Going back to the office

As of July 1, my research team is allowed to be back in the office on a hybrid model. As a manager, this is difficult to navigate. My team members are all hourly, coming off a year of WFH. Some have had babies, and honestly WFH is a godsend to those that have small children. I’m trying to work out a reasonable WFH/office schedule that is fair to all and doesn’t favor those with small children. I find I can’t help asking about childcare arrangements when making a schedule. 18 months ago, all positions were full time, in the office M-F. Now I feel guilty asking them to come in! Any advice from those experienced managers?

1 Like

Would you consider some base time period everyone needed to be present, and allow flexibity around that? So for example everyone present on T, W, and Th from 10-3, ?

1 Like

My H is in the same boat. His employer wants staff members in the office for the equivalent of 2 work days - so 15 hours of the 37.5. He has been having weekly department meetings on Zoom and is using that as a starting point. Everyone will be expected in the office during the regular meeting time (Wednesday afternoon) and they can choose what the rest of their time looks like. People are looking at everything from 3 hours every day to one looong day plus the meeting.

1 Like

My H’s company is doing a phased transition back to the office too, with a lot of flexibility this summer. The plan is for everyone to be back full time by the end of the summer.

My husband’s company has decided that people can choose to come back to the office, all of the time, some of the time or work from home. For right now. Not every position can work from home and some positions have been on site the whole pandemic. That won’t change, the flexibility is for those that can work from home.

But the company says that people need to be working and available during normal business hours. They had workers who weren’t reachable during business hours and were working at night. The company decided that didn’t work.

Everyone needs to decide what works best for them. But before the pandemic, employees needed to arrange accommodations for their young children and to me, it’s hard to almost impossible to work a job and take care of a young child.

So while you would like to be flexible, you also need to get your business running.

2 Likes

Would it be possible to give everyone a choice?
My DH’s company (large international tech based on US east and west coasts) is going back to hybrid this summer as well, but everyone was given a choice. They could either hybrid starting in July, or stay WFH. The tech engineers have to go into the labs, but they’ve been going in on hybrid since the very beginning. Everyone else could choose what worked best for them. I’m assuming once travel starts up again, my DH will have to go in every so often and I’m sure he’ll need to travel to his overseas clients… but other than that, he’s sticking w/ what he’s been doing for the last year+.

If the employees where getting their work done then why does it matter if they did it at night. That seems unreasonably inflexible on the managers part.

It’s to most business’s advantage to have extended office hours anyway. I have lost count of the number of times I needed to run an errand by phone and they only accepted calls 9-5 mon-fri which is exactly when I am at work and too busy.

The issue at my H’s company isn’t that people are working off hours but that people aren’t available when they need to be during normal business hours. If the rest of the team is work 8-5, the expectation is that you are available during that time too.

3 Likes

Are they responding to emails or a social media app? My colleagues have what’sapp and we have a common understanding to always keep an eye on our phones during working hours so as to discuss work through that.

My daughter’s company asked each team to decide either part time in the office or all work from home. Her team chose part time, she is assuming it will be three days a week, but all the logistics are not worked out yet. It is supposed to begin in September. Not sure how it is going to work within the team and how flexible they will be with which 3 days.

Don’t ask about childcare, ask instead what are their preferred work hours if they need to be in x hours a week (whatever that number x is).

I have a part-time flexible position, where I can work at night, if I choose. There are others in my company who are also part-time flexible, but since they do customer support they need to be “available” during regular business hours. I can understand how if you need to work with others - truly collaborate - you would need to work during the same hours as others work (so not nights).

I think some people will be happy to come in (even those with small children) to finally get out of the house on a regular basis.

I mentioned to DH that I replied to this thread and he rolled his eyes and started complaining about one of his staff members who had a baby last summer and has been WFH with no childcare. Now that she has to be heading into the office soon, she’s mad because she doesn’t want to find, or pay for, daycare.

Just curious for the reasons that working the same amount of time in the office is required.

If just to make it “fair” for everyone, it won’t be – everyone has different needs at different times in their life. If it is required for predictable hours of customer service, and everyone needs to take a turn, then it makes more sense. If there is a need to occasionally collaborate, then it seems some type of compromise could work.

I wouldn’t favor those with children, but flexibility for everyone at least for part of the time would probably be appreciated by all.

When I worked for the govt, we had several ‘plans’ you could be on, but you had to work between 7 am and 7 pm (your local time). Even if you worked from home, those were the hours. You were expected to answer your phone and emails within those hours.

I can see why a boss wants the emails answered by 7 pm and not at 3 am.

Office plan in this family.

Everyone is expected to be at the weekly team meeting held on Mondays. At that meeting, it is determined who needs to come together that week for project related work. This is a job place where the vast majority of work is done as part of a team.

There are a lot of office teams in the business and they have come up with a schedule for the team weekly meetings for all.

WRT working at home…anything that can be done independently can be done at any time of the day or night as long as it meets the deadlines.

The workers do need to be available during the regular work day for calls or other queries from clients.

Allowing people to work from home at any time of the day (e.g., 4 pm to midnight, for example) and then expecting them to be on call every work day to answer questions is too much of an expectation. Imagine the reverse.

Our workplace just called workers back to the office 3x a week, with a requirement that they must arrive by 10 am and work a full day. Although they currently WFH 2x a week, that will be cut to one day by mid-summer and possibly to no WFH options by the end of the summer. Employees are definitely not happy, as they have become quite accustomed to no commutation time, no clothing expenses or dressing time, and no time spent on hair, makeup, etc. They also love being with their kids and pets and having extra time for things like exercise and cooking. It will obviously be an extremely difficult adjustment for millions of people, but likely necessary to some degree to bring back commerce, especially in the bigger cities. I also know someone who will have to take on daycare costs that have not been an issue for over a year now. That’s a significant expense.

1 Like

^ And the supply of childcare is a problem. Long waiting lists, employees leaving due to very low pay. The childcare sector has median wages of less than $11 per hour in national statistics.

1 Like

Ah, how dare we enjoy not wasting money on stuff we don’t need. Business need us to buy our morning Lattes again.

I say let’s revolt :v:.

1 Like

The daycares and summer camps around here are up and running. There are several in my neighborhood and I’ve noticed all the kids outside again.

My daughter had to return to work on May 1. They have some flexibility, but not enough for her liking–or her dogs! Her boyfriend still works from home and said the dogs spend all day looking for her (and it is a very small apt).

Yes, early care and education facilities and home cares are open, workers in many areas are hard to find, waiting lists exist for the better places. A nationwide problem that will impede a full return to the workforce for families with young children and a full economic recovery.

1 Like