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‘We need you here’

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Eric, a manager at a financial services company in Florida with 19 employees, discusses the dilemma of letting people work from home:

When gas prices topped $4 a gallon a year ago, everyone was grumpy. It wasn’t just the recession and the scary stock market plunge. People didn’t like paying so much extra to commute to and from work.

Here in Florida, everyone drives. Many of my employees sit in traffic for a half-hour or more daily. They arrive at work irritated. One guy came up to me as I was getting coffee in the break room and said, “I figured it just cost me $5.90 to get here. Can you believe it?”

My employees are pressuring me to let them work from home. I like that idea—in theory. It saves gas; that’s less pollution. It saves money and maximizes employees’ time. And it sure would boost their morale.

There’s just one problem. I need to have my employees here. The nature of our work is collaborative. We bounce ideas off each other, share strategies for handling client accounts and exchange information in real time on gyrations in the financial markets.

If we worked remotely, I’m afraid we’d lose something immeasurable. It would hurt our ability to stay well informed and serve our customers.

My boss agrees. We’re sympathetic to our employees’ plight. But accommodating their requests for telecommuting would adversely impact our business.

I’ve made this argument to my staff. But they keep saying, “At least give a little and let us work from home one day a week. We’ll use technology to keep in touch.”

I’m reluctant to say yes. If we lost one big account because someone wasn’t here, it would be a disaster. But I hate to be insensitive to their concerns.



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