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The remote revolution has begun; this is a call to arms.
It has become obvious that there is a coordinated attack against the future of work, against our new way of life. An effort to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt among knowledge workers globally. The threat of not advancing in one’s career, or being paid less based on distance from the home office, or that working from home will make you less successful, less healthy, and sad.
Not to dismiss mental health challenges that may have come from the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but I, for one, would rather not allow the HR department to choose whom I spend most of my day with, as they don't always hire the best and brightest. Sometimes they are constrained by upper management who is unaware of the massive amount of inflation occurring and that employers need to be paid more for top talent than they did last year. If you didn't get a raise in 2021, that means you got about a 5.4% pay cut according to the consumer pricing index.
I assume journalists who have integrity are writing in the name of "Telling both sides of the story,” but these puff pieces also suggest that your peers who return to the office will be more likely to be promoted and advance their careers. These articles and Op-Eds could be the final death rattle of commercial real estate, or possibly someone that may have financial incentive to use confirmation bias to get a fat paycheck (academics, consultants, and old guys trying to remain relevant) from executives who want to manage people through "presenteeism.” Bosses everywhere are searching high and low for any evidence or "experts" to tell them what they want to hear instead of the truth.
As an American, I promise you that hours worked do not equal productivity for knowledge work.
Few companies worth mentioning are brave enough to state that they are against remote work directly during the first tight labor market in my lifetime. It would be a death blow to their recruiting efforts, and with 1 of 4 American workers able to work from home, it could also be very unpopular.
In my opinion, the worst offenders in the remote work war come from the firms that won't commit to either position. They use the guise of "leaving the decision to your manager" as a way to scapegoat and distribute blame to managers while attempting to be on the side of remote work by not outright banning it company-wide. If employers want to be on the right side of history, they will make a stand in support of going remote.
It's not 1980 anymore; we have cellphones, Internet, email, Zoom, etc. All the while, everything but worker compensation keeps creeping up, from the increased creep of work into our home and family lives to the massive increase in the cost of living while wages have remained stagnant for ages when compared against inflation.
Simultaneously employers are also afraid to lose top talents to the "Great Resignation" and have determined that scapegoating the managers is the least confrontational option that allows them to continue to recruit during a labor shortage while maintaining complete control over workers. All the while, these "leaders" plan to continue working from home themselves.
If you are like me or Ed Zitron, who publishes many independent, cited pieces covering the anti-WFH propaganda machine that has taken aim at remote workers on his newsletter, you would have noticed the pattern of disinformation in the form of articles, OP-EDs, headlines, news broadcasts, and other media are being utilized in an effort to sway public opinion (and scare workers) towards a half-measure such as "Flexibility," “Hybrid,” or with "your manager’s approval." These are weasel words that are being used by employers to maintain control over employees. Almost anytime an employer has created an ambiguous employment policy in the history of work, it has rarely resulted in benefiting the employee.
“Ownership of stock is concentrated among those with higher incomes. That is hardly a surprise as investing in stocks or mutual funds requires money. Some 92% of those in the top 10% of the income ladder owned stock in 2019 compared to 56% of those considered middle class. When it comes to owning stocks directly, families in the top 10% of earnings accounted for 44% compared to only 12% of the middle class and 5% of those in the bottom quintile. - U.S. News and World Report
So while most Americans fancy themselves temporarily embarrassed billionaires, the reality is quite different. Half of Americans own nearly nothing, while 1% owns the majority of assets and stock. This should not be news at this point; we need to start holding rentiers responsible for stagnant wages, and to do so, all we need to do as workers is collaborate, share information, and hold employers accountable to a shared bill of workers’ rights. This brings me to the big question that everyone is debating, but nobody seems to want to talk about directly.
At remotework.com, we believe the worker should choose when and where they work if their work, measured by results only, can be completed from anywhere; for this to be successful, job descriptions and hiring agreements need to have narrowly defined job descriptions. We are seeking attorney partners who would like to assist us with creating a set of employment agreements for each U.S. state and region internationally that protect remote workers. Please contact us if you are interested in assisting.
Another question exists, but we should at this point already know the answer to it. “How will compensation be awarded between two equally qualified employees, who produce the same amount of value and have the same experience and seniority with the company when one of them works in the office and the other works from home? The answer is that they should be paid the same amount of total compensation.
Don't fall for it.
Workers should not believe for a minute that the growing pains from recovering from the pandemic (Yes, many of these remote work surveys, research, and articles are based on data during a global pandemic) and a transition to a new work culture are permanent. We are not only talking about being able to work from anywhere, not that it isn’t a nice perk.
The real issue we are talking about is taking back our most valuable resource, not oil, not data; we are talking about time itself, time FOR ourselves to spend how we see it. Hours worked do not equal productivity when it comes to knowledge work; similar to skilled craftsmen, you should be paid for what you know, not how long it takes you to complete a task.
We know that the transition to remote work is easy for most knowledge workers.
Remote work is not new, it was called telecommuting in the 1990s, and millions of people have done it successfully without special accommodations from their employers. However, the massive remote work experiment that was caused by Covid demonstrated that the emperor (employers) had no clothes (justification for us to be in the office) and that there are few if any reasons to require knowledge workers to be in the office.
Last but not least, working remotely could also help slow global warming. According to the EPA, ground transportation (including driving to and from work) accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the US at 29%; these benefits could be extended to over a billion+ workers globally. The old adage, a dollar saved is a dollar earned also applies to climate change. In fact, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration, the USA nearly quadrupled its greenhouse gas emission reductions thanks to remote work in 2020, reducing them by 11%.
We estimate that U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions decreased by 11% in 2020 as a result of less energy consumption related to reduced economic activity and responses to COVID-19.
The good news is that according to Gartner, 51% of knowledge workers will be remote. That is great; however, I think it is globally imperative to go 100% remote for all knowledge workers; it may be a small piece of the larger puzzle humanity must solve when it comes to saving the planet from climate change. We need to make employers justify going into the office; we need to get the other half of the billion+ knowledge workers to be allowed to work from home, like Yesterday.
I am not advocating for remote work to be mandatory; I think workers should make the best choice for themselves and their family, without the approval of their manager. I believe corporations should leverage co-working spaces, especially hot desks, that have a smaller ecological footprint and greater utilization than dedicated offices as an option when workers need to go into the office. Also, it no longer surprises me that two of the billionaires whose companies are famous for not supporting remote work are heavily investing in space exploration. (hint: T&A)
This is not to say that remote work is for everyone, nor that it will benefit everyone. I know that for many workers, remote work may not be possible; I recommend getting a co-working space and having your employer pay for it with the money they save on real estate. We are going to look back and ask ourselves, why did we pay so much in rent for so long when we turn all those skyscrapers into residential housing. It would be unethical for me to leave out the elephant in the room... the office has protected many workers from competing with the rest of the world.
It is likely that there is a global correction coming as corporations realize that remote work also benefits them as there are plenty of capable knowledge workers in countries with much lower costs of living and largely English speaking populations like India, China, Brazil, and elsewhere who are more than qualified for knowledge work with a much lower cost of living. Personally, I think the following countries will benefit from remote work more than others; India, Pakistan, Nigeria, The Philippines, Egypt, Bangladesh, Japan, Ghana, Russia, Thailand, and South Africa.
As an American, It would also be careless not to mention that the U.S. Healthcare system is broken, and tying healthcare to employment gives employers leverage over some of our most vulnerable knowledge workers. Those who may need to keep employment to maintain healthcare coverage for themselves or their loved ones. Please keep this in mind if your colleagues don't immediately jump on the remote work bandwagon.
"Our compensation packages have always been determined by location, and we always pay at the top of the local market based on where an employee works from," a Google spokesperson said, adding that pay will differ from city to city and state to state.
One Google employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation,
Stop doing things because it is the way they have always been done. They say that the most expensive words in the English Language are: “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” You are going to lose talented people and tarnish your reputation as an innovative company and a good employer by paying people less based on how far away they live from the office.
That is a fast track for an innovative company to the dead pool by losing top talent and getting a bad reputation for top graduates. Now, take all this with a grain of salt; a number of people tell me when I say this that Google has a lot of smart people who probably did the math before spending $2.1 Billion dollars on an office building in NYC.
If we are to guarantee the future health and happiness of ourselves and our children, families, friends, employees, colleagues, etc... we must work together to counter the anti-remote work narrative that is jeopardizing the future of work for everyone.
Just because you have an in-demand skill set as a programmer, or if you’re a profit center on the sales team and can negotiate to work from home for yourself, doesn't mean that as a community, we should not disrespect workers without that privilege. Receptionists shouldn't have to warm office chairs because they don't have the same leverage as other workers. We are in this together and should work to lift everyone up from under the thumb of ancient cultural norms from Donald Trump's favorite decade. They will work to divide us and take advantage of the most vulnerable workers that could work from home to keep butts in seats. Don't let them divide us by class, salary, or physical location. It is time for remote workers to unite.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. - Chinese proverb
We know that knowledge workers love the results of working from home, and I, for one, plan to ensure that I see my children and future grandchildren more, among other WFH benefits. Together we can change our global work culture as a gift to future generations, in addition to preventing millions of metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere slowing the pace of global warming.
Our enemies are the rentiers, the bureaucrats, the office tyrants, the narcissists, and the office politicians (sociopaths) that want to keep the status quo so they can continue to take credit for work completed by individual contributors, builders, and creators. Our enemies want things to go back to "normal." There were a lot of things that were "normal" in the history of humanity that we look back on with disgust. I have a feeling subjecting billions of people to traffic while ruining the environment with carbon dioxide for decades longer than necessary will likely be one of them.
At least most of them, if you have a lab, etc. You might just be the exception to the rule.
The office is dead, and we are not coming back. Just ask your CFO. Today we have a chance to build the future together, united. If you agree, and I hope you do, join remotework.com as a remote worker, remote leader, or as a sponsor of a remote workspace. You will be helping us build a community of remote workers and leaders. Our objective is not only to help knowledge workers transition to go remote, but we wish to become a voice of authority on the evolution of remote work to provide a counter-narrative based on facts to those that would like to see us return to cage-like cubicles.
While leveraging the knowledge and expertise of the collective knowledge of our members, some of which have been working remotely since the 1990s to develop the data, tools, resources, and information to inform and assist remote workers from around the globe to actualize and benefit from this cultural shift. Knowledge is power, and knowledge workers are powerful. We want to create a better world through better jobs, greater compensation, better management, and a healthier work-life balance. I think this is something worth fighting for, but I can’t do it alone, so let’s do it together. Join us today.
P.S. If your company is doing a great job transitioning to remote work, solving problems related to working from home, or you would like to nominate them for something else remote work-related. I encourage you to **nominate them for The Remote Work Awards **after joining our remote work DAO community for remote workers.
Until then Carpe Diem,
CEO of remotework.com