In this work, we contribute to the current understanding of human behaviors in telepresence when visual occlusions are introduced in a remote collaboration context. Occlusions can occur when users in remote locations are engaged in physical collaborative tasks. This can yield to frustration and inefficient collaboration between the collaborators. In this work, we aim to design a better user interface to improve remote collaboration experience. We conducted two human-subjects experiments to investigate the following interlinked research questions: (a) what are the impacts of occlusion on remote collaborations, and (b) can an autonomous handling of occlusions improve telepresence collaboration experience for remote users? Results from our preliminary experiment demonstrate that occlusions introduce a significant social interference that necessitates collaborators to reorient or reposition themselves. Subsequently, we conducted a main experiment to evaluate the efficacy of autonomous occlusion handling for remote users. Results from this experiment indicate that the use of an autonomous controller yields a remote user experience that is more comparable (in terms of their vocal non-verbal behaviors [“The vocal non-verbal behaviour includes all spoken cues that surround the verbal message and influence its actual meaning.” (Vinciarelli in Image Vis Comput 27(12):1743–1759, 2009)], task performance and perceived workload) to collaborations performed by two co-located parties. Finally, we discuss the implications of a better controller design for similar robot-mediated social interactions.