The line between personal and professional lives is blurring as employees work remotely and one manager believes businesses need to accommodate that as well.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 22, 2021. It has since been updated.
The pandemic radically changed how companies conduct business and possibly re-defined work culture for good. The existing work culture was disrupted, forcing many employees to work from home and also highlighting the need for businesses to be wary of employees' mental health struggles. The year 2020 has been anything but easy on any of us. Working from home during the pandemic has also meant being cooped up indoors, being more hands-on at home and with children. The lack of social life, and meeting up with friends and loved ones hasn't helped either. Companies are learning the importance of being flexible and being there for their employees when they need support.
Megan Witherspoon, a vice president of communications and mother of two, understands the importance of being supported and cared for. She believes employees are the heart of every company and she wrote a detailed post on LinkedIn explaining why workers' concerns at home should be factored in by companies. Businesses have for long looked at employees in isolation without factoring in their personal situations and explaining why lines between personal and professional work were bound to get blurred and often overlap. Witherspoon believes companies should care about employees' personal issues as well. Witherspoon listed out different scenarios and pointed out the things she 'cared about' and those that she didn't care about and it's an eye-opener.
"I DO care that your daughter is home with yet another ear infection," started off Witherspoon in a LinkedIn post, before adding, "I DO NOT care that you’ll be offline for 2 hours this afternoon for her doctor’s appointment." She then listed various other scenarios where workers' personal issues often overlap the traditional work hours. "I DO care that your ailing mom needs hands-on care and her facility is understaffed. I DO NOT care if you need to work asynch this week between meals, medications, and visiting hours," she wrote. She added that taking care of your pet was as important as anything else. "I DO care that your dog is puking all over your rug right now. I DO NOT care if you need to jump off our call to rush him outside and clean up the mess."
The post garnered more than 102,000 reactions. The message resonated with many workers who have been navigating the pandemic, struggling to find a balance between their professional and personal lives. Megan Witherspoon said employees could have to deal with various situations when working from home and companies need to accommodate them and see them as a part of work. "I DO care that you desperately need to get out of your house because you’ve been cooped up far too long. I DO NOT care if you’d like to work from the office for a few days, or from Florida for a week. I DO care that a bus driver shortage means you don’t have reliable transportation for your son. I DO NOT care if you need to get back to me in an hour after picking him up from school.," she wrote. She finally summed it up. "I DO care about YOU and the things you care about. I DO care that you deliver quality work and perform at your best. I DO NOT care when, where or how you get your work done," wrote Witherspoon.
Megan told BoredPanda that caring for your employees is key. “For a very long time, the business world believed personal and professional should be separate," said Witherspoon. “We’ve now spent 18 months with our colleagues in their homes, with their children and pets, and in their personal spaces. We’ve had to help one another through extremely challenging circumstances. We’ve supported each other, cried together, and talked about mental health and wellness.”
Witherspoon believes industries and businesses need to find their own way of being flexible. “I would advise companies and leaders to go as far as they realistically can with providing flexibility to their employees. Flexibility isn’t a sacrifice – it actually makes great business sense. And employee expectations have changed and they’re willing to vote with their feet.” She concludes, "It’s a win-win."