Handling requests for working remotely from my direct reports.

Shivani Pradhan

Product Management, Azure DataBox Edge at Microsoft at Scality



"I had a constant problem where my average and low performing employee wanted to work remotely. I took this as an opportunity to build accountability and performance expectations into the team."

Actions taken

"We had quite a few average employees who, when working from home, were not consistently productive. In one of my team meetings, I announced that we would be having a team boot camp/sync-up, where we wanted everyone to be at work for those 3 days. The agenda was to focus on accountability, to tie the privilege of working from home directly with productivity and to set very clear directives and expectations for the team members working from home.

We decided that starting from the day of the meeting until the day of the boot camp, we would observe each other and during the boot camp, fill out a survey anonymously about each of our peer's effectiveness and productivity working from home. Examples were requested, as they helped in making a strong case. 65 percent of the decision to allow a person to work from home would be influenced by this democratic survey and 35 percent by management approval. The right to work from home was going to be revocable and we agreed to reconvene eight weeks after the boot camp.

During the boot camp we established the team's expectations for people working from home:

  • They had to be highly responsive to chats and emails, and available for phone and video calls.
  • For new hires and their immediate mentor, both had to be at work in-person for the first six months.
  • There would be some days where everyone would need to be at work, for team building and bonding.

We also set a bunch of exceptions around health, family situations, and weather conditions, where someone may have to work from home."

Lessons learned

"Once the process was established, having a written set of constraints and a focus on accountability was enough to drive responsible behavior across the board. We extended the reconvening to once every three months and then once every six months. Setting clear expectations and directives with a clear process is a very important step in effectively implementing constraints. Making the process democratic to a certain degree also positively influences team acceptance."

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Shivani Pradhan

Product Management, Azure DataBox Edge at Microsoft at Scality


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