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Food delivery drivers, here’s a tip: Deliver the order, no matter the tip

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Food delivery drivers admit to passing on trips where they aren’t sure there is a tip. Is that justifiable, or is it just the way the cookie crumbles?

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Food delivery drivers asking for payment with a portable card scanner.

After hearing customers complaining about not getting the food they ordered through a delivery app, or getting it hours late and cold, delivery drivers admitted they were not accepting certain orders if they thought there would be little or no tip. This one makes my blood boil on everyone’s behalf. With my service industry background, I am super protective of servers who work largely for tips. As a customer, I understand that tipping is a choice. I choose to tip well and wish everyone would. Even though tips are a large part of their income, it’s not clear to customers exactly how drivers get paid. That may be part of the problem.

The same rule of dining at a full service restaurant applies: Don’t eat out (or order the food delivery service) if you can’t afford to tip. It’s part of the social contract. Delivery drivers, though, also opted into that social contract when they agreed to drive for a food delivery service. In the report in the Houston KHOU news story, drivers aren’t even sure there is no or little tip; they are guessing from the estimated pay in the app (not a perfect measure). Just as servers have the obligation to wait on people who may or may not tip, drivers have the obligation to deliver food that customers have ordered.

Most people tip decently, many tip very well, and a few do not tip well, or at all. Some people are simply lousy tippers. Others, who may truly need the service during the pandemic, such as the elderly, disabled, or shut-in, may be unaware of how tipping in the app works, or they may assume the full delivery fee goes to the driver. It’s a more complicated system than interacting with a server, where you pay for the product and tip as payment for the service. With delivery apps, you pay for a product, pay a fee for the service, and are expected to tip on top of that.

The apps have to make their money somehow. They have created complex online systems that gather, match up, and distribute massive amounts of personal information and manage to get your food to you (usually) while keeping your data private. Those types of systems and securities aren’t cheap. However, with the apps charging both the customer and the restaurant service fees (sometimes way too much, as we noted last year), and with drivers responsible for their car maintenance, gas, and expenses, the apps certainly can come across like the cat who ate the canary. Mind you, several of them have partnered with restaurants and food trucks to charge them less during the pandemic, and that’s a good thing.

How much do drivers make? Based on recent articles on Indeed.com, and appjobs.com, most delivery services pay a minimum fare per trip, plus some combination of distance + time + tip. When all is said and done, including tip, the per-hour rate varies between $9.00 per hour up to $25.00, depending on the market in which you are driving and the app. Most seem to average somewhere in between $13.00-$18.00/hour (gross earnings, and including tips).

Some apps, like DoorDash, will guarantee a minimum per ride, in case the base + tip does not meet the minimum amount. Most apps give 100% of tips to the driver, and others may offer some benefits, such as discounted/subsidized car repairs. Others offer bonuses for a certain number of deliveries per month, and still others may pay (and charge) more at peak times. I hope more of these services examine their practices and provide some of these drivers’ perks and benefits.

The variations in rate and perks are numerous, but two things stay the same. These delivery drivers have committed to providing a service, and tips are optional. I hate to say it, because I believe in tipping big, but it’s in the job description. In my experience, most people hold up their end of the bargain and tip. Others may not. If you don’t like it, then maybe driving for a delivery service isn’t for you.

Joleen Jernigan is an ever-curious writer, grammar nerd, and social media strategist with a background in training, education, and educational publishing. A native Texan, Joleen has traveled extensively, worked in six countries, and holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. She lives in Austin and constantly seeks out the best the city has to offer.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. François

    March 16, 2021 at 10:45 pm

    I’m glad this is an opinion piece, because this is quite a privileged position you’re taking.

    Your claim to empathize for those in the service industry based on your experience in the same industry is completely disqualified by the rest of the article. And from this perspective, it sounds like a recent experience may have triggered the writing of this article. Then trying to support it with high-level information from other sites without full context of demographics? This article just sounded like an uninformed rant.

    As it’s efficient and convenient for you choose to place an order from the comfort of your own home while you sit back in your nice home and continue writing articles on a pricey computer while you wait for your untipped delivery, a driver’s choice is to pick the delivery that makes them more earnings. And then do it again 20+ more times that night. You can’t fault anyone for picking something that they can actually choose is more beneficial for them because it’s less convenient for you. Frankly, it’s awesome those platforms have tip indicators to weed out those privileged few who don’t want to tip.

    Hopefully you’re empathy is louder than your article.

    – Former Delivery Driver turned App + User Research consultant

  2. Kevin Murphy

    March 19, 2021 at 11:08 am

    1: DoorDash has no obligation beyond generating value for its shareholders. At least that’s how they view it

    2: I’m an independent contractor. I get to choose what jobs I take.

    3: tipping is a misnomer in gig delivery world. The customer is actually bidding to get the attention of a driver and receive warm, intact food.

    4: a waitress’ shoes don’t run on gasoline and require expensive maintenance. I do my brakes roughly quarterly. That’s more than two grand a year alone.

    5: a waitress works in a relatively safe environment and is entitled to workman’s comp if she is injured, she also enjoys the tax and other financial advantages that come with being a w2 employee.

    We really need to change the culture from the idea of tipping to bidding. I’m not a waiter. I’m an independent operator in the logistics industry.

    We have more uncommon with independent truckers than waitstaff

  3. Sam

    March 19, 2021 at 11:58 am

    I don’t know anyone who would willingly accept $3 to drive to chipotle for example, possibly wait for the food to be ready and then drive 5 miles or so to an apartment complex that will take 10 minutes to even find the customer. Feel free to sign up and take those orders! There is so shortage in low paying orders. Your non-tip friends will be so thankful you lost money and ran up your car miles for them.

  4. Joseph

    March 19, 2021 at 12:11 pm

    You clearly have no idea how the system works for us drivers. When we deliver your food, we have to use our gas, put wear and tear on our vehicles that we are responsible to maintain, and drive however far away you choose not to tip for. When you get a $3 offer for a 19-mile round trip, you have no choice but to decline. Some hours, we don’t get any offers at all and that zero an hour rate is made up through tips in the subsequent hours. When you don’t tip, and we have to sit there for a half hour or longer waiting for your order, after taking us 15 minutes to get there, and then 15 minutes to you, we have effectively been paid $3/hr. Get your food yourself.

  5. Brian

    March 19, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Nobody is OBLIGATED to take your order, as a driver you’re an independent contractor which means you can refuse any gig for any reason. Also, I’d say over half DO NOT TIP. Do not say it’s economy or any other excuse, delivery is a luxury service, if you can’t afford to tip, get your own food.

  6. Shannon

    March 19, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    What you don’t call out in this article is the difference between an independent contractor, as most drivers are, vs. The employee status that servers and corporate driving jobs are.

    This gig relationship between driver and customer is that of a job, a quote, an acceptance or a decline.

  7. Taylor

    March 19, 2021 at 12:24 pm

    We are not obligated to do ANYTHING. We are not employees of a company like the waitress you used in your analogy. I am an independent contractor. I am in control of who gets their food and whose food sits on the rack to rot. Food delivery is a LUXURY service and if you can’t afford it take your own car or your own feet to the restaurant and get it yourself. While I’m declining your order screaming NO TIP? LOW TIP? NO TRIP. If you want your food hot, fresh, and in a timely manner TIP YOUR DRIVER. It’s a simple equation.

  8. MMK

    March 19, 2021 at 12:30 pm

    Oh Joleen, while you mention the following in your article, “Delivery drivers, though, also opted into that social contract when they agreed to drive for a food delivery service”. This insinuates that we signed up for the job and should accept low offers or tips. You forgot one thing, we signed up for this as CONTRACTORS, which means we have every right to pick and choose which orders we want to take. I refuse to take anything not worth my time and wear and tear on my car. This is a side gig for me, so I have that option. Door dash base pay is $3. Can you reasonably justify that I should take an order to a customer 12 miles away for $3??

  9. Rich

    March 19, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Drivers are independent contractors and can choose to accept or decline whatever they want. If people want delivery during a pandemic (or otherwise) they need to tip.

  10. Kyle

    March 19, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    The reason we must cherry pick, is because ( i work doordash) doordash will pay you 2 dollars per order (less if its a double order) and then whatever tip is. a GOOD (speedy) average delivery of about 2-3 miles is about 15 minutes…. people only really order food during certain timeframes. So for me to take all the no tip orders (2 dollars) i could be making a wopping 8 dollars a hour… while putting more wear and tear upon my vehicle that comes out of my bills aswell… and keep in mind that 8 dollars is BEFOR taxes.. So its more the issue that DD doesnt help cover the fact of low paying orders. instead they keep slapping more and more fees on the customers and resteraunts while paying their drivers very little.

  11. Shannon

    March 19, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    It’s clear that you have absolutely no idea how delivery apps pay drivers, and that you don’t understand that it’s a very different job than being a server in a restaurant. I’m curious as to why you didn’t bother to learn how drivers are paid before making ridiculous assumptions about what is and is not appropriate for tipping them. Just an FYI, drivers are independent contractors, not employees. They are absolutely NOT obligated to take any order, ever. Servers may be, drivers are not. We are literally risking our lives out on the roads to bring food to people so they don’t have to. It’s a joke that you think that is the same thing as having to bring an order from the kitchen to a table.

  12. Adah

    March 19, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    This is such a privileged perspective. No, I’m not obligated to deliver somebody’s McDonald’s for $3. I didn’t sign up for that. I’m a contractor and I get to choose who deserves my service. App companies need to do a better job of educating customers about why they should tip, since their base pay is so low. Be mad at the company of your food is cold. I have bills to pay.

  13. Vet DD Driver

    March 19, 2021 at 2:05 pm

    It is true that DoorDash is obligated to get the food delivered, but it is incorrect to state that the individual drivers are obligated to take what ever order they’re handed. Not just because that’s specifically not the agreement between DD and the drivers, but because we are independent contractors. DoorDash could very easily change the terms, bring all drivers in house and treat them as employees, but they would have a different but similar issue. Their whole business model depends on whether or not the customer tips. In reference to the base pay, the initial offer is always $3 flat no matter how far the mileage. You are out of your mind if I will take an order 12 miles out, 12 miles back for $3. So, I decline it and it gets sent to another driver for $3.50. They will decide if their time is worth pennies per hour or not, or decide for themselves if they are obligated to take the order or not and if declined will get offered again to another driver for $3.75. Meanwhile the order is sitting on a counter getting cold. Your blame is placed incorrectly in this article , at least in terms of DoorDash and UberEats. Grub Hub is slightly different, but still walks the fine line of employee and contractor.

    I would suggest you drive for a year, and revise this article at a later date.

  14. Brian

    March 19, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    Drivers are not obligated to do anything. Unlike servers we are contractors, not employees. Your “tip” is part of a bid to secure service. And the MAJORITY of orders on DoorDash have no trip. I don’t know where you get off saying there are only a few low/no tippers.

  15. Michael Fisher

    March 19, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    Hi I’m a dasher, or an independent contractor. The doordash and many other platforms are set up for people to choose to accept a trip or not. I’m not a waiter. I don’t make an hour wage + plus tips. So with that said I cannot take every 3 dollar trip doordash offer me . I wouldn’t make any money. Sorry I got bills to pay too. Would you take a trip for 3 dollars going 10 miles? I think not. If you do two trips like that in an hour. You would make a whooping 6 dollars. No not me sorry. It’s simple having your food delivered to you is an luxury. If you can’t tip 10% or better then go pick that shit up yourself. Independent contractor aka dashers don’t work for pennies.

  16. Victoria Brent

    March 19, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    Servers are employees, which is why they are obligated to serve all customers. Delivery drivers are independent contractors. Each delivery is a new contract. Doordash makes an offer, we decide if we want to accept it. Doordash base pay is $3. So if a customer doesn’t tip, Doordash offers $3 to drive to the restaurant, pick up the food (after possibly waiting some time for it), drive to the customer and deliver. $3, no matter if it is 1 mile or 15. If I accept a $3 order going 10+ miles, I am losing money on gas, time and car maintenance. If drivers were obligated to accept all deliveries, regardless of tip, there would be no drivers on the road. Because eventually, your car is going to need service, and if you are making less than you spend on gas, that is the end of your delivery career.

  17. Pingback: Open Response to American Genius Editorial "No Matter the Tip"

  18. Andrea

    March 19, 2021 at 7:02 pm

    Also keep in mind that restaurant servers are not putting themselves at risk. Delivery drivers drive hundreds of miles a day and are more susceptible to car accidents. We have to walk through ice and snow and many have been bitten by dogs. Many drivers have had their vehicles stolen while delivering.

    We deliver to sketchy homes and apartments without lighting in the dark by ourselves. Think about that for a moment. Would you want to deliver a $3 order to a 3rd floor apartment with absolutely no lighting. It is scary.

  19. Chad

    March 20, 2021 at 12:17 am

    Wrong. Drivers who work for a 3rd party delivery service are independent contractors. It is not the same as a food service employee who has a guaranteed minimum wage. When you “tip” a 3rd party delivery driver, you are bidding on the services of an independent contractor. They are free to choose to work for the highest bidders. It is an entirely different model than conventional food service. Get used to it.

  20. M. Smith

    March 20, 2021 at 8:52 am

    The author falls all over herself trying to reassure us that she “choose[s] to tip well.” Methinks she doth protest too much. That being said, as a long-time driver let me say this… I am an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR, not some wage slave. If you don’t offer me a satisfactory tip upfront that makes the OFFER of providing the delivery service worth my time and expense, then guess what? I will NOT accept the offer. You can then cross your fingers and hope that the dregs of the delivery world are online and willing to cart your food to you for free. NO TIP, NO TRIP.

  21. Scott

    March 20, 2021 at 12:06 pm

    When a delivery customer doesn’t tip, the driver ends up in the negative when you factor in fuel/insurance etc. What do the wait staff lose if they don’t receive a tip?

    Gratuity is not what it used to be, and like it or not, delivery is a convenience, if the delivery doesn’t pay enough to cover our expenses and a little to provide a profit then we’re under no obligation to take the order.

    Go ask any server or restaurant owner for that matter and see how many of them would be willing to take a customer order if they knew that order was a guarantee negative income order?

  22. Justin

    March 20, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    I hate to bust your bubble, but gig workers aren’t employees in the sense that waitstaff is. Gig workers are contractors, and as such retain the right to pick and choose jobs which will pay a decent wage. When they are required to take every order, they become employees. See how that’s working in California.

  23. Mark

    March 21, 2021 at 10:35 am

    – most people do not tip or do not tip well enough

    -I am here to provide a service AND make money, I am not here to work for charity. If I am not going to make money on an order (gas, miles driven, etc) I don’t take it

    -because I dont take crappy orders. I make about $40 dollars per hour, my time is worth way more than anything less than $8.

    – I am an independent contractor NOT an employee so I have the right to decline every order in sight.

    -some orders can be as low as $1 in base pay if the customer does not tip. We dont get more if the customer pays more.

    -doordash does NOT have a minimum amount. The lowest it goes on there is $2

    -car repairs dont pay me

    -most apps have ridiculous offers. Would you drive 10 miles or more for $3-$6 dollars? For me it would never happen. I have my limit and minimum

  24. Rebecca Knighton

    March 21, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    This is not correct. Doordash pays $3-5 per deliver plus tip. We get 100% of the tip but if people don’t tip, we get paid $3 to deliver the food. That isn’t making any money at that point. Even the fastest delivery takes at least 20 mins and at $3 every 20 mins is still only $9 an hour, and that’s not including down time between deliveries where we aren’t making any money. I range somewhere between $10-20 an hour during busy times but there are days that I am out dashing for 4 hours and only make $20. That isn’t worth my time. So yes, if the delivery isn’t worth me starting my car because the customer wants to order $50 worth of Taco Bell but can’t afford $3 of a tip (making the delivery pay $6), I’m not going to deliver it. It’s the perks of being a freelance worker. If you want to take every order, then the app needs to pay us a base hourly rate like a waiter.

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Opinion Editorials

7 ways to carve out me time while working from home

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, and taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need down time, me-time, self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health, but also our productivity at work, will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our body untenses, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well rested, and well treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article, because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keeps us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal, and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters. It’s a bit different in 2020, as most of us aren’t sure when we will be able to go, but even deciding where you want to go when we are free to travel again can put a positive spin on things.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

Why robots freak us out, and what it means for the future of AI

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Robots and humans have a long way to go before the social divide disappears, but research is giving us insight on how to cross the uncanny valley.

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Close of R2D2 toy, an example of robots that we root for, but why?

We hate robots. Ok, wait, back up. We at least think they are more evil than good. Try it yourself – “are robots” in Google nets you evil before good. Megatron has higher SEO than Optimus Prime, and it’s not just because he’s so much cooler. It cuz he evil, cuz. It do be like that.

It’s not even a compliment to call someone robotic; society connotes this to emotionless preprogrammed shells of hideous nothing, empty clankbags that walk and talk and not much else. So, me at a party. Or if you’re a nerd, you’re a robot. (Me at a party once again.)

Let’s start by assuming robots as human-like bipedal machines that are designed with some amount of artificial intelligence, generally designed to fulfill a job to free up humanity from drudgery. All sounds good so far. So why do they creep us out?

There’s a litany of reasons why, best summed up with the concept of the uncanny valley, first coined by roboticist Masahiro Mori (Wow he’s still alive! The robots have not yet won) in 1970. Essentially, we know what a human is and how it looks and behaves against the greater backdrop of life and physics. When this is translated to a synthetic being, we are ok with making a robot look and act like us to a point, where we then notice all the irregularities and differences.

Most of these are minor – unnaturally smooth or rigid movements, light not scattering properly on a surface, eyes that don’t sync up quite right when they blink, and several other tiny details. Lots of theories take over at this point about why this creeps us out. But a blanket way to think about it is that our expectation doesn’t match what we are seeing; the reality we’re presented with is off just enough and this makes us uncomfortable .

Ever stream a show and the audio is a half second off? Makes you really annoyed. Magnify that feeling by a thousand and you’re smack in the middle of the uncanny valley. It’s that unnerving. One possible term for this is abjection, which is what happens the moment before we begin to fear something. Our minds – sensing incompatibility with robots – know this is something else, something other , and faced with no way to categorize this, we crash.

This is why they make good villains in movies – something we don’t understand and given free will and autonomy, potentially imbued with the bias of a creator or capable of forming terrifying conclusions all on its own (humans are a virus). But they also make good heroes, especially if they are cute or funny. Who doesn’t love C3PO? That surprise that they are good delights us. Build in enough appeal to a robot, and we root for them and feel empathy when they are faced with hardships. Do robots dream of electric sheep? Do robots have binary souls? Bits and zeros and ones?

Professor Jaime Banks (Texas Tech University’s College of Media & Communication) spends a lot of time thinking about how we perceive robots. It’s a complex and multifaceted topic that covers anthropomorphism, artificial intelligence, robot roles within society, trust, inherently measuring virtue versus evil, preconceived notions from entertainment, and numerous topics that cover human-robot interactions.

The world is approaching a future where robots may become commonplace; there are already robot bears in Japan working in the healthcare field. Dressing them up with cute faces and smiles may help, but one jerky movement later and we’ve dropped all suspension.

At some point, we have to make peace with the idea that they will be all over the place. Skynet, GLaDOS in Portal, the trope of your evil twin being a robot that your significant will have to shoot in the middle of your fight, that episode of Futurama where everything was a robot and they rose up against their human masters with wargod washing machines and killer greeting cards, the other Futurama episode where they go to a planet full of human hating murderous robots… We’ve all got some good reasons to fear robots and their coded minds.

But as technology advances, it makes sense to have robots take over menial tasks, perform duties for the needy and sick, and otherwise benefit humanity at large. And so the question we face is how to build that relationship now to help us in the future.

There’s a fine line between making them too humanlike versus too mechanical. Pixar solved the issue of unnerving humanoids in their movies by designing them stylistically – we know they are human and accept that the figure would look odd in real life. We can do the same with robots – enough familiarity to develop an appeal, but not enough to erase the divide between humanity and robot. It may just be a question of time and new generations growing up with robots becoming fixtures of everyday life. I’m down for cyborgs too.

Fearing them might not even be bad, as Banks points out: “…a certain amount of fear can be a useful thing. Fear can make us think critically and carefully and be thoughtful about our interactions, and that would likely help us productively engage a world where robots are key players.”

Also, check out Robot Carnival if you get the chance – specifically the Presence episode of the anthology.

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Opinion Editorials

4 simple tips to ease friction with your boss while working remotely

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) Find it challenging to get along with your boss while working from home? Here are a few things you can try to ease the tension.

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Woman stressed over laptop in remote work.

Most people probably feel like their relationship with their boss is fine. If you’re encountering friction with your boss for any reason, though, remote work will often exacerbate it—this is one instance where distance doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Here are a few ways to remove some of that friction without adding to your boss’ overflowing plate.

According to CNN, determining the problem that exists between you and your boss should be your first step. There’s one caveat to consider, however: Your boss’ boundaries. Problem-solving on your own time is fine, but demanding more of your boss’ time—especially when you’re supposed to be working—may compound the issue.

An easy way around this is a low-impact communique—e.g., an email—sent at the beginning or end of the workday. Since that’s a more passive communication style that takes only a minute or two out of your day, it’s less likely to frustrate your boss further.

If ironing out the issue isn’t your prerogative for now, examining your boss’ parameters for success is another place to start. Does your boss prefer to receive multiple updates throughout the day, or do they want one summative report each morning? Do you respect your boss’ preferred communication styles? These are important questions to ask during remote work. If you find yourself reaching out more than necessary, for example, it may be time to cut back.

It can also be difficult to satiate your boss if you don’t know their expectations. If you’re able to speak to them about the expectations regarding a project or task, do it; clarifying the parameters around your work will always help both of you. It is worth noting that some supervisors may expect that you know your way around some types of responsibilities, though, so err on the side of complementing that knowledge rather than asking for comprehensive instructions.

Finally, keep in mind that some bosses simply don’t communicate the same way you do. I’ve personally been blessed with a bevy of nurturing, enthusiastic supervisors, but we’ve all had superiors who refuse to acknowledge our successes and instead focus on our failures. That can be a really tough mentality to work with during remote periods, but knowing that they have a specific communication style that hampers their sociability can help dampen the effects.

As always, communication is key—even if that means doing it a little bit less than you’d like.

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