In this episode of Workflow, Brian and Tom talk about the benefits and disadvantages of working from home
00:45 What’s happening at Rindle (Medium has a member tier)
04:36 Article – Case Closed. Work From Home is the World’s Smartest Management Strategy
05:43 Working from home raises employee productivity
13:06 Working from home reduces attrition rates
22:45 Working from home lowers facility costs
26:41 Working from home results in few sick days
31:43 Working from home reduces payroll costs
36:54 Tips for taking action!
- INC.com – Case Closed: Work-From-Home Is the World’s Smartest Management Strategy by Geoffrey James
- CNBC – Billionaire Richard Branson: 3 reasons you should let your employees work remotely
- Remote by Jason Fried and David Hanson
Tom: 00:00 This is Workflow, Episode Seven.
Tom: 00:14 Workflow is the podcast that helps peeps figure out the best way to work, collaborate and get stuff done. Brought you to by Rindle.
Tom: 00:28 Hey everyone, I’m Tom.
Brian: 00:29 And I’m Brian.
Tom: 00:30 And we’re the co-founders of Rindle in the [inaudible 00:00:32] podcast Workflow. Today we’re talking about working from home. But before we get started with that, let’s talk about what’s happening at Rindle, or just in life. You know anything, Brian?
Brian: 00:45 Yeah, so a lot of the same happening at Rindle right now, but I can say on a personal/work aspect, because I was searching and reading articles for work, but yeah, some of them … Medium was reading some articles, and realized that Medium was paid now, which after researching a little bit, happened about a year ago, so that was a little embarrassing. But, I’m not a huge Medium reader, so I guess that makes sense. I do remember just back a couple of years ago, them trying to figure out their revenue model, and they were talking about advertising and membership and things like that. I didn’t realize that they actually decided to go membership. They charge, I think, $5.00 a month to get access to certain content. So yeah, that was pretty interesting.
Tom: 01:35 Yeah, and I think you have an option as an author to turn that on and off, I believe, right? Because I mean, I read Medium articles that don’t have some sort of limit to the number you can read.
Brian: 01:49 Yeah, I think they give the authors the ability to kind of put certain articles behind their pay wall, and in return, based on how many claps they get, I think they get paid a certain amount of money for publishing that content through Medium. Or, they can choose to make it free, and it doesn’t require to have a membership to read it.
Tom: 02:08 Interesting. Yeah, I remember several months ago I had stumbled on a certain series that had audio recordings that went along with articles, so it was just someone … I don’t know if it was the author or someone else reading, just literally, the blog article. Those, at the time, you could only listen to three of those before it stopped you from being able to listen to another one. But, you could then just wait until the next day and listen to it. So it kind of wasn’t a big deal because they were fairly long to begin with, so I didn’t really want to listen to six in a day, and that’s how many that were in the series. Yeah, I don’t know, I’m not sure how this going to work out for them. I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal to wait for the next day so you can read more articles.
Brian: 03:00 Yeah, I tried to find some numbers on how it’s doing, you know, any kind of revenue or anything like that. I couldn’t find any info on it.
Tom: 03:06 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brian: 03:07 So who knows? But I would say that it just seems odd to me just because obviously any author on the medium platform can basically put their content behind a pay wall and charge for it essentially, but that content could be what we would consider a standard blog post today, right, that generally is consumed for free. So the quality may not be there. It may be not be a trusted author and all of these things. So, I just think it’s an interesting approach. I’m not sure how it’s going to work out from that aspect, but for that reason, it’s not that appealing to me.
Tom: 03:39 Yeah, it also is fairly easy to circumvent. You can just go incognito and just read more. So, I don’t know. I don’t know what they’re going to do with that. Just as a reminder, if you have any questions, topic ideas or team scenarios that you want us to tear down, you can reach us at voice mail number 860-577-2293, or the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian: 04:04 You can also leave us a review. That’s really going to help us kind of reach more people. I mean, obviously, it motivates us to keep on going, so we appreciate any kind of review you can leave on iTunes or whatever platform you’re using. All right, so on to the main topic of the day, working from home. Definitely a topic that’s close to Tom and I’s heart. I know this just because working in the past with Tom, we’ve had many conversations about working from home. We are a fully remote company ourselves in Rindle. So, I stumbled upon this article, kind of inspired the episode.
Brian: 04:36 This article was from Ink Magazine. It was called, “Case Closed. Work From Home is the World’s Smartest Management Strategy,” by Jeffrey James. You know, I mean, I remember Tom talking about this 10 years probably at this point, when I guess working from home really started to come to light, especially in some smaller companies. You know, it’s now 10 years later. There are still articles being written about it. There’s been books released and all kinds of craziness around this topic. But it’s something that we’ve been talking about for a long time.
Tom: 05:09 Yeah, I think actually we initially started talking about it when we both read the book, “Remote” by Jason Fried of 37 Signals. Yeah, that’s, I think, what kind of set the tone that, “Hey, this really does seem like a smarter way to go about things.” We were both in New Jersey at the time and commuting. Commuting in New Jersey is just not fun, especially when it’s a long commute. So, yeah.
Brian: 05:40 Great.
Tom: 05:42 All right.
Brian: 05:43 So in the article there were a few points, I think, five main points that the article made, which I thought were interesting. We’re going to kind of just go through those five points, touch on some stats and other things provided in the article, and then kind of chime in our own opinion. The first one, the first point that was made in the article is that working from home raises employee productivity. They give this example of a Harvard Business Review study of this company, [C-Trip 00:06:11], which is a Chinese travel site. They found that people that worked from home completed 13.5 percent more calls than the staff in the office did, and that meant basically that C-Trip got almost an extra work day week out of the remote team.
Brian: 06:26 That was one piece of data they provided, which I thought was interesting. They also cited a study from Gallop, and found that employees who worked from home three to four days a week are 33 percent more likely to feel engaged than employees who report to the office every day. And basically, they have some data around the fact that engaged employees basically are more productive, and it boosts productivity if they’re more engaged. I don’t know, Tom. What are your thoughts about being more productive at home?
Tom: 06:56 First off, just those two stats, that first one about the Chinese travel site, I’d be curious just if people that are working from home are actually working more than the people that work in the office in order to complete that percentage more phone calls. But, at the same time, if you cut out commute time, you really can usually get like an extra, usually, hour in a day without having to really commute. So, I’d be really curious about that. I don’t know if the article went into more detail about that. I don’t think it did.
Brian: 07:31 It did because it seemed like it was an official study, so I’m sure they took some of those things into account. But that is a good point. I mean, obviously, if they’re working more hours. But I would assume that it was hour for hour, but the commute [inaudible 00:07:46] is a good point, because if you’re counting hour for hour, and somebody’s in a car commuting to work and you’re making phone calls, then that’s an advantage out of the gate.
Tom: 07:54 Yeah, absolutely.
Brian: 07:55 From my experience, I know as far as productivity is concerned, I definitely get more done working remotely. I remember my days working in the office compared to working from home. Sometimes I would work two or three days from home at that time, then I was all the way up to four days a week at home. Working in the office, it’s great socially and interaction-wise, because you get to interact with other humans and all that stuff, but it is very distracting. So I mean, I constantly had people coming up to my desk, pulling me into meetings, interrupting me. It was every day. It was just like a constant thing. Especially the environment I was in, as far as the energy, the kind of culture of the company. It was not a quiet, very corporate environment. It was more of a creative, free environment, right?
Tom: 08:41 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brian: 08:41 So, you know, I think that when I worked from home, I definitely got a lot more done just probably just piece of work for piece of work if you compared it in a day, than working in the office.
Tom: 08:55 Yeah, I completely agree. It’s easier to have distractions when you’re in an office environment, especially the environment that we were in where it was lofted-type offices where it’s easy just to walk over to someone and kind of distract them, right? Like, even if you might be head down in something, you still could get distracted and start up a conversation. And then there’s that time involved, the cognitive time, with starting something and stopping something, that you to then re-engage in whatever you’re doing.
Brian: 09:29 Yeah, I found another point, too, just from my experience. Also, as a manager, and when I had a team of like 10 people, when I was in the office and they were in the office, they would interrupt me a lot more and ask me questions. When normally, if I was remote, they would either email me or communicate however the methods were in place at that time, if they had a real question. But a lot of times they would just take care of it themselves.
Tom: 09:52 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brian: 09:52 Where if they see you, they’re kind of like, “Oh, Brian’s here. Let me go grab him and ask him,” because it’s easier to get the answer directly from me than figuring it out on your own. But when you’re not seen, right, then they might go ahead and try to solve their problem on their own and kind of communicate remotely as a last resort just because they know it’s going to take longer, right? So they’re not going to get their answer right away, so they might as well try to figure it out themselves because they’re going to hopefully get to that solution a lot quicker.
Tom: 10:20 I know personally, yeah, just as you said before, that you’re more productive from home. I’m definitely more productive when I have to do something programming-wise, like something that requires a lot of my attention. I’m definitely more productive at home, and I can usually block off like a solid three or four hour chunk in the morning or the afternoon to actually just focus on something, especially if we’re tracking down a bug or dealing with a major issue. In an off environment, I’d be hard pressed to do that during normal business hours. I’d have to either do it from home, if I wanted to really focus on it, or I’d have to wait and either do it early in the morning when the office is fairly empty, or after people left. Which, I used to actually get in around 7:00-7:30 in the morning, just so I could have an extra hour and a half or so before the majority of the people into the office.
Brian: 11:14 Yeah, carving out that quiet time, if we can get it.
Tom: 11:17 Yeah, it’s pretty important. Just another quick point about employee productivity, sometimes working from home actually does hurt productivity, especially if you need to work with a small team, and you need access to a whiteboard. Like, no matter how good of tools that we have available, nothing beats brainstorming in person, or sitting down and really mapping something out in person. We run into that a lot, even at Rindle where it is a little more challenging talking about high level topics and mapping out things over the Internet. In those scenarios, I think going to an office, even for a day or a couple days, is super beneficial.
Brian: 12:03 Yeah, I think the person who … I know there’s virtual whiteboard technology out there already, that are typically more enterprise solutions, but whoever comes up with a really great solution to do that virtually for a small business, a small/medium sized business, I think it’s going to be a winner. Maybe Google will do it.
Tom: 12:19 But it needs to feel like you’re in the room, right?
Brian: 12:21 Right. Right, [crosstalk 00:12:22].
Tom: 12:22 Yeah.
Brian: 12:24 But I agree, and what’s interesting though, you and I are even in driving distance of each other.
Tom: 12:28 Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Brian: 12:29 We’ve even said a couple of times, “We should meet and brainstorm this idea.” But when it comes to it, the amount of planning and time spent traveling, because you know, it’s still a decent drive, probably an hour and a half in total each way, you know, sometimes we’re just like, “Oh, let’s just meet online and we’ll just talk about it.” We can draw it up or sketch it virtually, and email it or share on Slack or whatever it is to get the point across, right? Or maybe [inaudible 00:12:57]. So we end up using a lot of those tools, even though we technically meet in person. Sometimes we should just because it’s so convenient electronically.
Tom: 13:06 So the second main point that the article brings up is that it reduces attrition rates. The article says that the cost of employee turnover is huge. It can cost up to two years of salary, assuming that you can find the right candidate to begin with. In the C-Trip study that we mentioned before, the employees who worked from home reported much higher job [inaudible 00:13:31] and they quit at half the rate of people in the office. The article also mentions that it’s easier to track new employees, especially Millennials. So, Brian, what do you think about these points?
Brian: 13:42 I think the flexibility that working from home offers definitely makes for potentially a happier employee. I think some employees actually prefer not to work from home for various reasons, and they have focus issues, they struggle to concentrate. I’ve heard all these things before. But I think overall-
Brian: 14:00 I’ve heard all these things before, but I think overall, especially if you have a long commute or anything like that, you just feel like you’re always wasting time and it’s a struggle and you’re tired from just commuting, all those other things that come into play. I think it definitely makes for a happier employee, and the flexibility itself, just is, when you’re constrained to going to the office every day, and it’s a requirement, you’re really limited during the week to what you can do.
Brian: 14:27 I this with this day and age, of two income households, and obviously that’s been going on for a long time with two income households, but it’s definitely prominent and it’s still here, and you know, both ,especially in families, both parents are working or even if you’re a couple and both people are working in the household, it’s just, you can’t really get much done during the week. It’s really tough. So having the flexibility, I think, does make for a happier work environment.
Tom: 14:53 Yeah. I actually have met a number of people who dislike working from home, they really like the office environment, but in the same breath, those same people I know typically do work from home like one day a week or so, just for the exact reason that you mentioned. It’s really hard to have a good home environment and a good home life, if you are spending an hour on the train each way, then, so you don’t see your kids in the morning, you don’t see them, or you barely see them at night, and by the time you’re home, you’re pretty exhausted, right? From just your work day and you can’t really do anything that you might need to get done. So if you can work from home one day a week, spend a little more time with the family and be a little happier, I think that’s pretty important.
Brian: 15:42 I think that’s important to note too. I think some, especially if you’re a manager or an owner of a company or something like that, looking at, “Oh should we allow people to work remotely?” Even one day a week could be a game changer for somebody.
Tom: 15:55 Sure.
Brian: 15:56 Like if it’s a Wednesday in the middle of the week, and having that kind of hump day to not have to commute and be able to get a couple of things done in the morning ,before you start your day, or whatever it might be. Is a huge factor for some people and could make that person’s reflection on the job itself and the company, that much better.
Tom: 16:12 I think it’s also just a matter of the type of work that we’re doing now, can be done remotely, right? So everyone has a laptop, everyone has the needed things in order to work from home, that we don’t work in an office building where we need access to office building equipment in order to get our job done. Actually, that’s a relatively new thing which is probably why working from home is relatively new. Our parents never had this option.
Brian: 16:44 Right. Even collaboration, even hopping on video calls now, you can actually see somebody half way around the world, so just that fact, it really, in some cases, meeting in person and all of those things is great. In a lot of ways, it’s still needed for certain meetings or even if you have a remote company, getting together in person is important. But, on the day to day, a video call is a great alternative and if you look at all the hours spent, if you’re commuting into an office, and all the time saved, it’s pretty crazy.
Tom: 17:19 Yeah, it is a lot of wasted time.
Brian: 17:21 Another article I found actually just talking about attracting new employees and things like that, especially Millennials with that age group kind of again with the technology being prevalent for that generation, being able to work out of their pockets and work from wherever they are, even college, and things like that. There was, the article I found CNBC was Richard Branson talking about three reasons you should let your employees work remotely.
Brian: 17:47 There were two points in there that I thought were really supportive of this was, one, the demand for flexible work is rising in top talent, in general. It’s just becoming more common, and it’s becoming expected especially in the Millennial generation. I think that’s a really good point, so adjusting to that as a company, it will deter top talent. If that’s a requirement, where a lot of your competitors are offering remote work and flexibility and you’re not, it could definitely deter talent from your business. So in the end, it was really pointed out demand for flexible work is on the rise and top talent basically flocks to businesses that offer flexible work. You’re not doing yourself a favor compared to your competitors if they’re offering flexible work environment and you’re not. It could definitely hurt you as far as acquiring top talent.
Tom: 18:36 Yeah, I definitely, definitely agree with the top talent thing. I think that people will just only look for remote positions, so if you’re only looking at places that offer remote options, then if you don’t offer that, you’re definitely going to be missing out on those people. On top of that, I know that a lot of people actually become, at least in my industry, a lot of people become freelances for this exact reason, to be able to create their own hours, work from home, really have a flexible schedule.
Tom: 19:09 Not saying that work from home has to be a flexible schedule, but it definitely can be. You can put in a couple more hours here, a couple less hours there, as long as it evens out. As long as you get your work done.
Brian: 19:21 I used to leave my house at 6:00 A.M. to get to New York City at, for basically in the end, an 8:45 A.M. stand up meeting. So, between getting to the train and all this other stuff, so just that in itself, let alone, like your point, doesn’t necessarily mean a flexible day, but that in itself would give me technically two and a half hours of additional time that I could play with, when I didn’t have to commute.
Brian: 19:49 Actually, that was a really good example of me having to commute every day at that particular job, I was commuting every day. They had a no remote work policy. It was absolutely exhausting, and to your point, that you made before, I didn’t see my kids and I didn’t see my wife that much during the week and it was pretty miserable.
Brian: 20:09 One other point I think people don’t like allowing remote work is because they feel like they don’t have a pulse, or control, over what’s going on. I think that’s a big fear, but just from my own experiences and we were starting to promote remote work when I had my team, and I was always open to remote work, so it was no big deal for me. When I actually took over the team as an official team as a project management team, I basically told them straight out, “Hey, you can work wherever you need to work, if that’s at home, that’s fine. If you need to be in the office, be in the office. But I’m not going to keep a pulse on you. I can basically tell if you’re working regardless of where you are.”
Brian: 20:50 I think a lot of people or managers especially think, “Well if I don’t see them in the office, they’re not working.” Or, “I don’t know that they’re working.” I think what everyone has to realize is that if somebody wants to slack off, they can slack off at home, or they can slack off in the office. It really doesn’t matter. So, in the end, if you hire again, good talent, people that you trust, and you can monitor how much work is getting done, whether they’re remote or not, you’ll never be that in the dark as you think you are.
Tom: 21:18 Yeah, it seems to be a reoccurring theme, a reoccurring message that we keep bringing up, that if you’re a good manager, you should have an understanding of who’s actually doing work. We said the same thing with the time tracking episode. That, you don’t even have to track time because you should really know who’s actually pulling their weight and who isn’t. If that’s the reason why you’re tracking time, it’s a poor reason to do it. Same thing with this. You’ll know. You’ll know who’s working and who’s not, you’ll have a good understanding of it.
Brian: 21:50 Yeah, and I basically told my team exactly that. I said, “Look, if you’re not used to working from home and you’re having troubles, talk to me. But I’m going to know if you’re slacking off. You’ll hear from me if that’s the case. I trust you guys and go do what you need to do.” One big point, too, is saying, “Hey, be where you need to be, also.” You have to look at both extremes. Just because you say, “Oh we have a flexible work environment and you can work from home if you want.” Doesn’t mean that you get to work from home whenever you want, even when it’s required for you to be at a client site or be at the office. Because it does demand an in person meeting and you’ve been asked to come in, or whatever the situation might be.
Brian: 22:28 Like you still have to respect the work environment and what’s going on and what the requirements are and just because you get to work from home, a couple of days a week, or whenever you really can, you have to be respectful of what’s going on and be responsible, essentially. Do what you need to do to get the job done.
Tom: 22:43 Absolutely.
Brian: 22:45 Great, so the third point in the article talks about how it lowers facility costs. So when remote workers do come into the office, they typically demand less of the office pace, where if they work every day in the office, they have a set up, a whole desk dedicated to them, chair, all this stuff. But if they’re flexible and kind of work remotely most of the time and come into the office occasionally, the demand for that space is much less. Also, another point to your article makes is that people who work remotely also take care of their own office furniture. So, they buy, either have a desk or space already set up, with an office chair, desk and equipment, that they need in their own office, so that’s also an added benefit.
Tom: 23:30 Seems to make sense. We, obviously, being completely remote, basically eliminate that office space need altogether. So, working from home you do need a couple of additional things, like a monitor typically, and keyboard and whatever else at home. I’d prefer that but it’s my own, so-
Brian: 23:50 I can say that at the agency that you and I worked at in New Jersey, remote work was driven a lot by space constraints in general. There was a really cool space and a really cool building, but there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to add on to it or anything like that. The company was growing, so part of what they did was, “Okay, well let’s have more people work remote.” They even had another space down the road that some people worked out of. But, so we don’t have to worry so much about the space issue.
Brian: 24:19 They even put in some like longer desks that were almost like pseudo work stations, not really dedicated desks, but they were really impromptu work areas that people can kind of squat and work for the day or work for a couple of hours. That was really just a flexible space, so I think from that aspect, it’s in line with what the article’s saying, is because instead of having to worry about building another area or adding on, or all of those costs involved with just having to require your, or having to have a desk for every employee in a space. It does give that flexibility and does save some money in the end.
Tom: 24:53 It’s actually really funny, my wife and I watched this show, Catastrophe, but have you seen the TV show before?
Brian: 25:00 Nope.
Tom: 25:01 It’s a really pretty funny TV show, you should check it out some time, it’s on Amazon Prime. But, anyway, just the episode last night they were talking about how they do this like Taco Friday thing at the company, and it costs like a ton of money, but they do it in order to lower attrition rates. Which is an office expense, more or less, in order to accomplish something that working from home actually eliminates just by itself. You eliminate that office expense and you also eliminate the attrition. Just by allowing working from home. I thought it was very timely and funny that it came up.
Brian: 25:46 Why don’t they have to pay for Taco Friday?
Tom: 25:48 Because if you don’t have, if you don’t have a lot of people coming to the office, you’re not going to have people coming in for Taco Friday.
Brian: 25:54 Oh, I thought, well how is that lowering attrition if nobody’s going to it? Then, nobody’s happy?
Tom: 26:00 You’re not going to need it all. Like the point of it was that they’re, by, their increasing facility costs in order to lower attrition, as opposed to decreasing facility costs and decreasing attrition.
Brian: 26:16 Oh, I see, I think you and I are off just because I don’t look at food as being a facility cost, per se. I think of it as being the facility, the office, the bathroom fixtures, the office space itself.
Tom: 26:29 Got it, yeah.
Brian: 26:33 Yeah.
Tom: 26:33 I just, kind of took that in a broader sense, yeah.
Brian: 26:37 Got it. Okay.
Tom: 26:38 All right. Glad we sorted that out.
Brian: 26:41 Yeah. The next point that they make is that it results in fewer sick days. So the article said that people tend to work from home even when they are sick and they’re also not spreading their illness and germs around co workers.
Tom: 26:55 I think that this is both a positive and a negative of working from home. I think that you get sick and you almost feel obligated to work when maybe you should actually be resting, because then maybe you might get better quicker. But, I mean, I’ve been there. I work from home when I’m sick all the time and the second point’s pretty spot on. You’re definitely not getting other people sick.
Brian: 27:22 Yeah, I think as far as like people working from home, I think if you’re commuting like I had to commute, that was an hour and a half, I had to get on multiple forms of transportation. So, even if you’re feeling a little off in the morning, you might be like, “Hey, you know what? I think I might take a sick day today. Just not worth it. Not that I have to go to the doctor, take medicine or even possibly even have to rest.” But thinking about having to do all that and wearing me down, where I would, and that’s an area where probably work from home, and be able to deal with it no big deal. But you’re right. I think if you really are sick, some people probably do feel obligated and are not resting or not going to the doctor when they, because they feel like they should be working, and they’re home, and people think they’re not-
Brian: 28:00 -because they feel like they should be working, and they’re home, and people think they’re not working, or whatever it might be.
Tom: 28:05 Yeah.
Brian: 28:06 Yeah, I think that’s a good point, but I think that for me, I definitely, when I’m a little under the weather certainly, I work when I’m remote. Where if I have to do that big commute, I definitely have second guessed it, where it’s like, “Maybe I should take a sick day, because it’s going to be a real drag to have to deal with that all day, and drive home and all that stuff.” As far as the illness and things like that, I mean I have had my team members and things like that who are really sick, who I’m just glad that we had that policy, so people didn’t feel obligated to come into the office. The opposite of what you’re saying basically, where, “I got to show face. I got to get to the office,” right? “I don’t want to use a sick day. I only have this many.” All of those scenarios.
Tom: 28:49 Sure.
Brian: 28:50 You end up coming in and spreading germs, and I’ve seen it over and over. I’m sure we all have, everybody listening to this has seen this, where somebody’s sick, somebody catches it. Before you know it, it’s spreading around the office, and it’s just terrible. I’ve seen it myself, and one case I remember, this one person I worked with, they had bed bugs in their house. The first thing I thought was, “Do not come in.” Just the thought of that person coming in with possible bed bugs on their clothing or something like that just skeeved me out, so I was like, “Stay home for as long as you need to, and we’ll deal with it when you’re back.”
Tom: 29:29 Yeah. I do actually wonder if there’s ever been a study done about whether people who work from home get sick less. Not a matter of resulting in fewer sick days, but actually get physically sick less. My guess would be yes, they do get sick less, because they’re not being exposed to all the germs at the workspace, right?
Brian: 29:53 It’s kind of like another version of daycare. Anybody who has kids and who sends their kids to daycare, it’s like an incubator. You basically have sickness flowing constantly, and it’s a lesser version of that. You’re basically doing the same thing in an office. You’re getting a bunch of people together. You’re sitting inside in air circulated indoor facilities, talking to people, touching people, shaking hands. Yeah, I would agree. I would say that I put money on the fact that people get less sick at home.
Tom: 30:24 The other thing is that, I know that we don’t really have sick days or really track them at all, and I don’t think that probably most people that have remote workers really need to do that, right? I mean, it’s kind of crazy, but I think a couple of the jobs I’ve worked at, you were allowed like three sick days a year. They actually track them, but you can’t really help it, right? Sometimes if you’re sick, you’re sick, and-
Brian: 30:55 That’s why a lot of times too, they’ll give you sick days and then if you use beyond that, you’re now using into your vacation days.
Tom: 31:02 Vacation days, yeah.
Brian: 31:03 Right?
Tom: 31:03 Yeah. Sure.
Brian: 31:03 I mean, the whole purpose of a sick day also is that you can take that day, because you are sick, and take the time off of work and go to the doctor or do what you’ve got to do to get yourself better. Even in a remote scenario, those still apply in some ways, in my opinion, just because you’re still going to want to potentially take off work, even though you work remotely. Say, “Hey, by the way, I’m not working today. You won’t see anything from me today, and I’m going to take the day off because I’m sick. I’m going to the doctor and taking care of business.” Our policy, you know, we don’t really have a stringent policy for vacation and sick days, and things like that, but depending on a policy, I think that’s why those things are generally in place.
Tom: 31:41 Absolutely.
Brian: 31:43 Cool. The last thing in the article was the fact that it reduces pay roll costs, so the article basically said the average worker will take an 8% cut in pay when allowed to work from home. I’m going to say right off the bat, I’m not sure I completely agree with this one. I thought this was an interesting point though, because i was waiting for this one. I wanted to kind of chime in, but I think that, I’ve never heard of anybody that I’ve known or worked with say, “Hey, if I could work from home, I would take a pay cut.” I’ve never heard anybody say that.
Tom: 32:16 Yeah, I’d agree with that.
Brian: 32:18 But I think it definitely, probably would be the case where somebody might pass on a raise or forego a raise. Say, “Hey, if you give me more flexibility, if you give me three days a week from home, I won’t take a raise this year.” Or something like that. I could see that going, but as far as taking a decrease or a cut in pay, I’ve never heard of that.
Tom: 32:39 Yeah, I can’t even imagine that would ever be asked of an employee, just for working from home to take an 8% pay cut or any pay cut. I think that potentially, if it’s between a job that doesn’t allow any remote work and a job that does allow remote work, like I might take 8% less as a base salary, right? Maybe, right? Depending on what the salaries are.
Brian: 33:09 Like, if you’re coming into a job and you’re applying to a new job, then a personal decision you’re making. Yeah, totally agree with that. The way it was worded in the article at least, sounded like they were saying, well if they’re allowed to work from home, they’ll take a cut, which is basically saving the company money. I guess you could look at it from a hiring perspective as well, so yeah, I could see that side of it.
Tom: 33:29 Yeah.
Brian: 33:31 I think the other point worth mentioning to, is if you are hiring remote talent, right? It’s not just allowing your current employee base or local employee base to work from home, but you are actually hiring remote talent … This is a whole nother topic probably, but just the fact that you’re potentially hiring based on the cost of living in that area. Which could essentially be a lesser salary, or a more expensive salary depending on the area. That comes into play too, with just hiring remote people in general.
Tom: 34:01 Although it’s for another topic, but it’s an HR nightmare to hire a bunch of people remotely.
Brian: 34:07 Yeah, that’s definitely another topic. That could be maybe a couple episodes. It’s not pleasant, but yeah, there are some considerations depending on how you define remote. Whether that be a current situation where everybody’s in the office, and you’re now making this new policy of where people can now work from home a certain amount of time, or if you’re actually hiring remote employees where like us, we’re completely a remote company. Everybody works from their own homes in different parts of the country, different parts of the world. Yeah, it’s just two different probably challenges, sets of challenges in that, but probably why it justifies another episode.
Tom: 34:46 Sure. I think while we’re talking about this, I think it is important to note that on the flip side of this is although this article mentions all of these good points, about a year ago IBM shut down their work from home, which had a lot of people saying it’s the end of work from home for everyone. I personally don’t think that’s true. I know a lot of people that still get to work from home, or if they only got to work from home a couple days, they’ve gotten to work from home a little bit more. It’s slowly almost ramping up. I think that it ended at IBM because they’re an extremely large corporate company, and upper management felt as though they could not track things properly, in my opinion at least.
Brian: 35:43 You’re saying when IBM did that, you’re saying there was buzz around the industry in general saying, “Oh, IBM’s doing this. It’s the end of remote work in general for business, because it’s going to kind of trickle down from them, the trend?”
Tom: 35:57 Exactly, yeah. Ever since IBM did it, everyone’s now like, “Oh, well IBM doesn’t allow it, we shouldn’t allow it either.” Because IBM found that it was bad for their employees for whatever reason, or for however they were tracking it, or however they decided to evaluate that it was good or bad. They determined that it was not good for IBM.
Brian: 36:27 Yeah, I recall, I don’t have the exact information though, I could maybe look it up to link in the show notes. Yahoo, when they appointed the new CEO, I don’t know how long ago that was, but similar situation happened where that new CEO came in and basically said, “No more remote work, period. We’re done.” I’m not sure when that … it was probably a few years ago when that happened, but similar situation to IBM.
Brian: 36:54 Cool, alright. Let’s move into some tips for taking action. I think the first thing is just to give this an experiment. If you don’t currently allow working from home, whether it’s your company you own, whether you’re a manager, give it a shot. Start small, see how it goes. Start with a small team, or whatever feels comfortable for your organization, and just give it a shot. If you are worried about seeing the effects, we do want to try to measure, does working from home actually help in these ways? Try to figure out ways to measure productivity and the quality of work being produced, how happy employees are, sick days taken and all this stuff we talked about today.
Brian: 37:38 Try to come up with ways to measure that, so you can do a test. Say, “Okay, we’re going to try this for two months. Let me actually track this set of employees that are working from home,” whatever it is the amount of days you set, and see if you can compare to what it was like before and after.
Tom: 37:54 Definitely agree. I think that you can definitely start small with it, one day a week remote for different teams, and just see how it goes. I think the other tip for taking action is, I had mentioned at the beginning, but the book Remote. It’s definitely worth a read. It’s by Jason Fried and David Hanson, and it’s really, it was written several years ago I think, but it’s still completely relevant and very effective.
Brian: 38:27 I think it was written back in 2013, I want to say.
Tom: 38:30 Yeah, was that their second book? They had Re-Work before that, I think.
Brian: 38:34 Re-Work was before that, yeah. So yeah, this is their second book. It was about five years ago, and definitely stands today. They have built their whole company around this concept, so they had some really good points they made, I think, and had some interesting insight. It’s definitely worth a read if you haven’t picked it up before.
Tom: 38:53 The other thing is, if you are starting to implement it or have been doing it for a while, and you see people that you think are being less effective, head that off before it becomes an issue. Definitely have a conversation with them, like sometimes people are pretty open to explaining their situation, or maybe you don’t realize what they’re working on or the fact that they’re not on Slack doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not actually working.
Brian: 39:21 Yeah, and for some people … I brought this up earlier as well, but it may not be a fit for certain people. Also, you know, don’t force it on people. Definitely open it up, if you want to give it a shot. If somebody says, “Hey, I’m really not interested in that. I like coming into the office every day. That’s just what I do.” Respect that. If you’re not a fully remote company like ours, we would take that into consideration hiring an employee. Somebody who’s looking for a job at Rindle, and we’re a remote company and they said, “Well, I’d really like to come into an office every day,” that’s really not a fit.
Brian: 39:55 Same thing if you’re running a team or whatever it might be. It may not be a fit. Just kind of listen, hear what’s going on, and adjust accordingly. Don’t force people into it, and you’ll probably have better results overall anyway. Because the people who are into it either maybe they work from home, they have experience doing it, they know what it’s like, they know they can do it, or they’re willing to give it a shot.
Tom: 40:15 I think that about wraps us up for the day. If you have a question for us, you can call into our voicemail number at 860-577-2293, or you can email it to us at Workflow@Rindle.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from Thunder Rock by Magic Studio, use under creative comments. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for Workflow, and visit Rindle.com/Workflow-podcast for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.