An Open Letter To CEOs - You Will Not Lose Control By Going Remote
Building a Remote Workforce

An Open Letter To CEOs - You Will Not Lose Control By Going Remote

by Andrew Allen, VP of Content Marketing
An Open Letter To CEOs - You Will Not Lose Control By Going Remote
  • What Do Managers Really Think?
  • What Are Leaders Truly Afraid Of?
  • It Must Be A Generational Issue
  • What Will You Lose If You Don't Go Remote?
  • Let's Find A Solution

Control. Some leaders really seem to thrive on it. They worry they will lose their control if their teams move remote. Here at Crossover we have a little spoiler alert - they won't lose it.

During the COVID pandemic, knowledge workers were forced to work remotely by their employers. Now, there is a massive push by organizations for employees to return to their cubicle farms and a large hesitation (or outright refusal) to move to a hybrid or remote work model. This is the opposite of employees who have proven they are more productive and are looking to continue working remotely.

Why are so many leaders and managers against the idea of a remote workforce? It's that they don’t want to lose their control.

What Do Managers Really Think?

A recent study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found supervisors were not happy with the extra work associated with remote work. Managers reported “negative perceptions” of the work-from-home trend, with remote workers not being held in high regard.  

The managers were brutally honest: 

  • Nearly 70% replied that remote workers are “more easily replaceable than onsite workers.” 
  • About 67% of supervisors said they spend more time supervising remote workers than onsite workers. 
  • Around 43% of supervisors say they “sometimes forget" about remote workers when assigning tasks
  • 72 % say they would prefer all of their subordinates to be working in the office.

What Are Leaders Truly Afraid Of?

Losing their perceived control. That’s it in a nutshell. After years of managers supervising their teams every move from the office cubicle farms, they are now having to dial in and try to control from remote.

Cracking The Whip

The job of senior managers and supervisors is to manage employees. Many like the power their roles bring. Presiding over endless jargon–filled meetings, with no outcomes, just to exert their perceived control. If the team is not there in person to make sure they are doing their work, or attend hours of in-person meetings, then what else are these managers meant to do with their day.

With a remote workforce, managers lose their perceived stranglehold over teams. Without appearing to be busy, they also get worried senior executives could start looking at them and asking if their roles are necessary.


Many studies have shown remote workers are more productive. However that’s not what executives and managers think. If a manager sees an employee at their desk until late, they think that team member is being productive (even if they’re just browsing Amazon). If they can’t physically see a team member, then they must be playing candy crush all day.

Crossover spoiler alert: a PwC survey reported that productivity actually improved over the prolonged remote work period. Not exactly what executives think!

Productivity improved during work from home


It’s Hard And “Extra” Work With Remote Teams

Having everyone under the same roof is meant to make managing a team easier. Managers don’t have to put in the hard yards to maintain relationships with their employees.

It requires a whole new skill set to manage a team remotely. Those managers who don't have these skills will be like a lifeboat adrift in the ocean. 

Motivating remote employees and managing team infrastructure will add more work hours to a manager's day. Then add more more stress by keeping track of every team member individually. 

Proximity Bias

Other executives feel going remote will have negative impact on work culture. This includes potential proximity bias.

A January 2022 Slack survey of more than 10,000 knowledge workers and their leaders showed 41% felt worried about the prospect of inequality between office-centric, hybrid and fully remote employees. These included: 

  • less one-on-one time with supervisors 
  • passed over for career progression as “not visible enough”, and 
  • potential for resentment from other employees who don’t have the same work-model.

It Must Be A Generational Issue

Many expect this negativity towards remote work is a generational issue and exclusive for Baby Boomer leaders who aren’t receptive to change. This is not the case. Many Millennials and Gen Z team leaders actually prefer employees in-office. 

A Hubble survey report found Gen Z are the most “pro-office” age group, while Gen X and Baby Boomers are the most “pro-remote”. The report continued to find, "an impressive 21.4% of Gen X and Baby Boomers want to work remotely every single day—almost 200% more than Gen Z, and 50% more than Millennials."^

One Gen Z leader, James Rogers, 26, loves managing his team from the office instead of the kitchen table.  “We as a business are very much office first, and personally I believe we can be a stronger workforce when based in the office full time,” says Rogers, a digital public-relations lead in a branch of a British-American global content agency. 

What Will You Lose If You Don't Go Remote?

You may not lose control, but if you don't go remote you will lose your biggest asset - your talent. A recent survey showed 64% of employees would consider quitting if they had to return to the office full-time. 

By not offering a remote-work solution, your business will lose talent and not be able to replace them easily with the extremely tight global job market. 

Let's Find A Solution

As successful remote-first organizations have already shown, there are many remote-work solutions that managers fearful of losing control can embrace.

Hybrid / Flexible Work (Hell Of Half Measures)

Organizations don’t need to move fully-remote immediately. Offering a hybrid work model (i.e. a few days in the office per week) and the option for specific departments to move fully-remote can satisfy both leaders and employees at the start. 

While this is an interim solution, many CEO's are finding out hybrid is actually the worst of both worlds.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman called hybrid offices “the worst of both worlds”. Stoppelman also acknowledged the growing popularity of hybrid policies — in which employees work from the office part time — but called them “the hell of half measures.”

“It’s the worst of three options,” he said.

Productivity Monitoring

Productivity monitoring software shows how productive and efficient your employees have been when on duty. There are many benefits, and managers can use results to inspire even greater productivity from their teams. As managers move towards a coach skill and mind set, they will coach teams using this data (think how Olympic coaches use data for their athletes). Employees will be more empowered, focused and productive.

Open Communication By Async

Async is tricky for managers who expect an immediate answer to emails. With remote teams, expectations regarding communication and the remote work culture should be laid out from the outset. By establishing these early, it allows managers and employees to both thrive working remotely.

Working asynchronously, employees have the opportunity to deep work and know they’re not expected to jump on the boss’s email. This benefits the organization as employees push their skills and productivity to the limit. 

Don't worry, you still can get in person updates through zoom. Maintaining open communication with teams can be done with regular zoom catch-up meetings and WIP channels on communication platforms like Slack.

Stop Clinging To The Past

CEOs and managers should just accept the changing workforce structure for what it is. It's 2022, not 1982. After all, who could have foreseen the global pandemic. Using learnings from COVID about the power of remote work is vital to successfully move their organization forward.

 “Studies show that many executives are holding on to the remnants of the past and failing to see this as an inflection point in the workforce,” said Ella Washington, an organizational psychologist and professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and the founder of Ellavate Solutions.

“If employers don’t pay attention and take action to re-create the best of what we’ve learned working virtually in the office and in hybrid work environments, then opportunities for inequity could skyrocket,” she said.

GO TO About

^ Hubble - "Should We Ditch The Office" 

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