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Succeed With a Remote Workforce

Small Biz Buzz hosts Crystal Heuft and Rob Stevenson are joined by guest Victoria Moyer as they talk about the growing trend of working remotely. How will this affect employee engagement? Does it depend on the industry or the job position? Will it catch on with more corporations? Tune in for more.


Derek: 00:00 Howdy, listeners. As we all know, planet Earth has 7.5 billion people, and 7.4 billion of those people have small businesses. Now, to be fair, numbers that size can be hard to envision, and to be even fairer, most of what I just said is entirely made up. I'll tell you what isn't made up, Keap. Keap is the all-in-one client management software, designed specifically for small businesses. Keap takes the most annoying and laborious parts of running a small business and metaphorically tosses them into the sun. Stop grinding yourself to death with busy work and repetitive tasks. Let Keap integrate your customer follow-ups, messaging automation, next level appointment setting, and so much more. Head over to keap.com and start your free trial of Keap Grow, Keap Pro, or for those looking for something beefier, talk to one of our coaches about Infusionsoft, the product that started it all. More business, less work, that's Keap. Just go to keap.com to start your free trial. That's K-E-A-P dot com. One more time, that's K-E-A-P dot com.

Crystal: 01:03 Hi, this is Crystal.

Rob: 01:04 And I'm Rob.

Crystal: 01:05 This is Small Biz Buzz, presented by Keap. Hey, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us. This is Crystal, Rob, and today we have our guest, Victoria [Moyer 00:01:16], who is an estimator. We're going to be actually talking with her about having success in a remote workforce. Thanks so much for joining us, Victoria.

Victoria: 01:25 Thank you for having me.

Crystal: 01:25 Yeah, we're really excited. Let the record show, Victoria is actually one of my great friends. Just want to say that so we're transparent here. I think she's pretty brilliant. She actually has a lot of experience in what we're going to be talking about, and she has worked from home for how many years, Victoria?

Victoria: 01:42 This is my eighth year.

Crystal: 01:43 Eighth year working from home, so definitely a remote workforce. Your company is actually based out of?

Victoria: 01:49 Pennsylvania.

Crystal: 01:50 You guys can see, we're in Arizona here, so that is actually very remote. We'll go over, what are we talking about today, Rob?

Rob: 01:58 To be honest, I am fascinated by the concept of working from home, or working remotely, or diversifying the location of workforce. From a coworking perspective, to locations, to roles and responsibilities. I can't believe that you've worked remotely for eight years, Victoria. That is mind blowing to me. How do you do your job? Do you get lonely? I'd miss the social component of it. I have so many questions. Let's start with that one. How do you do your job?

Victoria: 02:28 Well, they were fortunate enough to set me up, so it does make it easier. You don't have to worry about the computers and monitors and all of that yourself.

Rob: 02:36 All of your technology is taken care of.

Victoria: 02:36 Yes.

Rob: 02:36 They've given you all that stuff? Okay.

Victoria: 02:37 They provided everything.

Crystal: 02:39 Just to, real quick, jump in. You've been with the company you've worked for, for 17 years?

Victoria: 02:43 Yes.

Crystal: 02:45 Let's see. That's nine years you worked in the office?

Victoria: 02:48 Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Crystal: 02:50 Basically, after she had worked that long, they don't let a lot of their employees actually work remote. Am I correct in remembering that?

Victoria: 02:55 They've started to in probably the last two years, but it's still pretty new for them to be accepting of that, if that's what someone's role needs to transition to.

Crystal: 03:04 Yeah. I was just going to say-

Rob: 03:05 That's so interesting.

Crystal: 03:06 ... She kind of earned the right to move from working there to working remote. Just want to give you a shout out there because, Rob, you were pretty shocked with how long she's done that.

Rob: 03:14 Well, that is something I want to dig into later, the concept of earning it as a privilege versus maybe it's something that's expected from a workforce as your workforce diversifies. As the expectations, is it something in addition to compensation as a part of a global compensation package? Let's get back to your story. How do you work as an estimator for a door company when you are 2,000 miles away from home office?

Victoria: 03:37 3,500.

Crystal: 03:40 Who's counting?

Rob: 03:40 I'm sorry, yeah.

Crystal: 03:42 Who's counting how many miles?

Victoria: 03:42 Quite a few flights home, so I keep track. Well, everything is the VPN connection, so I am connected to the corporate interface so I can look at everything. It basically is I get my work via email. If someone needs me, they can obviously call me. We have a pretty good inter working system where we all log in. We log into Cisco so we can instant message each other.

Rob: 04:09 Cool, okay.

Victoria: 04:09 And share screens if we need to, to provide information. Even though it's remote, it's pretty interactive for me. I'm comfortable working independently, so that does definitely make it easier for me.

Rob: 04:24 I'll bet. Technology like Cisco, like Slack, those coworking instant message programs, that makes it a lot easier because it is like you could down two desks from me, you could be down two states from me, or in your case, two time zones. That is super, super interesting. How does the team work? What does your team structure look like?

Victoria: 04:44 Well, I have, for my job with estimating, I do have a lead inside, he and I talk every day. Every morning between 8:00 and 9:00 either I call him or he calls me just to check in, discuss workload, what we're going to do today, and how things look. Then we still check in throughout the day. We just started recently, every Thursday now we're going to have a team meeting with everyone over like I call in, but everyone else is in the office that does do what I do. We all come into one room, we go over any issues we have, questions, and share information because it is easy at times, to get forgotten about when a certain topic crops up in the middle of the office and no one remembers to email you or call you and let you know about it.

Rob: 05:29 That is so funny. I recently just moved desks so I could be closer to my team because I literally-

Crystal: 05:34 He demanded it, let the record show.

Rob: 05:36 I was two rows away, and I felt like there was this whole ecosystem of conversations and shared jokes, and these interpersonal things that I was missing being literally 15 feet away. I'm super curious about the logistics of how you make this work. Pennsylvania is the Eastern time zone, here we are in Arizona, which is most of the time Pacific, but sometimes Mountain. Do you get up early? Do you work later than the Pennsylvania office? How does that happen?

Crystal: 06:01 Depending on the time change, we won't see Victoria after 7PM.

Victoria: 06:04 I get up earlier. Yeah.

Crystal: 06:04 Our group of friends.

Victoria: 06:05 I work whatever the east coast hours are, that's what I work.

Crystal: 06:08 She gets up way early.

Victoria: 06:08 Sometimes it's 5:00, sometimes it's 6:00.

Rob: 06:11 Is that by choice? Is it something part of the negotiation to work from home? Is it something you just prefer because you don't come into 8:00 and there's 15 emails from people who've been working for two hours? How does that work?

Victoria: 06:22 In the beginning, they wanted to negotiate it. They were very generous and said I could start later, but with the nature of our business and knowing the bulk of our business is on the east coast, everybody's closing, so even though I could start later and that would be good for me, it would be more difficult to get a hold of customers and clarify issues.

Rob: 06:38 Did you start here in Pennsylvania, or was it here in Arizona? How did that work for you?

Victoria: 06:44 I started working from home here in Arizona. When I gave my notice to my boss, I gave about six month's notice because I knew I was moving. Right before I moved, about two months in, they were like, "Hey, what do you think about working from home?" Because at that point, only two other people had done it. I was like, "We'll give it a shot. If it works, great. If not, that's okay."

Crystal: 07:05 Here you are eight years later.

Rob: 07:07 There's just so many elements, like you talked about. There's technology, the hardware, setting up the infrastructure because there's so many things that could possibly go wrong. You're outside like an IT ecosystem, so there's security issues, there's passwords, there logins.

Crystal: 07:23 You can tell Rob is really curious about this.

Victoria: 07:24 Well, the VPN, everything is set up so that it is a secure connection, but if there an IT issue, I troubleshoot it myself for the most part.

Crystal: 07:33 The thing that makes me laugh about how it is these days is with Slack and other in-office messaging apps, or out of office, whatever it is, in-work messaging apps, I guess we'll call that. A lot of times, I find even in office, people are Slacking me that sit literally one row over. Dusey and I Slack all the time, Dusey is our sound guy extraordinaire, video. He does anything tech you can imagine over here. We basically-

Rob: 08:02 Dusey makes me call him the boss.

Crystal: 08:02 You should.

Rob: 08:03 And I'm not allowed to make eye contact.

Crystal: 08:05 It's earned, also speaking of earned behavior.

Rob: 08:06 Just so we're clear.

Crystal: 08:08 I would just say it makes me laugh because some of the things you're asking about, we've given that up even in office. We're so technical these days that a lot of times, I think in office, people aren't even taking advantage of the things that they could, like being face-to-face, and they're still relying on apps that you could be anywhere talking to someone.

Rob: 08:29 I want to build on that point for a second. We got the hardware taken care of, the VPN, the actually physical computers. There's a whole world of software now that makes it easy, SaaS based programs like Slack, like instant messaging, like Cisco. There's a third element, I think, and at least in my opinion, there's a third element. That's a mental toughness. There's a discipline involved on getting up at 5:00 so I can be at my desk and working at 6AM. That takes resilience, that takes [inaudible 00:08:58]. You can push back in your chair and talk to 10 other people who are going through the exact same experience with you relative to work. No one says, "Hey, do you want to go for a team lunch?" Or maybe if they do, they maybe FaceTime you in for a team lunch. I don't know. That level, and I'm a social butterfly, so I need that and I would miss it. How does that work for you?

Victoria: 09:20 For me, because I am very comfortable working independently, I thrive on just that basic communication for me. I also know myself, where I'm kind of a workhorse. If I'm focused, I don't thrive on social interaction in the same way, that doesn't give me energy. Focusing on whatever it is I'm doing and getting it done does. That definitely is an advantage for me. It's easy. I shouldn't say it's always easy, but when I have to roll out of bed, even though I start work at 6:00, I'm literally rolling out of bed and walking six feet.

Rob: 09:53 You wear jammies, you got a big cup of coffee right next to you. It's perfect.

Victoria: 09:57 Right. The time difference is doable because of things like that.

Rob: 10:01 Yeah. How about you Crystal? Do you like working from home?

Crystal: 10:03 I do. Actually, you probably don't know this about me Rob, but for about three and a half years, I worked remote. My corporate office was in Foster City, California, and I worked out of my home as an outreach marketing specialist. This was way back in the day. I really did enjoy it. I, too, like you, I like my balance now more where I'm working only one day a week from home. Back then, I had to do it all the time, other than I traveled a lot to go visit the studios I was supporting. I worked for a photography studio that was nationwide. Basically, I did miss people and I craved almost spending more and more time with my friends and getting out the house the minute it was like after 5:00.

Crystal: 10:48 I liked that time because it was good for my career, it was good growth, I learned a lot, and I had a great mentor back then, Roz Greenfield if you're out there. Basically, I really felt happy with the job, but I got lonely. I had tons of conference calls, and I did get to travel a lot, which kept me a little bit going. But I think to do that full time now would be quite an adjustment. I love coming into the office, and I love being able to talk to everyone face-to-face. I really enjoy that here. We get at least one day a week, at least on my team, to really go home and work. I sit, my dog lays right next to me the whole day. She sometimes shows up in conference calls, and people say she's cute, which also makes me happy that they like my dog because I love her, too. But yeah, it's nice. To be honest, most of the time in in pajama bottoms on the bottom. It's just nice that I don't have to fight traffic.

Rob: 11:41 From now on on Fridays, we're going to make you stand up, have every conference call standing up. So at least we can see the pants.

Crystal: 11:46 Chris always calls me out. He's like, "Why isn't your video on?" Well mainly because I look like a train wreck but here, I'll put it on. You want to see where I'm at so bad? Here I am, no makeup, hair messed up. Yeah, on the bottom it's pajama pants, [crosstalk 00:11:58].

Rob: 11:57 That is something, and it's interesting. Here at Keap, we have different teams, and different teams have different rules about working from home, and the impact that it could have on your team. You have that ability and that flexibility. For me, it's a productivity issue. I have a commute into the office, it's about 45 minutes. If I don't have to drive in, that's an hour and a half I get back every day. What could I be doing in that hour and a half instead of driving? Now, driving, I listen to podcasts, I'm thinking about the day, it's like shower thoughts. It's like all the stuff I'm going to do today. But when you're at home, I'm able to put pen to paper, I'm able to jump right into some of those things. I don't mind it in a sense. I miss the being able to lean over and talk about one specific thing, or those fun distractions during the day. I don't like real distractions where it's like impossible to get your work done, but somebody walking by and doing something fun or talking about something fun, and you jump in and have a 30-second conversation, and then it's moving on. What are some tips? If you had to come up with a list of say, three things. What are three things that you think people should be thinking about when they're putting together a working from home, or a working remotely space?

Victoria: 13:13 Number one would be make sure that you have your clear cut expectations on both ends so that way you can be sure that you're set up the way that you need to be for it to be successful. I know when I first started, they were just transitioning into everyone in the office having dual monitors. When I first moved out here, that was not the thing. It took them about a year to get me the dual monitors.

Rob: 13:37 To send you the second monitor.

Victoria: 13:38 Right. It's also like I had to get a new PC and new equipment so it would hook up properly. For a year, I was doing my work double time, making it work.

Rob: 13:49 Closing, opening, closing, opening, minimizing, maximizing.

Victoria: 13:51 Right, and still keeping up the productivity level of everyone else with two. Definitely establishing that. You do have to know yourself. I know that like I said, I will work a lot, even way beyond when I should. For me, it was important to have a very specified workspace so when it's time to be done, I close that door, and I'm done.

Rob: 14:12 Like it's time to go, it's time to go. Exactly.

Crystal: 14:14 Yeah, that is good.

Rob: 14:14 It's funny because I work from home, like we talked about, a little bit, very little bit. My wife does not. Doesn't believe in it, she's very old school. She's very much a butts in seat mentality. I completely understand. She allows her team to work from home, but she will never allow herself that same privilege. Sometimes I don't do a good job of managing her expectations because I'll say, "I'm working from home on a Friday." She's like, "Perfect. Okay, so we need an oil change and you have to go get a haircut, and can you pick up some groceries?" I'm like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa. Working from home means I'm legitimately actually working, not I'm not going into the office today." That's the difference. We've had multiple conversations about those expectations. What do you say to people who hear that you work from home? Everyone thinks it's party time, or how do you help them understand that no, I'm legitimately contributing and I'm more productive, and here's why. Walk us through that.

Victoria: 15:08 When it comes to friends, they understand because I work in a construction based business, the summer is our busy season. They'll go from seeing me pretty often, or talking, to I'm working 12-13 hours a day. Like Crystal said, when it's that time, it's time for me to go to bed. I'll message you guys tomorrow. They do understand that I legitimately am working, but there is always that. To be fair, there are perks to working from home. When people are like, "Oh, that's kinda cushy." It has its moments. I don't have to sit and traffic after a stressful day at work. I can immediately do something to de-stress right away, or make plans. You alleviate a lot of worries that you have on getting things done in time. There are definite advantages.

Crystal: 15:53 We know we have you at the edge of your seat, but we're going to break and go to Worst Business Ideas in History.

Derek : 16:13 Howdy, I'm Derek Harju.

Dusey Van Dusen: 16:14 I'm Dusey Van Dusen.

Derek : 16:16 And this is Worst Business Ideas in History.

Dusey Van Dusen: 16:18 What's on the docket today?

Derek : 16:19 We're going to be talking about a topic I am so excited about because I will talk endlessly about this. It is the rise and fall of RadioShack.

Dusey Van Dusen: 16:27 Okay.

Derek : 16:30 I have been obsessed with RadioShack for as long as I can remember. I grew up in the '80s more or less, I remember my dad going there. RadioShack used to be a place that sold components for electronics. People did a lot of stuff at home, they built their own things.

Dusey Van Dusen: 16:47 Yeah, I remember, I think remote control car stuff, my brother getting there. Things like that.

Derek : 16:52 Yeah. Diodes, alligator clips, wiring.

Dusey Van Dusen: 16:56 Yeah, like the components, like you said.

Derek : 16:59 Yeah. They started out, like the term RadioShack, the name of the company actually comes from their original business was selling components to radio men at sea basically, like the guys who literally operated the radio shack, which is what that little on a ship, the box where the guys-

Dusey Van Dusen: 17:18 The little box with the radio, the radio shack.

Derek : 17:21 Yeah. Then eventually, they paired with a company called Tandy, and were bought out by them. That's when they put out the TRS80, which was one of the first consumer personal computers. Yes, I know, some people are going to be like, "What about the Altair?" The Altair wasn't wide production, so don't get me started. I woke up earlier than you, I know more. The TRS80, huge hit, because this was before it had to compete with the Apple II, or anything like that, because that stuff wasn't in full production yet. They were making bank. They make a ton of money from that, make a ton of money from CB Radios, which they capitalized on. They had all their catalogs, which by the way, my level of obsession goes this far. I have a resource that is bookmarked on all of my computers that is a collection in PDF form of every single catalog RadioShack ever put out. I occasionally read them for fun because I'm a broken human being.

Dusey Van Dusen: 18:18 Wow.

Derek : 18:20 RadioShack is doing great. They're doing great in the '70s, they're doing great in the '80s. Then the '90s roll up, and things get dark real fast.

Dusey Van Dusen: 18:30 Yeah, and then what happens?

Derek : 18:32 Consumer culture starts shifting, the internet is becoming a thing that people can actually use. RadioShack just starts making a bunch of mistakes. They don't back eCommerce fast enough.

Dusey Van Dusen: 18:45 I was going to say, so is this a case of like Amazon?

Derek : 18:48 A lot of people will claim that Amazon showed up and murdered RadioShack. That is not the case. RadioShack created a lot of self inflicted wounds.

Dusey Van Dusen: 18:59 Okay. You were starting to get to those. What are they?

Derek : 19:03 The first one is they didn't adopt eCommerce fast enough. It was a technology company. You can make the argument that it's just a retail store, but it was a technology company, it was founded on the ... the TRS80 was the PC of its time.

Dusey Van Dusen: 19:20 The type of people that went to RadioShack all the time were going on the internet now, and they didn't follow them.

Derek : 19:25 They didn't follow, I don't know. I have tried to find out. If it was a problem with leadership, they've never been forthcoming with it, although I have a suspicion it had a lot to do with the age of upper management and their inability to adopt the internet fast enough. They didn't adopt eCommerce fast enough. When they finally did, it was a truncated, ridiculous version. Basically at the time, you could go on BestBuy.com, and you could buy stuff, and they would ship it to you. You'd go to Amazon.com, you'd buy stuff, and they'd ship it to you. You'd go to RadioShack.com, they will tell you where a store is and they will tell you the price of the product, and that's where their help ends.

Dusey Van Dusen: 20:02 Wow. It's not even really eCommerce, right? That is like let's just take our database and make it available to the public of our inventory.

Derek : 20:11 Pretty much. It's the Yellow Pages on a computer. It's the Yellow Pages, but slower at the time. Now, okay, so in the mid '90s, they try to right the ship and they start adopting cell phones.

Dusey Van Dusen: 20:23 I very much remember them becoming like big into selling cell phones.

Derek : 20:27 Yeah.

Dusey Van Dusen: 20:28 Near the end of their life, which always seemed odd to me. I don't know why it didn't seem like a good fit. I don't know that I could articulate it.

Derek : 20:35 It just doesn't seem like the place to go get a cell phone. They were able to jump on it early enough to where they actually made some decent money for a little while. Here's the problem with cell phone sales. They're volatile. People would buy cell phones, they wouldn't like them because they're early cell phones and a lot of them are garbage, and they would return them. Now, what this ended up doing was tying up the stores because the process of setting up someone for a cell phone at the time could take up to an hour. If you've ever been in a RadioShack, you know there is like two people maximum in one of those stores. Even in their heyday, there were two guys in that store, and that was it. You got a person coming in to set up a cell phone plan, that store now has no floor workers, which means the dude that comes in to buy diodes or oscillators, or any of the stuff RadioShack used to sell-

Dusey Van Dusen: 21:22 Yeah, not only are you tying up all this time with the phones, but now your core people that are probably keeping you in business are starting to go, "Why are you guys always spending time with the phone people and not with us?"

Derek : 21:34 Oh yeah, and they get super mad and frustrated, and they bail and they go to places like Best Buy. The next thing that happens, the next big nail in their coffin is cell phone stores, cell phone carriers, you've got your Sprints, Verizons, T-Mobiles, whatever was out there at the time, the Chirp for those of you that remember the Chirp. They start putting out their own stores, and they're like, "We don't need you, RadioShack." Now RadioShack has put all their eggs into the cell phone basket, and nobody wants them because they're like, "Why would I go to your store where people kind of know what they're doing when I could go to the store, the carrier, and they know exactly how to set me up? And they've got more phones, and they've got more customer service, and they've got more support."

Derek : 22:15 The next thing that starts happening is they just try to stop the bleeding. They're trying to shut down stores because the point of RadioShack at one time was the ease of accessibility. They were small stores, and at times, they were within three to five miles of one another. Even in middle America, even in the Midwest. I want you to think about that. We complain about how ubiquitous a Starbucks is, they still space the Starbucks out like block to block. There was a time in the '80s and the early '90s where you could be standing at one RadioShack and hit the next one with rock.

Dusey Van Dusen: 22:48 And so ease of access was their main selling point, but the internet is always going to be easier than that. That gets taken away, and what they're left with is a bunch of retail spaces not making the money.

Derek : 23:02 In fact, they're just bleeding money from their physical brick and mortar spaces. They had massive manager turnover. They went through 14 CEOs in 10 years.

Dusey Van Dusen: 23:16 Whoa, whoa.

Derek : 23:17 They went through 14. If it's less than 14, I apologize, but it is a double digit turnover in CEOs. They all had one idea or another of how to turn the company around. Well, one of the big missteps they made was they took out a massive loan as a cash infusion. The problem was the entity they took out the cash infusion from as part of their deal said, "You are not allowed to close more than 200 stores per year." At this time, they had an excess of 7,000 stores. Now they're bleeding money, they can't stop the bleeding, and then there's all these stories about just these insane missteps they made. They spent millions and millions and millions of dollars buying these remote controlled cars from a kid's show in Britain called Broom, the Broom Car, which it looks like a little Model T or something.

Dusey Van Dusen: 24:09 Okay. I've never heard of it.

Derek : 24:11 No. You know why you haven't heard of it? Because it never aired in America. I never aired in America.

Dusey Van Dusen: 24:17 It was based on a TV show that was-

Derek : 24:19 In England.

Dusey Van Dusen: 24:19 In England, in Britain.

Derek : 24:20 That only appeared on Discovery Kids in England.

Dusey Van Dusen: 24:23 oh wow.

Derek : 24:24 Also, this thing was $200. Think about that, it's 1995, you're a kid, and you go, "What should I ask my parents for for Christmas? Should I get a PlayStation 2, or should I get this weird British car from a cartoon I've never seen?" The end starts to come, the stores are closing. There's all these stories you can find. There's this amazing series of stories, I believe it's Forbes, from former RadioShack workers who are now allowed to speak without fear of being sued because RadioShack was doing that for a period of time.

Dusey Van Dusen: 24:54 I've got to dig into those.

Derek : 24:57 RadioShack was actively suing their employees to keep them from posting negative things online. They started the '90s with 7,000 stores, halfway through the '90s, they're down to 4,000. The current count, I believe, is 70 corporate locations. There are people that are like, "RadioShack is entirely gone." It's not entirely gone. It's been delisted from the New York Stock exchange, they're massively in debt that they will never be able to repay, and their existing 70 stores are all corporate entities. All the privately owned ones are gone. I went online to see if I could find any artifacts of this former behemoth. I went to RadioShack.com, which does still exist. Their top products are AA batteries, cables for some sort of amplifier I've never seen, and this is their main page. Their main page offering is an AM/FM radio with foam headphones. I had a suspicion that I confirmed, which is this is the same product they offered in 1978. It's on their main page as one of their core offerings. That is the history of RadioShack as it stands today.

Dusey Van Dusen: 26:12 I can't believe that they didn't take the spaces that they have. There's a whole movement of makerspaces, of people that are wanting to build things again, 3D printers. They're one of the few places that had the physical space to create a community, and instead it sounds like they pushed the community out.

Derek : 26:31 Yeah. It was a lot of cross talk. I assume it had a lot to do with their corporate structure, no one getting on the same page. Yeah, they could have taken advantage of this new DIY. Well, it's not new, but at the time it would have been new.

Dusey Van Dusen: 26:46 Yeah, a revival.

Derek : 26:47 The revival of DIY, and the revival of makers, and this self-sufficiency that people have adopted now. I guess the question is, what can you learn from a failure of this size?

Dusey Van Dusen: 26:58 Yeah. I'm having a hard time applying it to ... because part of it, when there's these large corporate structures, there's so many internal forces that small businesses have a lot of things that they have to fight against. It's only really when they start growing that they have all these internal forces and squabbles that are as strong, but I suppose it can still happen in a small business, depending on who you're giving authority to run things, trusting in your employees, creating-

Derek : 27:31 Getting everyone on the same page, for one thing because this is an obvious example of nobody's talking to each other.

Dusey Van Dusen: 27:37 Yeah, and staying in touch with your customer too, right? Like you have to understand that consumer trends will be changing over time. Even if you offer a service that's as old as time, like plumbing and electricians, that's stuff feels like it's been around forever. But there is a time when that was a change, too. Now with smart home stuff, if you're not staying up to date with the way that consumers are purchasing and with what their attitudes are, you can get left behind real fast.

Derek : 28:07 Yeah. Six months ahead is not ahead anymore, you got to be looking five years minimum. Thank you for going down this rabbit hole with me.

Dusey Van Dusen: 28:12 Thank you for enlightening me. This is a whole, I have a lot of reading to do now, I think.

Derek : 28:16 You have no idea. I could do a 20-part series just on this, and there's a slim chance I might, so we'll see.

Dusey Van Dusen: 28:25 Well, join us on our next podcast, the history of RadioShack.

Derek : 28:30 Thank you all for joining us. I've been Derek Harju.

Dusey Van Dusen: 28:32 I'm Dusey Van Dusen.

Derek : 28:33 And this has been Worst Business Ideas in History.

Dusey Van Dusen: 28:35 Bye.

Derek : 28:36 Keeping ever expanding client info straight, sending the same emails hundreds of times, scheduling and re-scheduling appointments over and over. Who enjoys this nonsense? No one, except my cousin Brent, and Brent is the absolute worst. Keap is the premier, all-in-one CRM. Just head over to keap.com, that's K-E-A-P dot com, and start your free trial today. Get the busy work out of the way so you can focus on what's important, and make your small business grow with Keap. Start your free trial at keap.com, that's K-E-A-P dot com. More business, less work, that's Keap.

Rob: 29:21 I like that, I like that thinking. I'd like to talk a little bit about in your case, because it's so specific, they wanted Victoria so much that they made an exception for you, and now it's becoming the norm. But you do see that when we talk about norms, there is an expectation of, "Well, how many days can I work from home?" Yours was a privilege or something you earned, versus that expectation. Do you see that in the world, or do you see that with other people at your company? Have you heard about that from other remote workers?

Victoria: 29:52 When it comes to the company, because we are construction, as a whole, it's still very old school in the United States.

Rob: 29:59 Yeah, I'll bet. I'll bet.

Victoria: 30:00 A lot of the mentality is. When it comes to being more progressive, we tend to be progressive when it comes to the machinery and making a product a certain way.

Rob: 30:09 The automation, yeah.

Victoria: 30:10 But when it comes to the office side, it's still dragging. Younger employees that are coming in, in their early 20s, mid 20s, for them, they are asking, "Well, can I work from home?" It's now asked up front, whereas for us or for myself, it was a, "Hey, you've been with us really long, we like you, you're good, we want to keep you."

Rob: 30:28 We don't want to lose you, what can we do? Here's a tangible thing.

Victoria: 30:31 Right. That has definitely changed over the years, where there are more people that do come in, they work from home. Or if they're going to have child care issues, the job will negotiate with them so they can have a couple days home a week.

Rob: 30:45 Gen Z, let's talk about Gen Z. Gen Z is 1990, I think. They're coming into the workforce now, and they're coming in hard. I may be wrong on the 1990, but it's going to be real close. They're coming in with a different set of expectations, with a different set of what I can do for this company, but also a question that I never asked, what can this company do for me? Not to be the old man shaking my fist at the sky, "Get off my lawn," but how do you think companies can deal with a workforce where there is more of an expectation about what are you doing to do for me? How do you change that mindset? Especially in an old school industry?

Victoria: 31:26 Part if it, honestly, working from home, when that transition first happened, I don't think it's talked about a lot, but that exposes a company's inner workings because you don't realized when you're in an office that, "Oh hey, this information that we need is always at person A's desk," so everybody in the office will get up and go to that person's desk to get it. You don't realize it's not in a centralized area that's easily accessible.

Rob: 31:48 That is something I would never have considered, but you're exactly right. If there's an accounts payable person, or someone who's go the key to this cabinet because I need a dry erase marker, so much of that historical intelligence is locked and limited to the people who are actually there. When that person's not there, that's so interesting.

Victoria: 32:08 Yeah.

Crystal: 32:08 I feel like though too, more and more as companies are actually getting involved with what their company mission is, their company goals, the values they set up, and the more and more they're looking to what are the expectations out there for actual employees? You need good employees, so you do have to be concerned about what they expect and what they are looking for in jobs, if you want to retain good, quality employees.

Rob: 32:34 Oh yes.

Crystal: 32:34 The other side of things is though, we're not going to go as far as Google. I'm not saying we need a nap room at offices. I'm not someone to dive into that, but to a degree, you do have to be aware of what are the expectations out there? They are shifting. Not just for Gen Zers, or Millennials, to throw out a pop word there, but I would say that everyone's starting to expect more. We have more data and more data on work-life balance, and all of these things.

Rob: 33:03 As a Millennial, are you talking about your generation in the third person?

Crystal: 33:08 I am an old Millennial, first of all.

Rob: 33:11 An elder Millennial.

Crystal: 33:12 Elder Millennial. Also-

Victoria: 33:15 Yes, Iliza.

Crystal: 33:17 I'm saying all of us, you included, have new expectations of what the workforce should be for you compared to what it was 20 years ago.

Rob: 33:26 That's what makes it so difficult when we talked about that old school mentality, because a lot of the leaders that are in leadership positions now are boomers, for example. They could be elder Millennials, like our friend Crystal here. It's managing those expectations and understanding, "Okay, someone is coming to me with this expectation. I would never have asked that, how rude." I feel like that's false. "This person's coming to me with this new expectation that I'm not aware of, I need to understand where that question's coming from." Maybe it is part of a compensation package, maybe working from home has such a beneficial element to this person or this company's goal and ethos and community and their spirit and who we are, because you get to work from home and you get those individual things. Maybe that's just a new way of looking at things, which completely dangerous for an old school manager to be like, "No, you cannot work from home. Butts in seats."

Victoria: 34:20 Right, but part of that too, to move everything forward is to look at your organization and decide, do we need to bring in someone else? Because at some point very soon, you're going to have three different generations working in the same building.

Crystal: 34:30 Yeah. And I think-

Rob: 34:31 Our company's moving ... I'm sorry.

Crystal: 34:32 The human touch though in general is losing its effect anywhere you go. We have a rule with our group of friends when we go to dinner, no phones. It's silly you have to make that rule, like, "Keep your phones away, it's family time," is what we always say. Even when you take it out of the workplace, people are losing a lot of having the need to be face-to-face. You've got so many apps on your phone that help you stay connected even though you're not in the same room. You've got so many things in your life that honestly, just make it hard to actually go somewhere and invest in the face-to-face contact. I feel like if you look at the trends outside of a job, the face-to-face time and the need to be in the same room have been diminishing for a while.

Victoria: 35:16 Absolutely.

Crystal: 35:16 I think it's no surprise it's catching up in the workplace.

Rob: 35:20 That's really interesting. Victoria, what can a small business do from a remote workforce perspective? Because so much of a small business' success is hustle, it's effort, it's being there, being on all the time. How does remote workforce fit into that equation for a small business owner?

Victoria: 35:42 Well, part of it, it's no different in a lot of ways. Sometimes I feel like there are certain myths with working from home. You're still going to have to hire quality people, you're still going to have to set very clear expectations about who you want so that you're not micromanaging because no manager what's to micromanage in the office or someone outside of it. You know what I mean?

Rob: 36:01 Both sound terrible.

Crystal: 36:02 Amen. No one wants to be micromanaged.

Victoria: 36:03 Right, so that's still very important. Also, when it comes to the communication piece, that's probably the most difficult thing, which is also is another exposing factor. Whether it's in-house or out of the office. When you're away from the office, you do notice that lack of communication because you need to know your people, you need to know how to give that reinforcement.

Crystal: 36:26 That's so true.

Victoria: 36:26 And all of those things.

Rob: 36:27 I want to follow up on a point you just made, that no one likes to be micromanaged. I think that's very true in the sense that as a phrase, micromanaging becomes pejorative, or have a pejorative element to it. There is segment of the workforce that likes to be given a list of 10 things to do, and then is excellent at doing those 10 things. How does that person exist in this new, more modern remote workforce?

Victoria: 36:53 Well, they still do. That doesn't mean that you can't still be task oriented, and that be the way that you prefer to work. There is an onus on the manager, whether again, here or there, they need to know their people. If you know you have someone who is very task oriented, they're goal oriented, then you can set up a daily list for them and decide whether you guys want to do it every day or every other day. When you have other people that you know, if I give them a project, they will get it done on time, it'll be done correctly and I don't have to or they don't prefer interaction like that, then that's what you do.

Rob: 37:24 That's interesting.

Crystal: 37:24 Yeah, that same need to manage up or down is still relevant, you're working from home or in the office. Sometimes it takes experience with your manager for her or him to really identify what is the best way to manage you as a individual employee, but you also have to do the same thing managing up. There's been times you've had to have conversations with your manager about what was working or what wasn't working.

Victoria: 37:47 Absolutely.

Crystal: 37:47 Yeah, so it works either way. I think you really hit on something that gets exposed easily, like you were saying, with remote workforce, is the communication. If the communication isn't as good in a company, the remote employee will probably see that sooner.

Victoria: 38:03 You feel siloed.

Crystal: 38:03 Than the people in the office.

Victoria: 38:06 Yeah, absolutely.

Crystal: 38:07 I think luckily for us here, when we have a company meeting that's streamed for everyone to see, all of those things become more and more critical to make sure you're not losing any of the message as it drips down to different levels of employment, or also remote, or in-house. I think that becomes a priority.

Victoria: 38:26 As a remote person too, you do have a responsibility to communicate reciprocally. You can't always expect it to your manager, you should be able to call or email and say, "Hey, can we talk about this? This isn't working." Or whatever the case may be.

Rob: 38:41 I love these points. They're coming together. Some of the reading that we did before about remote workforce, upwards of 50% of the US workforce right now works remote at least a portion of the time. The key takeaway that I'm learning here is it's not necessarily on the employee or the manager, but it's a team.

Victoria: 39:00 Absolutely.

Rob: 39:00 It's almost more of a team element to help people be successful. Maybe talk about that for a second.

Victoria: 39:05 It is, because you have to have also a healthy understanding of your work culture, whether you're there or not. That goes to how emails are sent out, the way you communicate with each other. Like Crystal said earlier, core values. All of that is always going to be a contributing factor, but when you do work remotely, for me, I find that that's even more important because we all know things can get lost in translation in emails. You don't want to assume that somebody's saying something that isn't what their intention is, and because you do lose those cues of the social aspect.

Crystal: 39:36 Yeah, for sure.

Rob: 39:37 Those visual cues, those non verbal cues.

Victoria: 39:39 Right, so clear communication is very important to say exactly what it is that you mean when you are corresponding.

Crystal: 39:45 Now that you're saying that, that's when I first discovered that I'm a little bit bossy sometimes, was when I was working-

Rob: 39:50 Whoa, whoa, whoa. A little?

Crystal: 39:51 You heard it here first, guys. I'm admitting it.

Rob: 39:54 Stop the presses.

Crystal: 39:54 I can be a little bossy.

Rob: 39:55 A little bit bossy.

Crystal: 39:56 I think that when I worked from home completely-

Rob: 39:59 The Statue of Liberty is a little bit tall.

Crystal: 40:01 The three and a half years that I worked from home, I realized in my mind, it came off bossy. But in my mind, I was trying to hurry and quickly get to what my point was. It'd be a Monday, I wouldn't say like, "Hey, how was your weekend?" I'd be like, "Hey, do you have da, da, da, da, da?" No one had really met with me face-to-face, no one had seen that there's a lot of kindness going on, most of the time, I would hope, with me. When I'm in the mindset of getting something done, I just drive right towards that. I think that really hit home for me, is I think from working from home, I did start noticing I have to be careful about making sure I'm friendly in my emails and that tone is coming across the way I intend it in my head versus what's just written there.

Rob: 40:47 I'm going to struggle with the little bit bossy for a while, but the first step. You've taken the first step on a much larger journey.

Crystal: 40:55 Some of us take the first step and then some of us just never get off of home plate, Rob. It's okay.

Rob: 41:00 I do want to maybe as we wrap up here, I want to talk about some of the benefits of working from home, both from an employee and from a company side. Maybe expected, and non expected. I'll start with one. There's an environmental benefit to working from home.

Victoria: 41:17 Absolutely.

Rob: 41:17 For example, I don't drive to come into work, that's 45 minutes, that's an hour and half of driving and-

Crystal: 41:23 And gas, gas money saved.

Rob: 41:24 Specifically in Arizona, there's an Arizona Clean Air Initiative where Keap gets a benefit for people who work remote or don't come in on a specific day.

Crystal: 41:33 Or car pool.

Rob: 41:34 Yeah. That's a benefit right there. What are some of the other-

Crystal: 41:38 And the earth gets a smile.

Rob: 41:39 The earth gets a smile, yes it does. What are some other benefits that you think are maybe non intended, or maybe not so obvious?

Victoria: 41:47 Definitely the commuting is a big deal. I would say even though it seems silly, we still do have the mindset that vacation is not that it's not earned because you do, but sometimes you can be frowned upon for using all of your vacation in certain work sectors. For me, especially if I don't feel well, I can still go to work. I still get my job done.

Rob: 42:11 Interesting.

Victoria: 42:11 Or if wake up and I'm a little off, I can call into my boss and say, "Hey, I'm going to take some medicine, give me an hour or two hours," then I can just go into work and still do what I was going to do.

Rob: 42:22 Hey boss, I'm going to take some medicine. Ignore my next 10 emails. They're going to be crazy.

Victoria: 42:28 That helps because one, it helps me keep my sick time, my PTO. They do rely on you in certain instances, so your productivity is expected to be at a higher level or more consistent than everyone else in the office, too.

Rob: 42:44 There's some level of being plugged in that you can manage and adapt to your individual work schedule. You can get up and look at your phone, and address emails. Okay, which are the most critical, which can wait until a more formalized time? You can develop patterns.

Victoria: 42:56 Right.

Rob: 42:56 I really like that idea. How about you Crystal? You got something?

Crystal: 43:00 I was going to say, I'm really curious about ... because there were definitely some that came to life when I worked from home completely. What would be a couple of the things that you miss, or a couple of the things that maybe to watch for if you were going to build a remote workplace? Like some of the cons? I don't know not to get negative.

Victoria: 43:18 You do miss like Rob said earlier, the inner office chatter, just water cooler talk every now and then to break up the monotony of the day. There's no doubt you miss that. The other cons I would say, like I said, are you do have a different expectation. If something needs to get done at the last minute, your boss has something at 4:58, odds are they're going to ask the person who's working from home, "Hey, can you do this?"

Rob: 43:42 Interesting.

Victoria: 43:42 Because you're home. You don't have the commute, and you can still get it done.

Crystal: 43:46 I do think that's true.

Victoria: 43:48 But [crosstalk 00:43:49].

Rob: 43:49 I'm not going to lie, I'll add to that point. I'm not going to lie, I have a standing 3:30 meeting every Friday, and that meeting does get canceled occasionally. I will do a happy dance when at 3:30, my last meeting on a Friday, has been canceled and I'm already at home.

Crystal: 44:05 It does feel good. Well, I think you've given us a lot to think about, for sure, in terms of the working from home, remote.

Rob: 44:14 It's such a fascinating challenge, and it's the dichotomy. People's attitudes and mentalities are going to have to change, not only because it's the way the world is going, but it's what the incoming workforce is going to be looking for, and it's going to be those companies that are able most to adapt that are going to be most successful. That's where small businesses can really take advantage of this. They can be nimble, they can be quick, they can change in real time, and see those impacts on the bottom line.

Crystal: 44:42 I feel like too, we didn't even get into collaborating, like collab work spaces. As those become more and more opportunities for small businesses, or anyone, I think those are all great ways to work from home or be remote, and still really get a lot done. I love those. We have Galvanized here. I know we were technically going to leave all the names out, but Galvanized is our local one, and one of my old managers works there. They have so many great spaces there, too. Wherever you're working remote, we would love to hear more about it. Also, what works for you, what doesn't?

Rob: 45:14 Thank you so much for your time today, Victoria. I know that you and Crystal are friends from the past, but I think that we're friends now.

Victoria: 45:19 We are.

Rob: 45:20 So thank you so much for your time, Victoria.

Crystal: 45:21 I'm still the favorite.

Victoria: 45:21 Thank you for having me.

Crystal: 45:22 I'm still the favorite, right?

Victoria: 45:23 Absolutely, I have your necklace on and everything.

Crystal: 45:25 Perfect, perfect. Okay, thank you.

Rob: 45:28 Well, thank you so much. Thanks everyone.

Derek : 45:30 Thanks for listening to Small Biz Buzz, please take a second to subscribe to the show and leave a five star rating, it helps keep the show going. And, if you need a hand with growing your small business, head over to keap.com, that's K-E-A-P dot com and get started. More business, less work, that's Keap.

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