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Boss urges employees not to apologise for having a life, in viral LinkedIn post

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Anna Brech
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Employees in the workplace

The president of a digital agency in Chicago has gone viral with his emotive plea on LinkedIn

Workplace happiness has nosedived in recent years, with around half of us struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. 

This lack of enthusiasm is largely driven by an insipid overtime culture within which we have zero control

In an age where we’re glued to our laptops at all hours, we have to explain ourselves when we want time off; even when that time falls into evenings or weekends once considered sacred. 

And the strange thing is, no-one has thought to even question the fact that employees are routinely treated like recalcitrant kids – until now.

Writing on LinkedIn, Ian Sohn, president of digital agency Wunderman Chicago, has urged his team not to tell him about their work-life decisions.

His brilliantly on-point list of things his employees don’t need to get his approval for reads like this:

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.

Female co-workers
“I never need to know you’ll be in late”

Sohn, a single dad, says he once was in a position where he had to push back at a senior colleague who wanted him to jump on a flight at 12 hours’ notice.

He said no, because he had to look after his children. 

“I didn’t feel the least bit guilty, which I could tell really bothered said colleague. But it still felt horrible,” Sohn explains. “I never want you [his employees] to feel horrible for being a human being.”

The entrepreneur also calls out our tendency not to treat grown-ups as such in the workplace: “I deeply resent how we’ve infantilized the workplace,” he says. “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.”

As he says, trust between colleagues is everything: “I’m equally grateful for the trust/respect my peers, bosses and teams show me every day.”

Written earlier this week, the heartfelt post has struck a major chord on the networking platform, with over 27,000 likes to date.

“Where did YOU come from. This might be my favorite post in the history of ever!” reads a typical response from the LinkedIn community, along with, “I have so much respect and admiration for this post and the message it conveys.”

It’s not always easy to go against the grain of tired old office protocol. But the more leaders like Sohn seize the initiative, the closer we come to achieving true wellbeing and a much-needed sense of freedom in the workplace.

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.