A long time ago, I had a boss who insisted that we always meet up in craft beer pubs even though two of the marketing team were non-drinkers and none of the group enjoyed craft beer.
He also insisted we wore jackets at a retail digital marketing event in July in Chicago when it was baking hot and all the other attendees were in t-shirts and button-downs.
He got mad at me because I took a day off after an exhausting three-day event to go skiing at a mountain resort nearby.
Well, he also didn't allow our team to work from home on Fridays when the ENTIRE rest of the office (including him) was working from home on Fridays.
Why do companies, even some nimble tech startups insist that all their workers work in the office EVERY. SINGLE. DAY?
Here are my reasons why you should let your employees work from home
1. Productivity. In the UK this is at an all-time low. And I have to assume part of the problem is created my distrusting management who can't believe that their team is conscientious enough to clock in a full days work while they are at home.
The most productive I've ever been is when I've worked from home one day and in the office for four. I almost always end up getting more done on that one day I'm working from home.
But I'm a big extravert (100% extravert in Briggs Myers). If even someone like me who thrives on working with others, benefits so much from working from home, imagine how much your talented, hard-working introverts will gain from it.
2. Open-plan offices. The preponderance of open-plan offices is proof that, as the writer, Somerset Maugham put it “The fact that a great many people believe something is no guarantee of its truth.”
Almost every company has them, and virtually every piece of research on them shows that they are ineffective. They do not create open, warm, friendly, convivial environments. Generally, they create the opposite.
If you want to have a great, honest conversation with a colleague, your open-plan office is not the place to do it.
3. People have lives. When I had that boss who refused to let me work from home on Fridays, I had two small children. My wife was also working a demanding job, full time as a recruiting manager for another tech company.
I also had some health issues which thankfully I don't have anymore. It would have meant the world to me, my wife and family. It would have multiplied my loyalty to the company more than anything, including money.
4. Commute. Some of the companies I've worked for have been one and a half hours from my house. If I had had to go into the office every day, that would be fifteen hours travelling a week. Some part-time jobs are fifteen hours a week! Not to mention the toll on the environment of all that travelling. And the cost.
And two of the ways companies still manage to screw up the work from home experience.......
1. Out of sight. Out of mind. Yes, I'm working from home. No, I'm not happy to be ignored entirely. I've worked in a few roles that were WFH almost wholly, and this happened way too often. When it did, I found it almost impossible to have those tough but necessary conversations like thrashing out the annual budget.
2. Some people don't adapt to it well. HR directors having conversations over the phone that should be done face to face, at the very least on a video call.
Bosses that keep shifting conference call times, or being late for them, in a way that they would never do for in-person meetings - they'd be too ashamed... You get the picture!