How flexible should companies be with accommodating employee needs?

In my initial interview with Cloudreach, I was cautioned that the role may include substantial travel to client sites for meetings and/or onsite project work.

Sign.  Me.  Up.

I had previously spent all of my professional career working between 2 and 20 miles from my house in Phoenix, Arizona, with rare trips for remote office visits.  The promise to spend time embedded in different parts of the country was extremely tantalizing and contributed about 51% of the decision to accept the Cloud Systems Developer position with Cloudreach. A few short weeks after my initial hire, I was en route to The Big Apple to set up camp in one of the corporate apartments and work for a major financial institution in the financial district of Lower Manhattan.  I was able to walk among the skyscrapers, eat food from every country imaginable and ride on the fabled New York City subway I had seen in so many movies.  

A few months later I rolled off of the New York project and was sent to Washington D.C.  After a week of project meetings, I was able to explore the nation’s Capital before my flight home.  The mix of corporate travel and engaging project work was amazing, and towards the end of my first year as a Cloudster, I had experienced New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Maryland.  Scratch 5 states off of my "places I have never been to" list.

Changing circumstances, changing needs

In late summer of 2016, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with twin girls.  The pregnancy ended up having some complications, and I was needed at home to care for the house. I was honestly a bit apprehensive to talk to my line manager about my requirement to switch from travel junkie to 100% remote.  To my relief, his response was, "no problem, we’ll work it out.  What else can we do for you?"  That was it.  No pressure to try and fit a few more trips in, no hard time about deviating from what I had signed up for — and an earnest inquiry into what more the company could do for me on an individual level.  My line manager, the project manager on my assigned project, and the department head of the line of business I work in, were all unbelievably supportive when I needed to take time off. The PeopleOps (HR) team gave me 4 weeks to spend with the new babies — and a good-natured hard time when I checked in with the project team before the 4 weeks were up.  One of the company’s co-founders (who I had only met one time in my second week with the company) reached out upon learning about the twin births to personally send warm wishes of congratulations.  Our region-wide all-hands meeting in December was outfitted with remote presentation capabilities so I could participate from home and was not left out.

My wife, the twins and our 2 sons are all healthy, happy and grateful for Cloudreach. This company went above and beyond when my life required me to amend my working arrangement even before I had much tenure in the business.  My line manager continues to ask if there is anything Cloudreach can do for me and my family, and the business logistics manager has sent me several small trinkets over the months so I felt included in some of the events going on in the office for various holidays and celebrations.

Happy employees spread the word

When I tell people about all the things Cloudreach has done for little ol’ me over the last year, it’s often met with slack jaws and looks of disbelief.  This level of personal care is not the usual experience with most companies, but I know Cloudreach would do whatever it takes for individual success, just as its employees do whatever it takes for project success.  So how flexible should a company be with accommodating employee needs?  A better question may be how much can a company demonstrate that every single person is valuable to the company as a whole?   

Now that the babies are older and in a solid routine, Cloudreach has accepted my availability to travel and I’ll be off to explore a new client in a new city in a few short weeks.  I will continue to tell my story and proclaim how proud I am to be part of such a caring organization to the new client so they know they’re dealing with a company that doesn’t just have catchy values posted on a website, but truly lives them out in the day to day.

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