The Dark Side Of Work-Life Balance

Via Fistful of Talent today, on a contractor being interviewed for a full time position at a tech co:

This guy has trouble showing up for work. When he does come in, it’s usually around noon or so. He’s missed meetings, missed 1:1s, and is often hard to find. Hearing this, my immediate thought is, “Why are we even talking about this guy and, more importantly, why is he still contracting on your team?”

The reason this guy is still around is that, when he is working, he’s a freakin’ machine! He may not be at his desk, but he’s putting in the hours. Much like me in college, he’s often online at midnight or 2 in the morning. He’s still putting in 50+ hours per week. And, the work he cranks out is great.

Sounds like a dream job for many, right? Lots of people, especially Millenials, are thrilled by the idea of setting your own schedule—as long as the work gets done, why does it matter whether your butt’s in a chair from 9 to 5? There’s even a whole book dedicated to the concept.

Couple problems with this scenario, as Jason Pankow explains in his FoT post.

“We’re still expected to be team players. We’re still expected to be with our teams when it’s important.

“Sure, we make it easy to work from home. But responsibilities don’t lie only in your production. Senior people are expected to serve as mentors to more junior people. We want to grow the talent on our team, and that will be a real challenge if you’re always working remotely.

“Second, it’s really important that the hiring manager sets expectations around what defines success in a particular position. Practices that can be tolerated by a work-horse contractor cannot become practices of a full time employee, of which much more is expected…”

Pankow suggests that hiring a person like this is condoning missing meetings and skipping out on the non-production aspects of work. And if this behavior isn’t condoned, but you hire the guy anyway, then will he get a big surprise on performance evaluation day?

Our thoughts: Keep him as a contractor; hire a more reliable full-timer. But what do you think?