Single dad urges staff to stop apologising for work-life balance in viral essay

A single father's essay about work-life balance has gone viral. Images: Getty, LinkedIn (Ian Sohn).

The open letter of a single father and company president has gone viral after he called for management to have more respect for workers’ lives.

President of Wunderman Chicago Ian Sohn said he never needs to know if his staff will be back online after dinner, or why they need to work from home, or that they need to leave early for their child’s soccer game.

“I deeply resent how we’ve infantilised the workplace,” he said in a post on LinkedIn.

“How we feel we have to apologise 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.

“I'm equally grateful for the trust/respect my peers, bosses and teams show me every day.”

Read the full post here:

I never need to know you’ll be back online after dinner.

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.

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.

I'm equally grateful for the trust/respect my peers, bosses and teams show me every day.

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. edit: divorced). I didn’t feel the least bit guilty, which I could tell really bothered said colleague. But it still felt horrible.

I never want you to feel horrible for being a human being.

Since sharing his thoughts, the post has received more than 26,000 likes and over a thousand comments.

Many commenters shared experiences where their bosses hadn’t trusted them to make decisions about their work and personal time, and how difficult it could be to understand that some bosses do respect their workers and their decisions.

“It's a daily chore to remind myself that I work for a great boss that understands this... and who has given me no reason to question myself or my abilities, but has praised my efforts and successes,” one commenter said.

“I think it can be very difficult to balance the human aspect of a job (and management) with the vigour of everyday life,” added another.

“I have found myself sending emails at 1am and then had employees apologising for not responding. We manufacture our cultures and I think it comes down to the boss to promote the healthy lifestyle and lead by example.”

Others simply described it as a “necessary message”.

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