Can I work from home? Denied!

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No, this isn’t me.  I laughed at the picture though, because I’d totally geek out working from home like this!

Had a 1:1 recently with my boss. I again, brought up the request to work from home one day per week. He again, told me that it is difficult or near impossible to get something like that approved for the long term. The current policy as it stands is:

Working from home is available upon request for any colleague and is at the discretion of next level management. Work from home criteria and objectives should be set between the colleague and his/her manager to set appropriate expectations.

The annoying thing here is that “next level management” in my case is actually two levels above me and their discretion is hopelessly set at an “as needed or required” level without the hope of any type of regular approval for a weekly work from home day. My director in this case has been working for the company for over two decades and is very much stuck in the realm of old-school thinking where working from home is horrible and anyone doing it is just skipping on work. Here are the reasons I think this man is a dinosaur stuck in the middle of a modern workplace:

  • Everyone is using a laptop, there are *no* desktops
  • Internal phone system is VoIP through Skype for Business
  • Completely an Office 365 shop (Outlook, SharePoint, Office are all hosted)
  • 80 offices world-wide, on average, 80% of my communication is electronic or on phone
  • Mandatory methods to track and verify productivity

I will often give the benefit of the doubt with resistance like I’ve received at the onset of convincing someone to give an approval for something they’re initially opposed to. However, in this case, a direct conversation with said Director resulted in “I don’t approve work from home.” I was promptly asked to leave his office if there wasn’t anything else I needed to talk to him about. Not one to back down from a challenge, I took a different approach at first. I started looking up research on the benefits of working from home for both the employee and the employer and found quite a lot of positive information. The other side of the coin unfortunately had just as much negative information that contradicted the positive. There was information to support either point of view rather convincingly.

dinosaur-in-office
This is how I see my Director right now

As I think I may pay a personal price for the next action I’ve taken (not played out yet), I went to HR to talk to a few people about the origins of the policy and where and when it was set. In my logical mind I had a plan to work behind the scenes to get the policy updated by whatever committee set it in the first place. The committee in this case, was made up of several people….. that also included my Director. My posture must have changed as the HR person asked if there was a problem. I asked her when the policy was set and it, unsurprisingly, hasn’t been updated or changed since 2005. 11 years ago!! I went on to explain what I was after and if it was, in her opinion, something that had a snowballs chance of being changed. She didn’t need to answer, he face said it all. I got up and thanked her for her time.

For the last 5 or so years, I’ve pushed very hard with my current and previous companies to get a permanent arrangement to work from home setup and approved. What I was asking for was a single day to work from home that wasn’t a Monday or Friday; rather Wednesday was my preferred day. It provided a break in the middle of the week that helped greatly on both the front and back end of the week with an estimated 20% increase in productivity. A very non-scientific study conducted by me, subjectively, where I had a feeling of greater efficiency and effectiveness. Well, the few weeks I was able to do so that is.

Here is my current push, with highlighted justifications and benefits below:

  • Online no later than 6:30am / Offline no earlier than 4:30pm (company gets the hour I’d be commuting, at a minimum)
  • Activity time tracked through Skype for Business and correlated with VPN logs
  • First complaint related to remote work would end the agreement (puts skin in the game)
  • Important meetings or training would override a scheduled work from home day
  • Short weeks would override work from home day (holidays)
  • Any measured drop in effectiveness or efficiency would require a review of the agreement

Personally, I think this gives the advantage to my company. They’re getting more work out of me, a potential 52 extra hours, just for allowing me to work from home one day per week. My estimation has that closer to 40 when you take out short weeks and the occasional 1-2 meetings per quarter that would require my physical presence. I’m certainly not a 9 to 5’er, often getting to work by 7am and leaving around 4pm, so around 9 hours per day as I typically don’t take a lunch away from my desk, most times. I’m getting close to that mindset where I will stop overproducing for a company that isn’t willing to approve a simple request that is more than justified based on previous performance. I’ve been here before and I ended up looking for and getting a new job eventually. I’ve not worked for a company in my career that I actually enjoyed coming to work for everyday though, so I’m in a tough spot.

It feels like I’m fighting a losing battle. Why can’t more companies embrace modern and progressive ideas?

Three Things Thursday 8/4/2016

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Inspired by Nerd in the Brain – *three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

Working from home

I know, this is a repeat.  It’s one of my TTT this week for another reason.  I had meticulously selected several pieces  of wall hanging items since my last WFH and over lunch, decided to hang them up in my office.  I forgot to take a picture of my beautifully decorated minimalist inspired office so as to share the awesomeness.  I selected a splatter paint picture that I had a winning bid on to support a past 4th grade class at my daughters school, a framed 50 State Quarters map that took me 6 years to complete, and a picture of the daughter dressed up like Dr. Who.  Made for a better afternoon than morning and inspired me to not be my usual procrastinating self.

Almost school time

I can’t put into words just how much I’m happy that it’s almost school time.  The schedule lately has been so erratic with bed times, etc. that it’s starting to make me nuts.  The daughter was up until 10pm last night trying to spy on us watching Arrow but doing a very poor job of it (I heard her every time).  It’s been a struggle all summer long to get her to read and do education based activities, so the first day of school will be met with my open arms and her complaining.

Technology

This is a rather broad thing and is very subjective.  My recent usage of technology has been to assist me in making my life a little easier in some areas that had consistently caused me pain and heartburn.  Paying the bills.  I converted my entire check register system (a mess) into an online system to help me save and budget properly.  The site is manual and not stored on the Internet as my security conscious self won’t allow anything other than that for protection of my personal information.  The result has been amazing as it now only takes me about an hour to pay a months worth of bills (I get paid monthly).  Used to take me over 3 hours sometimes.

Three Things Thursday: July 21, 2016

 

 

TTT

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy* (Nerd in the Brain)

#1 – My daughter at her Aunt’s house

The daughter is spending this week at her Aunt’s house at the beach (the shore if you’re in New Jersey or Pennsylvania). With a pool in the backyard of her house, there is only one place she wants to be: in the pool. This picture was taken on the first day (this past Sunday) at around 8:45am. Seriously, she didn’t wait for anyone else to wake up before getting into the water. I’m sure if she could change into some sort of water creature, she would. I’ve reminded my sister-in-law a hundred times this week to keep her covered in sun screen. I’d prefer my daughter not look like crispy bacon.

#2 – Working from home

After weeks of pushing the request to work from home one day per week, it was FINALLY approved on a provisional basis until I can prove that I’m at least as effective at home as I am in the office. Well, duh, I’m more effective because I don’t have people rolling up and asking questions without regard for anything that I’m currently doing. My office is carpeted, painted, clean, and finally taken for a test drive yesterday. I intelligently stacked my day with document reviews and meetings to show I’m as available (if not more) when at home vs. in the office. My eventual goal is to work from home Tuesday-Thursday and only be in the office on Monday’s and Friday’s, typically the worst days of the week. No fair letting all the other people have fun on the top and bottom end of the week.

#3 – Spontaneous trip to the movies (wife and I)

Sunday afternoon the wife said to me “Lets go the movies.” I asked what she wanted to see and she told me Ghostbusters. I was like, “hell yeah” and snatched up tickets online. The daughter wasn’t with us so it was a pleasant surprise to do something without wondering if it would be a problem with the 9 year old CEO of the household. The movie wasn’t as funny as I had expected, but very entertaining none the less. Not sure it was $15/ticket entertaining, but whatever, it’s money that wasn’t spent on things for the house.