Organizations used to fear work-from-home back in the day. But it has been 15 months since people have started working from home and productivity is at an all-time high. With vaccines being rolled out, the time to transition back into the office is near. What can business owners do to help ease that transition and still have that flexibility? Char Miller and Sam Reeve talk to Erin Greilick on the future of working from anywhere. Erin is an organizational effectiveness consultant. She is the Senior Consultant of CMA Global. Listen in and learn how to still create those in-person connections at work while still having the ability to work independently. Discover how working from home will change the future of business when it comes to workspaces, meetings, and just about anything.
Thank you for joining us for another session of the People Strategies Forum. I know that we have a few regulars on here. I know that this gets a little bit repetitive for you, but if there is anyone brand new joining us, welcome. We’re so excited to have you here. A little bit about what we do here at the People’s Strategies Forum, we’re here with a brand new guest speaker. It’s pretty much a mastermind of leaders.
Our goal is to create workplaces where people thrive, where employers reward and customers love. It helps a little bit of everybody. If you enjoy this session, tell some coworkers, your friends, family, anyone that you think might benefit from these types of sessions because we want to encourage more people to come. We want to spread the message everywhere we can.
We have a wonderful guest speaker, but before I introduce her, I’m going to introduce you to your panel of hosts. I want to introduce Char, who is an HR expert. She specializes in talent management. She runs her own company. We all found out that she now has 30 employees under her. That is amazing. It shows what you can do with a lot of determination and hard work. I think this session is going to be great for Char because we’re talking about working from anywhere. You have a lot of experience with that, as we’ve learned in the past.
Sam, our Founder and CEO of CompTeam. He brings us these sessions and because of Sam, we can have a great speaker. He finds them, brings them on. His specialty is compensation programs, talent management. That is our panel. We’re missing Sumit. Hopefully, he will be able to come back to us soon. I’m going to introduce our wonderful guest speaker, Erin Greilick. A little bit about Erin. This is her third time speaking. She’s good when she’s back for the third time around.
A little bit about Erin. She is an Organizational Effectiveness Consultant. She is the Founder of Core Consulting and Coaching, which specializes in strategic change and executive development. She has a PhD in Organizational Behavior as well as a Master’s in Clinical Psychology. Busy lady, obviously very intelligent, working hard and a mother as well. She’s worked with both in the private and public sectors in a wide range of industries.
Also, you’ve worked with the US Army. You’ve worked with Taco Bell and the Yum! Brands. She has a lot of experience and she is going to be talking to us about working from anywhere because as we know, the past year has seen a big shift in the way we work. We’re working from beaches, homes or cafés. You name it. Welcome back, Erin. We’re excited to hear your thoughts.
Thank you so much, Jules. It is my absolute pleasure to join the People’s Strategy Forum again. I cannot imagine a more relevant and top of mind topic now for businesses and CEOs and leaders than how in the world we are going to get back to work. Now that we’ve had over 50% of our population vaccinated, what is it going to look like when we get back into the office? What I’ve done is spend a lot of time reading about what we’ve learned but also where we’re going next.
To share some things that we have learned from the months of working from home, it was a forced experience for us all. What we saw was we are amazing because one of the things that historically people have said about why work from home would never work is because it’s going to be people distracted and playing with their dogs and getting out and about and taking walks in the middle of the day.
What we found out was that productivity increased while people were working from home. That idea of not being able to trust our employees enough was debased. The other things that we saw were increased work satisfaction, employee engagement, decreased absenteeism and better retention. There were so many pluses for us as an organization as well as on the individual level because, as employees, we didn’t have to commute.
That extra time that we had every day meant that we had a little bit more time to do something that might’ve been more important to us personally that we couldn’t otherwise fit into our days. We also had a better work-life balance. We reported less stress and a lot of circumstances. When you think about the research that was done and trying to figure out how everybody was doing when we were working from home, the most amazing thing was that everybody was in the house.
It wasn’t the worker or the spouse working as well. It was kids. It was everyone in the house. To think about the impact of that and productivity still being measured to 20% or higher more than when we are working in the office is remarkable. Our planet benefited too. There are tons of upsides. One of the biggest things for CEOs to keep in mind is that we, as employees, know the success of working from home now.
We’ve demonstrated it for fifteen months, which means that their expectations are there’s going to be some offer of work from anywhere. In fact, what research has found is that employees are willing to walk away from positions that do not offer some amount of flexibility at a rate of 1 and 2. They are serious about wanting organizations to figure out how you can take the best of working from home or working from anywhere and combining it with how we work in the office going forward.
Google’s three-word plan for returning is the best ever I’ve seen. Erin, I thought you might be interested. Do you want to know what the three-word plan is? It is flexible and a choice. It’s so funny because, as you all know, I have this small company. Nothing like Google, but we are in a position where we can’t necessarily have flexibility and choice because we have the public-facing type of business. Some of our senior leaders are encouraging as much working from home with flexibility and choice as we can. It has been a bit of a challenge. We do appreciate your insight because all companies, large and small, are going through this transformation.
One thing that I would add is that now there’s been a bit of a crisis as far as finding talent and getting people to show up the office, finding those individuals to show up for the regular 9:00 to 5:00 that once was. I’m speculating a bit, but I imagine a lot of those individuals that have that 9:00 to 5:00 that working at some of those entry-level positions, they found themselves at home. Those that were trying to be productive probably found ways to work into that knowledge field and probably there are less people that are in those low-level entry-level jobs. What do you think, Erin?
I do think that there are limitations as to how much we can offer that work from anywhere, depending on what the job is. Yes, when it comes to manufacturing and services that are provided directly to customers, those are not going to be industries that you can consider offering work from anywhere type of model. That is going to be something that could very well be a motivator for people if they do feel like they want that opportunity and would want to move into a knowledge-based role instead of something that is more customer-facing possibly or production.
I would say that we have a Teladoc. A lot of doctors are now doing their consultations or their discussions with the patients from home. Our company utilizes Telemedicine a lot and does not necessarily have an actual doctor on the physical site. I think that is transforming and those are high-level paying positions. We’re also seeing where we’re getting ghosted a lot for the medium-level paying positions because we pay very well, thanks to expertise like Sam. CompTeam has helped us design our compensation strategy. We pay well, have good benefits, 401(k), health benefits and now, we are going to offer dental as well.One in two employees are willing to walk away from positions that do not offer some amount of flexibility. Click To Tweet
We still have employees that don’t believe that we offer those benefits and they ghost us or candidates do. We have multiple recruitment agencies trying to support us, but it’s been a big challenge to encourage. We’re a great employer. We have a great culture. Work for us. I think there’s still that resistance out there.
There’s a lot of reasons why people are reluctant to get back into the workplace and so forth. Erin, as far as some of the reasons that you’ve heard, why are people slow to move back into the workplace and what are the things that you’ve heard?
A lot of it is unsureness. I was reading something about how people are feeling when the CDC said, “Masks,” and then overnight said, “No masks.” It’s the jolt of the information coming as quickly as it is, though it might be science-based, I think the messaging itself wasn’t as well thought out so that people could trust that this was something that was scientifically grounded.
Another thing is that people are still trying to figure out how everything is going to be settling in because schools are about to transition to their summer programs and organizations aren’t sure about what they’re doing too. It leaves a lot of questions for people. The thing that you were mentioning, Char, in Google, that flexibility piece is spot on.
One of the things that we have found is that it is essential to find out what it is that each one of your team members wants when it comes to flexibility and work from anywhere. I know it sounds like a huge burden. What I recommend for any organization that’s trying to set up work from anywhere is that you have guidelines that set the anchors of expectations. Maybe I want people to be in the office two days a week and then everything outside of that can be somewhat flexible, as long as you can get together with people that you need to spend time with face-to-face when you are in the office.
It is asking those questions because it’s the only way that you’ll understand where somebody is individually. A lot of organizations are moving toward supporting giving free vaccinations on-site to employees. Those are all ways that organizations are signaling the importance of safety moving forward, though they also have their eye on getting back into the office too.
Jennifer Christie of Twitter was in an interview. She’s the Chief HR Officer of Twitter. She was on an interview with 15Five. A good interview there. She was talking about some of the things that they were doing. Having that and as you said, Erin, knowing what your employees want as far as the work environment is critical. She did a poll and found that 10% of the workforce wanted to return to work in the regular 9:00 to 5:00 as they did.
The remaining wanted something different such as a hybrid type thing or full-time remote. She found that most of the workforce wanted to do something like the hybrid, being in the office 3 to 4 days a week and remote the rest of the time. I think that’s the big trend as we’ve seen from a lot of our attendees on there. Daniel has mentioned that as well. There’s a lot of individuals that have some skepticism. It’s another shock to the work environment to go back to the office without having some phased or controlled approach. Would you agree?
That is a misstep that a lot of organizations are realizing after the fact. What’s happening is they’ve made their plans and a few people have been involved or maybe several, but not very many. They released the communication in one fell swoop. When you think about how human beings react to things that are not the same anymore after many months into working from home, the lead into the transition back is as important. We were managing ourselves when we were first time trying to get accustomed to working from home.
We want to be having conversations. We want to explain the why, what it’s going to look like, to explain the support that’s going to be offered. It feels exhausting. We, as employees, are exhausted. Leaders are exhausted. Organizations are exhausted. All of us want stuff to settle down and get back to normal, but we’re not there yet. It’s not going to happen that way. We need to put intention now. I know this is the back end of our marathon, but this is when we have to put intention into how we are going to support and celebrate the time that we have in the office with each other and still be able to benefit from the opportunity to work independently from anywhere else.
I think it’s very interesting because I have been the HR Director, CHRO of multiple departments. I love that Elaine joined us. She is in charge at the Health and Information Systems Department, over coding and HIPAA and etc. She managed many employees that could work from home from a coding perspective in healthcare. Whereas I also was the HR person for physician billing or IT.
I remember having a lot of very interesting conversations with leaders that didn’t trust having their employees work from home and be very productive and constantly resisting that mindset. I remember many conversations we’d have like, “How are you going to assure that the work environment is logistically correct from an ergonomics perspective? How are we going to assure that work is getting done?”
I haven’t talked to many of those leaders because it’s been a while for me, but I assume now most of those employees are working from home. I think that leaders now are put in a position that they have to make it work now. Afterward, it’s like, “My employee was productive. My employee was working hard. My employee did execute well.”
We had to get over the hiccups of the technology problems or what have you. Once we got through it, this was something to work through. Now we don’t have to invest in all the real estate, the big office buildings, the cubicles or the IT department in the basement as we had at one of my hospitals. We’re learning how to adjust.
You bring up an extremely important point about trust. We have fully realized that we have no eyes on anybody when people are working from home. What we have found is that the more autonomy that people are provided when they do work from home, the more they feel like they can show up with their best every day. Fifteen percent more people reported feeling that they could be fully engaged in their work compared to people who were given less autonomy when they were working from home. They are so fundamental to the effectiveness of working from home, that idea of trusting your employees, delegating to the point that many organizations might have to look at how they structure their teams and possibly their work.
What you want is that you have as much capability to influence what your work is when you are working from a remote location versus having to check in with three different people in order to make a decision. A lot of organizations are going to have to push themselves to see how comfortable they are and pushing that authority down to the lower levels of the organization. What you find when you do that is huge agility gains because now, you can have a lot more decision-making happening where it should be happening and not bottlenecked at some higher point.Put intention into how you are going to celebrate the time that you have in the office while still being able to benefit from working independently from anywhere else. Click To Tweet
I’ve seen that time after time and in my world. When I talked about compensation with managers, a lot of companies I start with have compensation decisions made at the very top. Once they realize that when you push that down and empower their managers to make those right decisions, not only does that make the company more agile and bring up the competency of those managers but they get better decisions overall when those decisions are made at that level. I think that this work at home effort and this revolution that we’re going through is going to empower managers to do better work and employees to do better work in their jobs. I’m a true believer in that.
Sam, I want to mention this. You work with us on compensation. My company also utilized more about your talent, drives and competencies. It wasn’t necessarily about the number of product that was being “sold.” It was also about all the overall behaviors. Pushing that down, my managers, director and my other senior managers were able to take a look at behaviors, competencies and the ability to get the job done and not necessarily count the number of products that are being handled. It has been an interesting transformation. On the right of Sam’s screen, it says TMA. That was so awesome for us because we utilize TMA to make that transformation. It was more than a dollar sign for each of our employees. They always felt respected.
TMA, which is talent management redefined. It’s about communication. One thing you said, Erin, was when you were talking about getting buy-in for what the company is doing. Whether we were trying to get people back into the office over were communicating reasons why that they need to do is wear masks or get vaccinated or whatever it may be, I think that the most important thing is the understanding of the why. We’ve learned this from Simon Sinek. It’s going through that.
That was another thing that Jennifer Christie of Twitter brought up. What she utilized in her communication strategy with Twitter is not saying, “You have to do this. You have to do that.” It’s making sure that the employee base understood the why of the decisions that they were making so that they could get that trust and so forth. What do you see there with your clients?
The idea of wanting to make sure that you have a good why behind it is not going to be as hard as leaders might think it is. When research was done, there were questions of employees as to what tasks were better doing them from home and what tasks were better for you to do in the office. They were clearly differentiating that when it is deep work, that requires a lot of concentration. That is when they want uninterrupted time, which happens so much more easily when we are working from home or outside of the office, where people can stop by and strike up a conversation at a not good time for us.
They said that what wasn’t as good to accomplish at home was teamwork, collaboration and innovation. We recognize as employees the limitations of working from home. The idea of feeling connected with other human beings is difficult to maintain. Even those organizations who have been spotlighted in research and news that have always been remote are never fully, all the time having people working at their own spaces. They bring people physically together. There is no substitute for you being face-to-face with another human being. There is a bond that happens. There are shared experiences that happen.
It is repairing and rebuilding of a relationship because distance does not help the heart grow fonder when it comes to large networks like this. It’s the same way that you can never say that, “I would be totally fine with my spouse living on another continent and all that we did was talk on Zoom for the rest of our relationship.” There is something fundamentally necessary about being in person as organizations are looking at the cost savings of not having as many office spaces as they would need and reducing a lot of travel costs, factor in the fact that you have to have people face-to-face.
It could be the kickoff of a project and you bring the team together to start building relationships before they have to set off. It could be a critical moment where there are a lot of things that are shifting in a project that the team should be face to face and be able in-person and live, work through challenges or it could be a celebration. It’s like, “This is our once-a-year annual celebration of our entire company getting together.” The point is when you get people together, don’t over-schedule. Make sure that you have time built in for them to be a human being next to another human being. We can form those connections in that in-person circumstance.
That’s what we’ve been attempting to do, is have a blend of both the Zoom calls with our staff, with our managers also have the in-person meetings. Even if we are in another country, at least 1 or 2 of the owners are coming back every month for that in-person meeting, even through the pandemic. Assuring that we’re having the personal protective equipment and that we’re looking at safety, but we did have employees that were feeling anxious. They could see us eyeball to eyeball.
Even though they were seeing us as often, we were doing as many Zoom calls and as many in-person meetings as before. There was a psychological aspect. They’re not physically here. They’re not physically supporting me, but I think now, our leaders and our employees are like, “If they obviously trust me, then I love the autonomy. I love the fact that the owners believe I can do this without them being there with me all the time,” that psychological perspective that we’re not around.
You highlight the need for that in-person interaction. That is shot in between the times where you are on Zoom or you are on the phone.
What Twitter is doing once again is they have their annual get-together where they bring everyone together in a particular location. They’re still trying to do that. They used to have that on a quarterly basis, as I understand as well, but they’ve switched the quarterly get-together to virtual. The whole purpose of this is for the team to get together. They’re called one-team type meetings or sessions where the team gets together, share information on projects and so forth and catch up on where each other is. They believe that in time, our in-person time is important even though they have moved to a largely remote workforce. I thought that was interesting.
Another thing that’s interesting that was stressed by Jennifer Christie was the changing of the workplace. Once again, we’re seeing a morphing of how the workplace is happening, the in-person workplace, the headquarters and so forth. It’s no longer the cubicle farm or the shared spaces. They’re trying to make it a place where people want to come to collaborate. They’re repurposing some of the areas not to be desks, but different types of collaboration areas that are joyful and you want to come to work to be in that environment. It’s trying to attract work workers back.
The other thing, the movement I’d like to talk a little bit more about as well, is how to conduct these hybrid meetings. There’s been a lot of talks and as far as how to conduct meetings effectively. In the past, when we had these virtual meetings. We go and look at a conference room where there’s a bunch of people. Sometimes the audio is not great for those people that are participating remotely.
I’ve heard that there are some trends and some companies are trying to discourage the conference room environment, stay with the Zoom environment so that they can ensure that equality across. I think one thing that the benefit of the Zoom and the Teams and Skype, whatever you might use out there, is it brings a sense of equality and people are able to speak and be heard and be noticed a lot more in regular intervals. What do you think, Erin, about that?
I do think that the way that our offices are currently set up is going to have to be re-imagined because of the purpose of being in the office now is going to be much more toward getting people to collaborate, to coordinate, to be around each other. That’s where innovation can happen more easily. The setup of offices will have to shift with that. The idea of what it is that we are there in the office is only going to be reinforced by the fact that our arrangement of furniture and spaces echoes the value that we have when we are in the office versus when we are working from home. Now, let’s call this beta shovel. Meetings have been horrible before.
We had to go and work from home and they are still not that great. Looking at the opportunity that we are faced with now. We can rethink how we do meetings. I encourage you to do that with everything. Think back to what you didn’t like about your organization before you went working from home. Figure out how you can now address some of those because we are all open to change. We expect it because there’s no normal that we are going back to.The more autonomy that people have, the more they feel like they can show up with their best every day. Click To Tweet
We have to be open-minded and flexible to figure out where our spaces are going forward. When it comes to meetings, one interesting experience that I’ve had is, I was facilitating an executive team conversation where they are located in a different state than I am. What they inadvertently did was they had each person on a computer so that I could see the same Zoom screen, but they were still in the room together.
It felt good for me as the only person who was not in the room to be engaged with them the same way that I would if they were in separate rooms. They got the benefit of being collectively with each other and having that spontaneous conversation of which I wasn’t left out because there was a microphone wherever the conversation was happening and I could see facial expressions. Those are the types of things that I think we’re going to stumble on in figuring out how we can include people who are not in the room with us because there are serious challenges for any organization that’s looking at going to a hybrid and that is creating a two-class system.
We favor the immediacy and the real in-time feedback and information from people when they are in person. That means that we can very easily forget about the people who are not there. That causes people to feel less respected and not thought of. What we want to make sure of is, as we are setting up some form likely of a hybrid model that we are taking into account how you were saying, Sam, that we will maintain that equality that Zoom did allow us when we were all working remotely.
That was part of the discussion that 15Five mentioned as their practice. They would have a conference room and would all share a mic, but everybody was required to have their own camera on their laptop that showed their participation and that’s working well for them. I some glad to hear that’s working for your clients as well, Erin. That’s great.
I have a quick question around that f because I think COVID safety is a big concern returning to an in-person work environment. Are you seeing that leaders are also not implementing those changes that we talked about, but they’re also continuing to adhere to the COVID safety protocols when they’re returning to in-person?
I do feel that leaders are staying very close to what the CDC recommendations are and following those protocols as they are looking at returning to work. What I see leaders not doing, though, is not fully communicating the timelines, the rationale behind the choices that have been made, selling and reminding people of the benefits of why we want to be together and how we can be together safely. Make sure that both of those messages are in your communication. I think there’s going to make the transition much more successful.
Another thing that employees are shifting to at this point is regarding expectations of their organizations is that they have an eye on wellness. This is going to fall within that idea of wellness squarely. Health and wellness while I’m at work and how comfortable I feel given that things are still shifting a lot. Make sure that you’re taking the time again. There is only an upside for every leader slowing down and making thoughtful choices about the way that one you want to set up the way that you work going forward.
This is a monumental moment for us because how often can you re-invent the way that you work? This is what we’re at now. A lot of people, leaders, are feeling overwhelmed and so, they’re delegating it. I mean no offense to everybody in HR because I, too, am under that umbrella, but they’re delegating it to HR to figure out the tactics of it. It is so much more than that.
Where’s your culture going to show up? What does that look like? What does leadership look like? What does management look like? All of those things are going to be shifting for the reasons that we’ve already been talking about and we need to take those into account so that you’re making smart decisions and bringing your people along because this is a big change for them. It is as big as when the light switch went off and everybody had to go and work from home.
I wanted to mention, Erin, I’m reflecting on how I’ve learned to be a better leader for the fact that based upon the TMA process. I learned that several of my employees like organizational structure and agenda and process checker and timekeeper. I think I began to realize that when I had some of my other remote locations like Montana, for example. When we facilitated our last meeting, it was crucial that we had a very strict agenda. Every leader in the room, meaning even virtual room, had a voice to be able to say what they wanted to say. It wasn’t the senior leadership doing all the talking and being competent all over each other and interrupting each other.
I got some good feedback from some of my leaders. They appreciated that I took the time to bring the structure, bring the organization to concretely give a timetable for all the two-hour meetings so that people could speak. We also were using things like cellphones to dial in people. We didn’t have a computer with a face on it per se from some of our other locations. I think your feedback about that is crucial because each of your employees needs to be able to communicate and say what they want to say.
It’s great that you do provide that structure. I think one of the huge reasons why meetings have got so out of hand is because we don’t think about what it is that we want to accomplish. We over invite people so that there are fifteen people there when they should be three. There are so many things that we need to rethink so that people feel like it’s worth their time. It is a value add for me to be a part of this meeting versus eating up my time. I don’t feel like I have enough to do work.
Time is very important. I think that’s another thing that a lot of the workforces is discovered. Time is precious. They’ve discovered how much time they’re spending in their commute and so forth. This is the competitive issue that a lot of leaders are dealing with. Those leaders require people to return to work to 9:00 to 5:00 like pre-COVID versus those that offer a more flexible workspace.
What we’re going to find, especially in my business, is those that are requiring people to come to work are going to have to offer higher levels of pay and compensation to attract those workers to get on the road on a daily basis and dedicate that time to that commute and being in that physical workspace. Whereas, other employees that allow more flexibility, that allow remote workplace as a real option are going to be able to find a lot more candidates and higher quality candidates and also, less pressures on pay.
When you think about what the pandemic has done, essentially, forcing everybody to work from home means that your talent pool has expanded to the globe if you want it to. Remember the statistics that 1 out of 2 employees will leave their role if they do not offer some type of hybrid, especially in a knowledge economy.
It’s all based on the knowledge economy. We want to make sure that we are making smart choices, not only to get us back in the seat because we’re defaulting to stuff that used to be tapes that we played in our heads about work from home, not working well. The cat’s out of the bag and it’s not getting back in. We need to be realistic about the consequences.
Let’s say you are a leader who says, “I don’t care what the research says. I’m getting everybody back in the office five days a week.” I guarantee you. It won’t be your low performers. It is going to be your high performers that are the first ones to say, “Do I need this?” There was an article that came out. I apologize. I don’t remember what the publication was, but they said that people were willing to do $30,000 less in salary to maintain their flexibility in working from anywhere. This is no joke.Work meetings need to maintain that equality that Zoom allowed when everyone was working remotely. Click To Tweet
It does not have to be organizations against employees and feeling like if one wins, the other one loses. There is a ton of upside for the organization. Now, it’s going to take a whole lot more effort. Either the effort’s going to be put in now or it’s going to be put in later because the fact that work from home is here is not going to go away.
Either your organization suffers in trying to hold itself to the old way of working and you’re going to have to face that transformation at that point while you have lost now talent that you would have wanted to keep. Versus being an organization that says, “I am going to pull myself from my bootstraps to figure out how I can make this transition make sense for my business needs, fit what my cultural values are and communicate it effectively with my employees so that they stay on board.” This means that you don’t have to suffer before you put in the effort.
I love this because we even have a real-life example. We have a disabled employee that has limited mobility with his hands and is in a wheelchair. We are very flexible during management meetings. By the way, from a career mobility standpoint, he is now a part of our compliancy leadership team. He is doing exercises with his trainer sometimes while he’s doing Zoom calls with us because he is working his arm or his leg. He’s on Zoom calls and we’re totally fine with that because he’s got the knowledge around compliancy. It’s awesome from an equal opportunity standpoint to be able to accommodate individuals with disabilities and in different backgrounds to allow them to do these things from the gym.
That’s the wonderful thing about this working from home environment that has brought to us. Remember a couple of years back when you were working at home. You were scared to death that the dog is barking. You’re scared to death that your child walks into the room. I remember that seeing in the videos of the news anchor where their child would walk in. It was in the UK. They were petrified. They’re like, “Oh my gosh.”
The mother is dragging the baby out of the room.
Now, it’s like, the dog comes in, jumps on a lap and that’s something for everybody to enjoy. It’s part of the whole place. I think that we’ve got a lot of benefits psychologically and to make things more acceptable and more human. There are great benefits there.
Also, Elaine keeps bringing up the housing market now. I think I’ve seen her comments multiple times. I’m also in that boat too. A lot of people are now relocating to office-friendly locations where maybe the cost of living is less. Perhaps, they’re willing to take less hours per week. Maybe not have a high, glorious six-figure income, as long as they have the flexibility to work where they want to, which is changing our housing market because housing is short now.
When you think about the impact that this can have on our society, it’s absolutely exciting because the equality that it can provide is going to be something that we’ve never been able to reach because of the path that we were on. You had to be close to your business and your business would oftentimes be located in some more city, urban type of space. I needed to pay the high rent, but maybe that’s not even the lifestyle that I wanted, let alone the amount of money that it costs.
One of the things that’s amazing is that we’ll have more choice to be in the place that fits us in the lifestyle that we want to have. For those youngins, I remember when I was in my twenties, I would have loved to have lived in a city. To think that it is more affordable than ever before is great. It’s that balance of being able to have more choices on the table than we’ve ever had before this pandemic.
I remember when I was a college student and I was living in Evans, Colorado, which is right next to Greeley. My first paid internship was in the city of Westminster. I was driving all the way from Greeley all the way to Westminster, which was over an hour’s drive. I was doing that as an intern, a junior HR manager job. I could have been doing interviews. I could have been talking to you about employee relations matters. I could have been working on the training manuals and the employee handbook from my home office. That was many years ago, but I’m sure that’s what they’re doing now. I should give them a call as an intern.
Sam, I’d love to love to hear if there’s another question that you have. One of the things that they found as well on this topic. They have found that people are working longer hours. It used to be over an hour more when the pandemic first hit, but since then has slowed down to about 40 minutes more a day. Even though the amount of work that we are contributing is in addition to being able to do all of these other things in life, similar to how your employee was able to meet their trainer, I’m sure trainers don’t want to be meeting people at 6:00 in the evening and neither do we. That idea of maximizing our time in a way that we’ve not been able to do before is a great win for everybody.
What I’m finding is that there are some employers that are struggling with the 9:00 to 5:00 concept. It’s like, “We’re open for business. This is where we come together to collaborate. This is when our customers come to us.” They’re in that mindset. They’re finding that through this remote phase or this evolution that we’ve gone through that certain people enjoy working at certain times of the day. Some are more sharp in the morning. Some are more sharp in the evening. What they’ve done, and this is another thing that was mentioned on Twitter as well, is coming up with a work agreement. It’s like, “This is when I do my best work is during this timeframe.”
They coordinate that with the team members so that they know when that person can be contacted and so forth so that they can have that high productivity and high quality of work when that person is ready to do it. The bill is still out. You were mentioning as far as people are working more. They’re working more because there was no place to go, so they’re in their homes. They didn’t have the restaurant down the street or their buddy ever calling them and say, “Let’s go and get together,” and so forth. A good portion of this productivity, I do believe it’s here to stay, but the work hours may not necessarily stay.
I think that there are some people that want those shorter work weeks, shorter work hours and more flexible work hours to happen. The game is not about how long you work. It’s about the quality of work that you produce and the contribution to the organization and so forth. That’s going to be the new phase. Also, that is very linked to mental health as well as we were talking about earlier.
There have been some benefits to mental health, but there have been some detriments, as well, as people have been trapped in their homes dealing with the stress of COVID and so forth. The statistics and the bill is still out as far as how this is going to normalize in the long run. We have to wait to see what the real statistics are for productivity and mental health and so forth in the long run.
I think it’s also about courtesy to your employees. For example, I remember what it was like getting calls on a Sunday morning, on an Easter Sunday morning and asked to put together power decks and things and bring them on Monday morning. What I try to do now is I simply text my leaders and say, “Do you have time mid-morning for a quick call? I’ll try to keep it under ten minutes.” I text them that and they’ll say, “I have to pick up my kids from school or drop them off. Can you call me at 3:00 instead of 10:00 AM?” It does help. When you talk about that feeling of pressure, anxiety and angst, there are simple little things you can do like a simple text that make it easier on everyone.
I think that we have to be mindful of now is we have so many modes of communication and to be thoughtful about the way in which people are supposed to use each one of those modes. If there’s something that’s not pressing, can we agree as a team that we’re going to use email to share information and updates and all that stuff? If there’s something that’s absolutely urgent, then let’s use texts for those communications or some other form that you want. It’s being thoughtful about the way you want to leverage the tools that you have access to so that there isn’t that confusion. There isn’t that expectation that you’re supposed to be on.The cat's out of the bag. Work-from-home is here. it's never going to go away. Click To Tweet
One of the things that are causing the extra work, I would guess, is because now we don’t have boundaries. My desk might be in my bedroom. My desk might be in my dining room. It doesn’t feel like I’m separating from work the way that I would when I was leaving my office. It’s helping employees figure out ways that they can truly disconnect. Without disconnecting, we cannot bring our best. It is physically impossible for us to be able to come back and contribute all that we can if we can not disconnect. It goes back to what Sam was talking about. Related to the time that we work. Does anybody have any idea where we got the 9:00 to 5:00 from?
She’s a wise woman who sang about what 9:00 to 5:00 was, which originated in the industrial era where people needed to be at a factory at the same time because they needed to be able to produce things collectively. We’re so far from the industrial era, yet we carry this forward as a necessary thing. It’s like, “Work has to be from 9:00 to 5:00.” Not really. Not in a knowledge-based economy.
Sam, to your point, people have different parts of the day where they feel like they’re at their best. As a total side note, when you know you are at your best, don’t be in meetings. Keep that time for yourself and you will see your productivity go way up because you are protecting the time that you sing in. That’s more likely where you’re going to get your flow and your best output.
I want to mention, we also use GroupMe, which has an app on your phone for broad communications with everybody. My employees like that. To me, it feels like a dopamine rush, back to the point about wellness. Being able to say, “Maybe you should plug in your phone in the kitchen at night, so you don’t constantly get that GroupMe all day long,” because then, it becomes like the anxious dopamine rush every time you hear that ping all day long. There are some great tools. We openly talk about what our employees want and how they want to be communicated with.
I’m going to jump in because we’re starting to run out of time. This sparked a lot of interaction, which is so great. It’s something that everyone has a strong opinion on. I think a lot of people are leaning towards working from home or from anywhere more than going back to the office, it seems. Thank you so much, Erin, for sparking that in all of us. Sam, did you want to jump in?
I wanted to mention our sponsor, TMA. We did talk about TMA a bit. They’re one of our favorite conversational tools and talent management tools for getting to know your people more and getting to know their work preferences. Getting to know your work preferences as well. If anybody would like to take a TMA Assessment and to see what that’s all about, please feel free to sign up or send me a note. You can reach out to me at [email protected]. Connect with me and I’ll make sure we send one your way.
Erin, thank you so much for this session. It was insightful. I think it gave us a lot to consider. A lot of things that everyone can be discussing with their employers when they may be asked to go back to work. I know some participants have been asked to go back. A lot of things to bring up with them and make sure we’re doing it safely. Thank you again for jumping in and being here for the third time. Maybe, we’ll be able to get you in a fourth time, somewhere down the line.
I so appreciated the conversation. Thank you for having me.
Anyone that’s interested in getting any of these recordings or materials that we may have, you can find those on our YouTube Channel, People Strategy Forum. You’ll also find them on the CompTeam website. They’re archived there. If you go to the CompTeam Facebook site or if you go to LinkedIn under on my site, you’ll see everything archived there as far as the sessions and so forth. Erin, once again, a wonderful conversation. You’re such a pleasure to talk to and thank you so much for joining us once again in the People’s Strategy Forum.
Thanks for the opportunity. It’s great talking to you.
Thank you so much.
In this dynamic world, life is so fast moving and unpredictable there’s a term for it…VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity). Today’s challenge is to successfully navigate ourselves and our teams through it all.
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