Companies, Working from Home is Good for Your Employees and You
Note: Sorry for being in hiatus for a week, but I was really sick. I haven’t been this sick for years, so it really hit me hard. I had strep throat, and I learned there are different variations, and I couldn’t take antibiotics. The worst is that I passed it on to my daughter. I am now feeling much better and are back!
A few weeks ago, I lost one of the team members on one of the projects that I manage. It was tough losing her because she was highly skilled, great team player, and versatile. However, I was not surprised that she decided to move on because her Functional Manager made no effort to have her stay when she voiced concerns about the longevity of the project. There was not much I could do because we work for different companies. I did tell her that if things didn’t work out with her new company, I would gladly offer her a job (after a few months because of the relationship between our companies).
I was a bit concerned when she said that she was going to a company that did not have a work-from-home option. She would go from working from home full time to having to go into the office in DC every day. As anyone who works in DC and lives in VA and MD, heading into the city can be a trek.
The day she started her new job, she called me. It seems that she was waking up at 5:30 a.m. to make it work, and not getting home until 7:30 p.m. This was because they expected her to remain in the office until 5:00 p.m. This is usually the worst time to leave the city because you should not expect to get home earlier than 6:00 p.m. As someone who is huge on work-life balance, I told her that was concerning especially they offered no flexibility and then expected employees to leave no earlier than 5:00 p.m. I told her I would love for her to come back to the team, and I am sure that the team would as well. We discussed her approach to reaching out to her Manager in her company. I assured her that the Manager would reach out to me because I am the Engagement Manager on these projects for this client. He did, and I am glad to report that she is joining the team once again next Monday.
She found out that the last person who was in her position left after two weeks from a coworker. This time someone was leaving after a week. Instead of seeing the pattern and trying to understand from her why she was leaving, the company escorted out of the building without any exit interview.
Companies, you need to respect and take care of your employees. Even if you are not going to offer the ability to work from home to your employees and contractors, then you should allow flexibility so that people can still spend time with their loved ones and/or themselves. This is especially true if you are in an area with insane traffic like the DC Area. If people keep leaving weeks after starting, then this should be a wake-up call to try and change.
I am a huge advocate for working from home. I have heard people who are against it say things like:
- What if the person slacks off?
- What if he/she is working on other things?
Even if someone comes to the office, he/she can slack off and work on other things. Also, from experience, you will find out that the person is not working. However, people tend to want to do a good job. This starts decreasing when they are not satisfied, respected, or trusted. Face-to-face interactions are needed from time-to-time and for certain discussions. However, it is always not needed. For people who have been working from home for a while, they usually say they get more work done and work more when they are at home.
It is also not good when companies don’t allow their contractors the same benefits as their employees. This causes the Us vs. Them mentality that can cause rifts in a team. Contractors will sometimes even work harder and longer than actual employees because they want to continue having your business, so they shouldn’t be treated differently.
Times are changing, and with the younger generations having a more entrepreneurial attitude, companies need to start changing their culture to want these younger employees to want to work for you for the long run.
I am glad my team member is coming back. I told her that next time I will be honest with my concerns on her going to a rigid work environment when she is used to having the flexibility to allow her to also take care of the other categories in her life. Don’t ever lose your work-life balance!