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Internal Refusal: Want to Telecommute? Learn to Communicate

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Pamela Gershon, a young software developer from Dayton, Ohio, is thrilled at the prospect of working from home where she would be able to take care of her 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 has 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 benefits the company as well as its workers. In addition to flexibility, telecommuters usually experience gains in productivity and efficiency. The employer lowers overhead costs and is able to retain valuable workers who may not be able or willing to commute to remote corporate offices. Pamela has been a diligent worker, but after only a year and a half at Northrop Grumman, she doesn’t have the seniority needed for a successful application.

Her performance has been satisfactory but not outstanding. It seems as if she still needs time to prove herself. In addition, her major weakness is average communication skills, something her supervisor has already discussed with Pamela. Your task: Draft a memo address to Pamela Gershon for Human Resources Director Gabrielle Anicker turning down Pamela’s telecommuting application. Be gentle but honest in revealing your reasons for the no, but don’t close the door on a future application once Pamela meets certain conditions.

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