Need a new job? Because we might have just found the best boss ever.
Ian Sohn, a single dad of two and the president of Wunderman Chicago, a digital agency, took to LinkedIn to write a rousing defense of work-life balance, and we are here for it.
“I never need to know you’ll be back online after dinner,” he begins the powerful post, a memo to his employees, in which he laments how today’s constantly-connected work culture has turned many managers into de facto babysitters, perpetually monitoring their workers’ time.
“I deeply resent how we’ve infantilized the workplace. How we feel we have to apologize for having lives. That we don’t trust adults to make the right decisions. How constant connectivity/availability (or even the perception of it) has become a valued skill,” he writes.
Not for Ian. He “never needs to know” about when his employees are taking a break ...
“I never need to know why you chose to watch season 1 of Arrested Development (for the 4th time) on your flight to LA instead of answering emails.”
“I never need to know you’ll be in late because of a dentist appointment. Or that you’re leaving early for your kid’s soccer game.”
“I never need to know why you can’t travel on a Sunday.”
“I never need to know why you don’t want to have dinner with me when I’m in your town on a Tuesday night.”
“I never need to know that you’re working from home today because you simply need the silence.”
In the comments, he clarifies that what he really means by “never need to know” is “you never need to apologize for” having work-life balance, which is exactly the attitude we’d love to see more managers embrace. For working moms in particular, it can often feel like we’re constantly apologizing for simply trying to make our busy schedules work.
Ian’s familiar with the notion. “Years ago a very senior colleague reacted with incredulity that I couldn’t fly on 12 hours notice because I had my kids that night (and I'm a single dad). I didn’t feel the least bit guilty, which I could tell really bothered said colleague. But it still felt horrible,” he writes. “I never want you to feel horrible for being a human being.”
Almost needless to say, Ian’s post has been a hit, with more than 12,000 positive reactions and hundreds of supportive comments.
“Props to you for saying it out loud. It gets easier and more important the higher you are on the ladder. We need to make it the norm. We don't [own] another human's life because they agree to work for us. Trust them to do the right thing, and your odds are so much better that you'll get it,” says Rian Schmidt, a CIO, CTO and VP of engineering in Portland, OR.
“Amen! I don’t know when we lost autonomy in the workplace but it’s so important for personal and professional growth,” says Jessica Herrala, a communications strategist in Chicago.
“Love this sentiment. Really meaningful for parents with smaller children who just can't put the job first every time,” comments Margit Fawbush, director of client services at a digital agency in Louisville, KY.
“I share this same view very much. I'm not in my role to parent but rather to lead and support. If more leaders adopted this approach, imagine how productive businesses could be,” says Brian Gibb, a president and CEO in Boston.
We couldn’t agree more.