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Why bad managers hate work from home

Times.  Change.  Workers have been told for 20 years that they need to adapt their skillsets or die, and now it's time for managers to do the same.  Have you not realized that your under-40 employees have been socializing "not in person" as often as in-person for the last few decades?  (Especially if you're the type who complains that "these kids won't get off their phones!")  It's 100% possible to have complex, meaningful interactions without being in the same room, and it has been for years.  "Team chat rooms" are much more conducive to a healthy team environment, where you can pay attention or not depending on how many balls you have in the air at once, especially when compared to the office bore who wanders from office to office to find a victim to shoot the shit with.  Want to have a quick chat about issue X?  Fire up the voice chat -- and then share your screen to show your buddy what your issue is.  Need help from more than one person?  Now you don't have to try to cram three people into a Smurf-sized cubicle and crane your neck to get input from your colleagues.  Especially after lunch, and nobody's brushed their teeth.  Walking a new hire through a procedure?  Record your meeting, and they can re-watch it.

Managers -- *good* managers -- are *thrilled* at the possibilities and flexibility that working from home is bringing to their productivity.  I live in Austin, and my commute was 45 minutes each way -- but working remotely, I start work TWO HOURS EARLIER, because my laptop is already in my dock, and I power it on as soon as I wake up.  I can munch on toast while catching up on last night's email.  With just a little effort from both of us, my international colleague and I can actually have a live conversation instead of lengthy email tag.  If I need to check on something or want to take 30 minutes to finish up an item after dinner, my laptop is already in the dock, I'm already set up, and friction is completely absent.  Good managers are absolutely on top of what their employees are doing because they look at the *work*.  They see the commit logs, the bug reports, the deliverables getting there on time.  They talk to their employees, they listen, and they understand -- and they're often invited to collaborate with their employees even if they're not deep technical experts, because real work involves schedule impacts, resource constraints, and prioritization.  

*Bad* managers -- they *whine*.  They whine and they bitch and they moan.  They're coal miners who are told their jobs are obsolete and they need to retrain.  Maybe they're worried about how they will take credit for their employees' collaboration if they're not physically in the room with them, because bad managers worry about how they're going to account for their *time*.  What did I do this week?  Oh, I facilitated a meeting between X and Y, I raised these action items.  I heard two employees talking and told them to do to whatever it was they were talking about.  I was managing -- you saw me manage, I was in that conference room with the engineers, managing.  Bad managers can't look at the work, because they don't understand it, and they don't -- or can't -- learn it.  They worry about a lack of collaboration because they're not invited to collaborate.  They fundamentally do not understand what it is that their employees do all day, and that lack of understanding is *deeply obvious* in these sorts of articles.  Of course, an office space rental company is going to expound upon the benefits of going into the office.  A car salesman is going to expound upon the features of the new car he wants you to buy.  But the incompetent manager, one who manages by walking around, noticing who is five minutes late from lunch, doesn't trust the kid who doesn't talk about baseball at the water cooler -- he's going to get found out, and he's going to get passed up, and he's going to blame it all on "these millenials who are too lazy to actually go to the office."

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