It’s summer in Nashville, big time. June is normally hot, but this mid-June day we are also experiencing a heatwave. In a 20-minute drive from a meeting, I could not get my a/c to come close to cooling the small interior of my 1996 Toyota Tacoma. With the heat index, it’s 105 degrees and hard to think about anything else if you happen to be standing or walking in the sun.
The relief is immediate when I enter the luxury of air conditioning. I check my Fitbit and my pulse has slowed by more than 10 beats a minute just by getting out of the heat. Sitting down at my computer and getting back to work, I started to wonder how often my co-workers feel overwhelmed – metaphorically over-heated – and what we can do as an organization to provide and encourage use of a refuge.
Back in the mid-nineties, I began to think that we should let people work remotely, trusting them to be professional adults. Most people I mentioned that to thought I was a bit nuts – but I knew that I could do so, and when allowed to, felt a sense of relief and calm not having to start and end the day with a long commute. Since we started allowing and encouraging remote work, we have added amazing people to our team!
Now, in 2022, I have a sense that a four-day work week is the next big change in the work world. Not four 10-hour days, but four 8s. Many in this generation of 20- and 30-year-olds understand the importance of life being more than work. They want to earn a living wage, have opportunity to learn, grow and advance in their careers and have time to engage fully in their non-work activities. They work hard and want time to play hard, too. They want to have more time with the friends and families, pets and hobbies. They reject the idea that the only way to get ahead is to be in a constant state of overheating.
We recently added a flex time off policy which treats our co-workers with more trust and respect, in my opinion. We want people to get out of the heat when they need to. Of course, there are stipulations so that the promises we make to clients are met. We expect people to plan their time off and communicate what they want to do early and to understand that there will be times we cannot approve a request due to our workload. Our goal is not to track the amount of time people take off, but instead to focus on outcomes. It will be a work in progress and, I imagine, one that we will have to revise as we find out what is working and what is not.
I will report back, when the weather is cooler, and share what we have learned and if our desire to help people get out of the heat has worked.
– Becky Sharpe, President & CEO