The discussion around the last article I wrote on work from home (WFH) has been wonderful, but there is one aspect that drives me nutty-freaking bonkers:
“But, I don’t want to work from home!“
Oh, my stars and grasslands. Techies: I don’t want to force work from home. I’m not trying to make you. I’m not telling employers to make you WFH. Shoot, I’m not even saying “let everyone WFH full time!” Part time would be awesome.
“I don’t want to work from home!”
I think you should be able to WFH. If you want to. Part time, or full time, or on an as needed basis.
Let’s change the scenario, and see how silly this is:
- Employers, provide tea for your employees. “But I don’t want to drink tea!” Then, don’t drink tea.
- Employers, provide yoga classes for your employees. Encourage it. “But I hate yoga! In fact I have a condition that means I actually can’t do yoga!” Then, don’t do yoga.
- Employers, provide a bonus structure for your employees. “But I hate money! I’ve taken a vow of poverty!” Then refuse the bonus. it’s pretty easy, actually.
Don’t want to force work from home? Then don’t work from home! Work in the office! I myself love going to an office on occasion!
But those who do want to work from home should have that option.
“…except for [situation x].”
“I don’t want to work from home…”
“…except for bad weather days.”
“…except for when the kids are sick.”
“…except for when workers come to the house.”
Well. Wouldn’t all of those things, and more, be easier if your employer offered and encouraged work from home??
“But I need face time with my teammates!”
Are you seriously telling me you can’t figure out a way to have face time if a company allows WFH? Let’s try out a few options, though there are many more:
- Adjust your routine so you need less face time. Rely on email more.
- Use Skype chat and call for face time.
- Set up regular online meetings.
- Oh, I dunno, set up one or two in-office work days per week.
Just spitballing, here.
But seriously, kids. Work from home doesn’t necessarily mean full-time work from home. I see nothing wrong with a shop that promotes a culture of “everyone can work from home or in office as they like, but try to be in the office for Synergy Tuesdays!”
“But then I never stop working!”
Well, then work from the office. Or take the steps to develop limits for yourself. I don’t care…whatever works for you.
Me? I work 8 or 9am to 6pm, which is a hard stop time. I have breaks for lunch and to get the kids. It took a while to figure out that this is what works best for me. But you can figure out what works best for you…you don’t have to work from home ALL THE TIME, in order to WFH.
And again…you’re welcome to skip it and work in the office, knowing full well (and with a smile on your face) that the WFH option is open to you, should you want it.
Maybe you’ve got it good already?
Maybe the problem I’m running into is that your workplace already offers what I’ll call “urgent WFH”, or “exception WFH”. You know, for bad weather and workers and sick kids and “I was up all night with the deployment”.
That’s nice. But as we saw in the last article, most shops don’t offer urgent WFH, or frown on it deeply. “Oh man, little Timmy’s sick again but if I take ONE MORE work from home day, Lumberg’s gonna kill me!”
I want that feeling gone. I want it understood that you can WFH if little Timmy has to go to the vet, or if you just can’t face traffic, or even if you’re more productive at home.
Just because you don’t want WFH – or you’ve already got a version of it – doesn’t mean companies should ban or limit it.
Get on the bandwagon
So yes. You don’t have to work from home, you should have the option, and you can make it work.
There are tons of discussions to be had about what’s best for you, what you can do to maximize your output at home OR in the office…none of that changes the fact that companies should offer and encourage work from home.
Bonus talk: My company
So, I’m CEO of a software startup. We intend to grow, and when we do – by definition – we’ll have more employees. Right now what we envision is a fully dispersed shop…everyone working remotely, with regular meetings online and maybe an annual face to face.
It’s possible we’ll get there and change our mind…maybe have some small office space rented for when folks come to town, or something. But even saying that, I think…”but we’ll cut ourselves out of some of the best talent in the world if we’re restricted to local people!”
Anyway. The point is, if our vision comes true, then it won’t be that difficult. We’ll be up front about what the job is like, so people who can’t stand WFH will be able to just walk away before committing. We’ll judge employees on performance, not asses-in-seats hours. And if someone isn’t performing well, we’ll be able to – get this – help them improve, or discipline, or let them go. You know, like managers are supposed to do.
So added benefits of this model:
- A person’s earning potential isn’t determined by geography
- Similarly, nobody has to move for an awesome job.
- For the company, we save asstons* of money on offices and equipment.
- I expect folks will be happier because we’re treating them like they’re adults, instead of acting like junior high hall monitors.