A few months ago, while waiting for one of my flights, I bumped into a fellow Lithuanian.
He was on his way to a short work trip at the US office of the tech company he was working for, and my partner and I were catching a connecting flight towards our final stop in Brazil.
It’s known to be quite rare for us Lithuanians to break into a chat with another Lithuanian abroad.
But this is exactly what happened.
We got to talking about how the pandemic had loosened up the stiff working environments and how great it was to have more flexibility.
However, when I shared that Switch is completely remote and I can work from wherever full-time, it really confused him.
‘But how can your boss be sure that you’re actually doing your job and not just pretending?’ he asked.
In my head, this came across as a stupid question, especially, since we’ve been working remotely throughout the pandemic. It was pretty obvious to me that if I wasn’t pulling my weight at my job, it would become apparent quite soon. People on my team would notice. Clients would notice. It’s a situation I could not see playing out any other way.
I tried to explain it. And in the end, I don’t think I managed to sway him my way.
After we went on our merry ways this interaction stuck with me. I had a bunch of questions and mixed feelings.
- How could a well-educated person, only a couple of years my senior, not understand the concept?
- Why would a professional go to the lengths of cheating their employer and their team?
- Would that same person not be able to pretend right there at the office?
- What kind of company structure and culture would create an environment for this to happen?
I really could not relate. Until it hit me.
There’s this Lithuanian saying that I think illustrates the point I’m getting to quite well.
‘Sotus alkano neužjaučia’, which roughly translates to ‘the satisfied does not feel for the hungry’.
And in this situation, I was the satisfied.
(and no, I’m not talking about the ‘free office lunch on Fridays’ crap here)
- I was part of a company that appreciates its employees and wants them to succeed both at work and in life.
- I had bosses that trust me to handle anything sent my way.
- My input and opinions were valued.
- I was part of a team that can lean on each other when we need to.
- And I was the one that can travel the world and keep the job that I enjoy doing.
It’s the least everyone deserves.
Work should challenge you, ground you, and provide opportunities to grow. But it should never feel like you need to cheat the system to get more of a work-life balance.
It’s great to see that many companies around the world are waking up from the Monday to Friday 9-to-5 ice age and creating better workplace environments.
We need more of that.
In the meantime, it’s up to the employees to send the message to the dinosaurs that aren’t willing to get with the times.