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  • Writer's pictureBill Holmes

Tip 3 for the Remote Manager – Follow the rules!

Leadership management project management
Someone is always watching! Act like it!

“People. They're not all bad, but do you really want to risk it? Perhaps that was the unofficial motto of the Soviet Union...” Dmitry Dyatlov

“And thus, the pendulum must swing right to correct what is wrong so that it can in turn swing back when all that is wrong will be blamed on those who are right.” Volker G. Fremuth

If you are working from home, the past several months are beginning to take on a “Groundhog Day” feel. Every workday feels almost exactly like the next. You get out of bed, turn on the coffee, take a shower and sit down in your home office. You flip open your laptop, log into your Virtual Private Network (VPN) and check your calendar so the day of conference calls can begin.

Working from home has a lot of benefits! But, you are working! Treat your time exactly like you would at work. This may seem like a commonsense approach, but in a 100% telework environment your work and private live can become entangled in a way that can be difficult to explain if someone asks you about it.

And someone may ask you about it.

Let me share a bit of wisdom that a great man and mentor shared with me. His name was Kelly Murphy, and we were very close before he passed away. Twenty-five years ago I was a rookie manager working for Kelly. One of my peers had gotten in trouble over something that I thought was a rather minor “foot fault”. While what they did was technically “wrong”, this manager was only trying to do their job in a complicated environment. They took a shortcut I had seen others take, but someone reported them and now they were fighting for their career. His advice to me was this: “Nobody cares until someone cares, then everyone cares!”

And he was right! In the course of a 30 year career, I have seen that scenario play out many times. Controls get a little lax and people begin to expand the boundaries of what is acceptable. Suddenly someone calls attention to it and a bunch of people get in trouble.

My advice to the remote manager is make sure that your teams are treating their home offices exactly like they would treat their work office. If you need to take an hour to run an errand, then take an hour of leave to run your errand! Don’t just “make it up” at the end of the day. If you have a Doctors appointment, then take sick time to go to the appointment.

Most “rules” weren’t suspended while organizations struggled to pivot to a remote environment and employees tried to balance work with homes that were suddenly filled with children and unemployed spouses. There will come a day when whomever passes for auditors in your organization will be looking at activities that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those auditors won’t be looking for efficiency or common-sense decisions made in the heat of the moment, they will be looking for strict adherence to the rules.

The machine must be fed and people will get in trouble. Help your team avoid this by making sure they follow the rules, even when those rules make things more difficult.


My wife and I were awarded our patent! We have been marketing our product and sales are good, but with the patent being awarded we are now being inundated with offers to market our product. This is a very exciting time. Getting the patent required a lot of work, time and money, but now that we have it we are excited to take the next steps. Thanks to everyone for your support!


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