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Some Companies Really Mean Work From ‘Home’ and Not the Pool

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  • Insider recently spoke to a 32-year-old nonprofit worker who went to Vegas while working remotely.
  • They didn’t tell their boss, and everything was going smoothly until an unexpected Zoom meeting.
  • “Many workers can work anywhere,” they said. “If you allow work-from-home, it should be flexible.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.


Matthias Tunger via Getty Images via Business Insider

Remote worker in a casino

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with a 32-year-old nonprofit worker. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their career, but Insider has verified their identity and employment. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

When I started working entirely from home, I didn’t think I would find myself taking a Zoom call from a Vegas casino while trying to make my boss think I was in my home office.

But in September, that’s exactly where I was.

I work at a nonprofit, and I’m entirely remote

Even still, there’s the expectation that I’m working from home and sitting at my computer the entire day. My boss is a big rule follower — I feel like she doesn’t even move from her desk between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day.

Even when I work from coffee shops, I feel the need to explain it to her. I feel like she’s judging me every time my Zoom background is something different than what she knows to be my home office with all my plants behind me.

We have this strict Zoom culture at my job

You always want to make sure your icon is green to show that you’re available and actively working.

The other day, I had a doctor’s appointment. I had to log in an hour late, and I let my whole team know. It’s strange, because at previous jobs, I could have just hopped online later. I wouldn’t have had to let anyone know.

But this is more intense. It feels archaic in a sense. Why does it matter where I’m working from and what time I get online if I’m getting my work done?

I have family in Las Vegas, so I often visit

I figured I would just work from there and no one at work would be the wiser. On a day that I didn’t have meetings, I worked entirely from the pool. I didn’t tell anyone, because I don’t think it matters.

I was working — why does it matter that I was doing it poolside in Vegas?

When I did have Zoom meetings, I was careful about where I was working

For us, the expectation is that we always have our camera on. That makes traveling a bit more tricky.

Sometimes I would go to a Starbucks and just mention that I was working from a coffee shop. But other times, I would find a nondescript background and pretend I was at home.

There were times when I was at the bar in the hotel lobby during Zoom calls, but no one could tell because the wall behind me was blank and white. I used my AirPods Pro, which are noise-canceling even when you’re speaking, which was a super useful feature for me.

Everything was going well until my boss added an unexpected meeting to my calendar

I was in my hotel room, and I knew I needed to find somewhere to Zoom from that was less obvious. I went down to the lobby to find a chair or couch that had an unassuming background, but everywhere that I had used before was taken.

I was literally walking around the hotel and casino with my laptop, trying every chair in the lobby with my Photo Booth app open on my computer to see what my background would look like, but I couldn’t find anywhere.

Finally, I walked through the casino and saw a bar in the corner with a couch up against a wall. I sat there and checked my background; everything looked fine.

When I found a nondescript background, the next challenge was my audio

Casinos are really loud with all the dinging of the slot machines and the conversations of the people drinking and playing. I was worried my boss would be able to hear it, so I quickly sent a chat to one of my coworkers and told her the truth — that I was in a Vegas casino and I was worried our boss would be able to tell.

My coworker said she’d set up a quick Zoom for us to check what our boss would be able to hear. With my noise-canceling AirPods in, my coworker said she couldn’t hear the casino sounds.

I was so thankful, but it was such a stressful situation. I was totally scrambling, but it worked out in the end.

I wish I’d felt like I could be honest with my boss about where I was

It would have saved me a lot of time that I spent frantically trying to find a couch in the hotel lobby with a white wall for a Zoom background.

I don’t know why employers don’t understand that many workers can work from anywhere, and if you’re allowing work-from-home, it should be really flexible. I think that mindset — that you have to be sitting at a desk nine hours a day or you’re not actually working — is going to make certain generations obsolete one day.

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Entrepreneurship

5 Ways to Become a Better Public Speaker This Year

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The ability to speak publicly is a skill that everyone can use. From coaches to entrepreneurs and writers, anyone who wants to get out into the world to market what they do needs to be an effective speaker.

This article will discuss five ways to become a better public speaker — five methods for sharpening your raw talents to morph into a more effective communicator overall.

Related: This Is the One Thing You Need If You Want to Get Paid Speaking Gigs

1. Practice in different environments

This tip comes from an exercise that musicians sometimes use while practicing.

The idea is to see if you can replicate your performance no matter where you are. As a speaker, you will encounter all kinds of scenarios and audiences. You have surely had distractions around you, being in front of people with different interests, being under different lighting and noise conditions and more.

Practicing speaking in different environments will force you to get comfortable performing under all circumstances. Without the crutch of your favorite environment, you have to remember your lines and recall cues completely on your own.

Related: 4 Expert-Backed Strategies for Improving Your Communication Skills

2. Produce different kinds of ‘speaking’ content

Another tip for becoming a more well-rounded speaker is to produce a variety of speaking content. Speakers don’t always have to stand on a stage and talk to live audiences.

I create speaking content across many channels — from my website and blog to YouTube and my podcast series. I distribute audio and video recordings of my speeches to my clients and promote them on my social channels. I go live on Facebook and other platforms to speak directly to my audiences that way. You can do the same.

This variety isn’t by accident. Producing these different types of content in the digital space allows individuals to sharpen their speaking skills and reach larger audiences than they could in person.

3. Get active on audio platforms

Here’s a speaking tip that doesn’t involve performing as much as learning from what others are already doing: Get active on professional audio platforms such as Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces to meet with like-minded individuals and discuss relevant topics.

Doing this lets you compare notes with industry counterparts while working on your speaking skills. You will endeavor to communicate with other business leaders and coaches from around the world and all different walks of life.

Related: The Role of Effective Communication in Entrepreneurial Success

4. Take every opportunity to speak

Speak to a group at every available opportunity. I used to wonder how I could speak to an audience when the professional invitations dried up for a bit, and the answer was local service groups.

Toastmasters International, Rotary International, Lions Clubs International and the Freemasons are all great examples of the types of organizations that not only perform good works for their local communities but also welcome speakers and presenters to deliver valuable information to their members.

I find chapters of these groups in many cities and towns that I visit. Having these groups near me allows me to cut down on my travel time and simply makes it more convenient to continue practicing speaking skills while also putting my abilities to good use for my community.

Not only will this help you with your skills at public speaking, but it’s a rewarding experience as well.

5. Work with a speaking coach

Finally, every speaker-in-training could benefit from working with a speaking coach or mentor. These professionals provide their clients with professional tips and feedback on everything from the words they’re using to how they’re delivering them to audiences.

Some speakers wonder why they can’t just rely on their friends and families to provide them with honest feedback, and there are some good reasons for not doing that. Family and friends are kind, but that’s exactly the problem. Speakers need the unrelenting honesty of professional coaches if they truly want to leave their bad habits behind and become stronger.

I hired a professional speaking coach to improve my skills, and I can attest that it pays dividends every single day in my career.

Related: Leading Speaking Coach Shares His Strategies To Get A Flood Of Clients From Webinars And Virtual Presentations

Communication is everything to professionals

Whether it’s in the world of business, non-profits or coaching, speaking effectively is vital to success. Communication means everything to professionals, and those who can’t tell others what they do and what they’re about can’t expect to get their visions too far off the ground.

I followed these five actionable tips for becoming a better speaker, and I came out on the other side as a communicator that I never even thought possible. You will do the same.

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26% of U.S. Workers Would Rather Undergo a Root Canal Than Follow This Workplace Policy

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

According to a recent survey conducted by job site Monster, more than one in four (26%) U.S. workers would rather undergo a root canal procedure than work in their offices five days a week. Additionally, nearly two in five (38%) workers said they would quit a job that required just one day onsite. These staggering statistics reveal a clear shift in workers’ attitudes towards the traditional office environment, and companies that fail to adapt to this change risk losing their most valuable asset: their employees.

As a highly experienced expert in the field of hybrid work, I talk with 5 to 10 leaders every week about how to make hybrid work serve their needs well. I ask them what their top concern is, and most say it’s hiring and retaining talented staff.

External surveys say the same thing, such as this recent survey by Vistage of the leaders of small and medium-sized businesses. It found that 60% of SME CEOs are planning to increase headcount in the year ahead, with only 7% planning on reducing headcount. According to Vistage Chief Research Officer Joe Galvin, this is a significant shift from the trend of big companies making headlines with layoffs, as small and medium business CEOs are reluctant to lay off their hard-won new employees. One key reason for this shift is the recognition that hiring challenges are impacting the ability of these businesses to operate at full capacity. With 61% of CEOs saying that hiring challenges are a major concern for their ability to operate effectively at full capacity.

Given this information, I confidently tell the leaders whom I advise that the future of work is in a flexible hybrid work model that allows for some full-time remote work. This model not only keeps workers happy and engaged, but it also has a positive impact on a company’s bottom line.

Related: You Should Let Your Team Decide Their Approach to Hybrid Work. A Behavioral Economist Explains Why and How You Should Do It.

Increased productivity and employee engagement

One of the most significant benefits of a flexible hybrid work model is increased productivity and employee engagement. Studies have shown that remote workers tend to work more efficiently and are less likely to experience burnout. A mid-size IT services company that I consulted for implemented a flexible working policy, and they saw a 20% increase in productivity among their remote workers.

Remote workers have the ability to create their own personalized work environment, which leads to an increase in productivity. They can work from a location that is most comfortable for them, whether that be their home, a coffee shop or a coworking space. This leads to a decrease in distractions and an increase in focus, resulting in a higher level of productivity.

Flexible working also has a positive impact on employee engagement. When employees have the ability to work in a way that suits them best, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated. This leads to a decrease in turnover, and an increase in employee loyalty and job satisfaction.

Access to a wider talent pool

A flexible hybrid work model also allows companies to tap into a wider talent pool. When companies are not limited by geographical location, they can attract and retain the best talent from all over the world. A large financial services company that I worked with had difficulty finding qualified candidates in their local area, but by implementing a flexible working policy, they were able to hire top talent from other parts of the country.

A flexible working policy also allows for a more diverse workforce, as it can attract candidates who may have previously been excluded due to geographical constraints. This diversity leads to new perspectives, ideas and innovation.

Cost savings on talent

Flexible working can also lead to significant cost savings for companies. A flexible hybrid work model reduces the need for office space, and it can also lead to a reduction in absenteeism and turnover. A retail company that I consulted for implemented a flexible working policy, and they saw a 30% reduction in absenteeism due to less workers taking sick days and a 20% reduction in turnover.

When employees have the ability to work from home, it leads to a reduction in absenteeism as they are less likely to be affected by things such as traffic, weather, or public transportation issues. This can also lead to a decrease in sick leave, and an increase in overall productivity.

Flexible working can also lead to a reduction in turnover, as employees are more likely to be satisfied and engaged in their work. This leads to a decrease in the cost of recruiting and training new employees.

Addressing cognitive biases

Cognitive biases can play a significant role in decision-making when it comes to flexible working. The status quo bias, for example, leads managers to resist change and stick to the traditional office environment. The sunk cost fallacy can also come into play, where managers may be reluctant to change the way things have always been done because they have invested so much time and resources into the current system. By being aware of these cognitive biases and actively working to overcome them, companies can make more informed and effective decisions about their working policies.

One way to overcome these biases is to gather data and conduct studies on the impact of flexible working on employee productivity, engagement, and turnover. This can provide concrete evidence to support the implementation of a flexible hybrid work model. Additionally, it is important for managers to actively seek out feedback from employees on their preferences for working arrangements and to consider their needs and concerns.

Implementing a flexible hybrid work model

Implementing a flexible hybrid work model can seem daunting, but with proper planning and communication, it can be done successfully. It is important to set clear guidelines and expectations for remote work, such as setting specific hours of availability and ensuring regular communication with team members.

It is also important to provide the necessary tools and resources for remote work, such as a reliable internet connection and a secure virtual communication platform. Providing training on hybrid work best practices and technology can also help to ensure a smooth transition, as can hiring a hybrid work consultant to guide your transition.

Related: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff Is Right. New Employees Are Less Productive in a Hybrid Work Setting — But Why?

Conclusion

The shift in workers’ attitudes toward the traditional office environment is undeniable. Companies that fail to adapt to this change risk losing their most valuable asset: their employees. A flexible hybrid work model that allows for some full-time remote work is the future for anyone who cares about worker retention, increased productivity, access to a wider talent pool, cost savings, and overcoming cognitive biases. The time for companies to implement this model is now. As a leader of a company, it’s important to recognize that the traditional office model may no longer be the best option for your employees or your business. By embracing a flexible hybrid work model, you can retain top talent, increase productivity and save costs. The future of work is here, and companies that adapt will be well-positioned for success.

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Google Worker Laid Off While On Leave Caring For Sick Mom

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One person who was laid off from Google in the company’s wave of staff cuts last week says he was on a leave from work taking care of his mother who is terminally ill with cancer.


VIEW press / Contributor I Getty Images

Google offices in New York City.

Paul Baker was on leave for about a month when he received an email letting him know the company was laying him off, along with around 12,000 others, he told Insider.

“While on carer’s leave for my immediate family member’s terminal cancer, I too was laid off. After the initial shock, it morphed into sadness because I miss the people,” he also wrote on LinkedIn.

Related: More Than 1,600 Tech Workers Are Being Laid Off A Day On Average In 2023, According to a New Report

On Jan. 20, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees taking responsibility for hiring “for a different economic reality than the one we face today.”

Baker told Insider that he was on leave and was told by a friend about the layoffs, then found his work laptop had been “cut off,” the outlet wrote.

He was a video producer at Google, according to his LinkedIn, and had been at the company since 2018. Baker told Insider he was feeling “shock and sadness.” The outlet said it verified the leave period as well as his severance email and prior employment with Google.

Related: In a Viral TikTok, An Ex-YouTube Employee Talks About Getting Laid Off During a Business Trip

“I’ll truly miss it,” he said.

Baker also told the outlet he has not received information about how his severance package would be affected by the fact that he was on career leave to care for his mom.

Pichai said in the memo the company will provide “six months of healthcare, job placement services and immigration support for those affected.”

Still, he told Insider he would love to go back to the company.

“If there’s ever a Google position open for another video producer position, I would take it in a heartbeat,” he said.

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