They should have taken bets. The staff realized this too late, of course, so all they could do is sit and watch the creative excuses unfold.
Sarah had made telecommuting an art form. While most of the staff had one day of telecommuting a week, and a few had two, Sarah would try to see how many days she could get away with not having to come into the office. No subject was off limits for her to employ her excuses for staying at home.
- There was snow on the ground
- There was snow on the way
- It looked like it was going to storm fiercely
- She needed privacy
- She wasn’t feeling well, but well enough to work from home
- She had a half day off in the afternoon, so why bother coming in the morning?
- She had a day off in the morning, and it didn’t make sense to come in for the afternoon
- Her husband, son, neighbor, dog, neighbor’s dog, complete stranger wasn’t feeling well and she didn’t feel right about leaving them
- Alien invasion
If it were simply that she wanted to stay home, the staff would have been somewhat accepting of this. After all, it meant she wasn’t in the office to tell everyone their jobs and give extra work. This was a bonus.
Sarah’s telecommuting had a dark side to it, though. First, any day she telecommuted, she would inform everyone that they had to rearrange their schedules in order to accommodate her telecommuting. If they had to change everything for her, then so be it. She could not be inconvenienced by something as complicated as a web conference or conference call. Second, if she wasn’t there to sign off on something urgent, progress stopped. She needed to be in to sign off on items, and her telecommuting interfered with that. Third, there were simply things that staff needed to talk with her about in person. A phone call would not do. She had to make decisions, and she needed to be there for this. None of this mattered to Sarah, of course, as it was her telecommuting, and she wanted it to be that way.
When Sarah was tapped to head the department, her habits changed slightly. Based on what she was doing, the staff guessed that she was told by her new boss that she could take one telecommuting day a week, and one only. Sarah dutifully promised this would be the case.
The staff was still kicking themselves for not taking bets about how long this would last before she found some way around it.
For the first few weeks, Sarah was a good girl. She took one day a week as her telecommuting day, and that was it. She was out of the office other times, but they were for official travel.
Then, when no one was looking, the excuses crept back in again. One day stretched into a day and a half. A day and a half stretched into two. The stretching continued for as long as Sarah was able to get away with it.
Staff knew that if any of them ever tried what Sarah did, they would be hauled in front of her so fast it would make their head spin. Employee Relations would tell them the telecommuting rules chapter and verse from the employee handbook, and they would be informed that telecommuting was a privilege and not a right. If they wished to continue to telecommute, they would be able to do so only once a week, maybe twice, but that was it. After all, work would have to get done.
There was one silver lining in that, though. Sarah would want to make sure she told them all this personally. That would mean she would have to be in the office to do so. That might give the employee months and months before the conversation took place.