Why Managers Hate Remote Work

Not all managers hate remote work but many do and there are some very good reasons why too.

We’ve listed out the most common reasons and some ways that this can be tackled by organizations looking to implement a successful remote work regime.

A Loss Of Control

A Loss Of Control

Managers often find that they feel like they’ve lost control of a team when they can’t see them. 

While judging a team member by their productivity sounds simple enough, in a remote team – it’s hard to see if something is failing downstream of that person and impacting their work. 

This perceived loss of control is often what drives managers to force people back into the office. 

It’s pretty much the exact reason, for example, that Marissa Meyer at Yahoo! opted to cancel all their remote working relationships when she became CEO. 

She wanted to regain control of a company that was spinning on its heels (and yes, they allow remote work at Yahoo! now). 

A Loss Of Status

Many managers measure their worth in headcount (it’s not a good way to measure your own value, by the way, counting people at desks) and this means that they can feel cheated by remote work.

No longer can that manager puff out their chest and survey the room and excitedly tell a client, “all these people work for me.”

And of course, when we lose status, we often want it back. 

A Loss Of Trust

A Loss Of Trust

There is a famous psychology experiment in which an individual attended lectures at university wearing nothing but black plastic bags, they were completely covered up, so they could not be identified. 

At first, students reacted badly to this, but after a while, they adopted the individual fully into their group and even became angry if “outsiders” were to criticize their peculiar peer.

Despite never speaking to this person, they trusted them and felt they were part of their group.

Being in other people’s company all day long, leads to trust. It can be hard to replicate this if you’re running a remote team. 

A Lack Of Visibility

There’s also a loss of immediacy in team management when you don’t have direct visibility of what everyone’s doing, right now.

This can make it hard to know who has room to take on a new project or whether the team can cope with a sudden influx of work. 

Managers of remote teams need to adopt management reporting tools for their teams if they want to cope effectively. 

A Loss Of Self-Confidence

A Loss Of Self-Confidence

Managers work hard to get where they are and while some of the reasons above for why they hate remote teams might seem petty, they’re not. 

If you trained for a job and then the job changed overnight, you might feel a loss of self-confidence and a growing sense of frustration too. 

Change management is an important organizational skill and before senior managers click their fingers and transform an office into a bunch of remote working teams, it can really help to examine everybody involved in the process and help prepare them for that change. 

A dip in self-confidence is not an essential part of this process, it’s a byproduct of how brutally such shifts in working behaviors have occured. 

A Lack Of Skills

Finally, it ought to be obvious by now, but managing remote teams requires a bunch of different skills from managing an office-based team. 

Generally speaking, managers are as human as the rest of us and they tend to play to their strengths and that means when they move from an office to managing remote working, they often don’t have those skills.

This doesn’t have to be a disaster. A smart business will provide training and development to help their managers cover this skills gap. 

Unfortunately, many businesses don’t do a good job of this, so is it any wonder that some managers hate remote working? 

Final Thoughts On Why Managers Hate Remote Work

None of these issues are insurmountable but they do require some planning and work from the leaders that want managers to take on managing remote teams. 

A good manager can easily transition into a great manager of a remote team, but they need support, education and training to do so. 

If you’ve just started remote working and you don’t want to be in the same boat as a resentful manager, you might want to read up on how to adapt to virtual working. 

You may also find our tips on wellness for remote workers and our guide to avoiding burnout super useful.