A division boss at a company recently asked Reddit readers for opinions about their calling out an employee for being offline when she was supposed to be working from home. Here is the full story.
It’s a Hybrid Work Schedule
OP manages an entire division of people who serve both internal and external customers.
A Flexible Work Schedule
Generally, they follow a schedule of 4 days working from the office (WFO) and 1 day working from home (WFH) due to the need to handle sensitive physical files in private.
She Wanted to Stay Home With Her Kids
One team member, a mother of two children, asked if she could change her schedule to 2 days WFO and 3 days WFH. A big driver in the request was the need to care for her kids throughout the day.
Request Reluctantly Granted
The woman had previously worked in the office 5 days a week prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and other team members also had children.
She Became Upset and Accused Them
OP was reluctant to grant her request but relented when she became upset and accused them of being inflexible.
She Drops Off
Recently, OP noticed that when this employee is working from home, she frequently goes “offline” or “away” on Skype during office hours. That makes it hard for internal clients and external stakeholders to reach her.
They Have to Do More Work
Even worse, it dumps more workload on the woman’s teammates, as they have to pick up her slack. Even OP gets sucked into it when clients come to them looking for the absent employee.
It Was Super Embarrassing
OP relates one embarrassing incident where a stakeholder mentioned that the employee was on leave.
They Were Confused
When OP assured the client bigwig that she was not on leave, the stakeholder expressed confusion since the employee had been offline the entire morning.
They All Look Bad
OP says it also makes the entire division look bad because they have to scramble to cover for her and can’t respond as quickly as they should be able to.
They Know When She’s Gone
And, as OP describes it, even their external clients are part of the same Skype network, so they all know when the WFH employee goes offline.
Sorry Not Sorry
So OP confronted the employee about her online availability, expressing concerns raised by others who couldn’t locate her during work hours.
The woman offered a sarcastic apology for not being immediately responsive. She said that as long as she completes her work, it doesn’t matter when she’s online.
She Caught Another Break
Though the division operates from 9 am to 6 pm, OP told his employee that she only needed to be online from 10 am to 5 pm, with time out for lunch. That would ensure she was accessible to colleagues and clients when they needed her.
But It Wasn’t Good Enough
The employee was not happy with that expectation and has been speaking negatively about OP to the rest of the team. She uses the term “dinosaur” a lot and says the working customs in the division are outdated.
But OP thinks the expectation to be online during business hours when the employee is working from home is reasonable. Especially when the woman is already getting special treatment.
The Importance of Good Communication
Some Redditors think OP is right for clamping down on his employee’s online presence. They emphasize the importance of being reachable during designated work hours, especially when dealing with clients and stakeholders.
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Perfect Wave. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.