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Remote worker, why some companies allow it and why others don’t want to

remote worker

Effective remote workers in their element

How the remote worker can demonstrate success

Do you want to be a remote worker? With evolving workforces and the new technologies entering the job market, one common perk in a comp package is the ability to work as a remote employee.

There are several reasons this request is made by a candidate or existing employee: 

  • The employee doesn’t have to worry about a commute
  • Independent workers who don’t interact with customers don’t have the need to be in the office
  • Laptops were a game changer and technology has made communication seamless with programs like Skype, video Skype, and GoTo Meeting. Employees are talking with customers and colleagues all over the world. Communication is no longer face to face. 

And of course, “who doesn’t want to work in their PJ’s?”

HRNasty gets it

I understand why employees want to work from home. HRNasty has a 60-minute commute one-way and I’d like to be able to skip the commute a couple of days a week. But let’s face it. As an HR professional, my customer is in the office. I need to be visible, present and accessible. HRNasty isn’t going to receive the remote worker opportunity and I get it.

I also understand why a company may allow remote work. Below are just a few factors that are affecting the increase for remote work.

  1. Competitive hiring market

As the efforts for top talent becomes tighter, hiring companies need to make their offers more compelling to their candidates. Increasing the match on a 401K, salary, PTO and paid maternity leave are all there to attract employees. Sometimes, the ability to work remotely is thrown on the menu. For many companies, remote work can make a lot more sense than a climbing wall or ice cream truck in the lobby to attract and retain candidates.

2. Companies are paying rent on square footage

Let’s say Acme Publishing is paying rent for 10,000 square feet of office space to house X number of employees. If they can cut that square footage requirement to 8,000 square feet, they just took their monthly rent down by 20%. Remote workers mean less rental requirements. In Seattle, where we have a vacancy rate of less than 5.7%, the commercial rents are at an all-time high and the choices for new office space is non-existent. 

The thing to remember is that most decision makers don’t want these two battles. If the market for talent wasn’t as tight, and the real estate market wasn’t a factor, they might take the remote worker option off the table. But even if rents were low, who wouldn’t want to reduce rent costs?

Requesting to be a remote worker

Here is what we want to think about when we make the request to be a remote worker.

The decision maker is usually a few generations older than the candidate just entering the job market or early in their career. You can think that this decision maker is a dinosaur. Maybe the dinosaur has not kept up with the times. The reality is that their career experience was very different from yours. I am not saying you need to like this, I am just saying this is the factor most employees don’t take into consideration. 

Twenty to 30 years ago, these decision makers were individual contributors trying to make a name for themselves. They worked in the office, not from home. Laptops weren’t really a thing back then. There wasn’t work-life balance. Remote work wasn’t an option. These executives worked 65-hours a week in the office. They believe they were successful because they were in the office early and stayed late. Yes, they did walk to work uphill, barefoot in the snow. They have a hard time grokking the idea of how a remote worker at home in their PJ’s can be productive.

The data points

So, a couple of things to remember. There are times where remote work isn’t available. If there are more candidates than jobs, remote work probably isn’t going to be an option if there. Entry level positions in corporate America can be hard to find and there are more graduating seniors than jobs. Remote work probably isn’t going to be offered at this level. Employees early in their career will need mentoring and some hand-holding for the first few years. Employees new to the workforce aren’t going to just sit down and start working. They will need direction. Working remotely is tough in these conditions.

Senior developers in San Francisco, Seattle, and New York are very hard to find. Full-time remote work, or the ability to work from home a few days a week may be offered to attract and retain these candidates. Some senior developers can work independently and with very little customer interaction. The logistics for the latter can make sense. Personally, I want these senior people in the office, adding to the culture, mentoring younger employees and acting as role models. But at the end of the day, if your company doesn’t offer remote work, another company may. I would rather have that employee on the payroll vs working for the competition. 

Get in the club

The way to enter the remote worker game is to be a stellar employee in the office. An employee that needs no management handholding. We need to consistently demonstrate predictable work performance. If you want remote work, prove that you are a low maintenance – high performer when you are working in the office. Focus on your deliverables and deadlines. If you are not delivering on your timelines when you are in the office, it will be hard to convince a decision maker you will be productive out of the office.

In the remote worker niche

If you are a remote worker, try to be in the office on a regular and consistent basis. By stating you will be in the office every Tuesdays and Thursday, or on Wednesdays, you become dependable. Your co-worker’s ability to say, “Johnny is a remote worker, but he is always in the office on Tues and Thurs” will go a long way.

When you are in the office, make it a point to build and strengthen relationships with your colleagues. A remote worker who doesn’t build relationships might as well not come into the office at all. Bringing in donuts or snacks can also go a long way.   

When you request remote work, consider the decisions makers point of view and your co-workers that would sit around you.

See you at the after party,


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