I Hate Policies.
As an ownership team that is chaos-tolerant and generally eschews rules, I definitely have my favorite policy.
And I’d bet it’s a staff favorite, too.
In our firm, we have differing views of how to get work done (some companies call them “attendance” policies – blech!). Some of us need everyone in the office (me!) and others can work best at home. I can work at home – I’m doing it today due to confidentiality needs – but, I don’t love doing it routinely. Because, honestly, it’s TOO routine. I like sharing ideas that come to me, celebration news from clients, and moaning about boring tasks I have to do.
This often brings about the policy conversation about trusting people to do the work on their own time or having people in the office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I know that a lot of you are having this debate, too.
I’ve also done some thinking about 4-day workweeks – does it really make sense? I guess, from my perspective, there is always *something* to do. So, if I show up on a Wednesday morning without any meetings for a few hours, I can always make sales calls or connect with my team or evaluate our financials for the quarter. Always something. So, I don’t really believe that if everyone works one day less, they will get as much done. Unless I assume that we’re wasting 8 hours during the week? And, if so, is it really wasted if it’s doing things like chatting in the hall (which I personally find critical to success).
Instead of a 4-day work week or other “alternative” schedule, we have a flexible work policy. Some of our people come in after the kids are dropped off at school. Others take care of an elderly parent. If someone needs to work from home or head off to an appointment in the middle of the day, they let everyone know, but it’s not a big deal.
Some of our clients are letting their employees decide what’s right for them right now and others are enacting policies that outline expectations clearly. The fear for everyone is that explicit guidelines will alienate staff who have now become used to deciding for themselves.
What’s the right thing to do?
1. Treat everyone the same to avoid appearance of favoritism and unfair treatment.
2. Policy is often better than no policy.
3. Equally apply that policy.
As Omicron looms in the U.S.’s future (with all of us hoping it’s a mild variant), be sure you’re working with your leadership team to run through the policy options. If you already have fresh policies in place – great, just review them for 2022 potentialities. If you’ve not got any since 2019, then it’s definitely time to start discussing options, potential consequences, and alternatives.
Make sure you’re aware of your own work-style bias, then evaluate what the company, its leaders, and its people need for success. Then, work through a couple of alternatives to see how your people might react. And, if the policy is too different than what is happening now, create a transition plan, giving your people plenty of notice, reasons for the change, and how it’ll all roll out.
Remember, your policies don’t have to look like everyone else’s.
For us, we noticed that we didn’t have any requirements from clients at year end. So, we decided to close the company for the last two weeks of the year (this one’s my favorite!). This policy has stood the test of time from pre-pandemic days.
I like to do it, because we all need the time. Time for family and friends. Time for ourselves. Time for personal projects. Time for creative ideas. Time to look ahead. It also frees up our paid leave for actual summer getaways or events at other times of the year – instead of having to save part of it for the holidays.
We get to have a company that is designed for the life we want to live.
It’s one of the benefits of being an owner of the firm. We get to be the change. We get to decide what our culture is about, and how our policies reflect that culture. It’s not just our opportunity; it’s a key to our success.
And it’s a key to yours, too.