Boss Refuses To Admit To His Hilariously Dumb Mistake, Enforces An Absurd Work-From-Home Policy Instead Interview With Author
Working from home has been a very spicy topic over the past two and a half years. It’s a topic that we’ve covered in great detail here at Bored Panda. While some companies have embraced fully remote or hybrid work and have given their employees more flexibility, others have doubled down on waging war on these sorts of policies because of the lack of trust, the desire for in-person communication (and oversight), and a host of other reasons.
Some work-from-home policies, however, aren’t made using logic. Instead, they’re dictated by radically embarrassing misunderstandings. And instead of owning up to these mistakes, the higher-ups would rather inconvenience the entire company to cover up their failures.
In a story that will have you facepalming very hard, one redditor, a veteran sysadmin and developer with decades of experience, shared how a senior administration official saw someone’s Zoom tropic theme background and moved to rework the entire company’s WFH approach because he thought someone was actually working at the beach.
Scroll down for the two full posts shared on r/sysadmin, in the redditor’s own words, as well as to see how the internet reacted. What do you think about what happened, Pandas? What’s the WFH policy like at your job? You can share your thoughts and opinions with everyone else in the comments—we’d love to hear about your experience with remote work policies.
Bored Panda got in touch with the author of the posts and had a friendly chat with them about WFH culture. “It has been my personal experience that most managers think their employees do nothing but goof off when working from home, rather than focusing on productivity. I’ve personally heard HR personnel make general disparaging comments about WFH arrangements,” the OP said.
“Rather than focusing on the fact an employee produced X number of widgets on average each WFH day, which mimics their in-office average daily widget count, managers obsess over the fact the employee may be taking a long lunch, nap, doing laundry, etc., during the work-day and view that as ‘stealing’ (time) from the company.”
While some companies embrace hybrid or fully remote work, others have a tough time adapting
Image credits: Oladimeji Ajegbile (not the actual photo)
One employee shared how a senior official’s misunderstanding when he saw a Zoom background led to him changing the entire firm’s WFH policy
Image credits: Vlada Karpovich (not the actual photo)
Image credits: STUNTP***S
The author of the two posts shared some of his thoughts about the future of working from home, and how the culture might shift over the coming few years. In his opinion, the changes will depend a lot on the company industry and culture, as well as the people in positions to make decisions about WFH.
“My wife has been WFH for the past decade, but she works for a company that is very forward-looking and most of their employees are at client sites anyway so they’re not in an office, to begin with. I only went WFH when COVID hit and now I need to sign a WFH ‘contract’ every semester and my WFH schedule is highly regulated with no flexibility. Because, well, we’re all goof-offs and we need management’s knee on the back of our neck to make sure we do our work and don’t goof-off and ‘steal’ the company’s time, right? Frankly, the whole thing is insulting and laughable because management talks [nonsense], at the same time talking about promoting a positive ‘climate,’ while treating its employees like children,” the redditor was frustrated with the way management approaches things.
The OP, whose office is a 35-minute drive away, provided an example of just how ridiculous things can get when it comes to worker flexibility. According to his ‘contract,’ his WFH days are Wednesday and Thursday. “Nobody is allowed to WFH on Monday or Friday, because, well then we’d just goof off for a long weekend, right? I’ve actually heard HR and management make statements like that,” he pointed out just how condescending some of the higher-ups are.
“I had my annual physical (prescheduled) on a Friday at 1pm. I asked my boss if I could swap Wednesday for Friday so I could go to my doctor’s appointment, 15 minutes away in the opposite direction of work, and still be productive that day. I was told no, you can’t WFH on a Friday, and besides, WFH isn’t so you can go to a doctor’s appointment. So my options were either to go in to the office on a Friday, leave to drive 50 minutes to the doctor, go to my appointment, drive 50 minutes back, finish the work day, and then drive home. Or take a sick day and enjoy my day off with a minor inconvenience in the middle when I had to go to that appointment,” he said.
“Guess which one I chose? Yup. I took the ‘free’ day off and enjoyed most (since who really enjoys their annual physical?) of the day at my employer’s expense, all the while laughing at the stupidity of my manager.”
Look, we get it, Zoom backgrounds are pretty nifty. The first time yours truly saw them, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the quality of the themes. However, they’re still very clearly fake. Though it’s not out of this world to assume that someone who’s entirely unfamiliar with the tech might mistake one of the themes for an actual location.
Though to be so stubborn as to not admit to having a mistake is just… disappointing. Employees often expect their superiors to know better and have higher standards, however, the truth of the matter is that everyone’s very much human. Arrogance, entitlement, shame, guilt—these issues don’t go away just because you get a promotion or two. That’s why it’s so important to know how to manage your managers: give them valid criticism diplomatically, while also offering solutions to the problem. Though, granted, far from every superior is open to any kind of employee input.
The r/sysadmin subreddit had a field day with the story. Some redditors quipped that the official would have his mind blown if he ever saw a Zoom space background. While another quipped: “Attention Staff. By new mandate, all employees must work from within the solar system, or be declared AWOL.”
Though embarrassment is far from pleasant, it’s actually a healthy and mature reaction to embrace it. Otherwise, it might morph into deep-seated shame later on. Vanessa Bohns, from Cornell University, previously explained to Bored Panda that displaying signs of mild embarrassment can actually be socially constructive. People can feel more sympathetic towards you if you admit to making mistakes.
If instead, we run away from our embarrassment, our social capital is likely to go down. In other words, your reputation suffers if you pretend that you haven’t messed up. People respect you more if you’re honest about your flaws.
“What you want to be careful not to do is to let embarrassment morph into the more destructive self-conscious emotion of shame, where you feel so badly about a minor mistake that you start to think there is something wrong with you and feel the need to completely disappear and hide away yourself,” Bohns said.
Meanwhile, workplace expert and author Lynn Taylor explained to Bored Panda why working from home is such a contentious issue for some managers. “The fear of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ looms large,” she said how some managers think.
“For some companies, industries, and positions, employees do need to be on site. But for those where it won’t affect their work product, managers must be open-minded about offering the flexibility and freedom of working from home. That is if they want to attract and retain the most qualified people,” she told us.
“One of the reasons some managers are opposed to work-from-home policies, for example, is they feel there is a lack of productivity when you can’t meet face-to-face. They believe that project teams are less effective when working offsite,” the workplace expert said.
“Managers may feel their own results and successes are negatively impacted because they can’t interface personally with their staff; brainstorm as easily, or react to unexpected issues on the spot. They may also feel they can’t train their employees properly when they’re offsite. For others, it’s simply resistance to change. If they’re much more traditional in their management approach, they may want to exert maximum control over their staff and be assured everyone is committed.”