Amazon Ad Manager Jessica Exclusive Interview | How Should Remote Workers Deal with Bosses Who Love Con-Calls?

December 7, 2023

Amazon 廣告策略經理 Jessica 專訪|你也有個看不到人、就不放心的老闆嗎?遠端工作者該如何搞定愛 Con-call 的老闆?

Photo by RapidEye from iStock

【The article wants you to know】
1. The difference in attitudes between Asian and American managers towards remote work
2. How to reduce distrust from managers while working remotely
3. How to increase mutual trust through “proactive reporting”

Since 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has swept the world, and the high transmissibility of the virus has made remote working the new norm. However, in Asia, this new working model also faces new challenges. Meaningless progress meetings, frequent online check-ins, and even occasional phone disturbances have disrupted work rhythms, leading to delays in progress.

What's worse, the feeling of being monitored all the time adds a lot of pressure when working.

Jessica currently works at the well-known e-commerce company Amazon, serving as a senior sales strategy and operations manager for advertising. She is responsible for data analysis and strategic planning for advertising business.

During the pandemic, she worked remotely for up to two years and has had remote working experiences in companies in China, Taiwan, and the United States. Therefore, we have specially invited her to share her observations and how to adapt to the remote office culture in Asia.

"Enterprises in Asia tend to be more process-oriented," Jessica said.

In the United States, the work culture leans more towards a responsibility system. As long as you can complete the tasks within the deadline, managers and bosses don’t really mind whether you are online during working hours.

For example, Jessica shared a situation when working remotely in the United States, where a colleague would be offline for one to two hours every working day because she had to pick up her children from school. Sometimes, due to traffic jams during the pick-up, the offline time would be even longer.

However, in the working culture of Asia, even if you can deliver results on time, managers still hope that you stay online during work hours, allowing them to follow your work and project status at any time.

In other words, they expect you to stay online all the time when working remotely. Even if communication software does not have to be on call all the time, it is still necessary to maintain an online status, as this is the only way they can ensure that you are actually solving problems.

“In the past when we were in the office, we would hold a progress meeting once a week, but after starting remote work, the supervisor suggested changing the progress meeting to be held every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”

Jessica believes that, generally speaking, most enterprises in Asian countries tend to be more process-oriented. This trend stems from Asian leaders' lack of trust in employees. They believe that as long as employees are not supervised by managers, they will definitely be lazy.

Even in foreign companies in Asia, or foreign managers working in Asia, under the influence of Asian culture, they still hope to see employees obediently staying in one space on call during working hours.

So, how do we reduce this kind of situation?

First of all, we need to understand the reasons behind the excessive questioning behavior of managers.

The Root of Distrust Comes from the Opacity of Information

As mentioned earlier, the reason many Asian companies adopt a process-oriented approach is due to the distrust of higher-ups towards the grassroots. This sense of distrust actually stems from anxiety about a lack of transparency in information.

When working in the office, supervisors or bosses can find you at any time, and can constantly check on your work progress and whether the current results meet their expectations.

However, when working remotely, the inability to communicate face-to-face in real time can easily make them feel a loss of control over the progress. They fear that the project may be delayed due to employees slacking off, or that they may only discover that the results do not meet their expectations at the final stage. Not only would the previous efforts be wasted, but the cost of subsequent modifications could also be significant.

So, what should we do if we want to reduce managerial interference and alleviate anxiety caused by opaque information? "Proactive reporting" would be a better approach.

Key Points and Framework of Proactive Reporting

Proactive reporting refers to preparing a "work progress and results report" in addition to regular progress meetings. The content of the report must include three key points:

1. Completed Projects This Week

This part is mainly a simple report of the achievements of this week. We can discuss what problems have been solved and what tasks have been completed this week. If there are closed cases or data reports, they can be attached to the email for the manager to review.

2. Ongoing Projects This Week

Here, we can briefly mention the progress of the tasks underway this week. It's not necessary to detail how much percentage of each task has been completed, but we can mention what stage we are currently at, and whether there is a need for the manager to provide assistance.

If there are difficulties or bad news, we can also explain the situation in the message. For example, if the project is delayed, the client increases requirements, or there are errors in data verification, we can let the manager know.

This way, the manager will know that we will not only report good news but also know how to provide help.

3. Tasks to Be Carried Out Next Week

Finally, we can tell the manager about the tasks we plan to carry out next. If resources are needed, they can also be proposed at this time to let the manager know. This not only allows the manager to understand the work progress but also plan the resource allocation in advance.

Building a sense of security forms a virtuous cycle

You might wonder: "The boss will actively hold meetings to ask questions, why do I still have to take the initiative to report?"

Although progress meetings are held every day, such meetings usually involve the entire department, and everyone takes turns reporting what they do every day. However, the boss may not remember all these routine reports. Therefore, our weekly reports actually serve as a record of individual daily progress meetings, with integrated information value.

Moreover, taking the initiative to report seems to increase the workload, but it provides an excellent opportunity to shape one’s image when working remotely.

When you proactively provide project progress every week, not only can it reduce the insecurity felt by leaders due to lack of information, but it also allows them to develop an impression of you as someone who "continuously solves problems" and "continuously creates value." Over time, this will generate a sense of trust, and when better opportunities arise, they will naturally think of you first.

In fact, whether it is remote work or working in the office, managers' anxiety about information has always existed. However, when working remotely, because they cannot see the working conditions of employees, this anxiety may turn into doubt, leading to intense scrutiny. However, if we choose to proactively provide information to make up for this information gap, then their monitoring intensity will naturally be reduced, thus forming a virtuous cycle.


(This article is translated by the Digital Nomad editor group.)

This content is protected by copyright. Please respect the author's work and do not copy or distribute without permission.

Editor Group/李致淮

Editor Group/李致淮

Chih-Huai is currently responsible for the editorial work of "Digital Nomad" and also serve as a community editor for Darencademy' and 'ProjectUp.'In addition, I have previously worked as a community editor at "The Storm Media" and as an interview journalist and writer for its subsidiary channel "Seniors Say". I look forward to sharing more interesting and practical insights with everyone on the "Digital Nomad" platform.