Treating Employees Like Adults Instead of Like School Children

I recently heard about the tardy policy enforced at a friend’s former workplace. If she was late to the office twice in one week, she was publicly shamed at a team meeting, where the rest of the group would be told, “Susy is ineligible for the weekly recognition award because she was late twice this week.” (Name changed to protect the guilty.)

I disagree not only with using humiliation as a means of  punishment/motivation (it borders on being grounds for a hostile workplace lawsuit) but also with the practice of marking tardies when it just doesn’t matter. Grown-ups should have more important things to worry about than beating the clock.

Why stress out your workforce over something that doesn’t affect your business?

Sure, when you do shifts, like in a factory or a hospital, you have to arrive on time to keep the organization running smoothly. In those cases, productivity – and people’s lives – may be adversely affected by tardiness. The assembly line must be staffed and the night nurse relieved on time, or problems will arise, no question about it. But in an office environment, does it really make a difference if Susy sits at her desk from 8 to 5 exactly, instead of from 8:05 to 5:05?

I feel pretty lucky to work in a performance-based environment. No one polices me to make sure I’m at my computer (either at the office or at home) at any certain hour. Instead, I’m required to account for my workload, deliver projects on time, be available for meetings and collaboration and help our company attain its business goals by doing the best job I can. I’m treated like an adult, instead of like a school child.

I remember the days of skipping breakfast and running yellow (okay, red) lights to get to work on time. I don’t think my employer benefited from my racing into work panting and sweating; the time I saved getting to work “on time” was usually wasted cooling down and regaining my composure before I could concentrate on my tasks. And I remember feeling embarrassed if I was late for some reason – often a reason that was beyond my control – which could bring down my morale for the rest of the day.

I’m much happier workshifting

Now, I start work when I’m ready to start work. Sometimes I start early in the morning, and sometimes I start a little later in the morning. Sometimes I start when I have a meeting to attend – and I don’t mind hurrying to be on time if that’s the case, because people are depending on me. Sometimes I work and attend meetings from home, and sometimes I work and attend meetings at the office. In either work environment, and no matter what time I start, I get the job done.

I end my workday when I’ve done the day’s work, sometimes early and sometimes late. I probably work late more often as a workshifter, but I don’t mind because it’s my own choice to do so; I take pride in finishing my work and reaching my goals on my own terms.

By its very nature, workshifting has to be performance based. When your manager isn’t physically present, you have to be trusted to do your work, and you are judged by your work alone. You don’t win points just for showing up – you win respect by showing people what you can do.

It takes some maturity to manage your time by yourself, but then, workshifting is for grown-ups, isn’t it?

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