How to Torture Your Boss While Working Remotely

Dear Employee,

I just got off the phone with Kate at bigcompany.com and she asked for our specs for the upcoming event — can you email them to me ASAP so I can get them to her? I just tried calling you but couldn’t reach you. We’re competing against other vendors so time is of the essence.

[Thirty minutes later…]


Dear Boss,

I can get them to you in an hour?

[Translation: I’m not at home because I met an old friend for lunch; after we reminisced about the old days I ran some errands and then bought a shirt I saw in a window that I think may be the beginning of my “new look.”]


Why Your Torture Plan Will Surely Backfire

It’s a privilege to work remotely. Thus, any perceived abuse of the situation hits home hard. The remote working arrangement is predicated on trust that you’ll be available and ready when something is needed, that you have whatever you need for work on your person during work hours — whether it is a computer or a phone. Also, it is so easy to respond and be in touch these days that any delayed response — without a reason like you were giving birth, in a high speed car chase, or inadvertently saving the world Jack Bauer style — is hard to explain and/or tolerate.


Maybe Try this Instead?

If you haven’t taken an official vacation day and you are unreachable you have essentially taken a vacation day. So if you know you are going to be unavailable on a given day be honest and mention it to see if there are any potential conflicts. If you have a solid track record for working remotely a good boss will grant the personal time. You should also have your computer and phone on you in case of an emergency. Wi-fi and hotspotting are so easy that both will undermine any excuse for disappearing.


This post was originally featured on Equilibrialeadership.com.

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Nicole Lipkin, Psy.D., MBA is an organizational psychologist and the CEO of Equilibria Leadership Consulting. She is the author of “What Keeps Leaders Up At Night” and the co-author of “Y in the Workplace: Managing the ‘Me First’ Generation.”