Cubicle Cultures – Working From Home

The benefits of working from home. Company policies need to be updated for the 21st century.

I’ve been trying for the better part of 2 years to get approved to work from home. It finally happened and I dialed in this past Saturday. It was a joyous occasion! One that I’ve rarely had the pleasure of experiencing. In years past it was a pain to get approvals for remote access, aka dialing in aka work from home aka convenience. Paperwork, submitting requests, endless signatures, and a final approval can take weeks especially when the request sits on the desk of a VP or higher. Each company I’ve worked for had basically the same policy. There’s always a risk sending data over the World Wide Interweb. Data can get lost, downloaded inadvertently or even worse, someone can hack into the system and really tear things up. Security breaches happen all the time. Everyone’s personal information has probably been lifted by someone on the dark web to be used for nefarious crimes. But boy did it feel good to walk from the bedroom to my home office about 30 feet away.

The convenience has so many benefits mainly not having to be at the office at 0-Dark-30 for some sort of issue or implementation. For me, it’s getting up in the wee hours and having to drive anywhere. I’ll be tired, probably didn’t get much if any sleep during the day thanks to the anxiety of having to go in, and it’s unsafe. Dialing in eliminates that and allows for a short walk back to bed; no driving home still being tired or keyed up from being awake all night.

Throughout much of my I.T. career I was classified as non-essential personal. It meant I wasn’t required to show up during inclement weather or application issues. However, I would be forced to take leave time for that day, a double-edged sword. It’s a backdoor for the company to punish its employees in my opinion. Turns out that I was essential whether I liked it or not.

One example: Back in 2001 I lived in the bitter cold of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was with a large corporation that had no issue with folks working from home. There wasn’t the kind of security breaches there are these days so the company didn’t really worried about it. It was nice. When winter hit and a gazillion feet of lake effect snow brought the wrath of Mother Nature, I was toasty in the living room keeping up with work deliverables and conference calls. Again, it was nice (except having to bulldoze my way out of the driveway).

Another example: Company policies can and do enforce a rule that if your kids are at home due to inclement weather, you weren’t supposed to work because of the distraction. The same was in place if you had an infirmed family member that needed care that day. It’s an archaic rule that needs to change. I get it, but family should come before work and there has to be some leeway. There are some situations that can’t be avoided but don’t punish employees by not allowing them to dial in even if it’s just for a little while. At least leave it to the employee to choose which is best for their situation.

It’s such a simple courtesy: Rewrite the policy. Weather, a sick family member, or if you’re sick (and possibly contagious), then work from home. How hard is this for employers to understand? Profits and stakeholders will still be in place when employees can’t be in the office. Apparently hanging on to their archaic policies must be more important than their employee’s safety. Rewriting the policy may even breed some loyalty or a simple thanks from those of us risking our lives to increase the bottom line.

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