Maybe there is a new fury bubbling under the skin of many on-site employees?
Maybe they’re secretly filled with jealousy and hatred towards their off-site colleagues?
Maybe they’ve got a stash of voodoo dolls hidden under their desks?
OK, maybe I’ve taken it a a step too far, but an interesting piece in this weeks BNet magazine entitled Remote Working: Our Manager Likes You Better openly talks about the resentment felt by those in-the-office towards those out-of-the-office.
Remember the biblical story of the Prodigal Son? One child stayed home, did all the work and the other one came home and got full honours? Needless to say, the stay-at-home son resented the situation. The same thing is going on in your office whether you want to admit it or not.
Possible complaints by on-site employees include “I’d like to work from home but they (managers) don’t trust me enough“, “We get all the dirty work because we’re close at hand” and “Those people working at home think the world revolves around them“. I like to add a few of my own…”why do remote workers get expenses for social events when we are just expected to attend” and “remote workers get out of things we can’t get out of – like boring staff meetings“.
Having been both an on-site and off-site employee for UKOLN I’d like to clarify that I’ve never felt resented in anyway by those in the office, nor felt any resentment myself towards our remote staff. As I’ve well documented on this blog remote working has it’s own set of challenges, and I’d still say that the majority of people I know do it as a necessity rather as a choice. It isn’t always the easy option it’s depicted as. Different locations of work offer different challenges and different opportunities, that’s just the way it is.
However if there is some tensions between staff then it’s a manager’s job to smooth these over. The BNet article offers a number of handy tips including:
- Be aware of sensitivities, however silly they may seem. Don’t send remote employees news about the pizza you’re bringing in unless there’s a reason.
- Keep your remote team up on office news (not gossip) and keep the home team apprised of what’s happening with those team members who are working elsewhere.
- Don’t discourage the employees that do work together from collaborating and working together in a way that makes sense. If hallway conversation or visiting cubicles gets results, let them visit. Just be sure to keep remote employees into the loop.
Here’s the thing: it is a relationship that needs to be worked at and making sure that issues aren’t being left unsaid is really important.
And if anyone does feel jealous of me they are quite welcome to come over one lunchtime, eat heated-up leftovers and sort out my washing. I’ll take their place in the staff canteen having a catch up with colleagues. Is that a fair swap?