Why do remote workers leave more often?
Considering the advantages, why do remote workers leave more often than traditional in-office team members?

By Wayne Turmel

With studies showing a sharp increase in employees working from home, you’d think remote workers would be more likely to view their jobs as “perks” and therefore, would be more likely to stay at organizations longer…nope.

While teleworkers often show higher levels of satisfaction with the work, they are more prone to accept competing job offers, calls from headhunters, and small raises in pay that wouldn’t sway your more traditional employees.

But the reason isn’t that they’re unhappy…the reason is that they’re not engaged.

So, all things being equal, why do remote workers leave more often than those who come into the office?

  • People still quit managers more often than they quit jobs or companies. People always have—and always will—stay with managers they like and trust, and leave managers they don’t trust. While remote workers generally don’t hate their bosses, they report having weaker personal relationships with their manager (and vice versa by the way). Think about it: if you don’t feel a strong personal connection, loyalty or comradeship with your manager, it really doesn’t matter which manager you work for, does it?
  • Remote work tends to become transactional. Recent studies show that people who don’t work in an office tend to get more tasks completed. But tasks are often done in isolation from the rest of the team. If people who work in isolation are simply getting their work done, and not helping, contributing or building on the work of their teammates, the feeling of collaboration is lost.
  • We stay put when we’re having fun, engage, and like and trust the people we work with. Social connections often keep us where we are. We have ties to the team we work with and company that employs us. There’s history, personal relationships, (which may be even friendly!) and memories that go a long way, convincing us we’re better off where we are than starting over somewhere else. If the relationships erode, or we feel like it doesn’t matter who else is on the team because you never interact with them, there’s less reason to stay.
  • The barriers to changing jobs are way lower. If I work from home, and I get a new job that lets me work from home, what’s really changed? My commute (down the hall and turn left at the laundry room) remains the same. The type of work will be pretty much identical, and I will be on my own anyway. Why not leave the first time I get bored, or I can make a dollar or two more an hour?

So what should we be doing about this?

We know that people stay put when they respect and feel valued by the organization they work for. They still want promotions, developmental coaching, rewards and recognition. How are you helping your team feel connected?

They stay with managers they feel respect and value them. They need the same coaching, development (occasional hand-holding) and support they got when they worked in the office. How are you doing there?

They tend to hang in there when they like the people they work for and work with, and have fun and feel like they are really contributing to a real team, not just a group of individuals.

Remote teams can be strong, productive, and stay together a good long time, if we’re aware of why people get restless. How’s your team doing?

Give me your feedback on how your engaging your remote team and keeping them connected in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute
Wayne Turmel, co-founder of the Remote Leadership Institute.


Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.

Marshall Goldsmith calls him “one of the unique voices to listen to in the virtual workplace”. He works with organizations around the world to help people use technology to lead people and projects and build productive human connections in an increasingly remote and virtual work environment.


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