A Coworker Is Taking Advantage of Your Telework

September 13, 2011

Chapter 13 – Understanding and Resolving Problems

Nobody likes it, but from time to time you will be involved in a workplace power struggle. It may be unclear what you are arguing about, but somehow you find yourself in an adversarial relationship with one of your teammates. If you are remote and the other person is not, you are at a big disadvantage. Your coworker in the office can get their way a lot more easily than you can.

If you find yourself in this situation, start by taking a deep breath. It is normal to take these situations personally, but you may be blowing things out of proportion. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. They may not even realize you are having a problem. Talk to them about the situation. There is a good chance that you can resolve the problem with a short conversation.

This is another place where blame can be a factor. Focus on presenting your situation as a problem you need help with, and make sure to use a lot of “I” statements:

  • I feel like I’m not part of the decision process.
  • I’m not happy with my limited role on the team

If this doesn’t resolve the issue then you need to handle the situation just as you would if you were in the office. You may want to confront the other person directly or involve your manager. Focus on concrete examples of the problems you have had. One big advantage you have when you are remote is that most communication is archived. If you can show an email or an IM chat log which backs up your position it can go a long way with your manager.

Whatever you do, don’t lose your connection with the rest of the team. Have a confrontation with a coworker can be very frustrating, but you still need to work with everyone else. Losing your connection with the rest of the team means losing their support.
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