Presenteeism – good or bad?

It isn’t so long ago that absenteeism was the scourge of the workplace. Colleagues taking duvet days, or time off sick. We were all over looking at it and managing the reasons why.

Recently I am noticing the rise of something else, in fact the complete opposite. Presenteeism. The martyrs that come to the office day in day out with their ailments. I don’t mean minor illnesses as such; we all work through them. These are the ones who come in, WHATEVER is wrong with them.

Barely able to speak or breath with a heavy cold, cough, sore throat. They still come in and take up station at their desks, like some loyal trooper. Breathing, coughing and spluttering their germs into the air con/air recirculation. Infecting a lot of the office.

What confuses me more about this is the fact that (most) organisations now offer a whole range of flexible options to workers. From the basics of working at home and being able to access emails, sharepoint and networks from home on your own devices, through to duvet days, flexible holidays and sick days.

Personally if I am not feeling great and I don’t need to be in the office (these days I can skype or teams into most meetings) then I tend to stay at home. Dual benefit here, I don’t have to drag myself into the office, endure a commute and try and make it through the day, realistically my focus is on making it through to home time, my productivity is low. The company benefit is that I am not in the office infecting all around me.

In some cultures where sick days are frowned upon then I fully understand why people may not wish to have sick time. The fear that this will count against them in some way. But we should also be working to change those cultures. Fear and working when ill is not a good way of getting the best out of your staff.

This links to another thought I have had for a while. There is a strange phenomenon that I have never been able to understand. That is the thought that if someone is sat physically in an office space/building that is owned/leased by the company then they are productive because they are there.

I understand with some colleagues there is a lack of trust, and that needs to be worked at, that trust gained. But for the most part this is not the case. A certain kind of person gains assurance from people being present. The feeling this somehow guarantees productivity.

My days when I work at home are far more productive. Even the ones where I do the washing, maybe a little shopping, a walk on the beach, or go out for coffee. The reason why? I still wake at the same time, I am ready to go at the same time, but my commute is about 20 ft from the couch to the desk. So all the time I would spend walking to work, getting changed, setting up for the day (as well as making tea, getting stopped and pulled into conversation etc) is not used and instead I am working from the moment I am ready.

So if you are a manager or employer I guess I have a couple of questions and a challenge for you:

  1. do you really think that your staff/colleagues are more productive when they come in the office ill?
  2. do you believe that someone being present in a workspace is more productive than someone who is choosing to use their time in a different way while working from home?

My challenge – can you work with your staff over a period of time to change that view and see if it works for you?

 

I dreamed a dream of foreign shores

A dream for me has always been to work in another country. There are a few places on the list San Francisco, New York, Toronto, Barcelona, Zurich and many many more.

When I was younger I travelled a lot with work, mainly within Europe, but also to the US and some other more ‘interesting’ locations. Thankfully most of my travel these days is within the UK, no more do I have the ‘glamour’ of airports and anonymous hotels for work travel.

When I travel for pleasure, there is something about some places that you enjoy as you pass through, but know that it is just a fleeting flirtation, and you are unlikely to return. A nice place to while away a few days, but no more than this.

The flip of that is that you also go to places that instantly feel like home. San Francisco and Bruges are two that spring to mind. Step out of a cab in the city and instantly feel like I have come home. The sights and sounds, the familiar places. Just that way that you relax into life as if you haven’t been away.

Explore a little to see if your favourite places are still there, that restaurant, the coffee shop, the bar with the live music, etc. Wandering around familiar areas, looking at changes and developments since your last visit.

There is however still a hint of romanticism around all of this. It is still just a holiday, a few days from life spent in another world. The every day reality of shopping, commuting, paying bills etc doesn’t exist in this space.

With the growth of services such as Air BnB and serviced apartments there is a middle ground now between the two. Rather than the distance of a hotel from real life, living in an apartment means that a holiday can feel more living in a city.

There is still a huge part of me that thinks it would be worth the risk, applying for roles, working somewhere that would allow either a sabbatical, or with the possibility of transferring to another country for a secondment.

But, as much as it is something that massively appeals to me I can’t help but feel that I would still end up disappointed. The encroachment of every day life into my dream. The drudgery of commutes and bills. The reality of being in a favourite city but only exploring evenings and weekends. Not being able to take off for a few days etc.

Do you have any dreams that are long held, but you know you will never make them a reality?

Role models – what are they and how do we choose them

This is a post I promised a lot of people I would write a long time ago, the draft was started in March, and I sit here in June completing it. So what took me so long? This post more than ever I wanted to get right, but then I realised it never would be, so I just need to get on and post it.

Role models are a common thread in my posts, often referred to as a colleague, an old boss, or named role models. My life and career has been influenced massively by role models, good and bad. Continue reading

Which you do you bring to work?

We all have several personas, whether we think about it or not. At times we bring different ones to work, and leave others behind.

My theory is that I have at least six different personas which I will explain later. Of these six I believe that there are four of them that I can bring to a work environment with me. When I say I can, I believe we choose which version of us we bring to work, or sometimes we bring the one we think we need to in order to ‘survive’ or ‘get by’. Continue reading

Supervision or one to one

I believe that one to ones are very important for staff to be able to develop and succeed in their roles. But they tend to be very work and issue focussed (around current projects and initiatives) and less about the actual person.

When I am in a position where I am people managing a team I like to introduce supervision sessions alongside one to ones. A weekly meeting alternating between one to one and supervision. But what is the difference? Continue reading

Egos

Egos – where to start. I guess with saying that in my opinion  I am not an egotistical person. In my own head I like to think that I am a fairly even, balanced person, that I only give input when necessary, and that actually I personally place little value on most of my input, even when others tell me otherwise.

However, I write a blog, so I have decided that my opinion matters and should be heard. Alongside that I tweet prolifically. Again me deciding my thoughts need to be shared. So I must have a slight ego there. Continue reading