We spend a lot of time here talking about how managers should adapt to those who work remotely. That frequently includes those who come into the office a day or two a week. But what responsibilities do people who usually work remotely have to their in-office boss and teammates?

Are you aware of your responsibility?

What do we mean by responsibility? After all, this is your workplace even if you’re only here twice a week, or once a month, or hardly ever. You’re part of the team, why should you respond differently in those circumstances than you do normally?

Based on some of the conversations I’ve had with people who work from the office more than from home, there are some behaviors that their teammates indulge in and should know better. In the words of one office manager, “They’ve gone feral.”

While we hope you aren’t on that end of the spectrum, here are some of the common complaints people have about those who come into the office less often:

  • They resist the dress code or do the bare minimum to reach it. You’re part of the team and not a visiting guest star. Choosing to dress differently than those who are in the office everyday smacks of privilege.
  • They complain about things (especially traffic) that their peers have to deal with every day. Yeah, we know, there are cars out there. Your peers deal with it every day and don’t think you’re making that big a sacrifice by coming in.
  • They’re used to setting their own work environment and don’t adapt. This might mean moving aimlessly around the office while thinking, playing music at their desk, or not paying attention to the volume they speak at on the phone or web calls.
  • They aren’t prepared to work, because they leave things (like headphones/microphones) at home or have files on their home computer rather than the shared drive. You knew yesterday you were coming in today. Plan accordingly.
  • They are so glad to see their colleagues that they engage in a lot of social chatter and don’t respect people’s work. Some of this is perfectly natural, especially when you go into the office infrequently. A degree of social interaction is expected. But also, read the room. Ask if people have time before you launch into the latest adorable thing your cat did.
  • They may be on the other end of that spectrum.  They expect to do the same kind of quiet, focused work they did at home and can’t understand why people keep interrupting them. It’s because you are not out of sight and out of mind.
  • They don’t tell people when they are coming in or when they’ll be working from somewhere else. This matters because people are planning meetings, collaboration, and team events. If you want fewer web meetings, be proactive about setting up face-to-face meetings when you’re in the same location, and give your manager and teammates advance notice.

Do your part to be a better teammate

You may or may not be excited about going into the office. This might be hard to hear, but if that is the agreement, it’s your responsibility to hold up your end of the bargain. As a great teammate, you need to be productive while helping others be productive as well. You need to be proactive about planning work, conversations and tasks so that your’e maximizing time with the team as well as time alone. And you sometimes need to suck it up and not make your unhappiness so apparent. Your long-term relationships and career advancement may depend on how you are perceived as a colleague and teammate.


Wayne Turmel--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

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammateoffers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.

The latest book from Wayne and Kevin shows leaders how to design a team culture that has a one-team mindset and gets great results under hybrid-work conditions. You can pre-order The Long-Distance Team: Designing Your Team for Everyone’s Success now.

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