Snowed In: Working From Home In A Blizzard


Back when I schlepped into an office every day – I would sit next to my living room window and watch the snow fall in hopes that snow band of however-much-it-took-to-get-me-out-of-commuting would hit my area. Screw the shoveling, I just wanted sweatpants. I wanted to see my daily meeting-full calendar clear in a matter of hours, while baking cookies and using the crockpot to warm up something far more delicious than anything the basement cafeteria in my office could produce.

I mean, who doesn’t love a snow day?

For one, I’d bet the boss. With 85 million people snowed in thanks to Snowstorm Jonas,  it’s inevitable that more than a few companies are starting slowly week and anticipating things falling even farther behind as we dig out of 2+ feet of snow in some areas. Losing a few days of the week is a celebration when you’re not in the business world and on the hook for benchmarks, Q1 bonuses and days of decision-critical meetings. All of which will have to be rescheduled for the next time the stars cross and all your executives are in one place and free at the same time.

We’ve all been there before. Snow days are the ultimate disruption to companies that work from an office and put a ton of weight on how often you “show your face” but it’s the days went you don’t that are the real test.

With that said, how many of these companies are taking this down time to figure out how to make their company more efficient when everyone can’t share an office? How many are rethinking work from home options so when people are working from home, they aren’t calling it a wash? I mean, working from home isn’t some startup perk any more – 50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and 90% want to work remotely – a sign that work is slowly but surely moving from the office to the dinner table. But for now, most companies aren’t prepared to go remote.

Why? First of all, I’d guess it’s because they fear the repercussions of a disengaged workforce they can’t keep an eye on. There’s also a stigma with working from home in some companies; an implication that you’re not “part of the team.” But inevitably (if you live anywhere besides Florida or California), weather or cable appointment come up and people have to work from home.

According to the stats, there’s a strong change that going into work will be the exception, not the majority in the future world of work. But for now, we’re just trying to dig out and keep the disruption to a minimum. If you don’t regularly work from home and you want to keep your team on track, here are a few snow day tricks to share with them:

  • Keep your schedule. Shower. Put clothes on (sweatpants optional). If you normally get to your desk by 8, get online by 8. Wrap up when you normally would.
  • Be a good communicator. If something goes off schedule – like your power goes out or your neighbor gets his car stuck – tell your team you’re taking a break. It’s really ok. You’re not abusing the system by taking a break.
  • Create a digital contact sheet so, just like handing people an office map, people can find you.
  • No TV, not even at lunch. You think you can focus while you watch soccer but you really can’t.
  • Turn your phone’s ringer on. Make sure people can reach you if something comes up (and you actually answer when they call).
  • If you’re trying to brainstorm and white board ideas with a remote team, use Skype, google hangouts, join.me or GoToMeeting. There are a ton of options to avoid missing your meetings.

So for those of you still working from an office, enjoy those snow days while they last. As someone who now works from home full time, I can tell you I’m not as stoked about a snow day any more. I watch the news in anticipation just like everyone else but the reality is that I’ll be operating business as usual, I’ll just have to put my snow boots on to take the dog to pee.

snow day

 

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