Internal Refusal: Want to Telecommute? Learn to Communicate
Tony Wallace, a young software developer from Dayton, Ohio, is thrilled at the prospect of working from home where he could take care of his two small children, three dogs, and a cat. Like many forward-looking employers, Northrop Grumman Corporation, a leading aerospace and defense technology company, is encouraging workers to consider telecommuting. The company recently created a formal program with specific policies explaining eligibility and requirements. Currently, only positions in technical sales, information technology, Web and graphic design, and software development qualify for telecommuting. In addition, workers must be dependable, self-motivated, and organized. Because telecommuting is a sought-after privilege, employees with proven high performance, seniority, minimal absenteeism, and superb communication skills receive priority consideration. Telecommuters need to follow company policies determining work hours, break times, and work schedules, even off site. Moreover, they must visit the main office located on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton at least once every two weeks to report to their supervisors in person.
Northrop Grumman promotes telecommuting because it can benefit the company as much as it benefits its workers. In addition to flexibility, telecommuters usually experience gains in productivity and efficiency. The employer lowers overhead costs and retains valuable workers who are not able or willing to commute to remote corporate offices.
Tony is a diligent worker, but after only a year and a half at Northrop Grumman, he doesn’t have the seniority needed for a successful application. His performance over the past year was satisfactory, but not outstanding. It seems as if he still needs time to prove himself. In addition, his major weakness is average communication skills, which you (his supervisor) discussed with him during the company’s last annual performance review cycle. While Tony has made improvements in communication since the performance review, he is not yet a competitive candidate for the telecommuting position.
Your task: Each supervisor is responsible for notifying their reports concerning the outcome of the telecommuting application process. As Tony’s direct supervisor, you must turn down his application. Be gentle, but honest in revealing the reasons for the no. Remember to leave the option for a future application open once Tony meets certain conditions.