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I work in a company in USA where some teams or individuals are fully remote. Our company is trying to get people to work in an office whenever possible, even in situations where it would not make sense to any reasonable person. For example, there are some employees whose entire team works at an office in a far away state. Yet, those employees are expected to come to a company office in their own state on some days. They are really just working alone and hardly interacting with the employees from unrelated teams in that office. Moreover, they lose at least 1.5 hours on commuting each day. Sometimes, they have to come late to office because of early morning meetings which have to be attended remotely.

Moreover, my previous manager has been working remotely for 10 years. He does not even live within commuting distance from any of our offices in the country. There are many other employees also who are allowed to work 100% remotely all the time.

I requested to work remotely due to solid personal reasons. In fact, another employee had been granted remote work for the exact same reasons. The company acknowledges that I have a good work ethic and I have also received good performance reviews each year. But, my request was rejected. After rejection, I mentioned the above arguments also, but my request was still rejected. Now, I have accepted the company's decision.

But, I believe that it is unfair to allow many people to work 100% remotely, even when they don't have any disability/personal situation which would require reasonable accommodation in the form of telecommuting. Heck, I know disabled employees in our company who commute long distances to come to office regularly.

I'd like to complain to the management about this unfairness without naming people, because unfairness breeds resentment. Is that advisable ? What is the best way to complain ? I am also considering leaving the company because of this reason, besides others.

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    What do you hope to achieve, if you have accepted the company is not going to let you work remotely? – Patricia Shanahan Nov 18 at 1:31
  • @PatriciaShanahan - I hope that they define a strict, but fair remote work policy and enforce it. The enforcement part is important. People should be eligible to get 100% remote work only due to "extreme long-term hardship" or short term remote work due to temporary situations. – MasterJoe2 Nov 18 at 1:49
  • Do you have a disability? Do you think you would be covered under discrimination laws. If so, consult a lawyer. Just don't tell them that you're seeking legal advice. – Stephan Branczyk Nov 18 at 10:12
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They are most likely trying to get more people to the office by following a policy of "let's not drive away old timers by taking away their remote time but let's also not allow people who normally work at the office to start going remote"

It's not about fairness, it's about strategic goals. Upper management could be more aggressive and risk senior people leaving for greener pastures, or they could be more lenient and end up having their goal of having more people in the office on paper only. They are somewhere around the middle which means they are concerned remote time is taking away from efficiency but not so much that they want to disturb the veterans.

As for complaining, you could be vocal about it not bringing value for someone to warm seats at the office vs at their home since they are teleconferencing anyway and something along the lines of "not understanding what would make me qualified to work remotely" (as opposed to coming across as whining by outright saying it's not fair) and enough people sharing the sentiment could eventually cause them to lax but if you already said you accepted their reasoning, there is not much left to do.

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    I also suspect the company the author describes might be trying to cause a voluntary reduction in their workplace. Unfortunately, the remote work is likely a privilege, that is entirely up to the supervisor to grant. Which means the author is up the highway, driving to work, without a gas pedal. – Donald Nov 20 at 11:22
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    @Donald - you are correct. there are many lay off rounds. I have survived one. – MasterJoe2 Dec 3 at 17:42
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I am also considering leaving the company because of this reason

Excellent answers already, I upvoted all three. But I don't use any of these strategies, I let others pop their heads up for the group efforts and will watch in interest if they get their heads chopped off or quite happily take any benefits gratefully. There is another angle.

Unfairness to others and solid protocols are great. But personally I always discount all that and negotiate quietly for my own wants and needs.

In your case you're thinking of leaving over this, I would be forthright and use this in terms of a personal ultimatum as I have nothing to lose if I'm prepared to leave. Give me remote or I quit. Simple. I don't care about reasons, what anyone else is up to, or anything else.

  • I let others pop their heads up for the group efforts and will watch in interest if they get their heads chopped off I don't understand what you are referring to with this sentence (sorry, lack of wit), would you mind to clarify, particularly the phrase "group efforts"? – ig-dev Nov 23 at 3:17
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    @ig-dev in basic terms it means I do not put myself forwards to lead group efforts to get mass benefits for everyone with the implication that group action will be taken if not satisfied. I just negotiate the best I can for myself as an individual. Quite often a company budget cannot be stretched to satisfy everyone easily and mass action can be fixed by getting rid of ring leaders, but it can accommodate individuals worth retaining. It's always a judgement call. – Kilisi Nov 23 at 9:34
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I'd like to complain to the management about this unfairness without naming people, because unfairness breeds resentment. Is that advisable ?

It sounds like you already did complain ("I mentioned the above arguments also, but my request was still rejected.") but it didn't get you anywhere.

Repeated complaints aren't advisable.

What is the best way to complain ?

The best way is to make a good business case for why you should be allowed to work remotely, rather than just saying "not fair". You should explain why it's good for the company, rather than just good for you.

I am also considering leaving the company because of this reason, besides others.

Then don't bother to complain. Just find a new job and leave this one.

Make sure your new company intends to allow you to work remotely, if that's what you want. Then hope things don't change again. Lots of companies are rethinking their remote work policies.

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Unless remote working provisions are built into your employment contract I would be inclined to tread carefully.

I've dealt with several companies whose workforce are predominantly remote workers however they've tended to be in the consulting space where collaboration between employees (on internal company objectives) seemed rare. Most employees were "farmed out" on client assignments.

I've managed employees in the office and remote workers. In my experience remote working and other flexible work arrangements are a great way to entice and retain high talent individuals. It can be tricky from a team cohesion perspective though. There's alot of communication within and between teams which remote workers can miss out on.

Some employees are better suited to remote working as well. I found that some were disciplined and reliable and others were very difficult to get a hold of, would regularly miss meetings and often try to do personal errands during their work day which interfered with their work. Also some would happily get distracted with non-core "alternative" tasks requested by other employees or PMs and their own work would suffer.

I don't mean to sit on the fence but I can see both perspectives. I think flexi-time and some remote working can work well as long as the team are clear on core hours and communication channels are open.

I don't think that there's anything wrong with making your feelings known if you feel that remote working treatment has been unfair or inconsistent, however if you cite specific examples (especially if any of those are informal arrangements) then the risk is that management potentially wind back on some existing remote working.

I'd be inclined to ask if a remote working policy can be developed in consultation with staff in order to provide clearer guidance on the who, what, when and how.

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