Remote workers and their diapered managers

My feelings about remote work are evolving, and I’m working through them, but social media makes it difficult because social media almost forces us to pick a side and run hard with it. Nuance is left at the curb, along with rational discussions.

The above tweet demonstrates the kind of thing I see from people who’ve never had an employee who wanted to work remotely, but was incapable of being productive that way. That is a situation that exists. What should be done? My first reaction is termination. Problem solved!. How’s that for adult pants? But seriously, I don’t have a good answer. I don’t think the answer is automatically, “just give every employee the choice.”

I could have chosen any number of tweets along these lines as example, but Bell is someone I enjoy following and this tweet in particular triggered me with the “adult pants” phrase. Managers, even good ones, sometimes struggle making difficult decisions (which I assume he means by “putting on adult pants”). So? Who doesn’t?

I’ve been managing a handful of people for 25 years. In most cases, I’m entirely OK with them working remotely. Basically, I’m a fan of remote work, and prefer it for all the reasons made by its proponents.

However, I don’t agree that remote work is automatically the best option for every person and for every company. Maybe you work for one of those companies. You might even be one of those people for whom remote work is counterproductive (and you probably don’t even know it.)

So at least maybe don’t assume that every example of “I’d like you in the office” is a case of a bad manager just wanting to watch over the shoulder of a “body in a seat.” It could be that, but it also might not be.

Nuance, is all I’m saying.