The Talk

To open or not to open –THAT is the question on snowy work days

- Last modified: January 8, 2014 at 4:50 PM

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Yup. That's how cold it's been.
Yup. That's how cold it's been.

Monday morning I awoke with a panic. The sound of the wind blowing outside was a roar worse than I've heard in a long time. After freezing temperatures and heavy snow in recent days, I envisioned the worst – heavy snow and blowing winds and freezing temperatures keeping me from getting into the office safely.

I had a lot of work to catch up on. What was I going to do?

As my husband heard me stir (he was up already) he reassured me.

"It's not what it sounds like," he said with a laugh. "Would you believe it's actually almost 60 degrees outside – but it's going to drop to below 20 by the end of the day."

That didn't make me feel any better. "Must get into work" was stuck in my brain, and in panic mode I rushed into work early so I could get everything done that I needed to before the world came to an end.

Did I overreact? Oh, absolutely.

The wind died, the roads dried and I had no problem getting to or from work.

That was a far cry from last Thursday afternoon, when my boss suggested we all leave a few minutes early because it was "starting to look bad out there."

I looked out the window and saw heavy flurries. I thought nothing of it, but at that particular moment I was actually caught up on my work, so why not leave? Better safe than sorry.

Boy was I in for a surprise. I was thinking of the last time we had heavy flurries.

With the crazy weather we've been getting, the flurries came after a 60 degree day the day before. Nothing stuck.

This time, however, the temperature barely hit double digits. Every flake clung to the ground like an icy menace. It was a wicked, wild ride home.

Most people I talked to said it took them about twice the normal time to commute home that day, and that it was "white knuckle" driving the entire time.

It's that time of the year when office managers are again faced with the difficult task of playing office meteorologist and deciding on whether offices should open late, close early, close altogether or just stick it out and see what happens.

Every office has a different policy. Several people I spoke to have the ability to telecommute. It's the standing policy in their company that if the weather is bad, stay home and work there. An eight-hour day is still expected, but it can be worked from the comfort of your home office.

Others, such as medical and other emergency services personnel, have no choice. People depend on those professionals getting into work no matter what Mother Nature throws at them. I remember one storm in 1996, when people were using their snowmobiles to help nurses get to their hospital jobs.

I spent many a night sleeping on the office couch during my radio days. After all, it was my job to tell everyone else to stay home.

For most offices, though, a "snow day" policy is hard to write in ice, er, stone. Every storm is different, weather reports change and meteorologists don't always agree with each other.

Even if the forecast is slam dunk, there are other issues to consider, such as whether or not employees get paid for a day off caused by snow. This aol.com article looks at that.

This inc.com article has more advice.

Safety, of course, is the top priority, but smart planning may make snow day decisions easier to make.

Stacy Wescoe

Stacy Wescoe

Writer and online editor Stacy Wescoe covers technology and trends plus keeps you up to date on what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler and on social media. Reach her at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 104. Follow her on Twitter at @morestacy and on Facebook and circle her on Google+.

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