Allright, so here I am. Watching outside from the office window, seeing the cars driving through the slush here close to New York. I just arrived here earlier this morning since I always make sure I am beating the traffic to work, so even in horrific weather I usually arrive still in time and avoiding jams. Traffic jams are a regular issue in the Netherlands, where I come from. If you want to even get close to the capital of Amsterdam, even at 6am, you are in for a lot of trouble. Believe me, absolutely comparable to the jams around New York. Now, there is just one difference: New York City, metropole, close to 8 million people, world famous for the city that thrives, never sleeps and is ahead of the curb. Then you have Amsterdam, 800,000 people, world famous for it’s almost non-existing anymore red-light district and freedom of soft-drugs. Over there, rain is something people are raised with. London still beats us to the amount of grey-depressing-rainy days a year, but not by much. Still, with the slightest drizzle, traffic simply is stuck. And I am not even talking about a jam anymore, but really, a solid congestion of cars that go and will not go in any direction soon.
I am always surprised by this. Not the fact that as soon as the weather changes even slightly, everyone forgets how to drive. But not only that, that somehow we still not make good use of our online resources to bail out of the traffic jams and work from home. We are at high-speed connections, laptops and computers in almost any professional’s home, cellphone with us all the time. Still, just like the paper-less office, it was promised to us that this would be the future 10 years ago. And still, I don’t see it anywhere around me.
I don’t think it is a tech issue, but purely a trust issue. I don’t think most bosses/managers trust their employees enough to really work at home. Isn’t that really the bottleneck? Because, for example, I know that in personal relationships, the more romantically involved are known about that people don’t trust each other only because they reflect on their own behaviour. I mean, husbands who don’t trust their wives with another friend, simply because they would know exactly what they would do with another woman. Probably, with bosses this is the same thing. They know they would not work when they are at home during work time. Would not dress properly when being on the phone with their superiors. To be honest… who cares!
Research has shown a long time ago already that 80% of the work for the week is done on Monday. So the rest of the 20% is smeared out over the other 4 days. That means, minute wise on a regular 8-hour workday people are productive for a whole 24 minutes. You will be able to squeeze that time out of your employees even at home from a distance.
The solution as a boss/manager would be simple, as I handle it here at my daily-work too. Make a planning of the week. Discuss it with your employee who wants to work at home, and make him/her follow up on it. If they come up, on Monday, with a planning that you think is good, make sure they (try to) make it by the end of the week. If they do not, time after time, then you have an issue. But people who are really true to the job will do their work.
Also, keep in mind that most people simply do not work. Keep applying the 80%-rule for anything. 80% of the people working in any office around the world, on an average of course, are not productive or not as productive as you would require them to be. You know who those people are. And don’t get frustrated about it, deal with the fact, because it will not change. Know how to keep your core business running on the 20%, and use the other 80% as backup or assistants to the 20%.
So, with being stuck in the traffic. I still do not get it. If you are a boss, call your employees once in a while early in the morning on such a day, tell them they can work at home. The ones you ‘do not trust working at home’, don’t even follow up on them. Expect they will not work at all then, but they would do not either while being in the office anyway. By giving that ‘extra day off’ might actually get them more motivated again. In that perception, make use of the bad weather! Have it work in your advantage. Let them work at home, and you yourself as a manager/boss, take it a little bit easier too.