Why Do Managers Sometimes Hate Remote Work?

Manager frustrated by remote work.
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While working from home continues to grow in popularity, there are still many managers out there who hate remote work. 

Lately, we’ve also seen more company leaders also pushing for a return to the office or even removing previous hybrid options. 

Apple was one company that made announcements and got pushback from employees.

But every company has a right to choose its work policies. And you may even think that those employees who are revolting can look for remote jobs elsewhere. And you’d be correct. 

However, some of the common objections by managers are a bit ridiculous. But there are also some legit reasons why a manager might not like remote work too. So let’s take a deeper look below at the various reasons.

8 Reasons Why Managers Sometimes Hate Remote Work

1. Team collaboration challenges 

One reason managers hate remote work is the impact on team collaboration. As a manager, one of your goals is to get everyone working together to solve a problem or complete a project. Remote work can impair that and is more difficult. 

Although this is a legit reason, often managers are just not prepared or understand how the communication dynamic changes. Fortunately, there are remote communication technologies and other companies that have paved the way here. 

2. Believe common misconceptions

Unfortunately in life, common misconceptions exist about places, people, etc. And in remote work, that is no different. Many managers who are new to working virtually or have limited experience have preconceived views. 

Maybe you’ve even had these thoughts before, as it’s very common. Heck, even I was a bit unsure at first about working remotely early in my career. 

But some of the remote work misconceptions are things like it will negatively impact careers, hurt productivity, remote workers won’t be working, etc. None of these have proven to be true and there is plenty of data and studies to back that up.

3. No sense of control

For managers or leaders, there is a feeling that they no longer have control. This is especially common with those annoying micromanagers

But for most, it’s a simple fact that when employees are remote they can’t “check up” as easily. For example, in-office managers can walk by desks, ask about projects, and monitor the team. 

My thought has always been if you can’t trust your team, why are they being hired in the first place? With good remote communication skills – productivity and collaboration will still continue without the constant hovering of a manager. 

4. Lack of visibility 

Along with a feeling of no control, managers may hate remote work because there is a lack of constant visibility of what people are doing. 

And at times this is understandable, as managers might not know who has the bandwidth for projects, where tasks are stuck, or how teams are feeling. But again, this is also where micromanagers can go too far in their management. 

For those remote managers, there are plenty of project management, reporting, and chat tools that can easily ensure project visibility is clear. Managers might not have eyes on things all day, but they also shouldn’t need to be constantly supervising everyone.  

5. More focus on hours over results

Don’t get me wrong, all company leaders want results. But for many managers, a major goal is “butts in seats” for 40 hours per week. And workers aim to show that they are there for 8-hour days being productive (although time is wasted in-office too). 

But that old mentality of being in your seat for those exact hours, being the first in and last out, and offering up to work extra hours is changing. It shouldn’t be about all the hours, it should be about the results

And remote work forces results over hours, which can put more pressure on managers to have teams deliver. And now, the hours aren’t as important, so results are what is needed to report back to their bosses. As it always should be anyway.

6. It takes extra work 

With a distributed workforce, it requires work and effort to build a strong team. However, in the long run, that extra work relaxes and processes begin to take shape. 

The challenge is for many managers, it’s shifting strategies they’ve already mastered into something completely different. What works in the office, doesn’t carry over as easily remotely. 

It means there is more time needed to track results, ensure collaboration, and spend more time with individuals on the team. Otherwise, there is a risk of remote workers losing productivity, team siloes developing, and those who start looking for new jobs. 

7. Insufficient remote skills

As alluded to already, managing remote teams is much different than being in the office. And the remote leadership skills needed for success as a manager can be very opposite of what they have been used to. 

Most managers will have unique expertise and skills, but not all of those experiences work well in a remote environment. If they do not adapt and are not willing to learn, they quickly find work gets much more challenging. 

Good companies that hire remotely will offer resources, guidelines, and other training to help managers adapt to virtual work.  

But even if the company doesn’t, the manager should take action to better themselves to learn. Typically if they are “stuck in their old ways,” those will be the managers that tend to hate remote work. 

8. Drop in self-confidence

Lastly, I think a big reason managers might hate working remotely is due to the lack of self-confidence. 

In the office environment, they were comfortable, had “status” as the manager, and had a bit of a power dynamic of being “above” others. 

People’s egos can be fragile and with remote work, a lot of that manager status is not quite the same. The manager might feel they aren’t really leading anymore, since there isn’t an obvious power structure without being in person. 

It’s more challenging to be seen and heard the same way as in the office. And when you combine that with a lack of skills or experience related to remote work, self-confidence can be shattered. So instead, it’s remote work now that is the problem. 

Why Do Some CEOs Hate Remote Work?

For many CEOs, remote work is viewed as a threat to the work status quo. There’s often irrational fear of the unknown and many leaders fall into common remote work misconceptions, that the idea of being remote is tossed aside as detrimental to the business or is a fad. 

The thing is, remote work does not have to be a company-wide policy. There are other options like a hybrid (in-office + remote), Flex Fridays, or even 4-day workweeks (although the latter will probably not swing well either if remote is already a challenge). 

 
 

All this to say, remote work can be eased into with flexible options. CEOs should consider a trial run and monitor results if they are hesitant, instead of completely dismissing it as a threat. 

Sounds pretty similar to senior and middle managers too, right? Those in this position tend to be more outspoken and louder about their dislike for remote work. 

Take Elon Musk who caused a bit of a stir. In a leaked memo, Musk told Tesla employees that they must spend at least 40 hours per week in the office or resign. He also criticized remote work further on Twitter. 

While certainly not all employees can be remote at Tesla, why does he have such a strong stance when those employees who were remote have been doing just fine? 

Final Thoughts

Many of the reasons managers hate remote work that you read above come down to three core areas:

  • No prior experience
  • Afraid of change
  • They’re a micromanager 

If disliking remote work is due to a lack of experience or skills, totally understandable. And for those who never had experience working remotely, it can be a shock. As humans, many of us do not like aggressive change or the uncertainty of the unknown. 

Often though, managers that hate remote work make things a bigger deal than needed and resist because they are set in their ways. And to me sometimes it makes me laugh a bit. 

As both a remote employee and manager, I found working for a fully-remote company is extremely rewarding, even with the occasional challenges. 

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About Todd Kunsman

Todd is the founder of Remote Work Junkie and has been featured in numerous publications like Business Insider, HuffPost, CNBC, and more. He’s been a remote work advocate for close to a decade and has been working remotely full-time for 5+ years. He’s also a marketing, personal finance, and music nerd 🤓

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