Thoughts on cultural fits, employee empowerment, and productivity

Recently, my workplace implemented a policy to restrict the number of days an employee can work from home. The excuses they have given for this have ranged from “Employees are abusing this freedom.” to “We have paid a lot of money to set up this office, so it's only reasonable that they utilize these facilities to the maximum.”

For a technology company that is spread across different timezones, and wants its employees to collaborate across these barriers, we have a huge number of meetings that happen in the early mornings or late evenings. In such scenarios, the option of having remote work is great, especially because one can plan their day around those meetings in a good way. I for one, start my day at my usual time, but take a short nap in the afternoon so that I feel fresh for the meetings, and can take my best mindset to them and come out of those discussions with good outcomes. For others, it may be a case of starting their day a little later than they usually do, so that they can use the mornings to take care of personal stuff which they'd otherwise do in the evening.

By taking away the “right” to be remote as many times as needed, the HR is saying that “We are in charge, we decide how and where you'll work, and we expect you to toe the line.” The company aims to be at the top of employee retention, employee empowerment etc. I feel like this policy isn't a step in the right direction to achieve that aspiration. There is also the gradual shift to monitoring the number of hours an employee is inside the office. This is also wrong for several reasons.

Having been involved in a company that grew from 8 members to 100, I feel like I am in some position to talk about what can make a team or company successful. The first and foremost is keeping the employees happy. And happiness isn't just gyms, free hot beverages, gaming rooms, or bean bags. It's putting the power in their hands. The smaller teams should be democratic and have a say in deciding what works for them and how. If they want to go watch movies together during the day and stay up at night to work on something, let them do it. If they feel hyper focused when working from benches in the parks next to their homes, let them do it. If they want to be in the office for 10 hours together, even use their lunch hours to discuss work, let them do it, but for goodness' sake, put that power in their hands and don't make policies about things you don't understand.

There are going to be arguments that managing companies that are so big is difficult, let me break it down step by step.