific slant in this direction that is at odds with everything I’ve seen directly in my own career. Most people I work with would be pretty excited about going to a theme park, we all have regular social gatherings with each other, go for beers after work a lot, etc. This is true of every place I’ve worked during my whole career. I tolerate *some* of my coworkers, but the vast majority I genuinely enjoy being around.

          1. Tom*

            This is kind of a common thing with people who spend a lot of time on the Internet, I think–a lot of times, they’re using it as a substitute for social interaction in the real world/meatspace that they’re not getting, for whatever reason.

            And I suspect that the commentariat for a website dedicated to discussing problematic workplace issues is going to have a high proportion of people who don’t like their coworkers.

        3. L-squared*

          In fairness, in this comment section “not liking my coworkers” and “just here to work” seem to be much more common sentiments.

      3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        I don’t dislike my coworkers but while I’m at the theme park the work is piling up just the same…

      4. Trout 'Waver*

        I’d enjoy it too; it’s just that I’d enjoy $100 and a day with my family more…….

    4. Jolie*

      Hmmm…. Interesting one.
      I live in a different city than my work so I work 90% from home, only coming in when actual în-person events/meetings /workshops happen.

      If I had the choice between the theme park day and a day off with £100, right now I would probably choose the theme park day. If the same choice were offered two me back when I was still living in the same city /working from the office more often than not, I would have picked the time off and the money.

      This goes to show that getting everyone together can be a lot more important to those who are usually remote than those who see each other already plenty anyway. I just don’t think that remote events /delivery lunch achieve the same thing, there’s something deeply unfestive about Zoom parties. I’d say the company should pay for remote people’s travel to events, so they can be included too, and/or hold team-building events as an “away day” so that everyone travels.

    5. Roland*

      I greatly enjoyed a past company’s yearly all-day offsite that was along the same lines as a waterpark. I would love to do that again.

    6. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Ohh good point. I was here fuming about people being shorted an entire PTO day, but it isn’t really PTO if you have to be at the theme park for it.

    7. fhqwhgads*

      I think it’s more nuanced than that, but still sort of silly-logic on the part of the employer. They’re planning the theme park day because of fun-togetherness, but in my experience, once you’re there, there’s no requirement to actually stick with coworkers. You could totally split off alone and do whatever, which is still (if you’re into that sort of thing) a nice break from doing work. Or you split off with your one work BFF who you already work with all the time and collaborate really well with. So, not really any new bonding happening, but reward for already-bondedness? And then there are people who’d rather have the day off and $100. Or people who’d rather work and get things done and not think about it.
      I’ve been remote for a really long time and one thing that sometimes happens is people in the same general region are encouraged to plan a social get-together. They plan it themselves, and it could be dinner out, or an activity, but the group decides. There’s a specific budget. There’s also a recommended distance, so if you travel more than I forget how many miles, there’s mileage or transit reimbursement. There’s a per-person budget. The parameters are very clear.
      So to OP I’d say, if you wanted to try to change it (and assuming you have any clusters of employees nearish each other), you could suggest the employer do this. So next time people from the office-office go to a theme park, all the Chicago remote-employees have X budget to do their own thing. Or all the Austin employees, or whatever. People opt-in to which regional group they want to associate themselves with. And can still opt out of the activity. But it’s closer to a happy medium than “come, or don’t”.

      1. Aitch Arr*

        IME that’s exactly what happens at one of these get-togethers at a theme park or similar place. People do their own thing and then the lunch part is a picnic in an area reserved just for the group. So you’ll see co-workers during the lunch and randomly around the park.

      2. Well...*

        I also think it kind of depends on how ambitious you are. I go to conferences, and in principle I *could* just cling to people I already know during conference outings (hikes, dinners, drinks, visits to local tourist sites, etc). But I don’t do that. I actively try to meet new people, talk to them about their work, get gossip from various experimental groups about to release data, etc etc. I especially like seeing more late-career folks in more relaxes settings and listening to them vent/dump mentorship advice/gossip about things happening at the high-level organizational structure of our field.

        Also, like, this is a perk. If you just want to hang out with your work BFF and go on rides, I think that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s giving an opportunity to network and strengthen your work relationships, but it’s also supposed to be fun and make your worklife more enjoyable. I don’t see it as a failure if some people don’t maximize the opportunity for their careers and instead just enjoy themselves. It seems like providing a venue for both options is kind of hitting two birds with one stone.

    8. Sassy SAAS*

      I’ve worked for 2 companies that both gave us employees a day at a local theme park and I LOVED it. I’ll take the day off and the trip to the theme park, especially because that $100 isn’t going to pay for me to go to the theme park myself.

    9. Amy*

      “Every” is probably a bit hyperbolic, but point taken. I’d also enjoy the day at the theme park but given the choice I’d take $100 and an extra day off

  5. Chairman of the Bored*

    I’ve been a 100% remote employee for the last ~6 years.

    In LW’s shoes I would focus on the raises/promotions and this bizzaro requirement to only work from your home address.

    I wouldn’t muddy the water talking about lower-stakes things like breakfasts and amusement parks etc.

    WFH is a sweet deal, I’m happy to arrange my own breakfasts and recreation in exchange for having no commute and no adult supervision.

    1. Remote worker*

      Yes, I’m in total agreement – mildly irking to be at work while others are at a theme park, but I’d wear that happily. The idea that I work remotely but have to be in one particular place, though, I’d never go for.

      1. Just Another Zebra*

        Depending on OP’s industry, it may make sense for security reasons that they need to be at a single address. It could also be the stop-gap measure to keep employees from taking vacation without PTO (ie “working” from the beach for a week). There are better ways to do it, but I wouldn’t call it bizarre.

        1. L-squared*

          Right. I’ve seen people take calls from a hotel pool before while they were “working”. Seems to me that likely should have been a PTO day.

          1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

            Why? If they are taking work calls, they are working. Regardless of location.

            This precludes someone from going to the local coffee shop or the park for a change of scenery. Its the pettiness that drives away good employees. If someone is not really working but on vacation, then address that behavior. Don’t say you can only work from your home address. The whole point of WFH is flexibility. Hey my grandma is sick. She needs someone to be with her, but I can still work. Oh wait, I can’t do that because its not my home address so I have to blow a PTO day. Instead of you know, being productive and making the company money.

            1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

              This precludes someone from going to the local coffee shop or the park for a change of scenery.

              or due to a power outage or internet outage.

            2. NotAnotherManager!*

              We have infosec restrictions on working from a coffee shop or public park. As many people as not work with confidential, proprietary, or other sorts of information that shouldn’t be discussed or on a computer screen with other people around. It’s necessary to comply with industry ethical guidelines and also with customer contract infosec requirements.

              Employers clearly need to do a better job of communicating clearly WHY restrictions are in place. Lots of things mentioned in the comments violate our remote work policies – it’s not because we’re petty and trying to micromanage employees, it’s because there are state/local tax, state/local labor law compliance, insurance/liability coverage, and information security requirements that have to be in place in order for us to continue to have a company, keep our customers and meet *their* requirements, and avoid tax/labor law violation penalties. For smaller/regional companies, these are huge burdens. My organization is able to have workers in 15 states, but we’re not big enough to be able to support free-range workers working from wherever they want whenever they want.

              1. Observer*

                Employers clearly need to do a better job of communicating clearly WHY restrictions are in place.

                This is true. It’s something I try very hard to do, when it comes to our data security rules. And it’s something I’ve convinced our fiscal department to be better at, as well.

            3. Rob*

              I think there is a huge difference between having to work from a coffee shop or working at your sick grandmother’s house and saying you are working remotely while you are on vacation at the beach with your family so you dont have to use your vacation days

          2. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

            Do you actually know whether they were on PTO that day or not? If someone is on a work call, they should be paid for the time they’re on a work call.

            1. L-squared*

              While I conceptually agree. I’m referring to the people who were basically “off” but zoomed in for 1 call, and would answer urgent emails when needed. That isn’t really a “work day” to me. If people are forced to be in the office some days, but you can basically be on vacation, and just jump on your team meeting and do nothing else, seems a bit much.

              1. Dell*

                Presumably, only their manager would know if they took 7 hours of PTO that day and jumped on for the call in order to keep a project flowing. I have definitely taken a full day of PTO but still jumped on for a call or two so that I wouldn’t disrupt a project or hold anyone else up.

              2. Fishsticks*

                It does, but it sounds like an issue of expectations to me. If people are expected to still do said work from vacation, or to be “on call” after hours or whatever, then… well, they’re just doing what they would be expected to do outside the regular range of their hours anyway, just by a pool. Good for them, pay them.

                But if you are talking about people explicitly taking vacation but NOT working, sure, that should be PTO. Which should mean the workplace giving adequate PTO to cover both unexpected illnesses within a reasonable amount and ALSO vacation time.

                Two weeks per year sure isn’t enough to count for that, and I’d work from vacation too so I could save up PTO for when my children inevitably get every illness known to man during the school year.

              3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

                I’m kind of amazed that you think people should not get paid when they interrupt their own vacation to take a work call. Take 7 hours of PTO and get paid for the hour you’re working.

                1. L-squared*

                  I mean, if your job allows you to do that, by all means. I’m not talking about people who take a PTO day and get suckered into doing a call. I’m talking about the people who are on vacation and not taking a PTO day to game the system, but signing into one meeting.

                2. Aitch Arr*

                  They are getting paid.
                  It’s not good practice to make exempt employees use PTO in such small increments.

        2. Artemesia*

          During COVID my daughter and SIL rented a cabin on a lake for a couple of weeks at the point everyone was going stir crazy and the kids attended on line school as usual and they ‘worked from the beach’ — it was fine. The only reason to insist on working from one address only is if there are some computer security issues that require it for genuine reasons besides micromanagement.

          Assessments of employees for raises and promotions should be based on what they accomplish and the big challenge is to have ways to measure those things in this new work environment. You don’t have to ‘see’ the employee to feel they are ready to manage; you do have to have small management tasks you can observe them doing — on line, on zoom and in the productivity of their reports, in order to assess whether they are ready for a big promotion.

        3. Tio*

          There’s couple industries/job types where they definitely wouldn’t want you on an open/unsecured wifi connection, which may be what they’re trying to avoid. I have a friend in a certain industry that is very overprotective of data that WILL come after them if they go on open wifi networks on a secure company device.

        4. ADidgeridooForYou*

          Yeah, I have some friends who aren’t allowed to work from anywhere but their house. One of them works for the State, so it’s a legal thing, and the other is an account manager for insanely rich 1%-ers, so it’s a privacy issue. Not sure what LW’s situation is – could be legit, or it could just be a weird micro-manage-y thing.

    2. L-squared*

      Honestly, even the home address thing isn’t to me that big of a deal.

      While working from a coffee shop is nice, I don’t know how much sympathy there is going to be if they are literally forcing other people to work in the office.

      1. DataSci*

        It’s full remote vs hybrid (in office two days a week), and no indication of whether hybrid workers have the same “no libraries” rule.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      I was surprised that Alison didn’t mention the home address requirement. What is the thinking behind that? My guess is that it is a proxy for butts-in-chairs=productivity, which is to say they have no clue how to actually measure productivity. This would explain the raises and promotions, too.

      My extended family takes an annual vacation together. Grandma rents a vacation rental house for the week and everyone converges on it. Last year, one of us worked several days. He took his computer and disappeared into a back room for that period of time, his wife taking care of their kid. It worked fine, and I doubt that anyone at his work would ever know, short of chasing down ISP addresses. It meant that he got only a partial vacation experience, but he made it work. I imagine that this is exactly the scenario that OP’s company regards with horror, for no good reason.

      1. goducks*

        While there are some people who will work a full day in that scenario, there’s others who will kinda-sorta work a lesser day. And then there will be those who do some nominal tasks and call it a work day. The company may just want to forego trying to draw lines around all of that and just say that if you’re not at home it’s not a work day. Just like for in office employees, if you’re not in office it’s not a work day. Home is your office, if you’re elsewhere, take a PTO day.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Sure, but lots of people kinda-sorta work at home or in the office. Location is being used as a proxy for productivity, which is to say the underlying issue is that they aren’t measuring actual productivity.

        2. starsaphire*

          The in-your-home-only thing seems ludicrous to me, but then I’ve had multiple occasions in the past year in which they were digging up my street and shutting off my water all day / replacing a transformer and shutting off my power all day, and I would be absolutely livid if I had to take a full day of PTO instead of just walking up to the Sbux and logging in from there.

          1. Delta Delta*

            I feel this. There’s been a house under construction down the road from me since before covid. Progress has been intermittent at best. Without fail during the summer of 2020 and part of 2021, this genius would regularly knock out our power or internet. I can think of six different occasions this happened. (Said genius also is working to install a sewer line; this can’t possibly go well)

            My town has terrible cell service, so each time I had to go out and find a location where I could reliably make calls. More than once I ended up in the parking lot at the local community garden, sitting in my car, doing calls or remote court hearings, since that seems to be the only place I can get reliable service. I work for myself so there’s no rule about location, but if I did work for a place with that rule, I’d have been out of luck ages ago.

            1. Baby Yoda*

              Do you have a hotspot on your phone? Our Verizon was out today for several hours and I was able to use my hotspot to connect.

              1. AnonORama*

                IMO the home-address-only thing is silly without security reasons, but the phone hotspot is awesome! It saved some of our programs, and likely my job, when I tested positive for Covid right before a week with tons of external deadlines. I actually felt ok (just like a mild cold) and figured I’d WFH, but then the internet went out. Google tried several fixes from outside, but nothing worked and they wouldn’t come inside (totally fair).

                Thankfully, I remembered the phone hotspot and was able to get online and make all my deadlines. Without it, I guess I could’ve begged for extensions, but I could see some of those folks deciding to be a hard-ass.

                TL;DR: hotspot for the win!

                1. I have RBF*


                  My internet went intermittent then completely out. While we were going through the tech support dance (“Reboot your computer”, “Reboot the router”, “We reset it, it should be fine”, “Do a hard reset, reboot, etc”, and finally “Okay, it’s dead, we’re sending you a new one.”) I worked using my dedicated wifi hotspot. Otherwise I’d have had to go to the library or a coffee shop.

                  IMO, fully remote people are well advised to have a backup hotspot in case their ISP flakes out, or they have a power glitch, or whatever. It helps with the perception of your reliability.

      2. OP remote worker*

        Yup, this is exactly the scenario we are not allowed to do. And yea, I agree, most of ELT are not good people managers unfortunately, and dont know how to manage and measure productivity. They excel at the bizdev and tech stuffs, but not great at the HR managerial stuffs.

      3. Rick Tq*

        One likely reason for the restriction is states like California that tax any income earned working in the state, even by non-residents. That is why professional athletes need tax CPAs, they have to file a return in every state they played a game.

      4. ADidgeridooForYou*

        Depends on the place. I’m sure there are a lot of people who do it out of an outdated concept of what productivity means, but I do know several people who aren’t allowed to work from anywhere else due to privacy or legal issues (one is a lawyer for the state of CA, and one is an account manager for ridiculously rich people). Some of it might be tax reasons, as well. I’ve had some friends who used their remote work policy to rent an AirBnB for 2 months in a different country or state, only to find themselves in a bit of trouble when tax season rolled around (a lot of states have to start dealing with different income tax requirements when an employee spends more than 30 days in another location).

      5. Observer*

        What is the thinking behind that? My guess is that it is a proxy for butts-in-chairs=productivity

        Highly unlikely. The OP says that they actually monitor that, which means that they have a somewhat sophisticated security set up. Which generally only happens when companies NEED that kind of thing. This kind of security doesn’t come cheap.

        So, odds are that there are security implications to the requirement.

    4. mlem*

      My company enforces home-address-only (by policy; I don’t know that they’re actually able to track anything). They’ve given a variety of reasons for it, so I’m not sure they have any one *good* reason, but proprietary data and HIPAA/PHI protections are plausible. Worrying that people will be too cavalier and will work from a state that has tax implications is plausible. “You can’t work Friday from your beach rental (in order to be able to drive there on Thursday night instead of in Friday traffic) because we’re going to pretend to think you meant you wanted to work on your vacation and that’s bad for work/life balance!” is … not plausible.

      1. Chairman of the Bored*

        If an employee is traveling out-of-state for work are they allowed to answer emails or take calls from their hotel room?

        If so, I’d suggest that proprietary data, HIPPA protections, and tax concerns are not the driving factors here.

        1. doreen*

          I suspect (although of course I don’t know ) is worried about a remote worker working out-of-state for an extended period of time. Different states have different rules and duration sometime matters – someone traveling out of state for work to 12 different states for a total of 30 days may not have any impact on taxes, unemployment insurance , workers comp ,nexus etc – while five people each working five days in one particular state may impose obligations on the company. And of course, there’s a huge different between my employer being liable for all those obligations because the company chose to send people out of state on business vs. being liable because I chose to work from my beach house in another state in July and August.

        2. ADidgeridooForYou*

          I know my friend who works for the state government can’t do any of those things when she’s out of state, even when it’s for work. She actually kind of likes it, because it means that when she’s on vacation she can truly unplug – even if work wanted to bug her, their hands would be tied from doing so.

        3. J*

          Often no, without special precautions in place and generally only for special workers. I have field workers for healthcare purposes who have been through extra training, have hotspots, screen protectors, etc. but when a group of them were going to a conference and wanted to work from the Airbnb, they were denied. The compliance officer has literally called hotels to ask about their internet providers and systems on senior executive planned trips before we locked in a booking to ensure we met our standards. Phone calls are typically different but never in a public place, even for our field workers. We’re not allowed to take calls on the bluetooth in our car for example due to the volume issues outside the car.

      2. Silver Robin*

        Yeah the only thing I can think of (non-expert) is an issue around paying taxes for working in another state (or even country). I can understand an employer not really trusting folks to figure out the complicated rules. But other than that, who cares where we work from? Why not go to visit your parents for a week and work from home there or a B&B or the beaches in Florida…or wherever, (“digital nomads for the win” says the homebody who likes their hybrid schedule).

        1. doreen*

          It’s not just a matter of the employees paying taxes- there are issues about workers comp policies and unemployment policies and whether having an employee working in that state will cause the company to be required pay or collect taxes in that state. And while it may not be an issue if one person works for a week from Florida , it’s very likely going to be a different story if five employees each work four weeks over the course of a year from Massachusetts.

          1. NotAnotherManager!*

            This. Each state has their own separate labor laws that employers working within their boundaries have to abide by. They’re not all the same by a wide margin, including how long you have to work in a particular location before you create a business nexus. Unless you have a really large employer, the burden of knowing and complying with all 50 states’ (plus DC’s) labor laws and tax policies is a lot. I work for an organization of a few hundred people, so going to the time and effort to set up business relationships, pay taxes, and comply with state/local laws is not worth it for the size of our business and how much compliance would cost us.

            There was some flexibility during COVID because everything was so crazy and scattered, but states are cracking down more on employers “operating” within their states and not paying taxes/following their employment laws/regs.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          “who cares where we work from?”

          – your clients – are you going to be able to meet with clients, virtually or in person?
          – your employees – will you be available when needed?
          – your manager – see above
          – HR in the case of emergency
          – all of the above, especially you are in a different time zone

    5. ferrina*

      Totally agree. The raise/promotion will hurt your career long term; the lower-stakes things are a trade-off for all the perks remote workers get (no commute, option to do housework during breaks, etc.)

      Also agree with Alison that things look different from a company perspective. I’d want to make sure my remote workers are appreciated and seen- otherwise you’re going to get higher turnover. Also, promoting based on proximity is no basis for a system of organizational governance.

      1. Artemesia*

        You’d probably be better off with swords from strange ladies in ponds as a system of governance.

    6. Ashley*

      For the home address, there could be security issues and tax jurisdiction issues. It isn’t completely unreasonable in some contexts. Also depending on the type of work sometimes you physically have to be in that state even if remote – think licensing requirements. There are places I am sure that make blanket statements rather then learn the rules to make their lives easier and not have to learn the rules or have multiple policies for people in different roles.

      1. OP remote worker*

        We dont have any HIPAA or licensing or anything like that. Tax jurisdiction issues I understand, and we have a process in place for remote employees to request if they need to work from a different location for some reason (most requests are denied, the only time its approved really is for like family medical emergencies or other emergencies). I have no issues with the process to request to make sure that we aren’t running into any issues. But the general policy of “nope” for no good reason sucks and has lost me employees.

        And they do track our IP address location (which are not necessarily accurate location wise), HR powertrips on writing people up for this, my director and I have had to fight write ups for 4 people on my team, 2 of which were working from local co-working offices..

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Yeah, that’s just silly. Without a good reason, I’d be pretty irritated if I couldn’t work from, say, the mechanic when my car was in the shop. I used to do that when I worked in-office, forget about full-time remote. I think most people understand that they can’t work long-term from another state without approval, but no ability to move around at all? They’d probably ding me if I worked from a common area in my apartment building.

          1. I have RBF*

            My employer actually has offices in the state where my mother lives. Given that she’s over 80, this actually is a consideration for me.

            Sometimes I have to use my hotspot for work, even from home, and no one bats an eye. Plus, my ISP frequently changes my external IP, because of DHCP leases. IMO, some companies go way overboard with this monitoring stuff.

        2. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          “have no issues with the process to request to make sure that we aren’t running into any issues. But the general policy of “nope” for no good reason sucks and has lost me employees.”

          So it is already costing the company in turnover. For no good reason. If it is tax — since you ruled out security reasons — then they need to convey that so people can make an informed decision. That one people will understand. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go the library for the day when your internet goes out.

        3. Berin*

          Genuinely think that it’s worth reframing this in how you think about the broader issue. Is working at a different location for a non-emergency reason an option for in-office employees? I’m guessing not. I do think you’re skating over a lot of the perks of working from home, and focusing solely on the positives of the “perks” that in-office staff are getting, despite the fact that some of those perks may be more work-related than you think. It sounds like the theme park day, for instance, was mandatory for in-office staff; did anyone opt out, and if they did, did they get a paid day off? Christmas parties can often be a burden in an already busy season, and while optional, I’m guessing that in-office staff may feel pressured to go, while remote workers do not have the same expectation.

          I’d also add – a ton of workplaces also require certain environmental measures to work remotely, including reliable, non-public WiFi, office furniture, and at least semi-private space. Not requiring a basic work setup can open offices up to worker’s compensation claims and security issues because of inappropriate work set ups. It isn’t egregious to not want (or not have the bandwidth) to vet any number of alternate working sites for non-emergency circumstances.

          Your company doesn’t sound perfect and I’m not excusing them, especially given your concerns about promotional tracks for in-office vs remote staff (though you and apparently multiple other remote workers have proven that promotions are available for remote staff). In general, I think that it would be helpful to think thru all of the benefits you and your team get as remote workers. I’m remote myself after working in person for the last 15 years, and to me the benefits are worth it!

          1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

            I totally agree and you phrased it much more diplomatically than I would have. Frankly most of these complaints are just pure entitlement of remote workers wanting all the perks and none of the drawbacks, and bristling at even the slightest bit of oversight.

          2. CJ*

            >>Is working at a different location for a non-emergency reason an option for in-office employees?

            OP says no one is required to be in the office every day, so they do have the option to work at a different location, though presumably that has to be their home like the remote employees. And I’d bet if the Internet got patchy in the office or construction started outside, people would decamp.

    7. 2 Cents*

      Yeah, why only from your home address? I could see the issue if you were regularly working from a different state/country, but sometimes I work at my parents’ house or at the local library when I need a change of scenery or, you know, the power is out at my house. That’s unexpectedly rigid.

      1. Need More Sunshine*

        I think a power outage would be an extenuating circumstance, but I think the point many are making is that in-office employees don’t get to just decide they want a change of scenery, so that’s kind of a flimsy reason to take to the powers that be to change the policy. Sure, it’s punitive to just outright deny almost any reasonable request like OP has stated, but it’s not a terrible policy at its core.

        1. I have RBF*

          In some areas power cuts are frequent, and not having the liberty to take your computer to somewhere with power and internet would cost a lot of productivity. Even different addresses in the same city or metro area can have different levels of reliability in power or internet service.

          IMO, asking that they work from non-public areas in their home state is reasonable, tying them to one address is not.

    8. Tinkerbell*

      This. Are there ways to better show appreciation for remote employees? Yes, of course – but those pale in importance to work-related issues, like getting raises and promotions when appropriate and having clear communication with peers in the office. Fix those first.

    9. Observer*

      this bizzaro requirement to only work from your home address.

      Not bizarre at all. There are some good reasons for these requirements. And the fact that the company actually has the capacity to monitor this tells me that some of them apply here.

      1. Chairman of the Bored*

        If I’m allowed to do work from a hotel on a work trip, I should be allowed to do that same work from a hotel on a personal trip.

        Does this employer also tell people they can’t do calls or emails from the hotel when traveling for work? Maybe, but I doubt it.

    10. Goldenrod*

      “WFH is a sweet deal, I’m happy to arrange my own breakfasts and recreation in exchange for having no commute and no adult supervision.”


  6. VAdoc*

    As somebody in healthcare who must work full-time, in person, with minimal flexibility: I’d give up every theme park day, breakfast, lunch and so forth if I could work from home even one day a week.

    I’m also a federal employee so my work has never purchased so much as a coffee for me, so there’s that, too.

    1. Grits McGee*

      Fellow fed- I know that comparing government employment with non-government employment is comparing apples to oranges, but none of these issues raised in the letter (other than the promotion stuff) sound that unreasonable. Even the requirement to work from home makes sense to me from an information security standpoint- even if you’re not working with data that has legal protections (HIPAA, financial data, etc) using unsecured wifi for business opens your company to all kinds of IT risks.

      1. Emmy*

        yeah the fed is definitely a different animal. i’m imagining the look on my supervisor’s face if I told them I wanted to run NCIC and IAFIS queries on public wifi or in a public place. i think they’d just stare speechlessly at me and walk away.
        wouldn’t it be nice to one day have a morale event we didn’t pay for ourselves? ah well lol I love it even so

    2. allathian*

      I work for the government as well, but I’m glad our taxpayers accept that government employees are people too and don’t begrudge us perks paid by the employer. We get free coffee and tea at the office, and the occasional catered lunch for meetings with external stakeholders.

  7. Web Crawler*

    What would be the purpose of remote employees only being able to work from their home address? That’s not a policy I’ve heard of before

    1. Potatogrip*

      I’ve heard of having to notify your employer of where you’re working – for one thing it makes sure your taxes are taken out correctly if you cross state or city lines – but only being allowed to work from your home is weird.

    2. comic avec*

      I’m wondering this too. The only thing I could think of would be if there was some sort of security requirement where they don’t want people looking over shoulders. But really, that’s just wild speculation on my part.

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      It could be something to do with security. If you are handling confidential data (such as patient or student data) they don’t want you sitting in a coffee shop where anyone can just peer over your shoulder.

      This requirement makes sense to me–but then again, I work with confidential client data all day long.

        1. J*

          Having just done new insurance applications for a company and its 5 subsidiaries, it definitely alerted us to very clearly define if each worker is 1) on-side and at which office, 2) defined as an in-the-field worker and what guardrails do we have in place, 3) authorized to work from home, 4) a remote employee and where, 5) what is the “home” office for remote employees (e.g. mine is TX despite working in MO because of NY tax laws but also because my boss is also MO and her boss is in TX so we climb the chain). Our field workers for example aren’t authorized to work at home, our remote employees stick to their primary location, we have a policy to notice up if we change locations. Our insurance broker asked for all those policies and definitions, sometimes even down to the specific employee level.

          We do work in a highly regulated industry but it was exhausting doing those applications and I would absolutely get why an employer would opt for a blanket policy over such nuance. Plus I do this regularly for state taxes, workman’s comp, unemployment, etc. We have a 50-state committee given that our work is nationwide and every week we have major updates. As one of the remote employees, I benefit from it but it’s so much more complicated than I ever thought.

    4. Just Another Zebra*

      I’d guess a security requirement, or a measure put in place to keep people from “working” on vacation. Like taking a laptop to the beach, or to a ski resort, or (ironically) a theme park.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        Raising the question, if they are getting their work done, who cares? I know a senior guy in a banking-adjacent field. He was complaining to me about remote working, using just this scenario, which apparently actually happened. He had a point that there was a document that needed to be notarized. OK, I can see that. This is not an insurmountable problem, but it add friction to the process that would be easier to solve from a fixed position (e.g. having a set arrangement with a local bank). But really, the sense I got was moral outrage more than practical concerns.

        1. Fishsticks*

          I think for a lot of in-office workers, “The sheer SCANDAL of WORKING from a DIFFERENT LOCATION!” has overtaken what used to be micromanaging and playing the creeper by obsessing over how long someone’s lunch was or if they’re routinely in at 9:10 instead of 9 AM on the dot, etc.

          It lets people build resentment without actually being something that usually affects them at all.

        2. Ahnon4Thisss*

          I think the venue is what matters. If I saw team members logging on from a WeWork, a quiet cafe, the library, or even a hotel room, I wouldn’t think much of it. But if I saw them logging on from a theme park, the beach, or poolside, I’d be thinking about how much work they’re actually getting done, especially at places with way more distractions such as a theme park.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I believe the government does it. I assume security but also maybe discouraging people from “working” on vacation, if they don’t want to see people crossing those streams.

      1. Prefer my pets*

        I’m a federal employee who does hybrid (minimum two days per pay period in office, rest telework). I had declare my primary remote work location, but it 1) did not have to be my home and 2) it’s my “primary” but not my only. It is no big deal if I work from, for example an ill relative’s house or on a trip.

        Every federal agency has its own set of rules though.

        1. Grits McGee*

          There’s also OPM regulations on top of the IT security and tax issues. At least at our agency, if your telework location is more than 50 miles away, the agency is required to pay for travel to and from the office if you need to report in-person.

    6. Nephron*

      My job requires it so that we are only on secure internet. I had to file who my provider was and they technically approved it (mine was standard but I have never heard of anyone being turned down).

      This is for security, we log onto a VPN but home internet needs to be stable and secure. Going to coffee shop or hotel or other place with public wifi is less secure.

      1. I have RBF*

        A good personal wifi hotspot eliminates some of those problems, and a requirement that the person log on to the VPN solves the rest.

    7. Urbanchic*

      Also worker’s comp, to make sure workers have insurance in the locations where they are working.

    8. sofar*

      Yes, this is SO odd. Even before the pandemic, it was pretty normal to take a laptop with you while taking a trip out of town.

      My company has strict limits on the number of days in a row and per year that you can work out of the country (no limits on domestic), and you have to be approved by HR to work abroad. I get the international limitations, because it can be a nightmare for tech support if, say, your computer breaks or gets stolen while you’re in another country, plus tax/security concerns. But I’d be super angry if I couldn’t, say, take my laptop and work from my parents’ house for a week while helping a parent recover from surgery.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        This. If this concern for cross-jurisdiction work didn’t apply in the before times to people taking their laptops with them on vacation, then it is flagrant BS.

        1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

          Amazing that. Oh you are going on vacation to the Bahamas, be sure to bring your laptop and check your emails every day. We want you to respond to anything urgent.

          Work from home every day — you better be IN YOUR HOME. Says it right there on the tin, don’t you dare think of stepping foot outside your home with your laptop.

          I think if security were a concern OP would know and have mentioned it.

          1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

            Sounds about right. We exist for the employer’s convenience, don’t we?

    9. Dust Bunny*

      One of my siblings worked for a specific government agency for a few years and they had very strict regulations about where people could work when they worked from home, for security reasons.

    10. goducks*

      Several reasons- tax jurisdictions are a consideration, but also because WFH is supposed to be work. Working from a vacation location is generally not fully working. Nor is working from your kids soccer game or your doctor’s waiting room or from a cafe full of distractions or whatever. It’s about keeping work focused on work, and not having WFH be an excuse to be nominally working while attending to every other part of life. It’s a heavy handed way of wording the goal, but the goal is if you’re WFH, you’re working fully on work time.

      1. Pastor Petty Labelle*

        Because there are no distractions at work and you are focused on work all the time every single minute. There are no flying monkeys, no loud talkers, no music blaring, no strong scents giving you a migraine, etc.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          I am told that distractions at work are “spontaneous collaboration” and a critical business function. So, did you see that great play the second baseman made last night?

        2. Ahnon4Thisss*

          No one said there’s no distractions at work?

          But it is easier to control the setting of an office (asking coworkers to move a loud discussion if you need to focus or have a call) vs. controlling a public vacation setting if that’s where you’re doing your WFH (can’t really control spotty data on the beach).

          1. I have RBF*

            LOL, no.

            I have lost hours in an open plan office because my boss and grand boss were standing next to my desk loudly discussing sportsball. I couldn’t shut them down or move away.

            I have much, much, much less control over interruptions and distractions in an office than when working remotely. That one of the main reason I like remote work – I have more control over distractions and interruptions than I ever did in some noisy open plan hell pit.

      2. afeeblefox*

        It also stops me from working at the library for the week of construction next door. Or if my internet goes down because the only provider here is notoriously bad.

        1. Nynaeve*

          This was actually the reason my former employer had this very rule. The vast majority of the people who were approved to WFH were hourly, and their job required a fas, stable internet connection which was vetted by the company before being approved to WFH. There were very strict rules about how, for how long, and what the next steps were if the internet was ever down for any reason, up to and including being made to come work from the office for the day if it was down for longer than was allowed. We were required to collect outage data from local ISPs whenever we wanted someone to be paid for not being able to log on.

      3. 2 Cents*

        Hahahaha, the one day I’m required to be in the office, because I’m hybrid remote, is my least-productive day from a ‘getting-things-done’ perspective. Yesterday, I had two meetings, a baby shower, lunch and then went home early, all with the blessing of my manager. Yes, I got to interact with people in person, but my actual “getting things done” was near nil. Let’s not even factor in how many people I had casual conversations with. “Keeping work focused on work” *tears in eyes*

        1. Allonge*

          But in this case you are building work relationships in the office. The number of widgets / emails you process may be lower but the tradeoff is that you had a coffee with Alice from Accounting and could finally sort out what was bugging the both of you (or can do it easier next time).

          If you are losing productivity at your doctors’ office, that’s of no benefit to your employer.

      4. JustaTech*

        Please, please explain this to the people who insist on taking calls (video calls!) from the doctor’s waiting room!
        The first guy was very apologetic (he clearly wanted off the call ASAP) but the second guy showed up an HOUR early to his appointment and proceeded to run a meeting.

        Working remotely from a co-working space, or the library, or a coffee shop, or a park, or a friend’s house – to me that’s the same as WFH (unless you have security requirements that a VPN won’t cover). Especially if you’re in the same town.

    11. AnonymooseToday*

      I’m a hybrid state employee, we have to fill out a form yearly with the address we’ll be working from, including signing off that we have access to things like fire extinguishers, and no trip hazards. I figured this might have to do with getting injured at home while technically working. We can work from elsewhere but usually only emergencies and still have to get permission and notify HR, all in writing. Like when someone’s parent was moved to hospice a few hours away in the same state, they had to get permission. And yeah we can’t work outside state lines.

      1. Macca*

        No trip hazards? Does that mean I have to get rid of my cats, who are underfoot every time I get up from my desk?? :)

    12. Mayor of Llamatown*

      I work from home for a healthcare company. We have to work from home to comply with contracts with our customers, and also to ensure compliance with HIPAA.

    13. Bobette*

      the company probably has concerns about payroll/taxes that frequently come with employees working in places where the company doesn’t have a physical presence and that’s how they’ve decided do deal with it. or they’re trying to prevent people from pulling a “work from the beach in Mexico for a week but not take pto”.

    14. Two Pop Tarts*

      I suspect it has to do with taxes and government regulations.

      During the pandemic, one of my coworkers moved to a different country without telling the company. I understand it caused multiple problems for the company.

      But this policy is like swatting a fly with a hammer.

      A better policy might be to establish geographic areas the employee can work from, and explain the reason why.

    15. HA2*

      There’s a few things that could add to that being a plausible policy.

      One could be tax and regulatory reasons – it may be important for legal reasons for the company to know exactly which jurisdiction the work takes place in. Especially if there are some population centers that straddle relevant jurisdiction boundaries. Rather than trying to communicate to the employee “you have to work in the same jurisdiction as your home address, contact our legal department if you want to know what areas nearby to you are technically in a different jurisdiction”, “you have to tell us the address you’re working at” could be a simpler strategy.

      Another could be that it’s a privacy and security requirement – it may be a requirement that you have a workspace where nobody can see your screen or hear what you say, where you’re connecting to the internet through an encrypted channel and not a random unsecured wifi network, etc. It may be easier to validate one home setup rather than give each employee a long list of things they have to check for each place they want to work.

      …or it could be a silly requirement because it’s being used as a proxy for “butts in seats”. But it might be reasonable-ish.

    16. gaspipelock*

      Because of what I work on there some are some quite onerous physical requirements for home working – for example, I must not be overlooked or overheard when working (apart from by my cats!) and the laptop must always be physically attached, using a Kensington lock, to a fixed point (the pipe to/from the gas radiator, in my case). Some of those would not necessarily be in place, or even possible, in a random location.

    17. Samwise*

      One sibling is a federal employee, fully remote, can only work from home address on dedicated machine with specific software. Confidentiality and security issues.

      Another sibling works fully remote and for a couple of years had very little flexibility (one of the perks of remote work) in terms of schedule — they had to sign in/out, had benchmarks for amount of work completed and time spent on tasks, keylogger. Sib was jobhunting *hard* when the employer finally killed the micro micro managing and they can once again get up to throw in the laundry (not possible with the keylogger and time constraints).

      I think people need to not throw around “oh, you get ALL THESE PERKS for working remotely!” Yeah, some people do. Plenty of people don’t. My sib’s perk was: doesn’t have to drive to the office. That’s it.

    18. Punk*

      The tech might be company-issued. I’m surprised by the number of people who think it’s always reasonable to cart company laptops to multiple locations. Those Lenovo Thinkpads are insured rentals that have to be returned to the vendor eventually.

    19. nonprofit director*

      Probably addressed below, but I would guess the reasons are taxes, insurance, and workers comp. There are different implications for each of these in different states. Maybe even within states.

  8. Ama*

    The one thing I think OP’s company should be doing that they are not is offering to fly out the remote employees on the *company’s* dime not the employees, if they can’t afford that they should just admit it isn’t possible for budget reasons, they shouldn’t say “you can come but only if you pay for it.” That just sounds incredibly tone deaf especially given how high flight prices are right now.

    I work remotely for a small nonprofit and there are specific times a year when they will ask remote employees to fly in for certain team building things, but they will always cover travel costs if you decide to come. (That said I passed on the July activity we have scheduled because I have three trips I have to take to the main office in the fall to help with in person work meetings that are crucial to my job and I don’t feel a need to add in an extra one for “fun.”)

    1. L-squared*

      If this was a meeting, I could see offering to fly people out. But for an amusement park day? That seems excessive.

      1. MsSolo (UK)*

        If the point of the day is to improve team cohesion etc, though, the implication is remote employees aren’t seen as part of the team, which is very tone deaf considering the other issues (though also, perhaps, very accurate).

        1. L-squared*

          I don’t think the point need to be to improve team cohesion. It could just be a nice thing the company is doing for a group of people. This happens all the time. Everyone doesn’t get married, but companies often will do something nice (a gift or party) for someone getting married, having a kid, etc.

          People in the office can get something just because without it being a slight to others.

        2. Dodo*

          Yes, this. Lunches, etc. mentioned in the letter are the “in-office perks” so it makes sense that people not physically in the office may not get the equivalent of those. But the day at the park seems like less of a perk and more of a team building event. And if so, the remote part of the team was basically excluded from it; the cookies after the fact kind of muddied the water as some kind of a consolation prize.

          If the company is committed to a remote workforce, remote employees should not be an afterthought when it comes to team building (and of course, promotions, etc., which by never creating an opportunity for the people to join any in-person events, just gets exacerbated here).

          1. Mayor of Llamatown*

            You’ve summed up what I’ve been thinking. I have worked from home for eight years, in a company that was way ahead of the curve on telecommuting. I have no desk in an office – my nearest branch is 80 miles away.

            When I accepted this job, telecommuting was a huge incentive for me, and I knew that I’d be giving up stuff like birthday cake in the break room, pizza parties, catered lunches. However, my team has been included with remote teams on big recognition celebrations that we can’t travel to, but which include a catered lunch. We were allowed to order in our own meals for those, and that perk is appreciated. Because if the point is to celebrate everyone, you should celebrate the people not there as well, who can’t be there.

            I think the best answer is finding perks that everyone can enjoy. Gift cards (although there are tax issues at play here in the US), shipping boxes of cookies or treats, everybody being allowed the day off. If everyone on site can go offsite for a full day with no meetings at an amusement park, telecommuters should be allowed a day off as well – not getting a free trip to an amusement park would be the consequence of working from home.

            If the point is to celebrate or acknowledge all employees, leadership should find a way to make that happen that includes everyone.

    2. AnneNotCarrot*

      I would agree if they required people to work at satellite sites in different states, but this person chose to move far away from the office. They get the perk of doing that, so they don’t get the perk of attending these retreat days without traveling back to the main location. When the LW chose to move, they should have factored this expense into their cost benefit analysis it accepted they would miss some of these “benefits.”

      1. Jolie*

        That’s pretty much my situation! I moved to a different city, by my own choice. My main job is still in the old city and as part of negotiating working remotely I agreed to pay for my own travel when I need to be in HQ City. For my Saturday job, I created a chapter of the organisation based in the new city.

        When we have team socials, my Saturday job (a small charity) pays for my travel /my coworkers’ travel, because it’s important to have cohesion between the teams. My main job doesn’t, but they always schedule it around times when I need to be in HQ City.

        I’m fine with this arrangement, and if my Saturday job were going through a rough patch financially I would rather pay my own way than not go at all ; but I do realise that this may be because “travel” for me means 2-3 hours on the train or 5-6 hours on a coach if I find train tickets too expensive,and I have loads of friends in HQ City that I can stay overnight with. Someone for whom the only way to travel realistically would be by plane may feel differently.

    3. Beth Jacobs*

      As you said, flights are thousands of dollars. Would that really be worth it for one day in a theme park? Just because the company could technically afford it doesn’t mean it’s a wise use of money.
      If OP wants to live where the office is, go ahead. Dollars to donuts that it’s a HCOL area.

    4. KateM*

      They should definitely pay for theme park tickets, but as others, I’m not so sure of having to pay for transport from any corner of world that the employees have chosen.

  9. Lollygagger*

    This response is sort of interesting to me because the letter writer states that even the ‘in office’ people can work from home. so they too get the benefits of doing laundry between meetings, walking their dog at lunch, etc. not every day, but it sounds like 2-3 days a week. so they get the in-office benefit for promotions/raises, the work from home benefit, AND the additional perks. That doesn’t seem like a great set-up.

    I absolutely appreciate the fully in office vs fully remote discussions, but this seems different to me, and I think perhaps warrants a bit of a different take.

      1. MsM*

        “I get the perk of not having to drive into the office twice a week (no one is required to be in-office every day).”

    1. L-squared*

      Well, as someone who is “forced hybrid” its actually not that different.

      For me, I’m forced to be in the office specific days a week. There is really no business need, its just that I happen to be in the city where my office is. But I still don’t get the same perks. For example, I HAVE to be in on Tuesdays. If I’m feeling under the weather, I have to take a PTO day or come in. I can’t just move my days around. So yeah, I get some “perks” others don’t. But again, I’d trade those in a second to never HAVE to come in.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, there’s hybrid and then there’s hybrid. I’m supposed to go in at least 4 days a month, but I can choose when I go in. Because my close coworker and I and our team lead all work at the same office, we’ve started doing monthly in-office meetings. So I’m very happy that I can schedule my in-office days to accommodate any meetings of this kind. Some teams have agreed to one mandatory in-office day per week, but my larger team’s distributed in 7 different locations, so that wouldn’t be practical for us. We have two-day offsites twice a year where the whole team meets up, though.

        If there’s an in-office social event that I want to attend, I simply go to the office on that day. I love being able to choose.

    2. Colette*

      I think in-office people getting more frequent raises and promotions is an issue, but for most people, commuting costs both time and money. It would take me 1.5 hours and $7 to go to work for one day. If I were going in twice a week, that’s around 12 hours and $56/month.

    3. HonorBox*

      Agreed. This seems more like a hybrid option than an all-in or all-out setup.

      While I agree with Alison that if I’m working from home, the free breakfast isn’t going to motivate me to come into the office on a Wednesday. I’d much prefer the ability to throw on a pair of basketball shorts and sit on my couch. The other side of this, though, is if the company is providing swag boxes, all-office gifts, etc. they really need to make sure EVERYONE is being taken care of. And while the benefit of WFH outweighs the theme park ticket, it would have been good for the optics of things to provide something for those WFH employees… especially those who are not in the area of the home office.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I guess the point is anyone can choose to come to the theme park day or not. The in-person people could choose to opt out that day, and the out of office people could choose to come in if they can get there. But it makes sense to me that the organization might not have the budget to offer to fly everybody out to an optional fun day. This just isn’t a huge injustice to me, although I understand that the benefits of team-building may also be desirable to out of office folks. Hopefully there’s some other opportunity in the year where they are offered the opportunity to join in person.

    5. AnneNotCarrot*

      The LW moved to another state though. That’s more than the benefits of WFH, that’s the potential for huge COL savings and/or a better quality of life. Again, that level or advantage makes complaining about missing office retreats seem petty.

    6. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

      Well, the OP gets whatever perks are associated with her working from a different state, whether that’s proximity to family, COL, etc.

  10. Venus*

    Another benefit of working completely remotely is living in a low COL area, or near family who can help with childcare, or other situations that are much better financially. I’m happy where I live, but I pay a financial penalty for working at my cubicle that is a lot more than $100 and a day off work.

  11. Colette*

    I don’t think complaining about missing out on the theme park is going to get very far – nor should it. It isn’t a bonus – it’s an event to allow employees to do something more fun together. I think the cookies were a nod to recognizing that the remote employees exist, and doing something nice for them, but it was never intended to be financially equivalent.

    And the other employees didn’t get a day off – it was still a work day. They just spent it doing things that weren’t work. Sure you’d like a day off – but so would they.

  12. Cacofonix*

    Yes, I think the LW needs to focus more on equitable opportunities for advancement vs. in office perks. The company did a disservice though on the theme park thing. It’s expensive, but once in awhile, if it’s important to structure events in person to build camaraderie, then they should have paid for remote employees to attend, optionally. It’s an example of ways people who connect are more likely to be recognized.

    I worked remote for a company with in office events too. Never minded watching the tiki bar Fridays and golf tourneys via slack photos because the company flew us all in from around the continent once a year and treated everyone equitably from an advancement point of view. Remote work was ingrained for years before the plague so it just seemed natural.

  13. Iridescent Periwinkle*

    The personal benefits of WFH cannot be understated and definitely outweigh free lunches and swag (like we all want more of that? I am not interested in another t-shirt, thanks.). Thank you Allison for pointing out those benefits.

    And yes people miss out on actual face time and bonding with coworkers and management. Maybe it’s time to consider *that* more important than WFH. I’m sorry some people have terrible commutes. Maybe that’s a deciding factor for being interested in certain employers.

    1. mb*

      To be fair, lots of places are located in extremely expensive places to live, and they’re not necesarily paying enough for their employees to be able to afford to live in the same city. So if they’re in office, they have a terrible commute. So if the company wants good employees but won’t pay the necessary salary to live close to the office then their alternative is to allow fully remote employees.

      1. Iridescent Periwinkle*

        I think the case for WFH heavily relies on large urban cities where the commute is commonly 1-2 hours. That is the opposite of the case where I live, a long commute would be considered an hour and someone would have to intentionally pick a further away “town” to work in for the commute to happen.

        Urban life is not what it’s cracked up to be. Suburban/metro life is very nice. Maybe it’s time to give up the big city metropolis corporate office stuff. There are a lot of wonderful opportunities away from Toronto/Montreal/NYC/Chicago/LA/etc.

        1. Samwise*

          Nah, I live in a medium sized city where even the “far” suburbs are 25 minutes commute. For me, the biggest plus of WFH / hybrid is that I can be at home with an ailing family member. When I myself was ill and unable to go into work for several months, WFH meant I could keep my job.

          WFH allows accessibility to people with disabilities, family situations that require being at-home. If WFH employees are not getting promoted or recognized, that could be causing inequities for a protected class.

          1. Iridescent Periwinkle*

            Honest question – when it comes to ailing family members or personal illness, isn’t that what FMLA and/or STD/LTD are for?

            1. Tina Belcher's Less Cool Sister*

              FMLA is unpaid and a max of 12 weeks a year, and typically STD/LTD pay only a portion of one’s wages, if the coverage even exists. There is no adequate safety net for American workers.

              1. Never Boring*

                and FMLA only cover companies of a certain size, certain family members with legally defined relationships, and employees who have worked for that employer for a minimum period of time. Many workers aren’t covered by FMLA at all.

            2. I have RBF*

              LOL. Neither of those adequately replace your income. FMLA isn’t paid at all, it just means you have a job to come back to after going broke on FMLA.

    2. I have RBF*

      “Bonding”??? More like office bondage.

      I don’t consider being forcibly subjected to my coworkers’ incessant sportsball talk “bonding”, not do I consider seeing them chew, scratch themselves or perform other gross personal acts to be of any value. It certainly isn’t worth hours of wasted time and resources for a commute, not is it worth the Covid risk.

      IOTW, the “face time and bonding with coworkers and management” is not worth spending hours every workday driving in to an open plan office full of unmasked and coughing people.

  14. Hlao-roo*

    LW, are you able to organize a remote team-building/appreciation for your team? Obviously not on the scale of a day at a theme park, but putting something together once or twice a year may lessen the feeling of being left out.

    When I was remote during COVID, my team did the following:
    – An hour of playing jackbox games virtually (we were all in the same time zone, coordination may be a bit harder if you’re all far apart). One person already owned some jackbox games, so no one had to pay anything.
    – A virtual happy hour to say good-bye to an intern at the end of the summer. We all supplied our own drinks.
    – My manager sent everyone a popcorn tin as an end-of-the year gift.

    1. Usagi*

      Jackbox is always a great choice. Especially things like Quiplash that don’t need explanation of how to play.

    2. Green great dragon*

      Oh, I like this. They still get the not-working time, they still get some team building, and if someone would rather do that than the theme park I guess that’s fine.

    3. Jolie*

      Or another idea: are any of the remote people at all clustered around a particular area? Perhaps something could be organised for them local to them, with, for example, just their direct line manager visiting from HQ?

      My Saturday job, which has the core team in one city and a much smaller team in my city does this sometimes.

  15. Cat's Paw for Cats*

    There are always differences in job situations. It can’t ever really be completely the same unless everyone is doing the exact same thing. I’m a retired public library director and long before WFH was a thing we’ve had to deal with this. For example, our public service staff, the ones who worked directly with the patrons, had to work evenings and weekends. Our technical service staff, who worked behind the scenes worked M-F. Inevitably, someone in public services would come to me to ask me to allow them to work M-F to “make it fair”, or at least, force the tech services staff to work nights and weekends. I always declined and suggested that they might wish to apply to tech services when an opening came along if they wished to work M-F. Same old, same old.

  16. bamcheeks*

    I think the thing with the theme park is that I’d ask whether there could be support for remote workers who DO want to participate and have face-to-face time with colleagues, but don’t want to spend a couple of hundred dollars of their own money on travelling and accommodation. As Alison says, something like that has a significant benefit to the company and it seems kind of weird for the attitude to remote workers to be, “sure, if you pay for it.”

    1. bamcheeks*

      but also, it does make me wonder if the company has actually thought about its strategic aim for running these kind of events. Are they a reward for the non-remote employees who have to come in to say the company is grateful? Are they to foster collaboration and positive relationships between the non-remote workers, and if so, how are you doing that for remote workers? Are they simply about broader employee appreciation and they have genuinely overlooked the remote workers?

      If it’s “your perk is being remote, these perks are specifically for people who don’t have that option”, that’s fair enough, but the company should communicate that. Just leaving it up to inference isn’t a very smart if you also value and appreciate your remote workers.

      1. L-squared*

        Right. My company may do a baseball game or happy hour a few times a year for the in office people. And I don’t think its really has a purpose of “team building” or anything. Just like something nice to do. But I don’t feel that same thing needs to apply to everyone. The problem is, even communicating that is going to anger some people because they aren’t getting something else.

    2. KateM*

      At the same time, don’t the in-office people “spend a couple hundred dollars of their own money” on commuting through all the year? Why not look at remote employees flying in for once or twice a year as some kind of commute, too?

  17. Jolie*

    Interesting dilemma!

    I work a regular job (data analyst) and a Saturday job – workers’ rights advocate and employability mentor) . Several years ago, I relocated to another city, which meant that on my day job I worked primarily remotely, and on my Saturday job I basically built from the ground up a branch of the organisation in my new city. Now the organisation has three employees

    On my day job, part of negotiating switching to this level of remote (in 2019 before it was a thing) was that I would travel to the main office city as needed (in practice- every 3 to 6 weeks or so) and pay for my own travel. (Either 2-3 hours by train, which can be expensive, but it varies, or 5-6 hours by coach, much cheaper).

    When we have team socials, my full time job always schedules them around the time I’m in their home city anyway, and my Saturday job pays for our travel to the main city (they also get us the train, not the coach!)

    So my question is: could the company afford to pay for the remote employees to travel to HQ for team socials? Getting some in-person time can be really good for team bonding, I like to say that I love working 90% from home but I would bitterly hate working 100% from home.

  18. Sloanicota*

    I don’t know if this is universal, but many of the places I’ve worked would prefer their employees to be in-person (easier to monitor, easier to manage), and they only accept/tolerate remote because they can’t find enough people willing to come in person. So I don’t think it’s that weird that the companies are going to incentivize and reward the in-person folks. It’s a carrot/stick situation, and I assume you wouldn’t prefer to stick. If you’re looking for a culture that really loves and supports remote work, it’s probably not this place.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I mean, my old company wanted people to cover weekend shifts. They ordered pizza to the office on Saturdays and would try to let folks have a more flexible schedule if they came in. It was also a faster route to promotion and being seen as a team player. This feels like the same thing to me.

    2. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      Excellent point. I’ve never worked from and suspect I wouldn’t be good at it. I would be happy to go to work in the office and allow others to work from home, though.

  19. Usagi*

    I feel like I’m this case a lot more of the problem isn’t the parity itself, but that the company doesn’t even seem to be trying. The theme park and Christmas things come across as careless of remote staff, even forgetful of them, so I do think it’s pretty reasonable to push back on that for your team and to feel a bit slighted.

    We’ve seen letters where remote OPs are too into counting column A vs column B of who gets which perk, and this isn’t one of them. I think the company needed to say something to remote staff before the theme park day, even if their perk was delayed and not remotely equivalent. That doesn’t help OP since she’s not the company and it already happened, but I think her feelings are 100% reasonable (even if the happier option is to let it go).

    1. Sloanicota*

      I worked at a place, as an example of what OP’s company could choose to do, that used to hold big annual meetings in December and fly everyone in. They did some team building, some All Hands, the face-to-face evaluations, and then the Christmas party at the end. This was viewed as being more equitable for our regional offices (nobody was remote, but there was a headquarters that was flying distance away from most people).

    2. mb*

      yeah – for me the thing that stood out was the swag boxes. The parties, food, theme park, and whatnot is not something fully remote employees should receive equivalent compensation for, but swag boxes? The same swag boxes should be sent to every employee. Also, the ‘in-office’ people are technically hybrid so they do receive ‘some’ wfh benefits on top of the perks the company gives for being in office. If the op wanted to add one thing to their concerns about promotions, it should be the swag boxes.

  20. mb*

    Yeah, I don’t think you can complain about things like the theme park day. However, the in-office people are actually hybrid so they do have “some wfh perks”. I know it’s not the same as fully remote nor am I suggesting it is. The theme park, the parties, food, etc. shouldn’t be something that remote employees complain about. As others have said, the lack of promotions are the big deal here, but I would add that if you’re giving in-office, technically hybrid employees, swag boxes, then everyone should get swag boxes. The rest of it though, just let it go.

  21. TeenieBopper*

    Man, I dunno. Like, I don’t need door dash gift cards whenever they cater lunch or whatever else. I know what the perks are for being remote. But in office workers getting a free day off is some bullshit and smacks a lot like smokers getting extra breaks.

    1. Roland*

      It wasn’t a day off, it was a bonding event. Those do actually have value at functional workplaces.

    2. L-squared*

      I think looking at is as a free day off is the wrong way to see it.

      My guess is that people didn’t get to just take a day off. It was they could work, or go to the theme park. I doubt they could just choose to stay home. So if you have those 2 choices, its really not a day off, even if its a day they aren’t “working”, its still not a day that they can do what they want.

    3. Green Tea For Me*

      My commute is 30 minutes one way. So thats an hour a day.

      1 hour x 5 days a week x 52 weeks \ 8 hrs = 32.5

      So I have an extra 32.5 work days a year dedicated to my job than people who get to work from home.

      If a WFH person complained about me getting a extra day off they didn’t I would not be impressed.

    4. TeenieBopper*

      Man, I can’t believe people are legit trying to argue that a paid for day at a theme park isn’t a day off.

      1. L-squared*

        I don’t think its an apples to apples comparison to call it a day off.

        If I have the choice to work, or go to a theme park, then its not really a day off. If my choice is get a free day off, or go to the company outing, then I’d say its a day off.

        Just because you aren’t “working” doesn’t necessarily equate it to a day off.

      2. goducks*

        A day off is a day where you can do whatever you decide to do. A day that your employer says you need to spend at a theme park is not a day where you can do whatever you decide to do. If what you’d choose to do with a day off is to go to a theme park, then sure, the day at the theme park with pay is a day off with pay.
        If you have no interest in going to a theme park, of if you’d spend a day off in an entirely different way, then the day at the park is a work day. Maybe a slightly more pleasant work day, in that you don’t have a bunch of deadlines and meetings, but still a day where your employer is choosing how you spend it.
        Which is why a day off and $100 to WFH people is not an equivalent exchange. The WFH people can spend the day any way they want and can also spend the $100 any way they want. The WFO people have to spend the day the employer wants and don’t get any money to spend.

      3. KateM*

        Man, I can’t believe people are legit trying to argue that a day about which your employer has decided how you have to spend it is a day off.

  22. A Simple Narwhal*

    I agree with Alison’s last paragraph – the theme park trips and catered meals aren’t the issue here. I’m not saying it’s not annoying, it definitely is (especially when being wfh feels like the norm and not an active perk), but the big glaring issue is that remote workers are not getting promotions and raises at nearly the same level as in-person employees. That is definitely worth addressing!

    Only being able to work from your house is a weird one too, not sure what the deal is with that. I can only imagine it’s to prevent people from I dunno, working from the beach? Granted 99% of the wfh time I have been in my home location, but the few times I’ve needed to be somewhere else because my house was temporarily unusable it would have been a waste to take vacation time (and for the company to lose out on my productivity).

    1. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      It’s likely a “business nexus” thing, but they don’t want to think about what that means or explain it to their workers. Lazy way is to just make a rule like “only work from home.”

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I suspect it’s a physical security thing for IT. Most people are equally safe in their homes and away from home, but most LAPTOPS are much safer in someone’s home than they are in a cafe somewhere.

  23. Parcae*

    As a remote employee, I frequently remind myself that I am completely free to pack up and move 1,100 miles to join my colleagues in the office. Then I too could experience the joys of putting on business-acceptable clothing, packing a sack lunch, and wrestling with traffic or public transit issues every day in exchange for the occasional free bagel.

    This usually cures my fit of jealousy.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Yeah, it’s really easy to imagine your life as it is plus the good parts of someone else’s life. I use a similar tactic whenever I’m jealous of something: “Person A has [cool thing], I want that too! But then I would need [to pay for it/to move to a different state/to find a new job/etc.] and I’m not willing to put in all the [time/money/effort] for [cool thing].” And in at least one case, I did move to a different state because I decided the time, money, and effort were worth it.

  24. morethantired*

    I agree with this answer but I feel you, LW. I think if the company values people having in-person time together that much, then they should find a way to extend that opportunity to their entire workforce at least once a year.

  25. Ginger Cat Lady*

    I think one aspect that has been missed here is that the theme park day was billed as *employee appreciation* and not all employees were included. I think that’s different from perks.
    If you’re going to call it employee appreciation, it should include everyone, or some employees are (shocker!) going to feel unappreciated.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      That’s a good point, I missed that this wasn’t framed as a team-building activity, it was supposed to be an appreciation event. And while there was probably some bonding that came with it, that wasn’t its stated purpose. So to so heavily appreciate one group of employees and treat the rest as an afterthought is a bad look and the opposite of appreciation.

    2. Coco*

      Yes! Employee appreciation is different than team building. I’ve participated in theme park days with several organizations. In my experience, it’s never been about team building. For every theme park day I’ve been to, employees are allowed to bring some predetermined number of guests (generally family, sometimes friends). Employees eat lunch with their families and go on rides with their families. Very little employee to employee interaction. It’s understandable that not all the perks are going to be the same. If you miss a catered breakfast a few times, who cares. But if it’s something more grandiose, they should make some kind of equitable effort to show appreciation to the remote folks. And they failed to do that here.

  26. BellyButton*

    Here are things we do for remote employees:
    When we have a company in person lunch we give remote employees a $30 Uber Eats credit (that expires by noon the next day) – I don’t get to participate in this perk because I live in the middle of no where and nothing delivers to me.
    We send out gift baskets to everyone- I often get a crappy one because I live so far out in the middle of no where I can’t get fresh things delivered, we also allow people to donate their allotted amount to a charity of their choice- so I do that instead.
    We fly everyone in once a year and have some very expensive and fancy dinners/shows/experiences.

    We attempt to make things as fair and engaging for everyone as possible. But like Alison said, the perks of working from home are HUGE. I get to live in my dream location, way up a mountain in the middle of no where. Something I never thought would be possible 10 years ago. I will gladly give up forced socialization and a catered lunch to live in my dream setting.

  27. BellyButton*

    Here are things we do for remote employees:
    When we have a company in person lunch we give remote employees a $30 Uber Eats credit (that expires by noon the next day) – I don’t get to participate in this perk because I live in the middle of no where and nothing delivers to me.
    We send out gift baskets to everyone- I often get a crappy one because I live so far out in the middle of no where I can’t get fresh things delivered, we also allow people to donate their allotted amount to a charity of their choice- so I do that instead.
    We fly everyone in once a year and have some very expensive and fancy dinners/shows/experiences.

    Allowing people to work from other locations- however there are laws per state and country, so we have to do careful research to make sure there aren’t time limits/tax implications.

    We attempt to make things as fair and engaging for everyone as possible. But like Alison said, the perks of working from home are HUGE. I get to live in my dream location, way up a mountain in the middle of no where. Something I never thought would be possible 10 years ago. I will gladly give up forced socialization and a catered lunch to live in my dream setting.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      And now I want to know what kind of internet access you have. I work in the office because the only internet I can get at home is too slow download/upload or too slow ping. I guess broadband or satellite would work for many jobs, just not mine.

  28. Cherrytree*

    For me it’s not so much the need to be exactly equitable in terms of benefits, as the need to include everyone.

    It can’t be good management for remote employees to feel excluded from their teams and the company as a whole – whether that’s for softer things like team-building or for more concrete things like being passed over for promotions and opportunities. These can genuinely be significant downsides to working from home and need to be managed for, and it doesn’t seem like this is happening very consistently in OP’s company.

    (I say this as the sole person in one country, managing a team in another, huge country, with people based in different cities in that country).

    1. LinkedIn Ghost*

      Remote workers exclude themselves by not wanting to work in the office. You can’t have it both ways. There should be more perks and opportunities for the people who show up on-site.

      1. BellyButton*

        That’s the kind of thinking that causes some of the micromanagement and bad development the OP wrote about. My company realized that we could not get the level of talent in the city we are located in and people did not want to relocate there. Going remote was about the skill level we wanted, not just about people’s preference to WFH.

        1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

          Yes, same here (or we work at the same company?) Everyone around us is forcing their staff back into offices and what can I say? their loss is our gain. The quality of talent we’ve been able to recruit from all over the country now that we are not limited to “driving distance from suburban office park” is mindblowing. I am humbled by my new coworkers every day.

      2. Cherrytree*

        That’s so not how remote work often works. My job was advertised as remote pre-Covid. While we used to have some face to face time, Covid and war has currently made that impossible. I don’t see why I should be penalized for this (and I haven’t been, it’s a good company). And I would hate to think I’m penalizing my team members who live eight hours away from the main city office and can’t get there often.

        In-office perks – I get that and don’t feel everyone has to have the same. But restricting opportunities for rewards, collaboration, team-building, and promotions for remote workers is a different kettle of fish.

        1. Cherrytree*

          Oh, and to add: since the company’s US office started recruiting remotely during Covid, we have a far more diverse set of employees, which is one reason why they’ve continued to recruit that way. It’s really not about who wants to be in the office and who doesn’t.

      3. Ccbac*

        this comment (which seems kinda aggressive) is baffling. I would love to work in an office. my company has decided that my teams does not get the privilege of accessing company office space so that is not an option.

      4. M*

        This is a really bitter attitude. It’s not really that hard to include remote employees, have them work well in collaborative ways, and be visible for promotions. Yes, you *can* have it both ways, especially when someone is good at managing.

        Deliberately making things worse than they have to be serves no good purpose for anyone. It’s very, “you should put up with bullshit because I had to put up with bullshit.”

      5. I have RBF*

        In-office workers sacrifice productivity for face time, and have to live in high cost areas and spend money of commuting. Plus, their company has to spend much more money on office space and infrastructure.

      6. ClaireW*

        This is ridiculous. Some of us work remotely because we can’t work in office (disabilities exist, for example). Some of us can work in-office but in are in different location from other members of our team so get fewer benefits to working in-office. I am not ‘excluding myself’ because I don’t want to use up my limited physical energy traveling to a building to sit on zoom calls with people in another country.

  29. Scylla*

    What Alison said makes sense…but I know if I was in this situation, I’d be really sour about the theme park day, full stop. They should’ve at least offered to fly you there on the company’s dime rather than your own! I think that’s a reasonable enough request to make of your employer- although given how dysfunctional they seem to be about remote workers in general, I’m not sure it would amount to much.

    1. Jade*

      If I had the privilege of WFH full time I’d never begrudge theme park day for on site coworkers. I’d hope they had fun. People are forgetting the stress of having to show up to the office.

      1. Scylla*

        Oh I agree- I just know that this would be something I’d be upset about, rational or not. It certainly doesn’t do much for remote employee morale!

      2. Ccbac*

        I wish I had the privilege of accessing my company’s office space! but no. my team was made remote for the convenience of the company and are not permitted to work from the office. work can be stressful whether in office or not– at least in the office, I didn’t stress about being away from my computer while peeing.

    2. Frankie Bergstein*

      You want the company to pay for plane tickets for a theme park day? That’s a lot of money!

    3. olddog*

      Flying staff in for a day at an amusement park seems unreasonable, and depending on the length of the flight, may not make sense, unless staff want to spend time outside of business hours doing said travel. The messaging around the event (employee appreciation versus team bonding) could have been better managed, but feeling slighted by this seems overly sensitive and tone deaf in terms of recognizing the many many perks inherent in most wfh situations

  30. Immortal for a limited time*

    If the business throws promotions and raises around “like candy” to in-office staff like LW asserts, then they needn’t worry about how fair it is; they instead ought to worry about finding a new job because a business that mindlessly throws around money will soon be out of business. I suspect their sour-grapes-colored glasses are obscuring the truth just a bit. The indignation over being required to work from the approved remote-work site is also curious. In-office staff also are “tracked” to make sure they’re in their assigned desk and not randomly claiming the VP’s office for its better natural light or sprawled out on the break room sofa. If LW is going to manage people, they should have some awareness that leadership needs to worry about ergonomics, safety hazards, data security, the ability to be in contact, and many other things with respect to its workforce; it’s not unreasonable at all that a remote worker is expected to work from a consistent location or to get permission to do otherwise. Perspective, please.

  31. CJ*

    Also, for what it’s worth, even for in-person, not all of those “perks” are perks. That theme park day, to my ears, sounds like a threat.

    1. Lady_Lessa*

      Me, too. I’d probably choose to work that day. But then, if I suggested a few hours at the local art museum most folks wouldn’t like that

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Seriously. Having to go to a theme part with coworkers is basically a custom-constructed circle of my personal hell.

    3. I have RBF*

      Yeah, some theme parks are… not good for my disabled self. Others have benches and seating available around the park.

  32. Database Developer Dude*

    I want to know how the company monitors that their remote employees work from their home address -and nowhere else-. That’s crazy. My current project has me on remote status, and I’ve worked all up and down the East Coast, as far north as RI, and as far south as Roanoke VA. The only thing I -cannot- do is work outside CONUS or in Puerto Rico/Guam/American Samoa

  33. Alex*

    Agree with Alison here, but also would add that it seems like you generally feel *punished* by your company for being remote, which could be clouding your view of this. Making all kind of rules that feel micromanagey and unnecessary results in a lack of goodwill and positive feeling towards the company, so any slights will be felt more profoundly. If you felt generally appreciated and respected and allowed to pursue a happy and positive work life, you probably wouldn’t care all that much that some people went to a theme park.

  34. The Person from the Resume*

    I think the LW needs to focus on the biggest problem: A few remote employees have also been able to grow and get promoted, but many do not and it seems that in-office people get promotions and raises easily.

    Having to work from a particular address is not micromanagement and there’s business and legal reasons for it.

    As Alison explained the theme park visit also has a business reason that can’t be replicated by cash or a day of.

    Focus on biggest most important problem and not more minor annoyances which might not matter as much if people working remotely didn’t feel unseen and undervalued already by missing out on pay and promotions.

  35. Wren*

    I feel that this is the first time Allison missed the mark with this letter.

    For one, I’d agreed with her advice if the theme park day was billed as a team-building event. It would make sense for those that come into the office to have a day where they can focus on connecting instead of just work. But it was supposed to be a company appreciation day, which should strive to include ALL employees, not just those that can commute in. I think everyone should have gotten a day off, and those that couldn’t make it to the theme park receive a gift card for other events. Besides, what if someone who commute couldn’t do the theme park for physical or psychological issues? I bet they still got the day off.

    And the company is making it a pattern to throw rewards mostly at those who commute. Yes, the breakfast are meant to off-set the perks of WFH, but the promotion and raises??

    Lastly, with Allison’s comments that those who commuted have to use PTO for children being sick, it looks like she missed LW’s comment that no one is coming into the office every day – it’s only 2 days a week, so those that commute ARE getting the benefits of WFH as well, just not 40% of the time.

    1. L-squared*

      Well the question is, could the in office people just choose to take a day off instead. My guess is no. Anytime I’ve had things like that, it was come to this event, or you can work. Not come or get a free day offf.

      1. Despachito*

        So why is it considered an appreciation perk? I’d bet that most people would have preferred a day off and the money spent on the tickets.

        1. L-squared*

          Probably because companies do that type of stuff all the time.

          Again, I’ve at times had my company take us to a baseball game as a “perk” or “treat”. I’m sure that wasn’t everyone’s preference. But it wasn’t like if you didn’t want to go you could just decide to stay home and get the cash equivalent.

    2. Berin*

      OP mentions that both she and other remote employees have gotten promotions while remote. If she’s not involved in hiring decisions, I’m not sure how she can conclude that it’s because people are in-person. She herself is an example that it’s not just in-office staff being promoted.

  36. H3llifIknow*

    “I myself am someone who was in office and then moved away to another state to be fully remote.”

    And there is the key. You chose to move away from the home office and be out of the office where you aren’t in their face everyday and frankly there’s truth to “out of sight, out of mind.” I liken it to the situation where some of my nieces and nephews get a LOT of gifts, money, attention and time from my folks simply because they live in the same town and I and my kids live several hundred miles away. Does it sting when I hear “we took Matthew and Katie camping at the lake this weekend,” and MY kids don’t get that “perk”? Sure, but it’s more a matter of proximity than fairness IMHO. It’s also based on a choice that you (and other remote workers who are too far away to just drive in for the day) willingly and willfully made.

  37. Jade*

    The ability to work completely from home is its OWN reward every single work day. I would not begrudge on site employees a few perks.

  38. lcol*

    I definitely see the benefits of being fully remote compared to people who work in office 5 days a week. But when it’s only 2 days a week in office, that does seem best of both worlds. You can still do the laundry on the days you are home, plan your deliveries the days that you WFH, and with many jobs it’s easy enough to switch WFH days around a bit when there are personal circumstances like being sick. But you also have the benefits of being around people, easier collaboration, and more promotions. In these discussions people often act as if working remotely is a choice, but for many people it really isn’t. LW also says that they hire for remote jobs because it benefits them. In my case, company is headquartered in the US, there’s an office there where my American coworkers go to, but they would definitely not pay for me to relocate there, and have a salary that allows for living there.

    1. higheredadmin*

      I do really like hybrid. I have one to two restful days at home and get home stuff sorted on those days, and get the benefits of being in the office. It works really well. I think I work the same number of hours, just over a longer “day” on my wfh days.

  39. Jiminy cricket*

    I, personally, wouldn’t trade working remotely for all the catered breakfasts and theme park days in the world. So, I get the argument when this is framed as “perks.” When it’s framed as “appreciation,” though, it’s harder to see. How does the company show appreciation to remote employees?

    The “inclusion” framing is most important to me. You’ve got 40% of your workforce remote. How are they being included and made to feel like valuable contributors who have a stake in your company’s future? The theme park may be the tip of the … Magic Mountain. (Badum ching.)

    1. Jiminy cricket*

      Also, I would call this a difference in they way they treat local vs non-local employees NOT in-office vs. remote employees. Especially since local employees only come into the office two days a week.

      The company explicitly (and wisely) took advantage of remote work to expand their hiring pool to get better developer talent. Now it’s not showing those developers the same level of appreciation they do to people who happen to live locally. And they CAN’T come into the office!

  40. I hear you, I just disagree with you*

    “Fair is not equal and equal is not fair” was my mother’s catchphrase when my siblings and I complained about one of us getting treated differently (eg Why does Brother get to go to the movies alone at 13, you made me wait until I was 15.) Remote, hybrid and in office employees have different challenges and benefits. I think your company isn’t navigating that well but nor do I think your expectations align well.

    A local regional bank (HQ is a remote Midwest city) near me opened themselves up to remote workers during the pandemic. They do a great job modifying office perks for their remote employees. They’ve grouped them together as a remote team and schedule modified events, have standing coffee chats, a remote slack channel and a mentoring program built around their “remote team.” All of this to provide a fair, not equal, experience to their in-office employees. If you’re high enough on the leadership chain, maybe this is something you can spearhead?

    1. I have RBF*

      (eg Why does Brother get to go to the movies alone at 13, you made me wait until I was 15.)

      As an aside, that sounds sexist as heck. Not a good example, IMO.

  41. Beancounter Eric*

    “Having people spend time together having fun is a camaraderie-builder”…..HA!! I spend enough time at the office with the people I work with….I have absolutely no interest seeing them at another venue. And I do not consider them my friends…..most days, I consider them adversaries and a threat.

    And a trip to a theme park…..I’d rather have hot coals dumped down my trousers than set foot anywhere near such…….three summers sweeping streets at a theme park was more than enough to break me of any interest in ever setting foot again in one of these infernal places.

    My suggestion to companies – cut out the “employee appreciation” bull-crap, pay/compensate your people well, eliminate the needless BS, quit micromanaging, give clear guidance and expectations, and let people do good work. Oh, and quit trying to make everyone buddies…..some of us come to work to, well, work, and not to be besties with the person other side of the cubicle wall. As I’ve said on this forum previously, I’m really not interested in my coworkers outside of the job.

    Quite frankly, I don’t really care about their significant other(s), their spawn, their pets, or any of the other popular things to harp on about at work.

    1. L-squared*

      Wow. You sound pleasant.

      I actually like that my company tries to do things to foster camaraderie. I don’t think it should be required. So if they are doing a theme park trip, and you would rather not go, I think you should be able to opt out and work instead. But the idea that no fun should ever be had is a bit extreme. I know the commenters here seem to dislike anything like that, but really, I find places that never do anything like that as not nearly as fun to work at.

    2. Jojo*

      Don’t worry, Beancounter Eric. They have absolutely no interest in seeing you at another venue either.

    3. home*

      I don’t understand how sociopaths like this dude can supposedly have a job while the rest of us can’t even get Amazon Warehouse to call us back.

      1. Beancounter Eric*

        By being extremely good at what I do.

        I am paid to deliver absolutely impeccable financial reports and advice to leadership so that the company may maximize return on investment for our shareowners.

        If you wish to consider professionalism sociopathic, so be it.

        1. The Charioteer*

          Apparently not good enough to prevent you from anonymous venting about your lack of compensation…

    4. Idea*

      I would like to propose that in addition to a “worst boss” award, we have a “Most Online” award.

  42. Berin*

    A couple things here – it’s pretty reasonable for your company to require you to work from a particular address; in many remote agreements (not universally, etc), you have to confirm that you have met a number of environmental requirements, including reliable internet, appropriate office furniture, etc, so that workers cannot claim a workplace injury based on an inappropriate work set up (i.e., a strained back because of hunching over a laptop on your couch). Others have mentioned the tax implications and potential security risks as well.

    To me this is a basic question of equality vs equity. If you want the same exact treatment as the staff who are bearing the burden of commutes, in-person interaction, inflexibility, etc, then remote work may not be for you. I’m a remote worker, and the perks of that arrangement far outweigh any in-person incentives, but different strokes for different folks!

  43. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

    I don’t know, it just seems to me that the more remote employees complain about unfairness, and how the company needs to do more for them, the more likely some companies are to decide that remote employment is too high maintenance and phase it out.

    1. allathian*

      And some companies who’ve tried doing just that ended up shooting themselves in the foot because they couldn’t recruit the talent they needed.

      That said, it depends on what they’re complaining about. Free lunches for in-office employees while the remote ones don’t get DoorDash or similar? Small potatoes IMO considering the lack of a commute and the ability to work instead of take PTO if your kid is sick or you’re waiting for the plumber etc.

      But if remote employees feel ignored by the organization and the management of remote employees is poor (either too micromanagey or so hands-off that the manager doesn’t know how the employee is doing), and only in-office employees are ever promoted, the complaints are valid.

      1. I have RBF*

        Yeah, I don’t GAF about donuts, pizza or theme parks.

        I do care about micromanaging, pointless monitoring, and bad communication habits.

        A fully remote workforce, managed correctly, can save a company money and expand their talent pool significantly. It depends on whether they value “butts in seats”, or diverse talent and productivity.

  44. Kelly With a Why*

    Another perk to remote work that Alison didn’t mention is the ability to choose where you live without being tied to a specific location. The LW mentioned that they moved to another state when they went remote, presumably for a reason which might be a lower cost of living, proximity to family, partner’s job, or whatever. The ability to keep your job and also live wherever you want is a pretty significant perk.

    1. HealthInsuranceLimitsLocation*

      Most health insurance plans are tied to a specific state or region though, so it’s not like you can up and move anywhere.

  45. Purely Allegorical*

    And on the ‘must work from your home address on record’ thing — there is a very strong tax rationale for doing it that way (at least in the US, can’t speak for Canada). It’s reasonable that companies restrict how often you’re changing locations, because it means the company has to set up tax reporting in each location that you’re moving around to (depending on how long you’re at each location).

    Granted, if they’re denying like a day here or there on either side of PTO in a vacation location, I agree that’s draconian.

    1. Affine Transform*

      An employer doesn’t have to change their tax reporting if you work from the Starbucks down the street instead of your home address.

    2. One of the Sarahs*

      It sounds like they’d be even forbidden from spending a morning at a nearby coffee shop, which is unlikely to be for tax reasons. There’s very few reason to be so draconian as to limit people to their home networks, and if the LW was working with PII or something they’d understand the reason for only working in private on private, trusted networks (which isn’t even the requirement). Heck, I had a job with access to PII and I worked from my sister’s house for several days during a power outage, which doesn’t sound like it would be allowed for the LW. Requiring ‘home address only’ is truly unusual and probably means either the company leadership doesn’t understand (or hasn’t invested in) good network protocols to ensure data privacy, or they’re simply wildly out of touch in general.

  46. Matthew Graybosch*

    I honestly can’t think of a time when I’ve ever wanted to be “included” in any of the stuff businesses do to boost staff morale. Work is strictly transactional to me; I’m there to do a job and get paid. And as long as at-will employment remains the law in most of the USA, I see no reason to get too attached to a particular employer. It’s easier for me emotionally to play the part of the honorable mercenary; I don’t pretend to be doing it for anything other than a paycheck, and I make sure I’ve earned my pay.

    1. Six Flags Sux Anyway*

      Hard agree. This is a transactional relationship. No amount of in-office perks will change that. Just give me my paycheck and move along.

  47. MellowGold*

    I love Allison’s answer to this one. I worked on a team that went fully remote when the opportunity was offered halfway through the pandemic–I never got to meet anyone in person, and the lack of water cooler talk, etc. really made it impossible to build workplace comradery. I think there is a disconnect sometimes in the AAM commentariat (if you work in an office that has implemented best practices for remote work and are on a team that maintains good communication virtually) that some places really do suck at remote work. There are totally people that (given the flexibility) are doing the bare minimum at home. Which is neither here nor there, but as the lone person who wanted to be in office a couple days a weeks to not feel like my home was a prison, it was exhausting to hear constant griping about how in-person staff is treated better. It completely depends on the office situation–in-person vs. remote doesn’t sound like the issue at all in OP’s answer, but the lack of promotion potential for remote staff.

    Happy to be in a new job where we’re hybrid!

    1. I have RBF*

      It really depends on the company and the coworkers. Personally, I’ve seen remote people flake off, and I’ve seen others get more done. IMO, it’s on management to properly assess whether their employees are getting their work done. Also, communication on remote teams is a skill that should be learned by everyone.

      Yes, I’ve seen companies mismanage it, then penalize all of the employees when the flakes didn’t work when remote and their managers didn’t address it. Then they just banned any non-office work, shoved everyone into an open plan without even cubes, then wondered why morale was in the toilet. What they should have done is retrain their managers on how to manage remote employees based on results, not butts in seats.

  48. Dubious*

    Yeah no, this answer misses the mark for me.

    The issue here isn’t that OP wants free breakfast (they said outright they get that that’s a perk of being in-person) or a free day off. The issue is that their company is giving more opportunity to in-person staff in the form of promotions, raises, and team building opportunities, without any apparent effort at including remote workers in these akshully pretty important things.

    [A formal team building event is] not just a perk for the sake of doing something nice for people; it has an actual business purpose. Having people spend time together having fun is a camaraderie-builder, and it’s supposed to pay off in more cooperative, collaborative work relationships.

    Exactly as Alison says—and the company is not giving remote workers a real chance to take part in this, so they’re actively excluded from the one time they’d have a chance to meet people on other teams. My sense from OP wasn’t that they most wanted a gift card of equal value—they wanted to have the same chance to be included in some real team building activities.

    And it doesn’t matter if any of us in the comment section wouldn’t want to take part in a trip our own company put together, or that if our employer gave us swag it would be lame and we wouldn’t want it. (Some companies give their employees really awesome swag—mine, for example, which staff pretty universally love getting.) We are not the OP. The OP has been seeing how their company treats remote employees as an afterthought when it comes to both opportunities and appreciation. It’s not about “equal perks.” It’s about equal recognition, and this company is failing at that.

    1. Ash*

      I disagree completely, the OP doesn’t seem to want team-building activities. The OP wants the financial value of the perk for in-office people.

  49. Six Flags Sux Anyway*

    Working from home is worth so much more than a bagel and theme park day. I just went through this at my work. I lost a few perks (they amount to about $2200/year), but I don’t have to commute, park, pay tolls, or figure out who is picking my kids up or walking my dog. It’s worth it **for me**.

  50. Observer*

    OP, what industry are you in?

    You have a legitimate issue about the promotions and raises. But the rest? Nope.

    It does seem clear that there is a communications problem, though. Because there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that your company has very sound reasons for requiring you to work from your home address. The fact that they can and do monitor where you are working from tells me that they have a fairly tight security regimen in place. The only way to really make that work is to limit where people can work.

    On top of that, as others have noted, there is often information on people’s screens that need to NOT be visible to passer’s by. Limiting where you work makes that much more doable.

    It could be that your company is just more security conscious than most. Or it could be that they are *required* to have this kind of security. Among the fields that can have this kind of requirements are medical (and adjacent), education / student services, social services, financial services, employment related services (everything from Payroll, HR, EAP management etc.) This is not an exhaustive list bu any means, but it does cover a large swath of the kinds of jobs that can be done remotely.

  51. PNWorker*

    As someone who has had to work in the office even though I don’t want to:

    Ha. Haha. You get to work from home. That’s your perks.

  52. Observer*

    Is anyone a bit put off by the OP complaining about a lack of *equity* because they didn’t get a day off and $100 because they didn’t get to go to the theme park? Even though they are working from home full time completely by *their* choice?

    Yes, there can be some real equity issues around WFH, but this . . . I don’t think it remotely qualifies.

    I wonder if the difference in growth between the in office and WFH people is simply a matter of being remote vs an actual difference that management is seeing. It’s pretty clear that there is a lot that you are missing / overlooking. And it could be that part of the blame is on your company for poor communications. But still, it’s worth really digging in to this.

    1. Stephanie*

      I’m with you Observer (as someone who is fully in the office, which I knew when I took the job but gosh I get jealous of my many WFH friends’ setups).

  53. Ccbac*

    worth noting that remote work looks different for different people. I’m not able to do my laundry during the work day nor am I able to take a break long enough to walk an animal during lunch. I am far more tied to my computer at home than I was when I worked in the office, so it is baffling to hear about people emptying the dishwasher on the clock. I am constantly ready for surprise video calls so have to be presentable/dressed/made-up from waist up anyways. also not everyone is remote by choice. my entire team was made remote for the benefit of the company and tbh it cost me a lot of upfront personal money to get a desk/monitors/etc set up. additionally, we no longer get basic office supplies paid for by the company (think battery for a mouse/keyboard or pens/scratch paper), I had to move in order to have the mandated private workspace, and have much higher electricity bills (I was not home between about 7am-7pm previously). not to mention the smaller cost savers that many people in my low paid field depended on (free beverages, plus usually 2 meals a week on the office. more if you worked past 6pm. printing). I also got dozens of free “product” from my workplace as well that equated to about 3k a year at market price and did not have to spend as much money on bday/Christmas presents. my previous commuting costs were $45/month for a public transportation pass and it took about 15-20 minutes to get to the office. my remote work primarily benefits my employer.

    1. Jiminy cricket*

      Ugh. That definitely is an under-represented experience of remote work. Thank you for sharing.

      1. Ccbac*

        nope. company reduced office space and entire teams were made remote with no regular office access. we are also no longer invited to in-office events as we are remote employees (even though we all used to commute to the office daily and work regularly with those who are hybrid. no one is full time in the office and those who are hybrid have a lot of flexibility with days in office and can get office supplies on their I office days for their home office ).

    2. Dubious*

      Thanks for highlighting that experience. For people who work remotely in situations where that means they get the most frequently talked about perks, it’s easily overlooked that not every WFH situation is the chill, relaxed, supported one like theirs.

    3. Observer*


      This is bad. Very bad, in my opinion.

      OP, maybe you should read this and think about the difference in your experience.

      1. ClaireW*

        Or maybe, all the people in the comment section acting like working remotely is The Ultimate Perk and worth more than every other perk under the sun and basically disqualifies you from ever having your company do anything nice for you, should look at this and realise that the version of remote work in their heads is not everyone’s real experience.

  54. higheredadmin*

    I’m in a local theme park’s member facebook group, and for real in the summer there are folks who bring their kids to the theme park/adjacent water park and then sit at a table somewhere and work remotely. (Citing posts asking for the best locations as my source – there are multiple, and a lot of responses.) If you have a membership with annual dining pass, it is an easy, pre-paid activity.

  55. Head sheep counter*

    I am confused by the confusion around requiring a set location for your work. Its similar in my mind to the you must have child care requirement. Businesses set the parameters for their business all of the time. We are, by working for them, agreeing to the parameters. As long as the parameters are legal and won’t cause harm… it just seems like part of the agreement. Setting aside the very real issues with taxes and insurance there are also issues around ergonomics and I’m surprised that hasn’t been mentioned above.

    I don’t think advocating to turn on your computer and participate in a meeting where ever you are is quite the winning argument that people say it is. I imagine that the vast majority of folk actually need dedicated space and time to perform our various computer jobs with reasonable efficiency and reasonable response times to requests. But beyond that – I think not blurring the boundaries between personal and work is a huge plus. Always being on not great. Having the expectation that where ever you go you’ll chime into work is… well…awful.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      It’s awful to have to take PTO when you can work but you need to be somewhere away from home. Examples:

      * I had a coworker whose sister unexpectedly had to go into the hospital for pregnancy related complications. My coworker flew home to work from her sister’s state for a week so that she could support her. Sister’s husband took care of the (already born) children during the day and coworker took care of them at night. There was no ding to productivity and several projects were able to move forward that otherwise would have stalled, plus coworker didn’t lose a week of PTO for no reason.

      * I have days with no meetings, where the bulk of my work is writing. I do not work with confidential, proprietary, or otherwise secret information. Working from home 5 days a week means I spent almost all of my time in my apartment. Sometimes a change of scenery would be nice, but going into the office would be expensive and time-consuming as it’s an hour away on public transit. Under OP’s work policy, I don’t get to set up my laptop and hotspot at the park across the street, a coffee shop a few blocks away, or anywhere else besides my desk in the corner of my studio apartment, even though there is no business need to prevent me from working elsewhere.

      * My coworker and their partner live in separate boroughs. Partner has a nicer apartment with plenty of space for Coworker to set up to work out of the living room and great high speed internet. It’s quiet and distraction free for Coworker during the day because Partner is also working remotely and has dedicated their spare bedroom as a home office. Sometimes Coworker would like to spend the night at Partner’s apartment during the week rather than spending an hour and a half traveling home from the Bronx to Brooklyn. Under OP’s work policy, this would not be an option for Coworker.

      I could go on and on. The policy does a lot more than prevent blurring boundaries between work and personal. It micromanages people’s lives in a way that doesn’t make sense, actually hinders work from moving forward, and results in less flexibility and less PTO for actual vacations for employees. It’s lose-lose for literally everyone, all because one person probably decided they could move to Hawaii or Bali without telling OP’s employer in advance and without considering the insurance and tax implications you glossed over, so they made a rigid policy to try and make work from home be more restrictive like the office.

      1. Head sheep counter*

        But… if you work in an office… you’d have to take PTO or talk to your management to get some other accommodation. How is this different? Why does having a work remote agreement make it acceptable to not get accommodations where appropriate? and if they don’t agree, well, that’s still their right (and information to file under… do I stay or do I go?). I don’t think it’s micromanaging to tell folks that they are expected to be in their agreed to location.

        Also I think setting reasonable policies around location (such as, the location you work if not here is there) covers a lot more than one person going to Hawaii, Bali or France. Perhaps its more restrictive than some would prefer – but that doesn’t mean its unreasonable.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        How is it especially onerous to say “Boss, I’m going to be staying at my sister’s house for a week but I can work full time during the day. Can I do that instead of taking PTO?” Or “Tech Squad and Boss, can both my apartment and Partner’s apartment be approved WFH locations for me?”

  56. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    The main questions are –

    1) How far away from the event are the remote employees? If it’s a day at a theme park and the locale is, say, less than 100 miles from them – invite them. If they are an extensive distande away, compensate them in another fashion. Example = a $50 gift card to a chain restaurant.

    2) What I see – and – this happens often with holiday parties – is that some , somehow rationalize not inviting certain employees. “Excuses” = “Well, Betty and Joe are contractors, even if they work side-by-side with the rest of the staff.” “Those two office workers are hourly clerical staffers, and the rest of us are exempt.” “Tom? He’s not attached to our office, he’s technically an employee in the East Podunk regional office.”

    These events are supposed to UNITE and BUILD MORALE. Unfortunately, too many management types don’t view it that way. And, instead of bonding folks together, it becomes DIVISIVE. There is resentment from those left out, as well as employees who feel all should have been invited.

    If you’re a manager, think about that, because your holiday or summer gala may end up ticking people off.

    1. The Person from the Resume*

      The remote employees were invited. All of them; even the ones who lived further than 100 miles.

      “Anyone remote was invited to fly themselves out if they wanted to as well, on their own dime.”

  57. Michelle Smith*

    My office has remote and hybrid employees across the country. When we have a big organization-wide event, they fly the people in remote areas out to the main office. They don’t expect employees to shoulder that cost. And I work for a non-profit. Strong disagree that it makes sense not to offer the same thing to remote employees for stuff like the theme park day.

    1. L-squared*

      So my company sounds like yours. But to me, this wouldn’t rise to the occasion of needing to fly everyone out.

      My company flies people out for big meeting and events. But sometimes the people in the local office get things like a baseball game. Baseball tickets are generally less expensive than theme park ones, but I look at these as fairly comparable things.

  58. Rubber Ducky*

    I really appreciate Alison’s response to this letter. We are in a similar situation here where roughly half our staff is remote and the others are based out of the office. Some, depending on position, have the option to work from home once or twice a week. But a fair number are in office 4.5 days a week (we are on a 4.5 day week schedule). I’m in HR and it is a nightmare trying to keep employee recongition as equitable as possible. A lot of the people working remotely have never worked in the office here and have no idea what the built in perks of remote work truly are and to listen to them complain that we occasionally get lunch brought in or that we had a potluck where nothing was even provided by the company! There was someone actually in tears one day someone brought cupcakes in! We have almost had to completely quit doing our annual Halloween costume contest because of the controversy it causes and the accusations of unfairness even though we have invited remote staff to send in pics or videos of their costumes to participate. They feel shorted because it looks like we are having so much fun doing our costume parade! Give me a break! I and most of the in office workers would trade all of the cupcakes and costume parades in the world if we didn’t have to get up each morning and get dressed/do hair and makeup, commute, fight traffic, pay for gas/parking/wear and tear on car etc, etc. every day. The fact that they can’t see how good they have it makes management question whether we should even do anything for anyone if we can’t do it 100% equal is just sad.

  59. Mill Miker*

    I get that working from home comes with a lot of perks, and that makes up for a lot of missed perks/appreciation that would happen at the office, there’s still a limit, isn’t there?

    Like, the “in office” coworkers are still remote 3 days a week, so it’s not “confined to the office” vs. “total freedom”, it’s more “3 WFH days, and you have to live in commuting distance” vs. “5 WFH days, and you can live further away”

    To me, that’s not such a drastic gap that it can keep making up for being excluded from all the perks and employee appreciation stuff forever. A bunch of it sure, but only to a point.

    1. Mill Miker*

      And I say this as someone who can’t stand in-office work and will willingly give up a lot for the freedom to work from home. There’s a lot of stops along the spectrum from “Remote workers are actually coming out ahead” through “it balances out” to “we do actually appreciate the in-office people more” and finally “remote workers are a necessary evil in this market”

  60. Office Lobster DJ*

    Unless I misread, it sounded like the deal with the theme park outing was that if the remote employees wanted to get to the office, they could have taken part as well, at the company’s expense, i.e. exactly what was offered to everyone. That sounds pretty fair to me. The remote employees made the choice of where they live in relation to where their office is; this is one of the trade offs.

    1. Dubious*

      OP says that remote folks would have had to pay for flights there, and I assume (at my own risk lol) any necessary lodging too:
      Anyone remote was invited to fly themselves out if they wanted to as well, on their own dime.

      >>> The remote employees made their choice of where they live in relation to where their office is

      It sounds like OP did, but that since the pandemic, the company has actively chosen to recruit people who do not live anywhere close to the office. They say that 40% of staff are remote across the US and Canada now. I don’t know we can fairly say that all remote employees made their choice to be remote. Would the company have paid for visas and relocation expenses if those remote employees wanted to move close by? The company apparently had trouble finding the staff it wanted by looking only in their region; would they have been able to solve that by paying wages more in line with the area’s cost of living or market rates? Are they using remote employees in part to have lower business expenses?

      —There aren’t answers to those questions based on the info we have in the letter. But we also can’t assume that all the remote employees freely chose to work far away vs. in person based on the letter info, either.

      1. Office Lobster DJ*

        That’s how I read it, too. All employees were offered the same deal, which meant remote employees would have to shoulder their cost of transportation and lodging.

        I don’t know, I think it’s fair to say that a remote employee taking (or staying in) a job knowing the home base office is X miles away has accepted there will be trade offs that come with it, like this one.

  61. Office Manager*

    I was quite surprised to read Alison’s advice. At my past company and current company, everyone on the US Teams were/are invited to team building days and big parties (i.e., holiday parties) and although “optional”, many remote employees come in when the C-Suite is in town. All of this counts as business travel and the company pays for it.

    When I organize little employee engagement activities like happy hours, employees in the region will often attend but remote employees understand that they have to pay for travel if that’s the only reason they’re coming to the office. Maybe my jobs are outliers but I can understand why the writer feels slighted.

    1. Hitting my head on glass ceiling*

      Do they pay for spouses/partners to travel as well? That would add to the cost considerably.

      1. allathian*

        Why should they?

        I work for a governmental agency in Finland, and while I’m happy that our taxpayers here generally accept that government employees are entitled to some perks (Christmas parties, free coffee, a birthday gift for 50th and 60th birthdays with a maximum value of 100 euros) just like private sector employees are, but one strict rule we have is that employee perks are for employees only, never their families. The idea of my employer paying for my husband’s dinner, etc. sounds ludicrous to me.

        The rules are also very strict in that any frequent flyer miles you earn when traveling on business must be used for business travel. The director-general of one agency was fired because she used some frequent flyer miles she got from business travel for personal travel. She also used her employer credit card for personal shopping and allowed one civil servant to continue receiving a salary for more than two years while not performing any work.

        In the end, she got sued for embezzlement, gross misconduct in public office, failure to carry out her official duties, and payment fraud. She got a suspended sentence of about 3 months and she’s obviously ineligible to work in the public sector ever again.

        The clincher? She was the director-general of the National Audit Office, i.e. responsible for ensuring that the government and all its agencies use their allotted budgetary funds appropriately.

    2. Wendy*

      I was surprised too, I find the hate on remote workers to be a little much. and I’m hoping to see this trend reverse in the future.

  62. It's Marie - Not Maria*

    I am in HR in the financial services industry, and many of the system applications we use are IP Restricted, as in you can only use the system from an approved IP Address. It’s an industry requirement laid out by our clients, and is non-negotiable. Working away from your approved IP Address means you can’t access systems which are necessary to perform your job functions. We don’t know if this is the LW situation, but it might be something similar. Their Home IP Address might be on some sort of approved list, but the Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop is not.

  63. Remote Collaborator*

    I wonder how different this answer would be for a workplace like mine, where it’s exceptionally rare for any tasks to require any physical presence in the office. It’s been made clear to us that the office, which was downsized during the pandemic so the whole company won’t even fit at once, is meant to be an option for local employees to use as needed/desired, with no in-person requirement whatsoever. And the in-person perks (the usual, like free lunch once a week, random special events, and swag) have also been explained to us as more of an enticement for those who ARE local to show up in person, even though it’s fully optional.

    That means that pretty much everyone gets the benefits of flexible remote work as described above, and those who have the funds and/or flexibility to live near the office get access to all the in-person perks on top of that. It’d be one thing to reimburse the commute expenses, but treating in-person work as an entirely voluntary choice while still providing additional perks for coming in feels more and more exclusionary as time goes on. In-person conversations that didn’t include me have impacted my ability to collaborate on at least 2 projects that I was otherwise expected to take ownership of, and I’ve heard similar things from several colleagues.

    Leadership is usually great about taking our feedback seriously and acting on it, and they’re working on figuring out some solutions, but there are real equity issues at play in these hybrid scenarios that seem a little glossed over in this particular answer. I do appreciate the link to the other related answer — a lot of that writer’s list is what my company is already “doing right,” at least in part, so I guess I should consider myself lucky enough for now.

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Doesn’t seem inconsistent to me. Your company entices people to come in with perks and the results (for the company) is conversations and collaborations leading to new project leadership. Seems like the enticement is working and if you want in, go into the office more.

      1. Remote Collaborator*

        unless I’m missing something, I really don’t buy this logic at all. At this point over half the company was hired from out of state with no expectation of moving closer and an explicit commitment that working remotely is not a barrier to career growth. So the majority of employees don’t have the option to “go into the office more” unless we pay for our own flight and hotel. I just don’t see how it makes sense that those of us who work from home (whether it’s because of disability, child/elder care, or other circumstances) should be denied opportunities to lead projects simply due to our location when that’s never been the company line. If we’d been hired with the caveat that leadership roles go to local employees, then at least the expectations would be clear.

    2. remote doesn't mean uninvolved*

      Whoops, guess there was a lag in my first (more thorough) message showing up, sorry for the awkward double post.

  64. Kristina*

    I disagree with “well you’re already WFH and that’s your perk”. If there was a company appreciation day, it should have been inclusive of all, not just in person workers. if the company is making a point of hiring remote to attract a better talent, they need to fork everyone’s travel expenses too – or everyone should just get a day off and an Amazon card.
    I work remotely still but every few months we have in person meetings with our our of country coworkers, and the whole company is invited to join a lunch in the office, if they wish. We also have a summer and winter parties, to which our out of country coworkers fly in, but they made bundle up a few days of in office work as well.
    I truly believe everyone should be “appreciated” the same way, or don’t do it at all. Or do it on smaller scale – Fridays off, summer hours, lunch gift cards etc.

  65. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

    Even if the company did pay for travel, would remote workers really want to battle airports and hotels and cabs just to go to a theme park with coworkers? Pay for a dog sitter or an overnight nanny or similar? I doubt it.

  66. Hitting my head on glass ceiling*

    I have a related problem in that I am running a new remote office of less than 10 employees located two and half hours from HQ. We are all classified to be on-site due to the nature of the work. Due to the distance and traffic a trip to HQ is a full day at least. However, we are copied on the emails for on-site events which are also advertised widely on the company intranet. Despite my efforts to I plan frequent lunches and other events for our local office, some employees always feel that they are missing out. I don’t mind paying mileage and/or hotel when staff need to travel to HQ for project or business meetings, but I don’t have budget or staff to have multiple people out of the office for the whole day to attend a lunch. I am trying to set expectations, but employees don’t hide their disappointment when I say no. I think people have FOMO and don’t think about what benefits and freedoms we have at the remote office, such as flexibility in setting our hours.

  67. Lyngend Canada*

    Just because one works from home doesn’t mean one has time to do chores while working. I’ve had 2 work from home jobs. And since they deal with customer interactions, I can’t leave my desk except for scheduled breaks and lunch. (totalling 1 hour) the timing of which is decided by my employer.
    technically, I could use my 2 breaks to do laundry if I have in suite laundry machines (most apartments where I live seems to be share coin laundry) I couldn’t do anything time consuming.
    I’m saying this as a person who has been judged for not being able to get a sign amount of house cleaning done, and was expected to by others. Just because I worked from home, it was assumed that I would have plenty of time to do cleaning or taking care of the sick relative I live with after her stroke.

    1. Jane*

      I’m so glad to read your comment. It makes me so mad when people say oh you can look after sick children because you’re working from home. That is a comment by a person who has never tried to work from home with a sick child. Neither job would be done well and I can tell you, I’d rather make sure the job of looking after the child was done well! The people doing those things and taking advantage of working from home are the ones giving it a bad rep.
      As far as this post goes, this is the first post I’ve read where I have not agreed with Alison. The whole point is these remote workers should not be treated differently to any other worker. If the company is organising a team building day at a theme park it needs to include all of its workers, fly them in and pay for their accommodation and expenses. How can she even suggest they should not be invited because they get other benefits! And those benefits are literally just one person’s perception of benefits. I am so surprised by Alison’s response.

  68. Chimera*

    As a manager it would make sense for OP to take some ownership of the situation, at least for their own team. Organise a remote team building activity on the day of the theme park visit and request budget equal to the theme park ticket to pay for an online activity or for folks to expense a nice lunch delivery. I think OP may be underestimating the massive amount of work that it takes to organise multiple activities and treats for various people with different needs in different locations, as well as how expensive it is to send out a box of overpriced cookies to a bunch of individual addresses. Keep in mind the work of organising these things usually falls to already oveworked EAs and office managers (who usually have to work in-office), it’s not like the CEO does it themselves.

  69. Wendy*

    Why is in office work considered to be some sort of default, or “the way it’s supposed to be” and remote workers are still considered slackers working in PJs? I hope people start to change their perspective.
    My company is now able to consolidate floors at our office and will save 1.5 million per year due to workers becoming remote. Me being remote has absolutely nothing to do with people who have to work in the office. I’m not doing anything bad to them. And them being in office does nothing to help me. Those that CHOOSE to work in the office when they could be remote are somehow considered IMPRESSIVE. Why?
    At home, I have less interruptions., this is a benefit to my employer as I get more work done. Sometimes it feels like a benefit to me. But realize what most of those in office interruptions really are, they are you and your co workers slacking off when you should be working! I don’t get that from home. One could make a similar list of the benefits an in-office worker gets so they shouldn’t complain about remote workers. They exist.
    If you are going to reward employees with a theme park –all employees should be included. People shouldn’t have to use a formula to determine if they are worthy of their employers’ thanks
    (let’s see, I’m remote so -1 , I never get any in person feedback so take that as +.5 , I got to throw a load of towels in the dyer before that meeting -2, I never get to go to the starbucks at the office any more +1. That’s a -1.5 so according to the scale, I should feel HAPPY to have not been given lunch today while everyone choosing to be in the office unnecessarily gets lunch–YAY, so happy! )

    1. Remote Collaborator*

      “And them being in office does nothing to help me. Those that CHOOSE to work in the office when they could be remote are somehow considered IMPRESSIVE. Why?”

      This. The fact that I know myself well enough to know I’ll deliver much better work and be a much stronger collaborator without all the things that used to overwhelm me about in-person work — and that I’m confident enough to advocate for myself about it — I think that’s at least as impressive as being the kind of person who can make the effort to come in and not have their work suffer. People shouldn’t be punished for making individual choices that help them contribute more effectively to their jobs in the long term. That’s what this whole thing really seems to be about to me, not short-term things like gift cards and being flown out to one theme park day.

    2. I have RBF*

      My company is now able to consolidate floors at our office and will save 1.5 million per year due to workers becoming remote.

      This is a MAJOR benefit to a company from remote work. In addition to having a broader recruitment base, companies can save significantly on real estate and infrastructure spend – even more than cramming people into an open plan office.

  70. Varthema*

    A little late to the discussion but I feel like one big element of this is that people are being *hired* as remote workers from the get-go *specifically because* it benefits the company from a recruiting/talent standpoint. That, to my mind, is a little different than granting your employees permission to be remote even though the default would be the office.

    It’s one thing to be like, “Sure, you can be remote, but you’ll be trading in x y and z that we normally do” and another to be like, “Thanks for applying to our company, welcome to the team! Now we shall punish you for still living in the place where we hired you.”

    1. Ccbac*

      thank you for this comment! so many ppl here forget that not everyone is remote because they pushed their employer to permit it!

  71. Mmm.*

    The “you must work from your address” part is bananas though. Chaining you to your desk takes away about half the WFH perks, and you’re essentially no better off than people whose commutes are only a few minutes.

    Yeah, you don’t have to commute. But you also can’t take care of sick relatives at their houses. You can’t work at the coffee shop next to your kid’s dance studio and instead have to take a half day off to get them to and from there every week you. You can’t leave while repair are working on your house or while your neighbors are having their yard torn apart. You can’t even get a cup of coffee at a shop or work at the library, even though we know changes of scenery can be good for some people’s mental health and productivity.

    Plus, I kind of doubt a company that monitors your location really lets you split focus to handle your kids or other tasks.

    I have to say I’m on the writer’s side here. That one detail makes it pretty clear the company is penalizing them for not making that commute.

  72. Analyst Editor*

    A theme park benefit is something that the company can buy, I’d imagine in a relatively economical way, that most people will enjoy.
    Cash gifts enough to be meaningful are taxable, while also potentially more expensive. My husband’s company did the theme park, but it was specifically a fun event for employees and families, not a “team building event”, and there were other companies there that day. It was an off-ish fall day, and a way for the theme park to make money on a day when there wouldn’t be a lot of people there.
    I don’t usually pay $70 to spend my weekend at the theme park an hour away when my family and I have other things to do. But doing the same for free on a week day, where there aren’t crowds, just employees and their families? Great!

  73. RemotePerksNotStandard*

    I’ve been working remotely since well before the pandemic and hybrid more-or-less since the mid90s (at many different companies) and it is completely normal for remote workers to get none of the perks onsite workers do or any replacement in their place. My reaction when you started talking about gift cards and gifts was wow, that’s unusually generous. I also haven’t worked at a company that did that type of fun, expensive employee excursion since the 90s (basically, they stopped with the tech crash and were permanently buried by the 9/11 recession).

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