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How to convince HR to let my star employee work from home?

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Priyanka Chadda


( 6 months ago )


We recently got a new CEO and he took away everyone's ability to work remotely, including that of my most productive team member. As you can guess, everyone's productivity has dropped considerably, but nothing hurts more than one engineer's productivity.

To give you an idea of what's at stake here: my all-star engineer has gone from performing at the rate of roughly 2x an entire team of 6 combined, to what's average for a single individual on the team at his seniority level. As you can imagine, everything is now going very slowly and it will be impossible to meet our targets.

I also recently find out he's actively interviewing with other companies and really want to retain him, but I'm afraid no amount of incentives other than working from home will help. As for the catch: this engineer is disabled and HR refuses to accommodate Work From Home (WFH) as it would present an "undue burden to the company." We all use Zoom, Slack and Email without a problem, and WFH is definitely seamlessly integrated into our business process.

Unfortunately, with our "no WFH policy," we've since lost a considerable amount of talent and continue to bleed dry of talent. It used to be that I could have my engineer pick up the slack of other team members, and have him finish a lot of additional work in the sprint queue, but now we're barely getting anything done.

I should also add: it's not easy to replace people in this field. This is Information Security, and we've been looking for team members for years but qualified talent keeps turning us down repeatedly.

Update: He left yesterday, citing lack of handicap-accessible doors. There's no way for him to reliably get in and out of the bathroom without help at work, park his handicap van or open any doors easily. HR refused to accommodate his work from home request and doctor's note, and forced him to take a medical leave, so he just quit.

Imran Malik


( 6 months ago )

If it was the CEO's decision to take away the work from home policy then HR is simply doing what they have been directed to do. If there is anyone that needs to be convinced it is the CEO. You can try to approach the CEO and explain the situation with this specific employee and see if they can make an exception. The problem with that, though, is that it won't help all the other non-disabled employees who enjoyed this perk.

Unfortunately, it may be too late for your star employee. You stated that this employee is actively interviewing and if they are as good as you say it is only a matter of time before they receive an offer.

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