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  • 1.  Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee

    Posted 04-22-2019 09:39 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 04-22-2019 09:39 AM
    I have seen a lot of discussions online for employees moving from an office employee to a remote employee. Does anyone have any recommendations or experiences they can share for moving from an a remote employee to an office employee?

    Kenneth Mika, PE M.ASCE

    De Pere, WI

  • 2.  RE: Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee

    Posted 04-22-2019 05:52 PM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 04-22-2019 05:51 PM
    Kenneth, throughout my career I went both ways periodically, depending on the need at the time. It's hard going back into the office because while you were out, younger people were hired to get the office work done.

    The hard part is to make your boss realize he can pay you to train a new hire to do a job, or he can pay the new hire to do it over again. 

    Daniel Chase M.ASCE
    Camarillo CA

  • 3.  RE: Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee

    Posted 04-23-2019 09:56 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 04-23-2019 09:56 AM

    Hi Daniel,


    Thanks for the comment!


    Did you notice any cultural changes through your periodic office to remote and back to office experiences?






    Kenneth R. Mika, PE       

    Project Engineer

    (licensed PE in MI, MO, WA, and WI)   

  • 4.  RE: Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee

    Posted 04-23-2019 11:04 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 04-23-2019 11:03 AM
    Very little. I would only be out for project periods of a few months to a year or so.  The changes would be the addition of newtounger staff.

    My last time coming back in, a month and a half before my target retirement date, I was told to either take "leave without pay" or be laid off.  That was not fun. But the pressure to be profitable must be heavy on the managers.

    Daniel Chase M.ASCE
    Camarillo CA

  • 5.  RE: Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee

    Posted 04-24-2019 07:46 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 04-24-2019 07:46 AM
    Most important is to get dressed appropriate for the office!  Remember to take your food and drink as you are away from your kitchen.  And remember where you parked your car.  The rest is easy.

  • 6.  RE: Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee

    Posted 04-24-2019 10:06 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 04-24-2019 10:05 AM
    Thanks for the comment Peter! You reminded me of noticing staff coming out of the field to be dressed appropriately! At a minimum, staff change shoes and shouldn't track mud from the field all over the office. That will drive the office manager and other staff crazy.

    Of coarse I have to admit that I may have done that once, unknowingly. ​

    Kenneth Mika, PE M.ASCE

    Green Bay, WI

  • 7.  RE: Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee
    Best Answer

    Posted 04-25-2019 11:08 AM
    Edited by Kenneth Mika 04-26-2019 01:56 PM

    I recently went from office to remote. I understand you're looking to go the other way, but I think these takeaways are valid in your case.

    1. Grooming and dressing professionally, as well as the commute add a lot of time in the morning, and some time in the evening too. For me, that is over two extra hours that I've been able to gain as "work time" when I started working from home. So, if I were going the other way, a significant adjustment would need to be made to the morning routine, and you'd need to account for contingencies such as bad traffic. 

    2. Be mentally prepared to not as productive in the office as you were at home. You'll need to participate more in informal office discussions and navigate the office politics more. There will also be more interruptions, for example you might be asking others for help since they are there and visa versa. Or, if you are in an open office environment you'll need to adjust to the noise volumes.
    3. You'll have a new set of challenges related to setting boundaries with coworkers and your manager. Besides productivity, when you work remotely I've found it much easier to claim the deep uninterrupted thinking/calculation time that is necessary to do technical or strategic-thinking work. I don't think I realized how much I was NOT getting done in the office (I've always worked in an open-office plan) until I saw how much I could get done uninterrupted when working remotely. Use what you learned working remotely to translate those preferences into the office as much as possible. For example, since I am a morning person, I like to block out morning hours for the deep thinking (as many productivity experts recommend anyways), and schedule meetings for early afternoon where possible. I don't answer emails first thing in the day. But, if for example you are most productive at night, this can become very challenging if you work in a "traditional 8-5 and later" office environment.

    4. If I was managing someone going from remote to office (or visa versa), I'd make an extra effort to have routine (private) check-ins with him or her the first few weeks, just to see how things are going and get feedback as to how I could best help. Having discussions about expectations (work hours, amount of interaction with coworkers, how long to work on a single task if you are feeling stuck, etc.) are critical on all sides. If you are the person going from remote to office and your manager doesn't do this, be proactive about it. There are office policies and politics you may not have been aware of that he or she can help you navigate.

    Stephanie Slocum P.E.
    Engineers Rising LLC

  • 8.  RE: Moving from Remote Employee to an Office Employee
    Best Answer

    Posted 04-26-2019 07:27 AM
    Edited by Kenneth Mika 04-26-2019 01:56 PM
    Hi Kenneth,

    In my career, I had both: working at home and working in the office, and a third one: working in the office but on remote project via video conference. Each has its own appropriate circumstances:

    - Working at home was best fit for working as a specialist on almost purely technical matters. The other team members were working from their homes too: the specialized draftsman (a very crafty Architectural Precast Concrete Project); the specialized detailer of Granite; the Architect; the manufacturer, etc. That was even before email; we were using fax, yes multi-generation fax sketches faxed between Toronto and two US cities. It worked well. Lots of saving in time as well as relaxation because I was working from home.

    - Working in the office was a must when I had to manage large team work. Human contact was essential; coordination meetings between several disciplines as well as within our structural engineering team, which was made up of five large firms. And of course, directing and empowering my immediate team. It was an exercise in managing high management. Dress had to be smart but not to the degree of vanity. Communication had to include everything from public speaking skills, to a care taker as a mentor, striking a balance between casual friendliness and strict legalese. You need all that when you are managing a major infrastructure project that is on the national news, involving all three levels of government.

    - The third work arrangement was working in the office, not so formally, but communicating with other offices in three other continents via video conferencing. Dress can be semi casual, and working hours have some flexibility but with strict commitment at certain times for video conferencing. Some funny hours occasionally, to suite our colleagues on Australia. That was a consortium designing a subway system for a Middle Eastern country, with offices in four continents. It had elements of the first two, but it has its own flavor of open-mindedness to global cooperation.

    So, in the end, there's no golden rule that fits all. The variety is huge. What works for one can be a disaster for the other. It all depends on the project characteristics and objectives. Those who adapt the most, survive the best.

    Neil Kazen, M.Eng., M.Sc., P.Eng.
    Retired Structural Engineering Manager, Transportation Division, SNC-Lavalin
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada