remote work

Remote Work: Should Your Small Business Offer it?

The Hartford

Transcript

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Gene (00:02):

Hey everybody, this is Gene Marks and welcome to this week’s edition of The Hartford Small Biz Ahead podcast, where I picked something, some topic to talk about of interest to both you and me as fellow business owners. And this week, I do wanna talk about something that obviously makes a lot of news, which has been very popular and has been taking up a lot of attention in the media for sure. And that is working from home. What are you doing about working from home? What kind of policies do you have for your company and are you implementing these and is it something that’s important to your business? Well listen, I mean if your employees are working from home more often, I mean, you’re certainly not alone, right? I mean, thanks to pandemic, remote working options have become a hot benefit to offer both perspective and your current staff.

Gene (00:47):

But the issue is complex for some companies being virtual or even partially virtual is a no brainer, but for others, it’s kind of a non-starter. I talk to a lot of my clients and business owners around the area that I work with and that are also part of my community. One person I know his name is Roger Lee. He’s a self-employed artist in Philadelphia. He’s a business owner. He’s a big fan of working from home. I mean, he says to me, “hey, there is nothing wrong with working in the comfort of your home environment. How you work matters much more than where and when you work.” So, that’s certainly a very good position to take. And I think a lot of employees would agree with that. I have another client who’s been running a virtual company, a consulting firm really for the past seven years.

Gene (01:35):

And she also has like seven employees as well. I mean, she says it’s forced her managers that are clients to pay more attention to their team members. Not everyone thrives working from home, especially when their kids are around or their spouse or their pets are running around. So, she says it’s made it harder for some of their people to separate their home and their work life. According to her, she says, she likes the short commute to her home office, but she totally understands why other people do not. When you think about working from home, you can really help, the policy itself can help you sort of re-define and revisit the definition of work and maybe sort of shine a light on how work was completed from the home environment before the pandemic.

Gene (02:19):

And now after the pandemic. I have a lot of clients that offer hybrid solutions. Some of them believe that the work from home policies have actually helped them to recruit and retain good people. If you have a flexible work from home policy, it does show current and future talent that your workplace values, the work life balance and one’s contribution to the greater workforce culture. So that’s all really good. I don’t wanna say that work from home is completely embraced by a lot of people. Some people really aren’t embracing it and they have good reasons to. I have one client who runs a consulting firm that provides office space for physicians…

Gene (02:59):

And healthcare providers. And he’s one of those guys that really likes in person contact. He says, yeah, I mean his partners and him meet regularly on Zoom or Google Meet or Microsoft Teams. And they’ve got seven interns that work remotely but his company, most days, people, he wants them to be in the office. I mean, he does think a hybrid approach for remote work could work for some of his employees but he does feel and I kind of agree with him that there’s some loss and energy in terms of synergy and building relationships. I mean, it’s definitely hard to create a great culture when everyone is online all the time. Other people themselves, they really kind of determine on where and when people should be working from home.

Gene (03:45):

I mean, you might not might have a policy where you require staff and supervisors to be in the office for I don’t know, three, four days a week and then maybe work from home one day a week, which is fine. You’ve gotta figure out what arrangement works best for your culture, for your team, for your individual employees. If you’re a small company, you can be flexible, you can offer the hybrid workplace options but your nature of your work might be such that you can’t be fully remote all the time, so there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s really something that you’ve gotta figure out what you need. Other people say that, listen, FaceTime is a really good thing and even though they’re allowing more people to work from a home, they’re making sure that there’s office space still available.

Gene (04:34):

So people can come in regularly for group meetings because you might want to gather as a team in your office to collaborate on projects and use a whiteboard and do like group thinking stuff and if you work on these kinds of projects, doing that all over Zoom or Microsoft Teams or some virtual communications platform, it just might not really fill the bill as it is. So keep that in mind. I mean, listen, if you like to do brainstorming stuff in person, if you like to do touch it feely with charts and colors with markers and even having lunch or dinner together, it’s just some people really say, listen, you don’t get that when people are working remotely.

Gene (05:15):

And which is why I have, I have a fair number of clients who are like, would not even entertain the possibility of being home based only. Again, it tends out to be hybrid. I mean, for any of you guys that have listened to me over the years here at The Hartford, you’d think that I’d be a big supporter of remote work because my 10 person company has been fully virtual for over 15 years, but I got news for you. My experience has been kind of mixed. While running a virtual firm is it’s a great way to keep overhead low. I sometimes feel like I’m running the world’s most dysfunctional company that’s because my team rarely gets to see each other together. We never really, we don’t really benefit from the comradery or socialization or even innovation that..

Gene (05:56):

Occurs when a group is together in the office. These are all factors, which I feel are very important for building a long-term sustainable business. So in the end, should you allow your employees to work from home? Like many business decisions, the answer really depends on a lot of factors. Your work from home policies, they really should be determined by your organization based on what proves to be best for your culture and your clients and your employees. Your organization should make any necessary changes to ensure that the work environment is enjoyable and productive while simultaneously being, dependable to your customer and your client base. We’ll see a lot more about work from home in the years to come. It’s absolutely a policy that is required now. I mean, you have health insurance, retirement plans and some type of virtual working.

Gene (06:48):

It is just something that employees expect to get but that doesn’t mean you have to go fully virtual or fully remote. You’ve gotta figure it out for yourself. Maybe a hybrid approach is better for you but you’re gonna have to do something because if you wanna retain the best employees and attract great talent to your business, you really are gonna have to have some type of work from home policy that will be attractive to them. Hope this insight helps with you as you’re thinking about what you want to do with work from home. My name is Gene Marks. You’re listening to the Small Biz Ahead podcast. Listen, if you’ve got any need for any of advice or tips or help with running your business, please visit us at SmallBizAhead.com, excuse me, or sba.thehartford.com. Again, my name is Gene Marks. We’ll be back to you next week with some more thoughts and insights to help you run your business. Thanks and take care.

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