Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
A couple of months ago, I shared an article on how “Hybrid Workforces Must be Equitable for Everyone”. After publication, I received a question about handling time off.
How do you handle paid time off (PTO) for remote employees? Those working from home don’t use PTO when sick, even though you can tell they aren’t working, (or at least not very hard), yet the employees who work out of the office must use PTO time when sick. It’s not fair and hard to manage. Looking for ideas of how to make this equitable for all.
I actually think there’s more than one issue going on here so let’s talk about the first one which is paid time off (PTO). Organizations deal with time off many different ways. We’ve talked about a few of them in the past.
With more employees working remotely, companies are looking at the benefits they offer in a physical office environment versus the ones that are able to be utilized virtually. They’re also looking at how employees are able to take time off.
In response to the company’s recruiting and vacation challenges, the Kronos HR team developed a system called “myTime”. Basically, it’s an “open” (aka unlimited) vacation policy. There’s no limit on how much time any employee can take. Instead, employees work their schedules out with their supervisors. While Kronos is now UKG (Ultimate Kronos Group), they still offer unlimited time off.
These two articles might offer some creative inspiration for developing a paid time off policy that’s equitable for everyone, regardless of where they’re located.
But I have to admit that there’s another aspect to this reader note to consider. That’s scheduling flexibility and personal accountability. Let’s walk through an example. I’ll use me as a hypothetical employee. I work remotely. I don’t feel good on Tuesday morning and decide to take a nap. After lunch, I start feeling better. If “time worked” is important, then can I work late on Tuesday and make up the time? Or can I work a little extra on Wednesday and Thursday to make up the time? Or could I work on Saturday morning to make up the time? You get my point.
Now, let’s change the scenario. I’m an onsite employee. I don’t feel good on Tuesday morning and call my boss to ask if I can work from home. I still take a nap, but I finish the project that I was due by the end of the day. And on Wednesday, I’m back in the office.
Obviously, it takes a lot of work to create a flexible work environment. But it can be done. It is possible that employees can take time off, not use a paid sick time benefit, start feeling better, and still get work done. It does mean that organizations and managers have to be flexible. It means they need to trust employees and clearly communicate what will be considered acceptable behavior.
And if employees want this type of flexibility, it means they need to be honest about their intentions. Trust is a two-way street. Employees also need to take personal responsibility for getting the work done.
Creating an equitable work arrangement means transitioning to a different type of accountability. It’s less focused on time and more on results. Managers should be given the training and tools to effectively handle these situations. Employees should be informed on new performance standards. We’re not just talking about paid time off, but on everything.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, FL19