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The Myths of Remote Work

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About This Episode

Now that most corporate work or traditional desk jobs have shifted to remote positions, the myths of remote work have evolved from the 1990s mindset of questioning if it was effective to an extreme focus on constant availability, which is equally dangerous. 

 

In this episode, Lisa and Tricia will address the new myths of remote work, especially for those leading organizations, so leaders can lead well remotely without burning out personally.

1. Remote work doesn’t mean you should always be available.

It’s vital to make a set schedule, just like you would in any office job. When it’s time to work, you work. But when it’s off time, then it’s truly off time. Spend those hours with your family, taking time for lunch, or exercising. Just make sure you aren’t letting your work spill over into your off hours. 

2. Don’t work weekends.

Unless it’s a requirement in your industry, let your weekends be your weekends. Set hard boundaries for you and your team. Everyone should know that it’s not okay to spend time working on Saturday or Sunday. The more you do, the quicker you’ll find yourself burned out. Giving yourself that important time off will keep you fresh and ready to go on Mondays.

 

3. Even in a remote workplace, you still need to set aside time to meet in person.

Whether you’re all in the same city and can meet once a month, or you’re more spread out and can only meet once a year, it’s important to get occasional face time. This will help build trust, camaraderie, and simply allows you to get a lot more done in a short amount of time.

 

What are some misconceptions you might have had about remote work in the past?
What type of guidelines do you currently have for remote and in-person meetings (frequency, one-on-one versus group, etc)?
If you are at a remote company, what are some things you do to be intentional about keeping culture strong?
What would you tell a leader who is considering going remote for the first time?

It’s important to have a little bit of fun, a great purpose, and a good mission.

Tricia Sciortino

Sometimes your best ideas come when you’re not thinking about work.

Lisa Zeeveld

Remote work has to start from a place of trust.

Tricia Sciortino

Retention rate is a great way to measure engagement and the culture of your team.

Lisa Zeeveld

I'm a firm believer in hard boundaries.

Tricia Sciortino

Tricia Sciortino on Instagram and LinkedIn.

Lisa Zeeveld on Instagram and LinkedIn

BELAY’s staffing solutions

(01:40) Myth 1: “I’ve got to always be available so people know I’m working.”

(03:12) Myth 2: “To be a great leader, I need to personally check in with everyone on my team every week.”

(06:53) Myth 3: “We need the best technology to thrive remotely as a team or organization.”

(10:34) Myth 4: “With my office set up at home, I get everything done by working a little every day.”

(13:45) Myth 5: “We will never have to meet in person again!”

(16:55) Myth 6: “Company culture is less important now than it ever was before.”

(17:58) Remote work might not be considered a benefit anymore because it’s become more and more of a norm. 

(20:53) This week’s one next step: Check out our new course Managing Remote Teams: A Proven Blueprint To Develop Thriving Employees. For our podcast listeners, we are offering a discount code for 40% off.

Tricia Sciortino:

You’re spreading your workload out and it’s carrying over into the weekends.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, seven days a week.

Tricia Sciortino:

You’re taking your 40 hours and thinking you’re … and you’re just never shutting it off. Right?

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right.

Tricia Sciortino:

So that’s a big, no. I’m a firm believer in hard boundaries.

Speaker 3:

Welcome to One Next Step, the most practical business podcast in the world. Helping you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence, with tips and tools you didn’t get in business school. Here are your hosts, Tricia Sciortino and Lisa Zeeveld.

Tricia Sciortino:

Welcome to One Next Step. I’m Tricia, CEO of Belay.

Lisa Zeeveld:

And I’m Lisa, COO of Belay. Tricia and I have learned a lot along the way. We have worked together for a decade and have known each other since 2005. We’ve grown a remote business from the beginning to being recognized on the Inc. 5,000 Fastest-Growing Companies list. So, for this episode, we want to share our experiences and the truth behind remote work.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Prior to the pandemic, remote work options were becoming the hottest trend. Employees like the freedom, but employers were hesitant, wondering what it would mean for their organization.

Tricia Sciortino:

But then the pandemic hit. What was once a luxury and decision for leaders suddenly became a requirement. As companies walked through this new normal, leaders began to wonder if the reputation of remote work would prove to be true.

Tricia Sciortino:

So, what we know about the myths about working remote because we’ve done it for a long time, but let’s talk about “the myths” of remote work. First myth… And we hear a lot of these so let’s debunk these things. The first one is really, “I’ve got to always be available so people know I’m working.” Always being available.

Lisa Zeeveld:

That’s right. Always being available, isn’t realistic, nor is it healthy. Constant interruptions will lead to a lack of productivity. You don’t always want to be available. You really need to have a structure and a schedule so that when you’re working, you’re working. When you’re with your family, or when you’re exercising, or any of those other things, that’s your time to do it. You don’t want to constantly be flipping back and forth.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes, and I think, really, remote work does come from a place of a lot of trust. The idea that someone’s going to be able to see everything you’re doing and you be available every second of the day, as a leader lens, is not a healthy place to be. We’re all adults here. So we have to trust that our employees are doing what they need to, and they don’t need to be at our beck and calls.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right, if you are a leader, you’re going to know if somebody is not working. As a leader, you don’t want your team member to jump at the thought that you’re going to call them or instant message them, right? You want to give them the same courtesy of how you would want to live your life. That’s within kind of blocks of times and working means working. Not working means not working.

Lisa Zeeveld:

All right, let’s go to myth number two. To be a great leader. I need to personally check in with every person on my team every week. We’ve actually done this one, is this true or false T?

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh, well, I’m going to say wrong, wrong. I say that because of the word need. Yes, if your schedule allows and you’re able to connect with your team on a weekly basis, that’s awesome.

Tricia Sciortino:

It’s great for a relationship, it’s great for touching in. Your team probably has questions and things they need from you that you can give them access, and remove roadblocks for. If you’re a team member, it gives you an opportunity to kind of get with your leader on a regular cadence or schedule so that you can get the things you need to get done throughout your week.

Tricia Sciortino:

However, we do realize that there are organizations that this may be unrealistic because you manage a team of 50 people. I have a girlfriend who newly manages a remote team, and I said, “Oh yeah, you should have weekly one-on-ones with all of your direct reports.” And she’s like, “I have 43 people that report to me.” And I said “Oh, Okay. I guess you cannot have one-on-ones with every single team member.”

Tricia Sciortino:

Is it ideal? Absolutely. Is it necessary? No, at the end of the day, you want your team to be empowered. It’s their responsibility to do their jobs. They should be able to do them absent of you if need be. Ideally, you are there as a coach and a guide, and to help them make decisions, but they’re taking care of their workload and doing their job.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, absolutely. I think at the crux of this, is the idea is to connect with them because you want to build some sort of a relationship with your team member. You also want to be there to have guidance and counsel. So, equally, you could be having one-on-ones with every team member, and then the other four days of the workweek, you’re unavailable.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I mean, let’s be real. That’s just an absent leader then, because they’re waiting for you. You’re not actually leading them. But the other way around, you might actually only get to talk to a team member one-on-one every other month, because you have 43, but you’re still scheduling them. But that team member knows that they’re valued, knows that you’re there if they have any immediate needs. You’ve built a relationship with them, so I don’t think the amount of time is an indicator of the quality of work or the quality of the leader. I think there’s so much more that goes into that. So, yes, it’s important to schedule one-on-ones but, no, like to your point, they don’t need to be weekly.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes, you can substitute a lot of those things with sending video messages to your team. Instead of an email, that’s a fun opportunity because then your team will get whatever message you’re trying to send them or communication, but they’ll get to hear your voice with it and see your body language. So, recording a little Loom or Zoom of yourself to send out to your team in lieu of an email every once in a while so they can feel that connection. Also, a great little tip.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and augment that too with group meetings, team meetings. So it shouldn’t be that if you are having to meet with them once every other month independently, individually, then you should be doing more frequently, team meetings so that they’re able to see you. You’re able to cast a vision for that team because you don’t want to miss out on casting vision for where you want the organization or your department to go.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes. And those, I would say, we recommend weekly if I’m being honest, right?

Lisa Zeeveld:

Sure, yeah.

Tricia Sciortino:

I would take those 43 people and get them on Zoom weekly. And get in front of your team in that matter, if you can’t do it individually. So, good stuff.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, absolutely. What’s our next myth?

Tricia Sciortino:

Myth three, we need the best technology to thrive as a remote team or organization.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I’m going to say, not… Again, I’m going to say not the best. I think that’s also a myth. I don’t think you have to have the best of anything. I think that you should have the right tools. I think it’s important to have technology for this to be successful.

Lisa Zeeveld:

You need a computer that is able to produce great quality images. You need a fast processor, so your employees can process their work. You need to make sure that they have a fast internet connection. But do you need to buy the bomb.com computer, just to make sure they can do the work? No, because I’m putting my CFO hat on, that’s unnecessary expenses that you don’t need to do. But I think you need to have good technology to make this all work.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, and the right technology. So, every organization, we sit here and we say… A lot of people say, “Oh, slack, you got to have slack.” We don’t use slack, we use chatter. I think knowing what is actually the right technology for you is just as important.

Tricia Sciortino:

Whether you have our CRM application, you might have one that’s more robust. You might have one that’s more entry-level because that’s actually all you need as an organization. So you don’t need to buy the big, fancy CRM, it’s not necessary or needed. You buy the one that’s the right CRM for your organization.

Tricia Sciortino:

I think the same holds true for many other applications. Like, applicant tracking systems, and whether you’re going to use Zoom or Microsoft Teams, or what kind of communication channels you’re going to use. I think of file sharing opportunities. You pick the right ones. They don’t need to be the best or most expensive ones. We have found out, sometimes, the things that are not the Cadillac of… Are just as good because you don’t need all the bells and whistles.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Absolutely. It’s easy to get enamored by the shiny penny.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yes, and I would say too, don’t look at… Don’t compare yourself. If you’ve got an entrepreneur network that you’re a member of, perhaps you sit around a table with them each month, or now you’re meeting via Zoom. They’re talking about all the technology that they have. It’s really easy to compare yourself and to think, “Oh, well, they’re a bigger company than I am. And they have all this technology and I want to get to where they are and so I must go and get it too.” No, don’t have the FOMO, don’t be jealous of what maybe a peer is doing.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Really evaluate it for yourself. Because like you just said, Tricia, we have gotten by on Google Sheets and Google Docs. Making our own… We’ve used instant messenger plenty of times on the Google Suite before we ever had a fancy CRM to lean into.

Tricia Sciortino:

Absolutely.

Speaker 4:

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Speaker 4:

Getting started is the easiest thing you’ll do today to find out more, just go to belay solutions.com/get-started.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I’m going to say myth number four.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

With my office set up at home, I get everything done by working little every day.

Tricia Sciortino:

No, so what they’re saying, what we’re saying here is like you’re spreading your workload out and it’s carrying over into the weekends.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, seven days a week.

Tricia Sciortino:

You’re taking your 40 hours and thinking you’re… And you’re just never shutting it off, right? That’s a big no. I’m a firm believer in hard boundaries. Do not work weekends unless your job requires that you do because you’re in some industry where Saturday work is necessary.

Tricia Sciortino:

Like the rest of us, we work office hours and that means we don’t work nights and we don’t work weekends. I think in order to avoid burnout, it’s really important that you put self-imposed boundaries on your time and your work and not let it bleed into working a little every day. No, shut it off, put it away, tuck it in its place and then go about with the rest of your life.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, there are way more studies than we could share that will tell you that by shutting your brain off, you become more productive when you turn it back on. You to conserve your energy. If you’re a business owner, you need time to think strategically, you need time to vision cast. You need time to dream and really be a visionary for your organization. You can’t do that if you’re always thinking about work. So you need some downtime, please, please, please. We saw it happen a lot in the beginning of our organization. We see it now with our clients that come to Belay that are trying to fit too many hours in a week and just doesn’t do well in the end.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, burnout. You need a fresh mind. It’s why things like PTO and weekends are important and built into most people’s workday. Stepping away from something, taking a minute, taking a couple of days. Taking a week off and then coming back, gives you the opportunity to come at things with a fresh mind and fresh perspectives. I think there’s huge benefits to using your weekends to stop and get out of the work grind. So that you can come back in Monday morning, refreshed, ready, new perspective, slept on it a couple of days. And you feel good about moving forward? You’re re-energized for Monday morning.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, because I feel like… I love to garden, I love beautiful things and architecture. I get inspiration from all those things that are not directly related to our industry. I read books from all different kinds of authors. I read fiction and non-fiction, and I come up with some of my best ideas when I’m not thinking about staffing, you know.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah.

Lisa Zeeveld:

You find out how other organizations, how other industries do work and how maybe you can apply it to your industry that know your competitors aren’t thinking about.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yes, totally love it, great perspective. Myth number five. We will never have to meet in person again.

Lisa Zeeveld:

No, no, no, no.

Tricia Sciortino:

That sounds so sad.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I was going to say, now maybe for our introverts, that might sound like a good idea, but no, that’s not the best idea for business. You definitely want to schedule… Depending upon your state, depending upon federal regulations, once you are able to get together with your team, you absolutely want to get together with your team.

Lisa Zeeveld:

It is so important to see each other, to sit in a room. The energy that comes from getting everybody in the same room and really feeding off of each other is so grand. I mean, you definitely, definitely want to do that. Even if within your organization, you only plan to do it twice a year. We’ve definitely had years here when we’ve only planned it twice a year and do it. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.

Lisa Zeeveld:

We would find cheap conference rooms in hotels, not resorts, in your regular roadside hotel, that we would get a conference room in that was maybe $100-125 for the day. Order in a lunch, again, lunch doesn’t have to be expensive. Just the action of all of us sitting in the same room meant a great deal. We were, truly, the most productive during those time periods.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah, I was just going to say, we know how to be productive as a remote organization because we have been all along. We make great strides and progress as a remote organization. But there’s something about everybody getting in a room for a day or a half a day. The things that can be accomplished sitting in that room together for a day are unmatched.

Tricia Sciortino:

I don’t know how many times we kind of walked away from those times and said, “Wow, we got a lot done today.” We made a lot of great decisions. We had a great brainstorming session. There’s just things like that can’t always be replicated virtually. I could not agree more, although, life does not necessarily allow us the luxury to get our team together the way we used to. I look forward to the time when we can.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah. And if you can’t get your team together, for some reason, maybe, again, local restrictions currently don’t allow you a certain number of people. I can not tell you how important it is to get your leadership team together. That may just be you and one other person, it may be you and 10 people. If you are a leader and part of a team and your business owners are not suggesting it, you should suggest this.

Lisa Zeeveld:

As a leadership team, you really need to build that trust and you need to be able to build the comradery and the dependency really on each other. That comes from all sitting in the same room. We’ve talked a lot about building culture and having fun and in-person meetings are a great way for you to enhance the quality of your culture and add a little fun into what you’re doing.

Tricia Sciortino:

Yeah. Couldn’t agree more, cohesion.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Right, well, and then that brings us to our last myth, this is perfect timing. And that myth is that company culture is less important now than it ever was before.

Tricia Sciortino:

Oh, no, the opposite. Culture, now that you have a newly dispersed team is even more important than it was before to me is literally the opposite. It is going to be unique and new for people to feel engaged, working remote, and feel like they’re working for an organization that they love to work for.

Tricia Sciortino:

As leaders, it’s our job to facilitate how that culture shows up remotely. Now, more than ever, we’ve got to get in front of our teams more frequently. We have to inject more culture remotely. I think the focus and the intentionality on culture is actually more important now than it has ever been.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Absolutely, and there’s a lot of competition for organizations right now. One of the things that we say that used to sort of be an anomaly, this was one of our myths, was remote work. Well now, even organizations who didn’t want to work remotely or having to work remotely. So that’s not a carrot that you can dangle.

Lisa Zeeveld:

The next thing that they’re going to want to know, if they happen to like working remotely, is what’s the culture like. Nobody wants to work for an organization that has a crappy culture. Everybody wants to feel valued. They want to understand what your company mission is. They also want to attach themselves to that mission. And all of that becomes your company culture.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Now, this does not mean… Gone are the days where you had a ping pong table and beer on tap and all, that’s not culture. Hands down, that is not culture. Culture is valuing your employees, it’s communicating well with them. It’s allowing them to know what the expectation is and it’s holding them accountable to those expectations. Sure, it’s having a little bit of fun, but at the end of the day, people want to be respected. The best way that you can respect them is by having great communication and accountability in providing them with a wonderful place to work that they’re compensated well and that you show them gratitude.

Lisa Zeeveld:

I also think that that can be one of the myths, is that company culture has to feel very woo, woo and huggy and all of those things. But at the end of the day, people… Not everybody wants to be huggy. They just wonder if they have a job and they like it there.

Tricia Sciortino:

A purpose, they want to have a little bit of fun, have great purpose, and a good mission. To tie that all that was beautifully said, LZ-

Lisa Zeeveld:

Thank you.

Tricia Sciortino:

… But to tie it all in a bow, I was speaking to our VP of HR today… She’s one of the ones spearheading the people we get to hire here at Belay. She literally said to me today, how she has noticed with the candidates that she is interviewing to consider come working for Belay, now more than ever, that everyone she’s interviewing really is trying to determine whether or not they’re going to come work here because of our culture.

Tricia Sciortino:

That they’re seeking, or they’re leaving an organization that maybe doesn’t have a great culture and they’re seeking one that does. Or, they’re seeking a new opportunity or a new role at a company because of its culture. I think like we have actually seen this show up that people really do care about where they work.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Yeah, and I think that shows in our retention numbers, the fact that we’ve got employees who stay for a very long time. I think that’s a great measure within your own organization, is to take the opportunity to say, “Do I have people leaving quite a bit?” Or, “Do I have people who joined my team and leave relatively quickly?” Great way for you to measure engagement on your team and also the culture of your team.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Well, guys, it is time for the One Next Step. We have a download for you. This week’s One Next Step is to check out our new course, Managing Remote Teams. A proven blueprint to develop thriving employees. For our podcast listeners. We’re offering a discount code for 40% off.

Tricia Sciortino:

Woohoo, that is… Guys I’ve taken this course, obviously, helped develop it. It is jam-packed with so much goodness.

Lisa Zeeveld:

It is.

Tricia Sciortino:

And 40% off, that is a deal. So, text the phrase One Next Step to 31996, or visit onenextsteppodcast.com and you’ll get access to today’s resources to help you keep moving forward. Thank you, guys, for joining us today.

Tricia Sciortino:

Now that we’ve busted the top myths of remote work, talk to your leadership team and your team members, then decide what’s right for your company. Until next time, own your journey. It’s your life and your business. It’s up to you to create the life and organization you want. Join us next week for more practical tips and actionable tools to advance your business, one step at a time. Start by making today count.

Lisa Zeeveld:

Next week on the podcast, we’re celebrating our 50th episode of One Next Step with moments from our most popular episodes thus far. In it, you’ll hear from amazing business leaders like Daymond John of Shark Tank, bestselling author and business coach Michael Hyatt, the founders of BELAY, Bryan and Shannon Miles, and more. Here’s a snippet of what you’ll hear.

Daymond John:

Warren Buffet said it best, he said, “You’re not going to be able to change what happens in the world, but the only thing that is going to be stuck with you for the rest of your life is you, yourself, and your education.” Alright? And no matter where you go, you’re there and your education, your skillset, and your ability, and your knowledge is going to be the thing that either is going to help you avoid landmines or look for goldmines.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for listening to One Next Step. Be sure to subscribe on Apple podcasts or follow us on Spotify. Then, join us next time for more practical business tips and tools to help you get more done, grow your business, and lead your team with confidence. For more episodes, show notes, and helpful resources, visit onenextsteppodcast.com.

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