Inc.com columnist Alison Greene answers questions about workplace and management issues How to Deal with a Micromanaging Boss how to talk to someone on your team about body odor,
Here are the answers to four questions from readers.
1. Our remote workers want the same facilities we offer to office workers
I work for a company that has both office workers and employees working from home. When we plan events in the office such as chair massages and catered lunches, we provide employees working from home with the opportunity to work in the office and participate in whatever events are taking place, although they rarely come for them.
Not often, I get complaints from work-from-home staff that we do a lot of events for office staff but we don’t have events that work-from-home staff can do remotely.
I think it’s part of working remotely. I personally can’t come to the office in a tank and sweatpants yet answer calls with whatever they want to wear at home. It is part of working in the office. If they wish to participate they are given the opportunity to come to the office and work.
When asked, they suggest that the company only provide them with gift cards to restaurants when we provide gift cards to lunch and massage venues. Do I need to meet them if they don’t come to the office?
As you point out, your remote employees get many benefits from working from home that office workers don’t – but yes, sometimes something can happen in the office if they don’t. They will miss. Choose to come for it. It’s part of the deal to work at home versus the office.
Try saying, “It’s true that we sometimes have events in the office, and if you want to attend them, you’re welcome to work from the office on those days. But working full-time from home is an important thing.” It offers many perks that our office workers don’t have, and we don’t aim to try to make each set-up completely reflect the other.”
she said you should Try to find some perks for your remote employees as well. If you eat lunch regularly, you shouldn’t need to send food to their homes every time you offer lunch to your on-site employees, but by doing it once or twice a year. Can go a long way towards building goodwill.
2. The new hire wants to print everything and doesn’t want to use the screen
We recently hired Ann, a contractor who says she is unable to read anything on the screen. Everything – schedule, deliverable matrices, design output, email – must be printed out before he can review or provide feedback. This is particularly challenging because half of our internal team and our customers are all located in multiple cities. We will review all content internally and with our customers via teleconference.
Ann has derailed pretty much every review meeting we have, including customers, because it has to screen check against the material it prints or because it hasn’t had the opportunity to print the material it reviews. She complains constantly about the fact that we’re creating and tracking all of our work digitally (five or six times in each meeting, plus eight to 10 times the rest of the day). And she’s asked if she can schedule multiple trips across the country to work with people in person, because she has trouble working through her laptop. While we have some budget for travel, it was not intended to be used as a prerequisite for completing our daily work, and I am concerned about his ability to be seen as trustworthy by the customer if She shows up every other week complaining about working on a laptop, hoping they’ll work with her on a pile of disorganized papers.
It’s not the only issue with him, but it’s one I’ve never encountered before and am struggling to address. I want to make sure I am sensitive to any physical reasons she may not be able to work and what accommodations I can provide (although from her comments to date, I think this is a priority.) , not a physical limitation), while also making it clear that part of the ability to be successful in this job is the ability to telework effectively with remote teams.
Be direct about what you expect and ask if there are any barriers to him doing so. For example: “We do most of our work here electronically, especially since there are many team members and clients spread across different cities. We don’t usually work with many print-outs. I know that you mentioned that you prefer to print things, but it’s not always practical or efficient with the way we work. While I know it’s not your preference, is it mainly digitally is doing what you’re capable of?” The idea is to tell him how you want to operate and give him a chance to let you know if there is a medical problem behind it.
if there Is A medical problem at play, at which point you can brainstorm with him about how to accommodate it while minimizing the impact on the job and the client. Be clear about what you can’t do (like flying her across the country to meet in person), and what she can’t do (like complaining to clients or all day about your office’s digital tracking system) report).
But if it’s just a priority, then it’s fair to say, “To be successful in this role, you need to be comfortable working on screen. Is there anything you can do?” …and then hold him on it.
3. Should we tell a customer that their employee has applied for a job with us?
An employee of a client has inquired about an open position with us and interviewed for it, but cannot commit until they have resigned from their current job. But they have requested that the current employer should not be informed of their search as they would be terminated immediately before the decision to relocate is taken.
Should we notify the customer anyway? We want to protect this employee’s privacy, but as a vendor to this customer, do we have a fiduciary obligation to break a privacy rule with this employee?
No, you are under no obligation to violate this candidate’s privacy and notify your client, possibly jeopardizing the person’s job. And under no circumstances should you put someone’s job at risk in this way – it would be an unforgivable breach of trust.
If you decide you don’t want to risk upsetting the customer if they think you hired their employee, that’s your prerogative, but in that case, you should let the candidate know that you Can’t move on with them right away without their employer. — and leave it to them to decide whether they want to do something like this or not.
4. Handling Email Build-up During Maternity Leave
I work in a small organization (three people total) but we work a lot with outside clients and locations. Almost everything is over email. I am pregnant and plan to be away from the office for two months. Pregnancy has brought to the surface so many of my own fears about work and responsibilities – it’s scary to imagine being away for so long but I’m getting there. What I can’t wrap my head around is my email and backlog waiting for me when I return. I’ll have an out-of-office up, but it’s our practice to CC each other on a lot of correspondence and generally, it’s an excellent system. But the thought of coming back to thousands of emails is terrifying!
When I come back do I just lean down and read everything? Do I ask my co-workers to leave me anything that isn’t too pressing and then give a brief description when I return (which will take time on both sides)? We maintain an ongoing database on our customers but it is not as detailed as our email correspondence.
Good lord, don’t ask to be CCD on everything while you’re away! That would be a lot of email to come back, and a lot of it would be stuff that’s already sorted out and won’t need to be reviewed when you get back.
Those on maternity leave are generally not expected to read every email that was exchanged while they were gone. You don’t need to relive everything that happened during that time — you probably only need to know 10% of it, if that. So yes, tell your coworkers not to CC you on anything other than extremely important things that will require you to be completely in the loop when you return – and those should be exceptions, not something that happens everyday Have you been When you come back, ask for a recap of the highlights—but only the highlights, not a complete blowout. It’s reasonable to ask and will probably be less time consuming than you think. (And it’ll be a huge favor to never return mass of emails, and trust your coworkers to keep things running smoothly in your absence.)
Want to submit a question of yours? send it Alison@askamanager.org,