(This column originally appeared in the Washington Times)
Ask any of my clients who own businesses, and they’ll tell you that it is better when their employees work in their offices than when they work from home. Better for the companies. Better for the employees.
This is common sense. People thrive in a collaborative environment. Younger workers learn from those more experienced. Innovation increases, and workplace culture is simply better.
But as obvious as these benefits are, a great many employers have recognized that allowing their employees to work from home one or two days a week can be an enticing perk to offer in these times of tight labor.
They understand that their workers have personal commitments, families and dependents, and they want to help accommodate them by adopting a more flexible work schedule.
And what do they get in return? More loyalty? Praise from their employees? Gratitude?
Nope. Instead, they get the TWATs (shorthand for workers who are in the office only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays And Thursdays).
What is a TWAT? Here’s an example: I recently visited the office of a large corporate client on a Wednesday and the building was packed with workers. I went back for a visit on Friday, and can you guess what I saw? Not a lot of people there. Why? Because most of the employees chose Friday to work from home. They are TWATs.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a twat is “a stupid or annoying person.” The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines twat as “an offensive word for a person who you think is unpleasant or stupid.”
The Urban Dictionary says a twat is a … well, let’s not go there.
The business description is no less offensive to anyone running a business.
So why do workers choose to work from home on Mondays and Fridays? Can we tell the truth?
The truth is that “working” from home on a Monday or a Friday isn’t really like working in the office. Because why else would those two days be so particularly popular?
It’s because people are using those days to extend their weekends at the expense of their employers. They think they’re pulling the wool over their bosses’ eyes. They think that they’re getting away with something.
“Ha-ha,” they chuckle to themselves over their 3 p.m. Friday cocktails or 10 a.m. wake-up shower on Monday. “This working from home thing is great!”
And who can blame them? They’re getting away with it. Some employees are even embracing a new trend called “Bare Minimum Mondays,” which merely quantifies that they’ve been asleep on the job every Monday when they’re supposed to be working as hard from home as they would be in the office.
Hey, good for them. Why not take as much advantage as possible of your employer, right?
But good things never last. A battle is brewing. Some employers are starting to fight the TWATs.
While many companies are still pandering to their employees with a three-day-per-week hybrid policy, others — including Disney, Comcast and Lloyd’s Insurance — are waking up to this particular remote working scam and forcing their TWATs to actually work in the office on a Monday or Friday.
“We need to get Monday back,” Lloyd’s Bank CEO John Neal told the Financial Times.
Martha Stewart, the famed businesswoman (and ex-convict), publicly said, “You can’t possibly get everything done working three days a week in the office and two days remotely.”
Of course, many TWATs are upset by this. Employees at Google and Amazon have been protesting their companies’ return to work policies. Others, like the brave workers at Farmers Insurance, are so dismayed that they’ve been sharing “angry and crying emojis” on their internal message boards.
You can’t blame them. Now they actually have to do actual work four days a week instead of three.
And so begins the next phase of the remote working war: the Battle of the TWATs. Watch it unfold.
Many companies have been quite generous in allowing their employees to (not) work from home on Mondays and Fridays. But my clients who run businesses are wise to the scam.
They know that these people aren’t really working when they say they’re working on a Monday or Friday. They read the data that shows that productivity has significantly declined in this country because of this. They’ve turned a blind eye to the problem while tackling other, more pressing issues such as sticky inflation, higher costs of capital and slowing demand.
Now they’re starting to focus on the issue. A revision of remote work policies is inevitable.
Should an employer require a worker to be in the office four days a week instead of three? That depends on the job, the effectiveness of the employee and the culture of the company. But one thing is certain: Many companies that allow the continuation of such a policy will start requiring that one of those three days be a Monday or a Friday.
Caring, dedicated, motivated and responsible employees will respect this decision. The ones who resist will cry and complain. Because that’s what TWATs do, isn’t it?