Many more individuals will be doing remote work in the post-COVID era than in 2019. Specifically, Upwork predicts that by 2025, 36.2 million Americans (or 22 percent of the workforce) would do so. When compared to the population before the spread of COVID, it would be an increase of 87%.
Despite the fact that the workplace of the century has normalized remote work and the majority of Americans choose a hybrid work paradigm in which they spend some time in the office and some time working from home, there are still many negative misconceptions circulating about remote employees. “Bosses Still Aren’t Sure Remote Workers Have Hustle,” read the headline in The Wall Street Journal. First, WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani claimed, “Those who are least engaged [with their job] are extremely comfortable working from home,” which caused a stir throughout the country.
Besides being false (after all, Americans who work from home are more likely to report feeling productive when they work from home than when they work in an office), these misconceptions may lead to office cultures that make it difficult for remote employees to feel like they belong and contribute. This is unfortunate since many qualified, diligent individuals want to work from home or have legitimate needs for flexibility (e.g., those living in areas with fewer employment possibilities, those with impairments, those with caregiving duties, etc.) that remote work may accommodate.
What we say to and about remote employees is important for building an inclusive culture, whether or not we are CEOs or journalists in a public forum.
Here are five four things you should avoid saying to people you know who work remotely:
“I’m simply too invested to do remote work.”
Telling remote employees that you go into the office because you’re devoted to your job implies that they aren’t dedicated, even if that’s not what you intend. It’s been shown that there are several advantages to telecommuting. Don’t give credence to a negative assumption about other people’s abilities.
You plan to spend all day and night at your house, right? Which means I may contact you whenever it’s convenient for me.
However, just because many remote professionals also work and live in their own homes, it doesn’t make them automatically available. Similarly to how office employees may log off and depart at the end of the day, remote workers should be allowed to do the same. You e ncourage unhealthy limits and burnout by making someone feel terrible for not constantly being “on” since it’s “so simple” to jump on a call when their workstation is in their living room. If you manage a hybrid team, it’s important that everyone work according to a plan that they can communicate with each other about.
“What are you doing all day?”
It should go without saying, but just because someone isn’t at a desk being watched by the rest of their team or commuting for 45 minutes a day doesn’t imply they’re wasting time. Teammates may do their part to be inclusive by calling attention to the good job they observe their distant colleagues performing, even if it isn’t explicitly required of them.
“We thought you wouldn’t want to come.”
Someone who works remotely doesn’t necessarily want to be left out of group activities like office parties and company outings. Managers of remote workers should periodically inquire about their availability for in-person meetings outside of usual work hours. Making an effort to include a coworker who is working remotely by inviting them to an event, even if they can’t attend, is a great way to develop rapport and morale.
If you feel uncomfortable in your work setting, “Are You Dealing With a Toxic Boss?“