Al’s Corner – February 2021

   Working from Home Appears Here to Stay

It is that time again, Al’s Corner note begins right now.  First up, The Transportation Clubs first event for 2021 is February 3rd, at Big Daddy’s in the Soulard area downtown.  Free admission, food, and a cash bar. Social distancing is recommended.

CURRENT EVENTS—Attack on our Capital—as many of you know I try mentioning the largest, events during each month. In the past I have written about social unrest, riots, elections, and so on. In this case, it is last month’s attack on our Nations Capital.  If someone would have asked me before could this have been possible, I would have said no.  Mostly, because I would have thought that the security would have been too strong.  I was not surprised by the political unrest, or even the riot, only where it occurred.  I have been hearing about it potentially for the past few years.  Again, my article never takes sides, so I really pray that we come together and appreciate what a great country the U.S. is, THE BEST IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD!   We will never agree on everything with 336 million people living here.  You also can not have your way all the time. A friend of mine Doug (who is a great salesman at Ferguson Roofing, both are the best in St. Louis) always says to me “it’s not always about you Al!” That hurts every time he says that!!!!

Step Update—290 days of at least 10,000 every day.  Been tough, plantar fasciitis is causing me great pain in mostly my left foot.  I have tried shoe inserts and even new shoes.  It has helped some.  Mostly, if I walk 15-20 minutes several times per day I get there, and the pain is not as bad. The cold weather, snow, strong winds, and rain make it more of a planning thing on how to get it done. Got to press on, 75 days till one year!

This month’s timely topic—Working from Home. 

I must admit, I never saw it coming, especially how widespread it has become, and seemly how permanent it may be.  Many CEO’s say they plan to allow 80% to work remotely at least part of the time, and 47% say they will full-time.  Some employees even say they are willing to take small pay cuts to work remotely. 

Here are a few of the main positives from the employee side:

  • Workers say they are 35-40% more productive.
  • They are happier.
  • More satisfied with their jobs.
  • Have fewer interruptions, more focused time, quieter environment (inside joke, except when you have Tara the dog around), more comfortable workspace, and not getting involved with company politics.
  • Working Moms and Dads feel they are more productive.
  • Better Mental Health, with work life balance being better.
  • Since kids have been home, this has been a game changer for many families.
  • Wages are higher too.
  • Less automobile costs.
  • Saved time by not commuting.

My opinions or something like that.

I agree and even like most of the thoughts from the employee perspective. But I think that working from home is not for everyone, or every company.  Obviously, some companies require “on site” employees because they interact with the public and it must be in person.  Since I have been self-employed and an owner of several companies, I have a few thoughts and even suggestions for those who are working remotely and wish to continue to do so successfully in the future.  I will get to that in a minute.

First, our company (Rockfarm STL, also part of RT&T Logistics), luckily, had been using a remote process for us to retain our office manager, and top producer (Superstar) before the virus.  What happened is Debbie four years ago decided that she wanted to relocate to Florida, for personal reasons.  We wanted to keep her so Brad (he has many unknown amazing talents!!!) (I cannot believe I just said and confirmed that) found a remote video product that would have our office phone ring there, just like she was here in the St. Louis area.  Our other staff could see and talk to her in real time from our main office.  Then the virus hit so were able to have everyone work from home using a similar process. Great job Brad, who knew?

Strengths:

  • Safer for our staff and company with the virus.
  • Since our staff is on call all the time (somewhat), why not let them work from home since they did so anyway from time to time.
  • Thus, they would have all their computer and phone stuff there already.
  • Overall, we were able to function very well and had a great year both individually and company-wise.
  • We can now recruit talent from all over the country. This, for many employees, will be the game changer and deciding factor for whom they will work for.  

Potential Pitfalls:

  • Our Business has always relied in a big way “on the hustle factor.” I always felt that we could outwork our competition, and I believe we have consistently. So, how do you motivate your staff from a distance?
  • We have individual monthly bonuses that should help motivate but—-will, some people get too comfortable and lose their edge?
  • From personal experience, I have seen some people develop poor work habits.  Years ago, I owned a company and one of my main people had a flexible work schedule with us. In the beginning this person would come to work around 7 am, then it was 8, 9, 10, 11.  As the 3 years went by, this person would take the kids to school and do other personal things throughout the day.  It would be justified by “a few” longer days. 
  • With the above example in mind, when working from home do not let the ability to do personal things, become THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS.  
  • Thus, understanding and keeping in mind the self-motivation part is a big key to success. Our current staff appears to be doing well on this, so far.
  • Another item that is worth noting is since you are working from home and have less time with your supervisors make sure you are aware of the company goals.  
  • Vacation time (lack of), and the ability to manage and enjoy your free time can a problem too.  This, from what I have read, is important in maintaining good mental health.

I think the everyone is looking forward to getting back to having more fun in your life again.  It will be wonderful when the issue of avoiding others is gone.  I cannot wait to able to enjoy life’s pleasures like eating out, traveling, family get togethers, church, having parties, not wearing a mask, and so on once again.  With that in mind, I look forward to getting my vaccine!!! 

Have a great month, AL!

1 Comment

  1. Mike Love on February 2, 2021 at 16:01

    Thanks Al, Always enjoy the good read. Especially considering your thoughts on remote work. Besides the example of the employee who took personal time up through the work day, remote work can really shine a spotlight on the employees with great work ethic!

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