The Causey Consulting Podcast

The WFH Window?

June 09, 2022 Sara Causey
The Causey Consulting Podcast
The WFH Window?
Show Notes Transcript

Recently, the BBC published an article asking: "Is the ‘remote work window’ about to close?" Certainly, this question merits investigation.

Key topics:

✔️ Will WFH last forever... or is Corporate America planning to take back control?
✔️ To me, 100% remote should be exactly that: 100% remote, 100% of the time, 0 exceptions. Be sure you read the fine print of anything you sign!
✔️ Beware of the "rules for thee, but not for me" feudalistic managers.
✔️ Could there be a huge national rebellion against RTO? Maybe, but I'm not sure I believe that would be sustainable for a long time.

Links I discuss in this episode:

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Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find his online anytime at And now, here's your host Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. Today I want to talk about the work from home window. Although it may turn out to be more of an Overton window before the dust settles on all this, I guess time will tell. At the end of May, the BBC published an article titled is the remote work window about to close? The article was written by Megan Tatum and the byline reads, more people are applying for remote jobs amid concern that office recalls could reduce home working opportunities. Are they right to rush? Of course, I will drop a link to this article in the write up for this podcast episode so that you can check it out for yourself. Honestly, this is not a bad question to ask. I feel like I have tried to be a beacon, both on this podcast and also in my written endeavors on the blog I published on my website. If you haven't checked it out, I would encourage you to do so go to Kasi consulting And then you can click on the link that will take you directly to my blog. And I've been warning people as best I can. Hey, hello. If we go into a recession, if unemployment spikes up, then we will see companies feeling more empowered. We've had this time of the great resignation or the big quit the great contemplation, the great reshuffle, whatever moniker that you want to attach to this movement where candidates and employees have been really empowered. And I feel like it has given a voice to individuals that were at a disadvantage before. And I think it's great, believe me, I wish in some respects that it could last forever. But I just don't think that it will. I think at the very least we will see some kind of market contraction or market correction. And some of the wind is going to come out of the sails of the job hopping that we have seen going on and on and on for the past couple of years. I hate to sound like a pessimist about this, but I just don't see any other way around it. I want to read a portion of this BBC article for you now. In the last few months workers search for remote roles has become more urgent in the US. 50% of all job applications submitted via LinkedIn in February of 2022. Were for positions that offered some home working, making the first time that Remote Jobs had attracted the majority of applications. In April when Airbnb announced its new live and work anywhere policy allowing almost all staff to work from anywhere in the country where they're based without any salary change. The home rentals platform saw a daily surge of interest from job seekers 800,000 visits to its career page in the week after the announcement and quote. Now, let's be clear about something. I understand that Airbnb received a lot of positive publicity for their statement and rightfully so. But it is important to check the fine print I'm going to read now from a blog post I published titled playing the RTO game. Here's the deal. I've been bearish about my predictions for the economy. If a recession hits and unemployment rises, I believe we will see an RTO push micro managers and surveillance happy bosses who've been sitting back mad at the world that they can't hurt you into a cube farm while they go and play golf whenever they want to. will feel like he ha here's our chance. So be intentional about where you land. For example, Airbnb made it clear their workers can stay remote and live wherever they want. But there's a catch. Once per quarter, you have to expect some sort of corporate who Hall for a week at a time. If you're negotiating for a completely remote only role you should consider these fine print situations. Is it remote only except for four weeks out of the year when you have to make travel arrangements to go somewhere for team building BS. These are important questions to ask. For me remote only means exactly that 100% remote 100% of the time zero exceptions. And naturally Yes, I'll drop a link to that blog post in the write up for this episode so that you can check it out. There's another post I published titled The great resistance and it references an article that was in MarketWatch about this tug of war going on between employees who want to remain remote they want to continue working from home full time or a majority of the time, versus employers who have that. Okay, now it's time for y'all to come on back to the office, we got the lights on, we got the coffeepot run, and y'all need to just come on back. In keeping with the idea that we have to come up with a catchy name for everything, the moniker that this has been given is, is called the great resistance. And of course, I will drop a link to the market watch article, which I would encourage you to read for yourself. And I'll quote from it now, the great resignation, regarded by some observers, as more of a great negotiation for better pay and working conditions has led to the great resistance, a battle of wills between senior management and well, everyone else in quote. Yeah, I kind of feel like just that synopsis in and of itself, should really tell you what you need to know. It's exactly what I was referring to before these upper management individuals who ipso facto by the very nature of the positions they're in, they have a great deal of flexibility, they can slip off and go golfing whenever they want, they can come in late, they can leave early. You better be there though. You are the peon you the worker bee, you are below the feudal lord. It's like it workplace feudalism and action, this idea that well, there are rules for Wii, but not for me, I can get up and go, whenever I want to have to show up, I'm going to use every bit of my PTO but you, you better sit here but and seen in the digital panopticon so that you can be surveilled period. So I think this question, the BBC article is asking, is the remote work window about to close? I think it's a valid one. I think it's a question that should be asked. And I think it's a question that everyone who is in the job market, especially if you are a W2 employee, you have no desire to freelance, you have no desire to go out on your own and own and operate your own business. You want to be plugged in somewhere as an employee, you absolutely owe it to yourself to ask that question. And I'm going to be incredibly and emphatically clear here, I am not advocating for making any sudden or drastic moves. I'm not advocating that you job hop just to Job hop, because you can really end up in a dangerous situation. We don't know what's going on in the economy, we really don't. And it seems like we're in a state of flux, almost on a daily basis, if not a weekly basis, at the very least. I mean, the job market is weird. There are sectors of the economy that are typically very in demand that are suddenly having layoffs. So I don't want to encourage anybody to just make a sudden rash judgment and then regret it. There is an old line of thinking that probably anybody in HR staffing has heard before called the last one hired as the first one fired. So in a layoff situation, it is pretty typical. Not always, but pretty typically, whoever was the last one in the door is the first one that's gonna get shoved out. Typically individuals that have some tenure, as long as they're performing well, they're not like coming to work and sleeping in the cube or something that typically the people that have some longevity in the company get to stay and the people who don't are the ones that get the boot. So I don't want to encourage you to just job hop to Job hop or be like Chicken Little and assume that the sky is falling and then you make a rash decision and you regret it later. All I'm doing here is just asking you to contemplate this question. Is there a remote work window? And if so, is it about to close? If it did close, and I really love working from home, well, then what would I do? I'll read again now from the BBC article. Huge global brands aren't the only ones noticed, noticing this increased demand at UK marketing agency punch, which made the decision to stay remote even after pandemic restrictions had lifted. talent manager Emma Hollands had observed a recent surge in applications for remote roles as offices continue to open. Many of these applicants have highlighted the option of working remotely with us as a key reason for applying she says, in fact, the desire for remote work has proved so popular that we edited our job descriptions on all of our adverts to ensure this particular benefit was front and center aisle break in long enough to say good for them. I'm so glad that they saw what was going on in the market and they responded to it in a mature way. I'll continue to read. Feeling this uptick in demand is growing alarm that remote working opportunities might be reduced in the future likely linked to the back to the office rhetoric from leaders across many sectors and quote, and you can find a link there to an article that was in The Guardian where Boris Johnson was encouraging people don't come home back to the office.He says Boris Johnson says cheese and coffee can distract when working from home and I'm like this is more workplace feudalism at its finest rules for the but not for me. First of all, what the hell hell's wrong with cheese. You know, all of my French ancestors have certainly imbued me with a great love for fromage. I think I could eat cheese at almost every meal. One of the first things I learned, you know, like when you're doing conversation practice, people will start off with things like being able to introduce yourself to talk about your work, talk about where you live. Do you have pets? Are you married, you have children, your favorite color, your favorite movies and all that. And I remember one of the first things that I learned to say about my interests. When I was learning how to speak Russian was Я люблю сыр, which is I love cheese. Like, oh, okay, I'm so sorry that cheese and coffee are distraction working from home dude. I'll read again from the BBC article. Are people right to be worried is the great remote work window open as wide as it's going to get and is about to start closing? In the short term? Yes, remote work as it is currently will disappear, believes Chris Preston, the founder and director of Hampshire, UK based the culture builders, which works with companies on improving their culture and performance, we will see more people being brought back into the office. It's an inevitability for some organizations. He believes the pandemic way of working during lockdown was never sustainable. Most people really enjoyed it. But we were in a battle spirit, all focused on surviving and keeping the lights on and quote, yeah, that exact line of thinking is something else that I have been trying to wave a banner in my blog posts and warn people about this notion of hey, look, we made some concessions. We let you guys have this great resignation. We'd let y'all have your little rebellion. But times are changing and you're gonna have to come on back. Hmm. As though the people out in the workforce have been errant school children that were allowed to get away with some prankish and feisty behavior for a season. Oh, but now that tide is changing. In my blog post, are you ready? I pointed this out by saying, if you thought you could job hop forever and get a huge salary bump each time you had an unrealistic expectation. If we see a scenario of more people who want or need jobs versus fewer open jobs available to them, the competition per position will become higher. This is just basic supply and demand. And that is the case don't shoot the messenger I, again, I'm really not trying to sound pessimistic, I just want you to be prepared, I want you to be ready. Because the signs and signals are being conveyed to you, you just have to be willing to take off rose colored glasses or any horse blinders and see them. There was an article recently on Yahoo Finance, about the great deceleration and I'll also naturally drop a link to that as well. And even though it's about the housing market, it dovetails in nicely to this discussion that I'm having right now. And I want to read a bit of that article for you now. Fed Chair Jerome Powell has acknowledged that pulling inflation back down will likely require an uptick in unemployment. If the great resignation has its own great deceleration, it will undoubtedly trickle over into the housing market. There's something else, if a recession does come, employers could use their increased economic leverage to force staffers back into the office. If that happens, it could dry up the work from home buying boom, and quote, hmm, nice little pearl of information tucked inside an article about the housing market, n'est-ce pas? I wrote a post called shady people who want your money. And I'll read a little bit of that for you. Now. To sum it up. Beware of shady people who want your money. A realtor or mortgage broker who has a vested interest in selling you an overpriced property may not be the best resource to trust right now. If someone is standing there telling you that in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, there is no housing bubble and you can feel okay about buying a place that's 300 or 400%. overpriced, I want you to really stop and think get your head as clear as possible, on whether that's a good idea in the current circumstances. Likewise, if you are thinking about job hopping, just a job hop and there's not a very compelling reason for it. I think it's a good idea to use the same strategy. Slow down, calm down, get clear about what your motives are, and weigh out the possible risks of trying to leap one more time before the bottom drops out. I would also encourage you to take a strong examination of the company's work from home policy. Some of these bosses who are thirsty AF have for workers to come home back to the office may insist upon it if we indeed go into a recession if they feel that The balance of power has shifted from a candidate slash employee driven market to a company driven market, believe me, they will use that to their advantage in every possible way. Don't get caught off guard. That's one of the things that I want to drive home to you in this podcast episode. Don't get caught off guard. Don't think there's just no possible way that all these companies could sort of create a united front and say, Nope, you've had your time at home. Now you better come on back. Of course they could. Of course, they could do not be naive. I want to read again from the BBC article. With a slow return to normality organizations are now having to take a longer term view he explains he meaning Chris Preston, and consider how remote work could impact their ability to manage employees foster internal connections and measure productivity. Finding solutions to these questions can be challenging. I think some organizations will take the easy option and bring everyone back because it's simpler. And you don't have to support your managers to do that he anticipates this is already beginning to happen. In October 2020 71% of US workers who had jobs that could be done remotely, were working from home according to a Pew Research Center survey. By February 2022, that figure had declined to 59%. In the UK, it's a similar story, though more than a third of workers spent at least one day per week working from home in January 2022. According to the Office for National Statistics, that's a pretty significant fall from the 49%. Doing so in June 2020. And quote, I want to read again, from my post titled Are you ready? If we go into a full tilt recession, the great resignation will come to a halt almost immediately. This is what it is. I've referenced George Carlin's bit about it's one big club, and you and I are not in it before. And that's what we will see play out. I have a theory here. And I'll catch some hell for saying this. But here we go. I think corporate America sort of sat back uncomfortably and thought, Okay, we'll tolerate this whole power to the people workers in charge movement. But as soon as it ends, boy, it's our time again. And if you don't think they won't take advantage of that if unemployment gets high. Well, I don't know what to tell you. My opinion on that hasn't changed. And I think as we find these articles, and we are we're seeing the news media saying like, hey, homie, wink, nudge, nudge, little elbow in your ribs there? Is it possible that the remote work window is about to close? Instead of saying, Oh, well, no, there's there's just no way that that can happen. There's no way that anybody would demand that workers just as a whole need to come on back to the office. Don't be naive. Please don't be naive. I do love to use the phrase no one rules if no one obeys. Believe me, I do have something of a rebellious nonconformist nature. I just want to contemplate this idea, though, of how long would that actually last? How many people in this country have a significant nest egg set aside to where they could really say, Yeah, take this job and shove it. I don't expect any unemployment benefits. I don't need any money from the government to try to help me float by, we're just going to all stage a massive rebellion and say, if we don't get to work remotely full time, then eff off. We just won't do it at all. I'm skeptical that a movement like that could really happen. I hope I'm wrong. You know what I could be? I could completely be wrong, as Dennis Miller always like to say that's just my opinion. I could be wrong, and maybe I am. But I think based on the fact that the average person in America lives paycheck to paycheck. And well, let me let me look at the statistics right quick. Okay, so According to CNBC, as of March of this year, two thirds of the US population lived paycheck to paycheck. When it comes to savings. There's an article you can find on the Motley Fool. Of course, I will drop a link to it. And it says the Federal Reserve reports that 36% of Americans don't have enough money on hand to cover a$400 emergency. In their key findings. They say that most Americans have somewhere between 1005 1000 in savings, and 51% of Americans have 5000 or less in savings while 35% have 1000 or less. So what can we conclude from that? Can we really imagine there being a huge rebellion like a huge Mutiny on the Bounty of people saying, with no help from the government, I will somehow be able to make ends meet and not be in poverty. If I if we all just collectively stage a race. refusal to work if we all just collectively say we're not going back to the office for any amount of time ever, and you can't make us Oh, but we're w two employees, we're not freelancers, we don't own our own companies. What is the likelihood of something like that happening and it being able to stand the test of time without people starving in the streets? I'm just not sure that that's a realistic expectation. So I don't think it's a bad idea to consider this idea. This this notion of is the remote work window about to close. And I think it's important that when you are negotiating for your for yourself, when you are negotiating for a job, you want to read the fine print, is it really remote 100% of the time are there going to be weeks out of the year where you have to make travel arrangements to go somewhere for some team building BS activity that you're not even going to enjoy. If possible. If you want to be 100%, remote 100% of the time, then you need to have that built into your contract. So that it's very clear. And it's in writing, as attorneys love to say verbal agreements are worth the paper they're written on. So try to get it in writing some type of document that says this, here's an agreement between myself in the company I am 100%, remote 100% of the time, I will not go into an office, and I will not do any work related travel if that's what is important to you. In the meantime, I do think it's very important to contemplate this question of in the event that corporate America collectively tells all of its w two employees. We're putting our foot down and it's time at camo back to the office. How would you handle it? just food for thought. We hope you enjoyed today's episode. If you haven't already, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you next time.