Tension Between Remote Workers and Their Bosses Is About to Intensify

Many companies will soon be calling employees back to the office. Then what?

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February 17, 2021 4 min read

This story originally appeared on ValueWalk

Although debate continues about whether the business world will return to normal even after most people have the COVID-19 vaccine, the expectation is that many companies will soon call employees back to the office.

Some workers may still get to work part-time from home, and some businesses will make remote work permanent. But tension between owners and remote workers is building as it becomes evident many employees are resistant to giving up working from home. In a survey, 65% said they want to work remotely full-time after the pandemic. And in a poll conducted by LiveCareer, 29% of working professionals said they would quit if they couldn’t continue working remotely.

But those who push back against ownership’s preference to return to the office might paint themselves into a corner, especially if they aren’t in a position to quit, says Rod Robertson, Managing Partner of Briggs Capital, international entrepreneur, and author of Winning at Entrepreneurship: Insider’s Tips on Buying, Building, and Selling Your Own Business.

“The expected stimulus money will dissipate by the third quarter and as companies continue to struggle, the cuts will begin,” Robertson says. “Once we reach herd immunity, companies will be deciding whether it makes sense to keep expensive office space.

“Corporate gravity will begin to pull key workers back to the office, and there will be resistance from employees. And those companies that do choose to go remote at least part of the time may still downsize. The bottom line for workers is, if they want to work remotely, they would be wise to take the extra steps to ensure they stand out.”

Tips for remote workers

Robertson says employees who continue to work mostly from home should do these things to keep their performance and communication levels high:

1. Show up

Even if a company allows employees to work from home permanently, Robertson says they would be wise to go to the office at least one day each week. “Out of sight might also mean out of mind, or out of job, when it’s time to trim the roster,” he says. “Working from a distance all the time is going to lower your skill level, your engagement, and your productivity. Employees need to make the time to have facetime in the office and stay in the groove with ownership and management. You can’t do that as well at home relying on technology.”

2. Show the human touch

“When we achieve herd immunity, face-to-face meetings with co-workers, managers and clients should be 20 to 25% of someone’s portfolio of time,” Robertson says. “Zoom meetings are a pain because you have to set them up. Remote employees should prioritize live voice communication with colleagues, managers, and clients in order to stay in the game. Picking up the phone to talk with someone keeps the relationship alive and brings more clarity than constantly texting or emailing.”

3. Push your boss to measure you quantitatively

“Woe to the remote employees who believe they are not under increasing scrutiny – downsizing is on the way,” Robertson says. “The good employees working at home will have more reporting mechanisms in place. Show your boss your genuine enthusiasm by being proactive and coming up with more measurables for your performance.”

4. Do extracurricular work

“The question is, how can you be front-and-center with the boss?” Robertson says. “One way is to do extracurricular work by bringing relevant and helpful articles to ownership. Develop a thesis for those articles to show that you’re a thought leader. Executives and managers are flooded with emails, so the smart employees send a synthesis of an article that’s to the point.

“Businesses can’t afford slippage,” Robertson says. “Once there is herd immunity, the remote work issue shouldn’t be just about where employees feel they are most comfortable, but how they can be the most valuable and effective.”

About Rod Robertson

Rod Robertson is an international entrepreneur and author of Winning at Entrepreneurship: Insider’s Tips on Buying, Building, and Selling Your Own Business. Robertson is the owner of Briggs Capital, a boutique international investment bank. He has conducted business in over 15 countries while focusing on developing small-to-medium-sized businesses and taking them to market worldwide. Robertson’s 20-plus-year career in transaction experience and entrepreneurship includes guest lecturing around the globe at institutions such as Harvard Business School and other top-flight MBA schools as well as business forums and news outlets worldwide. He sits on numerous boards, guiding firms to streamline operations and make businesses more profitable before selling.

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