I'm a relatively new CTO at a small startup (about 15 employees). We have a 4 person engineering team that I'm responsible for (and looking to hire more). Other departments include operations, customer service, sales, marketing, etc.

Prior to my joining of the company, there were a couple of people that are no longer employed with us that completely abused work from home and flex times (were clearly underperforming/checked out, etc).

My engineering team was (were?) hired by me and so far they've been great -- accomplishing more than expected, dealing with a LOT of technological debt without complaint (who loves dealing with and refactoring really bad code?), and have come in with a very positive attitude. The one thing is, some of the developers (including me!) don't always show up on time or work from home. One of the developers I've worked with previously and even back then he was chronically late (he goes to the gym before work, and has other rituals).

Our CEO rightfully is not comfortable with WFH/flextime after his previous experience (and he's previously from more corporate/traditional office environment). We've discussed this matter back and forth (and prior to the hiring of the team I shared his opinion re: punctuality, etc). However now that I have a few developers and have seen their work, their effort and they've earned my trust I do not care when/if they show up to work.

So far, it's been a relatively unspoken issue, but I do want to be prepared in case it's brought up or even bring it up myself. The second problem is that for the most part due to the nature of the roles, pretty much only the engineering team can afford not to be physically present at work.

I would love to have a formal policy re: flex time and work from home, but how do I manage the fact that others in the company will not be eligible (or other managers will likely not want for their team)?

The other thing to note is that we have a very open office environment (which I do not like for developers in general and has been brought up as an issue by one of the developers), and while we're looking for a longer term solution for the dev time (maybe renting out additional space just for the developers, etc), I do like them having the opportunity to work at home with less distractions. However the open office nature and small size of the company also makes it very apparent when/if people are coming in.

We use Slack, a pretty good ticketing system, email, hangouts etc so there hasn't been a problem with communication, etc.


3 Answers 3


how do I manage the fact that others in the company will not be eligible (or other managers will likely not want for their team)?

This is going to sound a bit harsh, but it is true. If other members of your team cannot work remotely, which is interesting if they are technical people but we will just assume for the sake of your question they can't, tell anyone who has a problem with it that if they want the same privilege's as a developer they can study and become a developer.

Think about it, after the requirements are known and well understood, a developer can easily and effectively work from home, or a quiet coffee shop for that matter.

  • 5
    +1, also good to note that it's not considered discriminatory so long as the flex time policy is tied to a job title/titles rather than just certain employees.
    – GOATNine
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 12:57
  • I 100% agree with the honest approach however not all people can handle this -- however they're good employees. Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 13:25
  • 2
    @GG- I hear it all the time as a coder...man I wish I could make the cash or have the flexibility you do. I tell them you can if your willing to put in the work. Its a fact of life really, they who cannot accept are hurting themselves.
    – Neo
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 13:38
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    This is very true. Blindly treating everyone equally is nonsensical when you realize that different people have different jobs with different requirements. This is one of the many reasons why the concept of 'fair' doesn't exist in the workplace.
    – Cronax
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 14:49
  • 1
    The mere fact that some management positions are paid way too much and some engineering ones way less that what they deserve is unfair, but I don't see any CEO pressing for that.
    – Cris
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 20:53

Engineers and support analysts typically need to be within the office environment. They have to be as they're needed for drop-in and desk-visit issues.

I don't beleive that cross draining developers to be support analysts and vise-versa is going to work out too well (you probably won't have many takers for that).

What you can do is establish a ratio of how many of your development team should ideally be in the office and treat that as your flexi-time. So at least 30% of the team should be office based. This might go some way to satisfying your CEO. Some of your team might be perfectly happy to work in the office all the time, or you can arrange for people to WFH on certain days to overlap others.


What I would propose to the CEO is the following:

Offer flex time and work from home by job title. Make sure to determine which job titles genuinely need to be in the office when you do this. Nothing kills morale faster than being told you can't do something when clearly it is possible but others can. Jobs that must work in the office should get some other benefit to compensate. I would suggest extra leave days.

Then you need to discuss exactly how you will manage these people with assurances that you will council (and fairly quickly fire if they don't shape up) poor performers. Make sure you detail how you will be monitoring performance. Make sure flex time has some core hours that must be met unless you are on vacation or sick leave. Make sure that you detail how you are going to monitor performance so that a problem is quickly identified. Make sure that there is a policy for people who work from home that they must respond to communications within x amount of time. (People working from home in a deep dark hole who never answer their phone or IM messages or emails for hours is one of the main causes of work from home being removed as an option. It makes it appear as if they are not working. This doesn't need to be a ten minute response but probably at least within an hour. And doesn't need to be the answer to the question but an acknowledgement that they got the message and when they will be able to provide the answer or do the task.) You want the CEO to be comfortable that you know how to manage remote workers and flex time without a negative impact on the company, so be prepared to define your processes. There are books on managing remote teams, you might read one of them for ideas before going to the CEO with a proposal.

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    Why the downvotes??? This answer fully address the problem and gives the right advice (IMO) about how to address this with CEO. Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 10:06

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