NFL coaches and personnel executives pride themselves on a work ethic that entails showing up early and staying late at the office. With no NFL coaches or personnel executives currently showing up at the office, and with a draft unfolding with all teams working from home, some think that the obsession with putting in so many hours at work could change.
“I think that we’re going to learn that we don’t need to be chained to our desks,” Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman said on Tuesday’s #PFTPM podcast. “Like, it’s OK to go home, it’s OK to work from home. You know, your kids have something. If people in our front office — and we try to do this anyway, I don’t know if we do a good job of it, and maybe some of us as leaders have to make sure we are setting the tone — so if my kids, it’s this strain during the draft time, it’s the spring, my kids have a basketball game, they have a baseball game, I have to walk next door to Andy Weidl, our Vice President of Player Personnel, and say, ‘I’m going to the game and you should go, too, we can work at home,’ you know? We have shown we can do this at home, and hey we’re not home for dinner in the fall when it’s football season, so let everyone go home for dinner, go work after the kids go to bed, and we can do it. And I think it’s a great message, it’s a great message to all of us family has to come first.”
It’s a great message, but in workplaces throughout the country there’s a feeling that it’s important to be present in the office, to be seen there by superiors, peers, and subordinates in order to have the reputation of working hard.
“The reality of it is for a lot of us who have kids who are school age, we will never get this time back,” Roseman said. “So it’s almost like it should be the reverse, it should be like the hardest you’re working should be when your kids are like out of college and you’re empty nesters as opposed to the opposite where you have to like be in your groove during those years that your kids are in the groove, and you’re trying to raise them, too, it’s kind of interesting.”
Roseman isn’t the only one who has articulated that mindset in the wake of the so-called virtual draft. But change won’t come until the leaders of organizations not only authorize that approach but also practice it. The coach and the General Manager need to be willing to balance hours at work with work from home, and they need to show through promotions awarded and raises given that there’s no correlation between showing up at 6:00 a.m. or earlier and staying until 9:00 p.m. or later.
In some cases, the coach and the G.M. will need to instruct employees to go home and to get their work done from there, after having dinner with their families and interacting with their children and otherwise being present in the household.
It won’t be easy, and some in the league will see it as secondary to the obsession with winning games. Others will regard the entire topic as a distraction, as a sign that people who hope to get their priorities straight are failing to properly prioritize football. Regardless, it will be interesting to see whether a stay-at-home spring changes the perception that leaving the house and spending hours upon hours at work represents a badge of honor, regardless of the quality of the work or the results it produces.