Your Future Office has 40% Fewer Seats!

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, the largest private-sector employer in New York City, wrote in a letter to shareholders this week that remote work would “significantly reduce our need for real estate.” For every 100 employees, he said, his bank “may need seats for only 60 on average.”
New York Times

Feels about right. In my opinion, some sort of hybrid work model for office workers is going to win out. 2/3, 3/2, etc. You work from home (or wherever) some days, in the office some days. The additional flexibility people received during the pandemic is a very hard thing to take away at this point.

The “on average” phrase becomes the issue!

On average, Tim, we only need about six places for people to get there done. Okay, but on Monday’s you’ve asked everyone to come into the office for meetings and such, and told everyone they don’t have to come in on Fridays! Maybe we can find an office building that will let us just rent 4 days a week!

What this really means, is once again, the Office Furniture Industry wins! Did anyone check into see if Steelcase or Herman Miller maybe released Covid onto the world!?! The more time I spend in HR, the more I’m convinced that the office furniture industry really runs the world. About every decade or so, we (HR) is tasked with reinventing work and that means new work spaces.

Yeah, but if we are WFH Tim then you don’t have to worry about it! Yes I do! I now have to worry about employees working at home at their kitchen table hunched over in some chair not designed to work in all day, and I have the worker’s compensation claim. So, it is just a matter of time until I’m shipping new office “home” furniture to my employees to make sure they are taken care of and still have the cool hip culture we want with $1000 work at home chairs that are functional yet still look great in their 1970’s retro family room they’ve been piecing together off Ebay.

You know a great team building activity would be to have us send office furniture to everyone’s house and then we all get on a Zoom call and build it together! Hey, Ikea, get on this!

Hey, Billy, sorry, you got in at 8:30 am, you’ll have to share a desk with Mary until a spot frees up, here’s a folding chair.

This is why we’ll all be building “shared” spaces in our workplaces. Because you know what’s super effective and efficient when you’re trying to get that project done? Listening to some idiot drone on about some Netflix real-life crime drama series they are watching, and you don’t even like real-life-crime-drama, or Todd who is telling you all about it, but you’re stuck “In the Park” the cool nickname HR gave your social share space where work nomads without desks come to get stuff done, but not really done because no one can’t get anything done at the “Park”.

WFH, Hybrid, In-Office.

Everyone needs a seat, but just not all the time.

Welcome to show!

“I Fully Reject the Employment Model of Pre-Pandemic America!”

This was an exact quote on a comment on one of my blogs about how hard it is right now for companies to find talent in America to work hourly jobs. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard something like this from an old GenZ or very young Millennial (basically early to mid-’20s).

What does this even mean!? 

Let me interpret, for the older millennials and GenXers in the crowd who are actually working and don’t have time to learn the GenZ vernacular. This is actually a cross of GenZ and Snowflake which can be very confusing sometimes to understand.

What this person is trying to convey is that they don’t believe they should have to work a job for pay and benefits (employment model of Pre-pandemic America). They actually love the employment model of Pandemic America – which is either sitting at home and getting paid to mostly not work, or actually just collecting unemployment and government stimulus to the tune of about $1000 per week, to do nothing at all.

Their idea is in Post-Pandemic America they would like to continue to get paid a living wage and benefits to do what they want. That might be something very productive and useful, like volunteering to help children to read or older people to have a better life in their later years, or it might be growing weed in their basement. This employment model is much more attractive to them. I get great pay and benefits to do what I want, not being told what to do by “the man”.

“The man” doesn’t actually have to be an actual “man”, it might be a rich woman or rich non-binary person. Basically, anyone who would make money off of their labor is now “the man”. They also reject anyone making money from their efforts, except for themselves. Which is actually wonderful if they would start their own business, but that would take work that feels too similar to an employment model of pre-pandemic America. Because of course, they would then become “the man”.

And you wonder why you can’t find anyone to come work for you? 

Some would believe this to be a socialist movement that has began to grow in America, mostly started by Bernie followers. No, this isn’t socialism, this what happens when you helicopter and snowplow parent your way to a generation that thinks the world should revolve around them.

I should only get A’s because my Mom says I’m the smartest little boy on the planet. And I should only get first-place medals because I showed up to the game. In fact, we should all get first-place medals because there should be no losers in the world, only winners.

And we truly wonder why terrorists want to bomb our country.

The world, in the end, will be truly harsh for these people if they don’t change. The world, since the beginning of time, has winners and losers. If you think socialist societies don’t have winners and losers, you might actually want to read about the history of socialist societies and inequality.

Do CEOs of companies need to make one hundred times more or a thousand times more than the average worker? No, probably not, but if you think you can just show up to a job and you should be within ten times of a CEO’s salary, you’re actually just ignorant.

This isn’t a political statement. This is the real world. Every single elected politician in the house and the senate is more wealthy than the average American by a giant margin. All of them. Winners and losers. People who take risks to start a business get all the bad and all the good. America, for good and bad, was built on Capitalism. It’s not perfect. I don’t know of a perfect society or culture in the world.

So, I do not fully reject the employment model of pre-pandemic America! 

Is it great? Nope. Can we do better? Yes.

Have we changed the employment model any over the past century? 1000%

Worker safety, health and wellness, D&I, training and development of skills, employee engagement, candidate experience, you could literally list a thousand improvements that have been made to the American employment model. And we’ll continue to improve.

I have hope that we’ll get better and solve our pay equity issues and we’ll continue to improve our diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all employees. America is a big and complex situation. Change does not happen overnight. For how bad young people think we are now, we have made tremendous strides along the way.

Okay, time to end this, I’m starting to feel like this guy…

Get Back to HQ as Fast as You Can!

I know you want to keep working remotely. It’s awesome to be able to wake up, throw on some sweats and just check email. I mean this is what “work” should be, right!? Like not really working, but getting paid for it, this is the best time to be alive!

Okay, where was I? Sorry, Bridgerton is on in the background and episode 5 so, well, you know! No. No! I wasn’t really watching, just background noise. Similar to Steve from Accounting stopping by the cube to talk about nothing.

You’re a complete idiot if you don’t go back to Headquarters! 

I’m sorry to have to be your big brother and break the news, but the future of work isn’t you sitting on your couch in sweatpants deciding if you should paint an accent wall, or add some succulents to the shelf behind your “desk” that people see when you’re on a Zoom call.

If you actually care about your career, you are pushing your leadership team to get back to work, in the office. At some point, people who make decisions are going to start promoting people and the people who will get promoted will be the people with who they have the best relationship. Oh, sorry, you thought it was skill-based, performance-based promotions! That’s cute. Anywho.

The moment someone asks if you want to return to in-office work, you say, “Yes!” You tell them, you’ll actually come in right now, this moment. You already have your desk stuff packed and are ready to come back.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a “New World of Work”! 

Like a Robinhood Game Stop trader, the world is about to teach you a lesson or two. The world of work doesn’t give a sh*t about what you actually want. Oh, we’ll tell you we do, but at the end of the month, there’s this little thing we look at called financials. Look it up, it’s important. Turns out, you working at half capacity at home, isn’t the greatest thing for our financials. I mean, it is the greatest thing for your home design skills and you teaching sign language to your cat, so there’s that!

I know, it’s me, not you. I’m sure I’m wrong.

You know what. The best companies and leaders in the world have already figured this out. They figured out if you really want high levels of collaboration. Great decision-making. Great creativity. To build the next biggest thing in the world. You kind of have to be together, not on a video.

The new world of work isn’t remote. At its best, it’s probably you get treated more like an adult. Like, “Okay, Timmy, you can not come in on Wednesday because there’s a snowstorm and we think you’ll at least stay up on email, and return a couple of calls.” The pandemic showed us the new world of work, can be more flexible, and in some additional cases, remote, but for the most part we need you back in the cube.

Why Won’t This Work? 

Basically, it because we won’t do two things:

  1. We won’t really define, in true measurable, non-subjective terms, what performance looks like for your position. If we did, you might be able to work remotely and actually meet expectations of performance.
  2. We won’t put a system in place that will truly measure what the hell you’re actually doing. The technology is out there, but you feel micromanaged that someone would actually check to see if you are doing what you’re being paid to do.

So, we’ll just have most of you come back to work. We’ll do the same dance we’ve been doing for a hundred years. It could be better, but better comes with a lot of change, and right now we don’t even change our pants daily.

In the meantime, get your ass back to HQ if you really want to advance your career. And, please, spare me the “I’m not being treated fairly” when you get passed over for a promotion while sitting on your couch in pants with animals on them.

The Single Most Desired Trait Employers Want: Being an Adult!

Don’t buy into the hype! “Oh, just do what you love!” That’s not being an adult, that’s being a moron! Just do what makes you happy! No, that’s what a child does.

“Tim, we just want to hire some ‘adults’!” I hear this statement from a lot of CEOs I talk with currently!

That means most of the people they are hiring, aren’t considered adults by these leaders. Oh, they fit the demographic of being an adult from an age perspective, but they still act like children!

I tell people when I interview them and they ask about our culture I say, “We hire adults”.

That means we hire people into positions where they are responsible for something. Because we hire adults, they take responsibility for what they are responsible for. If I have to tell them to do their jobs, they’re not adults, they’re children. We don’t employ children.

I think about 70% of the positions that are open in the world could have the same title –

“Wanted: Adults”.

Those who read that and got it could instantly be hired and they would be above average employees for you! Those who read it and didn’t understand, are part of the wonder of natural selection.

How do you be an Adult?

You do the stuff you say you’re going to do. Not just the stuff you like, but all the stuff.

You follow the rules that are important to follow for society to run well. Do I drive the speed limit every single time? No. Do I come to work when my employer says I need to be there? Yes.

You assume positive intent on most things. For the most part, people will want to help you, just as you want to help others. Sometimes you run into an asshole.

You understand that the world is more than just you and your desires.

You speak up for what is right when you can. It’s easy to say you can always speak up for what is right, but then you wouldn’t be thinking like an adult.

You try and help those who can’t help themselves. Who can’t, not who won’t.

My parents and grandparents would call this common sense, but I don’t think ‘being an adult’ is common sense anymore. Common sense, to be common, has to be done by most. Being an adult doesn’t seem to be very common lately!

So, you want to hire some adults? I think this starts with us recognizing that being an adult is now a skill in 2021. A very valuable skill. Need to fill a position, maybe we start by first finding adults, then determining do we need these adults to have certain skills, or can we teach adults those skills!

The key to great hiring in today’s world is not about attracting the right skills, it’s about attracting adults who aren’t just willing to work, but understand the value of work and individuals who value being an adult.

I don’t see this as a negative. I see it as an opportunity for organizations that understand this concept. We hire adults first, skills second. Organizations that do this, will be the organizations that win.

The Motley Fool has a great section in their employee handbook that talks about being an adult:

“We are careful to hire amazing people. Our goal is to unleash you to perform at your peak and stay out of your way. We don’t have lots of rules and policies here by design. You are an amazing adult and we trust you to carve your own path, set your own priorities, and ask for help when you need it.”

You are an amazing ‘adult’ and we trust you

If only it was so simple!

The #1 Thing You Need To Do To Find The Job You’ve Always Wanted!

Last week I got a call from an old work friend. He wanted to have a “virtual” lunch or cup of coffee.  He just left a position and was in transition.  Not a bad or negative job loss, just parted ways.  When you get to a certain executive point in your career, it’s rare that bad terminations take place. It’s usually, “Hey, we like you, but we really want to go another direction, and we know you don’t want to go that direction, so let’s just shake hands and call it a day, here’s a big fat check.”

Executives get this.  For the most part, there aren’t hard feelings, like when you were young and lost a job. I usually find that the organization the person is leaving from are super complimentary, and usually takes the blame for the change.  Executives in corporate America are like NFL coaches. You get hired with the understanding that one day you’ll be fired.  It’s not that you know less, or aren’t going to be successful in your career, it’s just that the organization needs change, and you’re part of that change.

Welcome to the show, kid.

My friend decided that he was going to find his next position not through posting for positions online, or trolling corporate career pages, he was going to have lunches.  About two per week, with past work friends. Let’s connect, no pressure, we already know each other and I want to catch up.

You see, in 2021 you don’t find great jobs by filling out applications in ATSs and uploading your resume to Indeed. You get great jobs because of the relationships and personal capital you’ve built up over your career.  Having lunch and reconnecting turn on a relationship machine. I believe that people, innately, want to help other people. When a friend comes to you with a situation, and you have something to offer or help, you will do that.

The problem is most people who are looking for great jobs don’t do this. They lock themselves in their home office and apply to a thousand jobs online and get upset when nothing happens. Great jobs aren’t filled by ATSs and corporate recruiters.  Great jobs are filled through relationships. Every single one of them.

Want to find a great job in 2021?

Go out to lunch.

3 out of 4 Employees Actually Want to Return to the Office!

I think most HR pros disagree with this number. I didn’t make it up like I do most of the time, but I was having this feeling that way to many HR leaders and pros were feeling that their entire office workforce just wanted to remain remote. The number is from this recent Human Experience study.

Basically, it’s saying 25% of workers want to return full-time to the office, 50% want some kind of hybrid model where they will return, but have additional flexibility to work remotely, and 25% want to stay remote on a permanent basis.

My guess is most HR leaders and pros if asked this question are under the belief that 50%+ of their office workers want to remain remote, full-time. At least, that’s what I hear when I ask that question to them. Much smaller sample, but it’s also what I hear and read.

What the article is really showing is that our workforce has had a taste of flexibility, and most really, really liked what it tasted like! I find that in very large cities, organizations and leaders are much more flexible. It’s just the nature of big city life. Trains don’t always run on time, commutes can be crazy, etc.

As you get out into smaller communities the expectations changed. You can always make it into work because you’re driving your own car. If you were 15 minutes late in Milwaukee, people will question you. If you’re 30 minutes late in New York, no one says a thing. So, having some flexibility to be treated like a real, functioning adult, for most people has been a breath of fresh air.

But, and it’s a big but – we can’t be naive as HR leaders believing everyone just wants remote. They don’t want remote, the vast majority, want flexibility. They want some understanding. I can be a high performer, and  I can meet my goals and exceed them, just treat me like an adult.

The pandemic might change many things about work and life moving forward, but it won’t change our desire as humans, most of us, to want to have live interactions, one-on-one, face-to-face, to congregate, to share ideas, and see your real-life body language, if at all possible.

Don’t be fooled by a loud minority voice saying a remote workplace is the best workplace. It’s “a” workplace, great for some, horrible for many. Just as in-office is great for some, and horrible for others. The best organizations will figure out the balance.

7 Things Dudes Need for their Remote Office

Ladies, you do not need to read this post! You were actually born to put together a remote office. You might even have a Pinterest dream board for the perfect office. Most dudes, suck at this! They are still sitting, hunched over at their card-table, kitchen table they bought at Costco with the four folding chairs, or on the couch.

Sure, we (dudes) probably have a better WiFi connection than you do. That is the extent of our remote office ability. Great WiFi.

But, I’ve been told by many prominent women in my life that I kind of act like a chic, a lot. Many of my good friends are actual women! I have a good eye for interior design, and I think a great space can make you more productive.

BUT, the dude in me also knows this can’t take a lot of time or effort, because us dudes have other more important things to do, like run wifi speed tests to find out why our other dude friends somehow have faster upload speeds than we do!

Here are the 7 Things Dudes Need for their Remote Office (will not include any technology suggestions as that is for the 7 Things Chics need in their Remote Office):

1. Sturdy, Minimalist Desk. I like L-shape, but your space might not be big enough. Essentially, you need something to sit your computer, extra monitors, and stuff on.

2. An Office Chair that costs more than $99. Look the chair you had in the cube at work probably cost $399+. If you’re going to sit in something for over 1,000 hours per year, make sure it’s good and comfortable, for a long time! Plan on $400+ and think Steelcase, Herman Miller, etc. Don’t skip on a great chair! “Looks cool!” isn’t a great trait of a remote office chair.

3. Front Lighting. Sure it looks great to have a window as your backdrop, but it sucks as a functional workspace because every time you are on a video call you get washed out! So, you either have to have a big ring light staring you in the face, or have the window in front of you and let all that natural light make you look great!

4. Head Phone Stand. We (dudes) spend a lot on our headphones, don’t screw up that investment by continually throwing them on the desk every time you get up. Plus, when you leave your desk for the day/evening, it just looks nice!

5. Some Succulents. Some succ-a-what!? Now, my pod-partner Jessica Lee, is love with some sort of rubber tree plant. That’s cool, but maybe too big for a nice desk plant or two! Also, you’re a dude, you will kill real plants, so these are ones that will look great no matter what!

6. Cable Management. I know you don’t care that you have 7 things plugged into three extension cords that are snaking all over your office space, but it looks terrible! Also, a messing space makes you unproductive. Let’s tighten it up!

7. Artwork – Again, this must be strategically positioned so that people can see it. Now, let’s talk about limits. Sure, you can have a Star Wars print, but it better be retro and it better be framed! Another option is great landscape photos of mountain ranges or lakes, etc. You can even go pop culture, just make sure it makes a statement. If you’re questioning your decision, have a friend, who is female, who you think is a neat freak take a look, first! Go big, 36×24, or even bigger depending on your space, no one wants to see some 12X10″ framed photo all by itself on the wall. I’m looking at ordering this print for my office right now – iconic! Check out Etsy for some great prints and prices.

 

3 Things you can do at the office the Friday after Thanksgiving – Remote Work Edition!

So, in the United States, if you have to work the day after Thanksgiving in an office environment, we’ve had this neat little game we play. You act like you work all day, while basically doing nothing!

I’ve written about this in the past and tried to give advice to those poor souls who must go into the office the day after Thanksgiving. I was trying to help them be productive, things like:

  • Clean out your files – paper and digital
  • Send out emails to folks you are thankful for but haven’t told recently
  • Organize your calendar for the next month to ensure you kill the last month of the year.

This year, for so many office workers, it’s completely different! You now are remote. The vast majority of you will have no watchful overload to see if you are actually doing anything or not. It’s just you and your conscience, working all alone at your home.

So, what should you be doing this Friday?

Well, the try-hards in the bunch will do the things listed above but also add:

  • Early morning email out to folks that manner with some kind of important question. Make sure to note, “No reply needed today, but you get a minute…”
  • Late afternoon update on something with data. “I was just crunching some 3rd quarter data and found that we can probably do a budget adjustment for 4th quarter on “X”.”
  • Pro-Level: send a text message to someone else who is working asking for a file you can’t find.

This will show the powers-that-be that you’ve been working super hard all day!

Then there are the other things you can do in between that 8 emails and that 4:30 pm email:

  • Black Friday online shopping (this should take up most of the day) – at least one stop at some sort of office supply site, because “office supplies”
  • Catch up on some Netflix documentaries that have some sort of connection to whatever you do. Research for work stuff.
  • For those who love holiday decorations, this is a perfect time to “decorate your office”
  • There’s always some sort of football game on, just have it running on your second or third screen, I mean you’re working!
  • I like to make a big pot of chili for lunch on Black Friday (it’s okay, you’re working you get to eat lunch)
  • I like to send out holiday cards to my professional network on this day, which is probably really is work, so I might hold off until Monday for this task.

If any of my own team at HRU Tech is reading this – do not send me emails early in the morning or late in the afternoon – unless you really need something, because I know you’ll be doing work if it’s needed, and you’ll be enjoying your life if it’s needed! You can sed me any text messages with great deals you find that you think I should be aware of!

OMG! Did you guys hear what Kris did!?! #Yikes!

Gawd! We love gossip!

I’m personally on five text groups, a few Messenger groups, a couple of IG groups, and a number of email chains that all act like some strange modern version of a watercooler in the breakroom at work. Or the back smoke break patio at the office. Pick your pleasure.

Cultural anthropology sees gossip as an informal way of enforcing group norms. It is effective in small groups. But gossip is not the search for truth. It is a search for approval by attacking the perceived flaws of others…As a social enforcement mechanism, gossip does not scale. Large societies need other enforcement mechanisms: government, religion, written codes.”

Think about how gossip can help organizations perform better.

If I’m new to a department, gossip quickly lets me know the group norms that are expected and tolerated. If I want to be viewed as a good performer I will follow the group norms and gossip is the vehicle for letting me know what those norms will be.

If I’m a “good” gossip, I skilled at finding and sharing information amongst my team they find valuable, I’ll quickly increase my status within the department. I have to be careful as lies and false gossip can quickly bring me down in status.

The problem with gossip, historically, is in didn’t scale well. I might have some juicy gossip but how am I going to effectively share that across an entire organization? But, now with social media, the internet, smartphones, email, Teams/Slack, Zoom, etc., we can easily spread gossip, both good and bad.

So, why am I talking about gossip? 

I will tell you leaders and HR spend more time trying to stop gossip within the organization than almost anything. I’m wondering if we are actually doing ourselves a disservice. What if we used gossip to drive great engagement? What would that look like?

The key to great gossip is “we” all want to be in on a secret. 

We want gossip that we believe almost no one else has. To use gossip to enforce organizational norms (gossip at scale) we can’t just go out and start launching secrets into the world. There has to be a plan!

The problem with trying to lead with gossip is it can lead to chaos. If we believe the social/group norm is to communicate via gossip, that is a very fine line to try and navigate successfully, knowing it’s hard to know what gossip to believe or not believe.

I think we can use the psychology behind our desire for gossip, though, to drive some great outcomes within our organizations.

What happens if you’re in a small meeting, let’s say, five people. The CEO is one of those people and she has something amazing to tell everyone, BUT, the four of us will have to keep this secret. We can’t tell anyone!

We all leave the meeting. I’ve got my #1 right-hand person on my team. I’ve got to pull them in, this is too important, this has too big of an impact on our department not to let my #1 know! So, I trust them (like the CEO trusted me) to not tell anyone else. What happens?

  1. They are over the moon that I trusted them enough to bring them in on the secret. (High Engagement – High Loyalty)
  2. I put myself in a really bad position if the CEO finds out.
  3. I start working with the CEO to let us work on a comms plan to let others know that need to know. (basically to cover my ass for already letting the secret out into the wild!)

Welcome to Organizational Behavior 101, kids!

Every leader has “gossip”. Stuff they know that their team doesn’t know. Some of that is secret. Some of that is just stuff they found about before everyone else, for an undetermined amount of time.

I find that leaders who can use the positive “safe” gossip for informing their team tend to have extremely high team engagement. “Hey, team, we need to pull it in close for a five-minute huddle, I’ve got something really important I need to share with you. But, first, you have to understand, this is NOT public information! We can’t allow this to be shared.”

I just wrote that, and I’m sitting here wanting to know what comes next! Gossip is a powerful tool, that can just as easily make your career as break your career!

As leaders, it’s our job to ensure the group norms we allow are ones where the good gossip, the sharing of information that helps us all increase our knowledge and power are encouraged, while the bad gossip is shut down immediately. All gossip is not bad, but it’s all-powerful in terms of possible outcomes.

 

Creating friendships at work during a pandemic is really hard!

We’ve been told for years now, based on the Gallup research, that having a best friend at work is one of those anchors that will lengthen a person’s tenure with an organization. New research is proving this might not be as easy it sounds! Business Insider:

A Study by Plos One asked students to rate their friendships and also rate whether or not the ‘friend’ would reciprocate by telling researchers they also believed they were friends. Here the results:

In 94% of these perceived friendships, students expected them to be reciprocal. So if John rated Jack as his friend, he expected Jack to rate him as a friend also. But this was so in only 53% of cases; less than half of the students had their friendship beliefs about others reciprocated.

Ouch! Almost half of your friends, do think of you as a friend!

The researchers point to the social network-style of so many friendships today of why people have this wrong perception. People are now building so many friendships with individuals they rarely see or interact with but feel like they have a strong friendship with.

So, what should you be doing as an HR Pro to take advantage of the Friend Anchor?

1. Help provide real-life interactions with your employees to build ‘real’ friendships, not just social network friendships.

2. Give employees the opportunity to work with employees of their choosing on projects. Give an employee a project and let them pick their team to work on it.

3. Don’t ignore those employees who don’t interact with anyone. This is usually the first red flag you’ll get that a person is unhappy at work and more likely to turnover.

I know you didn’t get into HR to play a friendship matchmaker! But, if you value retention and want to lower turnover, being a great matchmaker might be the best tool you have in the HR toolbox!

To increase the difficulty of the position of being a matchmaker, what will you do for a remote workforce to increase friendships? The truth of the matter is it easier to create friendships in person, face to face, then it is when everyone is remote. The process of workplace friendship building has to be purposeful, and again this will mostly fall on HR pros to lead.

Also, remember, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose. Unless they’re a really, really, really good friend, but even then, that’s creepy, don’t do that.