Wednesday, 6 January 2010

When the snowman brings the snow ...

Well here in north Cambridgeshire we've had the most snow since 1963 - and I can actually remember 1963, as it happens.

We don't deal with snow well here - friends from Canada, Sweden etc fall around laughing watching our wall-to-wall news coverage of a few centimetres of snow. But some time ago we took the collective if unconscious decision that it wasn't worth it economically to prepare properly for the limited disruption we get every few years.

That's fine - except that in the world of work we tend to have rules that say, whatever the weather you must try to soldier on as normal. Have you had a message from HR or your Chief Executive saying something to the effect of: "We expect staff to make every effort to come in, while taking care in the weather conditions"?

I was half encouraged by seeing a proposed 'bad weather policy' from the TUC which includes the lines:

"If you judge that weather conditions or transport problems make it impossible for you to get to work, you should contact your (insert designated contact head of Department/line manager) as soon as possible to tell them about the problem. Your manager will make a judgement on whether:

- you will be allowed to come in late;

- you will be allowed to work from home; or

- if your job can't be done at home, you will be allowed to stay at home without suffering any loss of pay or annual leave."

While it's good that working from home is seen as potential option, I'm only half encouraged. Because the assumption is that it only applies if it's impossible to get in to work. I'd start by replacing the word 'impossible' with 'inefficient'.

It seems both employers and unions still expect staff to make heroic efforts to get to work. The mindset is "Waste your time, waste our time, risk injury - because if we can't see you, we don't believe you're working"

Only if all else fails does working in the most appropriate place to work effectively come into play.

TUC policy
Flexibility advice

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