The Modern Office
There is a great conversation ongoing by administrators in different communities regarding the Modern Office. I found myself fortunate to be on a conference call with professionals from both higher education & marketing this past week where this concept was introduced to me, and I have been drilling down on it every day since.
Growing up, my concept of the office was one of routine. My parents would leave for work every morning by 8:30am to start their work day at 9:00am. They would have an hour for lunch and then shut down and head home at 5:00pm. After fighting rush hour traffic, they would get home each night at roughly 5:45pm-6:00pm. Telemarketers did not exist yet, nor did caller ID. When the house phone would ring, it would solely be a family member or friend. I distinctly remember being excited when the house phone would ring, and I can’t recall a time growing up when someone from either of my parents work called our home during the evening or on the weekend. No emails, text messages or calls. The office mentality was solely Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm. My parents worked extremely hard and had to get everything accomplished during a very strict timeframe.
Let’s fast forward 20 years. My work day in the office starts by 6:00am, lunch is often at my desk and even though my ‘office’ day ends randomly each day between 4:00pm – 6:00pm, my actual work day ends about 10:30pm-11:00pm. My evening is a steady combination of home life with my family, as well as email, text messages, calls and progression on social media channels.
Technology has changed the Modern Office, but as administrators, we have not adapted to change our staff’s office hours. As part of our #SAACares initiative in the Student-Athlete Academic Center, we are changing this mindset. Our staff has the freedom to set their own work schedule based on when we can be ‘high touch’ with our student-athletes. That might mean coming in at 11:00am, but staying until 7:00pm. It could be traveling with their team to provide support on the road – or leaving early to go by a practice or attend a home game. We give our staff the professional freedom to take a day of professional leave if their teams are on the road so they can focus on personal or professional development.
In our Modern Office, we want to be where our students are, not chained to a desk because of the traditional office hours. If we want to be great at what we do, then the trade off is the inability to shut down at 5pm each day as the establishment has trained us to. The world around us no longer stops at 5pm and picks up the next day at 9:00am. I am lucky to be surrounded by like minded professionals at FIU. Dr. Elizabeth Bejar is the hardest working professional I have ever met. Ayssa Roza, our Associate Director, is often in the office until 7 or 8pm; only to return before the coffee is done brewing the next morning. Lyzbeth Armenteros has been known to work past 10pm with her track & field students. Donald Senat worked every weekend in February assisting our football program with the recruitment of the 2017 Class. Denisse Olarte comes in early on Sunday to help our students with math. Shirley Caballero, forgoing time with her adorable twins, travels with our men’s basketball program to make sure they have academic support on the road. Cristina Estevez stays past 7pm on Monday and Tuesday night so she can provide additional support for our baseball program. Alison Riccobono might literally live in our office as much as she is there.
At FIU SAAC, we take advantage of the technology that we have available to us to be effective communi1cators. We provide our cell phone numbers to our students, coaches and colleagues alike. Our Modern Office is not the established four walls with a window. We are where our students are.