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20th Nov 2019

Single dad tells his employees to stop apologising for having lives outside of work

Trine Jensen-Burke

Work-life balance

Ever since becoming a mum, I have, once my maternity leave came to an end, also worked outside the home – in many different formats.

I have worked for myself as a freelance journalist working from home, been employed full-time as a journalist in a magazine office, worked reduced hours and split my time between working in the office and from home and let me tell you this. Once you have a family, regardless of how you work, you are forever just trying to manage the juggle, and figure out what works best for your family at that given moment.

One thing that does make life easier – and that unfortunately is not the case in so many workplaces – is companies who prioritise employee wellness and whose executives set a strong model for what a healthy and sustainable work-life balance might look like.

Like this guy – president of Wunderman Chicago, Ian Sohn, who recently posted a note to his employees on LinkedIn – and in it, Sohn, who is a single dad, made some pretty powerful point about what he expects and don’t expect from his staff.

Here is Sohn’s text in full:

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.


I don’t know about you, but I think this guy sounds like the kind of boss you would go the extra mile for. Not that he would expect you to – you have a life outside of your work. But you would want to give it your best when you are working, knowing this guy has your back and respects the fact that you have a life outside the office too.

Tell us – would a bit of flexibility make YOUR life easier? Do YOU feel like you have work-life balance in your life right now? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @herfamilydotie