Risevest's Head of Marketing, Efe Uduigwomen, has resigned. And a snafu ensued, compelling Rise CEO Eke Eleanya to write a rejoinder.
Efe, like many people are wont to do when changing jobs, made her resignation public. Her post on Medium was aptly titled, "Farewell, Risevest". In the seven-paragraphed post, she expressed mixed emotions and described what prompted her resignation.
She writes: "My exit from Rise is sudden. It was a part of my long-term career plan but this day is preceded by a series of events in the last couple of months and most recently in the last few days — when I was asked to send in my resignation if I couldn’t work from the office every day.... Before I could wrap my head around the situation, an announcement that I resigned was made by the CEO during a team meeting; where he also shared some of my confidential work/career information".
Eke promptly replied on Twitter, less than 30 minutes after Efe shared the link to her post. He said, in the now-deleted tweet: "Im torn between responding to the blatant half truths or ignoring this entirely. My normal preference would [be] to ignore but because I have a mission, a team and investors Im responsible to, I'll have to address this. (Which saddens me because this was so unnecessary.)".
About six hours after that tweet, Efe shared the link to his rejoinder on Medium. The rejoinder is a three-minute read, a minute longer than Efe's farewell message. Eke writes: "I read Efe’s post and I take responsibility for this situation existing in the first place. But for record and context reasons, I want to clarify a few things".
He acknowledged Efe as an incredible "hard worker and a very strong part of what Rise achieved last year". And to take it a notch higher, it was agreed that five out of the 20 staff members switch to working onsite. "Most of these 5 people would only come into the officework 2 to 3 days a week, and would take all the COVID precautions necessary (we had sanitizers and masks at the office)", Eke said.
"Efe was part of this decision and given the challenges and gaps we had last year and beginning of this year, she was one of the people we agreed needed this change the most. Before this, I had spoken to another woman on our team about potentially taking over the role from Efe, but on the back of this arrangement we wanted to explore I told this team member to hold off, because things could improve with this new direction".
According to the CEO, however, Efe did not resume to the office as agreed. She cited lack of seats and private space to make phone calls as dissuading factors. And more chairs were bought and private room created. "She then said she didn't feel safe because there was a pandemic", Eke writes. "And I offered to ask one or two people out of the four to stay at home so we'd be even fewer. We still couldn't come to an agreement and so I asked her to resign.
In retrospect, this was a terrible call. Efe was a valuable member of the team and I should have found a way to resolve this even though her contract said she would work onsite as needed".
Although Efe said, "By my contract, my work location was remote, and I wasn’t required to be at the office every day". This suggests a miscommunication between both parties. Or they read the contract differently, and they are both correct.
"My reason for insisting she was present at the office [two or three days a week] was to work very closely with her to fix our marketing issues instead of giving the role to someone else", the CEO explained.
"On prematurely announcing her resignation, I admit that I should have let her officially put in her notice before informing the leadership team of her decision. However, I did not announce it to the whole team. I brought it to the leadership team mainly for us to discuss".
Clearly, not all members of the leadership team are discreet. Because, inter alia, the preemptive announcement of her resignation is what rattled Efe. As she said, "before I could wrap my head around the situation, an announcement that I resigned was made by the CEO during a team meeting [although the CEO claims it was a leadership meeting]".
Eke concluded his post by apologising for mishandling the issue and thanking Efe for her service. "I’m well aware that there were many ways I could’ve handled this better and I’ve taken many lessons from this situation", he said.
Like any other topic taken to the public square of social media, both Efe and Eke have garnered supporters. While some berating the CEO Eke for already speaking to another person to replace Efe, others are berating the ex-Rise head of marketing Eke for making the matter public. Opinions are horses, every one is free to ride.
However, the bigger issues that need to be addressed are how COVID-19 might be creating this kind of situation, and the disconnect between employees' and employers' preference.
To be clear, remote work is not working from home during pandemic. They are two different situations. When working remotely, you have options to work from anywhere. But working from home during COVID-19, your movement is restricted. Your options are limited. You're worried about your health and safety.
But because of the flexibility, many people won't mind working from home even post-COVID-19. In short, the future of work is choice: to choose when and where to work from. The onus lies on employers to devise the appropriate way of measuring staff performance.