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Back to Work, or Work from Home?

George Grombacher January 13, 2023

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Back to Work, or Work from Home?

Is it time to get back to work in the office, or continue working from home? Sentari and George tackle this question and drift into stakeholder capitalism!

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

sentari minor

Sentari Minor

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
Let’s get into it and figure it out. This is George grombacher. Joining me as always is Atari minor. Hello folks, helping us move from oneness to action today is Scotch cigarettes, food, booze, beer wine. Just kidding. I was talking about getting food delivered. And, you know, you can pretty much get anything delivered these days. At your home or your work wherever you are working because Centauri we have the ability to work at different locations, more so

Sentari Minor 0:34
than working anywhere these days. Which, yes, I’m excited to dive into this topic with you.

george grombacher 0:40
Yeah, except we can’t anymore because boss man is saying Boss Lady get back into the office. Yes.

Sentari Minor 0:49
Which I as you know, I agree with, for the most part, I think, you know, Bob, what sparked this conversation is Bob Iger CEO of Disney mandated all of his employees to come back four days a week. And in his memo, he leaned into one that Disney values, which I thought was great, but also talked about like, it’s not about productivity, which everyone cites first, it’s like I’m more productive at home. It’s like, great, but actually, the workplace is for collaboration, mentorship, professional development, connection, like loneliness is a real real thing. And so you need to be around your peers and be around people. So it was the first time we’re a CEO is really, like put it in a way that really resonated with I think, with a lot more focus than just like, you have to be here. There was a reason beyond. I just want to micromanage you. It’s like, No, this is good for you to be here. So yeah, that those are my thoughts on that.

george grombacher 1:41
What was the what was the, the the core value? If you remember, do you remember what it was?

Sentari Minor 1:47
Oh, there’s just about accurate Disney’s creativity. He’s like, you can’t be creative. The I mean, you can be but it’s not conducive to being the most creative via zoom, or teams or whatever you use.

george grombacher 1:58
I listened to Bob Uygurs biography autobiography. Recently, I think it’s called ride of a lifetime. It was very good. But he dedicated a good chunk, like an entire chapter, if not more to his relationship with Steve Jobs. And I was very interested in that. He was, I mean, I think that at this stage of the proceedings that we all play Steve Jobs, just the Pantheon, Mount Rushmore of of of professionals, and thinkers and all that stuff. So it doesn’t surprise me at all. And, you know, you weren’t making the iPhone remotely.

Sentari Minor 2:33
Yeah, you just couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t say it’s and here’s the thing you always come back to it’s not impossible, right? Like a that there’s, it’s not black and white. But it’s would it be easier to do in person, I just think we’ve, as we’ve talked about on so many shows, the pendulum swung probably too much. And now we’re living in a world of extremes where I’ve heard from CEOs and other folks around, you know, we can’t get our people to come into the office or this person, I have a buddy whose buddy whose wife actually got terminated because they moved from the East Coast to Phoenix didn’t tell the employer just because they were like, I don’t need to know that. And they’re like, No, you have to come back to the office. And so what are you going to do about this? And that’s happening more and more, and it’s just it’s a, it’s a boon, or it’s a bearing on on employers. I get from the employee side, why it’s important, but it man it’s, it’s still so hard for companies to figure out. It’s it’s still kind of a mess.

george grombacher 3:34
I’m all about asked asking for forgiveness versus permission. You’re

Sentari Minor 3:41
right. Like, that’s kind of like, that’s a that’s ballsy. That’s like, Oh, okay.

george grombacher 3:47
I do what I want. Yeah, I

Sentari Minor 3:49
live in Arizona. Now. It’s like, well, we’re based in Philadelphia. So

george grombacher 3:53
yeah, not going to be easy. So I did not read? Well, I think I’m 99% sure that the CEO of Salesforce crunched the numbers. And he discovered that employees who work remotely are considerably less productive than those who come into the office.

Sentari Minor 4:13
Oh, Binnenhof. We can also talk about that all hands meeting that went sideways with him. But yeah, I think, look, Ron, the idea that people are more productive, I bet that’s probably true, depending on what your function is. If you’re probably like a software engineer or something where you just a very, very strong individual contributor, you put things in a spreadsheet, things come out of that spreadsheet, you’re not that’s probably right. But when it relates to anything that requires other people or collaboration, there’s just nothing better than in person having your team near you. My team is here four days a week. Also not because we’ve mandated it because they’re like, this is just an easier way for us to get things done. I couldn’t imagine this being fully virtual. So yeah, I I also think that’s because of the, you know, macroeconomic trends right now. It’s now becoming more of an employers market. So you’ll have more of the strength and leverage to tell people to come back in, which I think is very brilliant on Uygurs part, the timing, because Gone are the days as we saw from kind of meta, and Twitter, where people are just getting these crazy salaries and do whatever they want. Now, it’s gonna be harder to find a job. So you might want to keep your job and just drive to the office.

george grombacher 5:24
Yeah, I think it’s a really interesting thing. And I’m not I don’t I, I work remotely, I do not have it. But I am, it’s, I do not work with a lot of other human beings, as as, as my coworkers. So my experience is different. And it’s obviously a very, very subjective thing. And we were talking about it sure, for sure. An earlier conversation here about if I position myself and make myself indispensable, and I demonstrate and I prove that I am dynamite team member and I can get my work done wherever well, then you have a case to make, and why not make it? I am curious as to your practical experience, there’s been a little bit of water that’s gone under the bridge, since we initially had some of these conversations. And your organization is growing like crazy. And you’re responsible for a lot of that. So I was just, you know, your experience. And I think you said your folks come in four days a week. But tell me a little bit more about if it’s shifted your thinking around this has shifted or changed.

Sentari Minor 6:26
Yeah, you know, it’s also interesting, because my previous job was completely remote. I was the only Arizona employee, I went to our HQ for maybe quarterly, which was, it worked, right. But it was also a world where I didn’t have to necessarily collaborate with folks on the day to day it was good for thought leadership. But my my purview was like, do these things in Arizona, or San Francisco in Dallas, and I went between those three markets. So I know that it can work, right, like, I know that it can work. So I’m not anti remote work, where I think you need where it’s really, really hard to do this is if you’re in a collaborative or creative environment, where you’re growing and scaling very fast. I think for, for me being having our leadership team in. In house four times a week ever, all of our leadership team is pretty much here three or four times a week, and we meet for, at least we meet every week for three hours. We’re all together physically in person. And I just don’t think we’ve been able to get through a lot of the tougher conversations or just things that need immediate attention. If we were trying to say like, Hey, George, can I spend 15 minutes with you? No, I have something I’m gonna go get my kids. Can we talk tonight, it’s like, just be here. Let me go talk to you. And so I think my changes, my thoughts have also changes like now I manage a young team. So my, my folks are like anywhere from 24 to 30. And I want to be there to provide mentorship, professional development, and coaching, I think there’s a lot that can be said, and a lot comes from just like being in the room with someone and seeing how they react and how they carry themselves that young professionals absolutely need. I’m glad that I got that early on in my career. Now you have a generation of folks that were on boarded during COVID. So they were on boarded via zoom, they are sometimes their cameras on cameras off, and they’re not getting like how they should interact in the real world setting. And I think we’re doing a very much a big disservice to those to those folks.

george grombacher 8:21
I think that that’s that those are great thoughts. A couple of things pump up popped into my head effectiveness at at communicating this making big challenging hard decisions, Bob Iger has a lot of currency, in that he was one of the more successful CEOs out there. I guarantee that, that Steve Jobs or even wherever the Tim Cook, when he says, we’re coming back in, here’s why. Because it’s going to help us serve our mission, that you’re not going to get a lot of pushback, people are probably going to be more amenable and going along with that, because they trust them. And they know that, you know, versus if you’re, you know, if you’re an asshole, probably gonna get a lot of pushback. And if there’s not actual value to being in the office, and it’s just, you know, you just want to be able to see me and you want to micromanage me, well, then you’re probably going to have a lot less success.

Sentari Minor 9:16
Yeah. And I think the companies and brands where that’s apparent, and I actually don’t agree with it, I would not agree with those companies, if they’re only their only reason for bringing people back so that they can kind of see and micromanagement that’s not a reason to bring people back. But if it’s to one to make sure that you can collaborate, you can be cross functional, that people are actually getting out of their house homes and like seeing other people, which I think is very, very important. I know folks who am on these zoom calls with folks from around the country, and they’re like, oh, yeah, I’ve worked with them last two years. Sometimes I only leave my house to go get groceries or I go pick up this and I’m like, that’s not healthy, like you need to be around people. And I think at least it forces folks to be to be around people who are outside of their family. It’s just the healthier thing to do to I

george grombacher 10:00
think that that’s right. And you talked about the ability to the practicality of having tougher conversations or more impactful commerce, but just just more serious conversations, be that positive be the negative. That’s, it’s better done in an actual interpersonal, in person conversation and try to make decisions about things. There needs to be somebody who makes the final decision about something. Yes, that’s very true. And it will sort of bring in the stakeholder capitalism conversation. And one of the things that got us started on this was Basecamp, a couple of years ago, I’ll write Greg, talking about how they stopped letting people have political conversations on the Slack channels and the pushback, and everybody quit, and oh, my gosh, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah. And shame on me. I should have researched how Basecamp is doing, but I’m sure that they’re doing just fine.

Sentari Minor 11:00
Yeah, I think you’re currently using Basecamp. So yes, they’re doing so there’s still exist, they still exist.

george grombacher 11:05
You know, you can’t, you can’t serve two masters, we need to, I think, get back to what a company is designed to do. And that’s, that’s make money. And it’s make money for shareholders. So I’m getting back to that. And it’s a nice to have to be able to also say, and hey, it’s not that I don’t care about you, other people and your views. But the primary mission of this organization is to is to make money.

Sentari Minor 11:38
Do you think? Well, I’ll go a step. Not that I disagree with you. But it’s more so like, I think there are nuances to it, where companies and brands can make it work if they spend intentional time getting those stakeholders stakeholders all on the same page. So I’m thinking through like, if you’re, if you’re a BP, like it is what it is like you’re an oil company. Don’t go work for BP, if you think that it’s going to be changing, because it’s not right. And we’re good. And everyone knows that. So like, that’s where it’s actually people are aligned, like their board knows this. If you work for them, you get it. I think we’re that messy. middle is where it’s like Basecamp. It’s like we they do project management and collaboration software. It’s like, that’s what we do. Yes, these would be, to your point nice to have. But I do think there are some brands, if you do it, right. You can have the social impact, you can make a bunch of money. And you can get everyone on the same page about where you want to be. It just takes a lot more time and intention. But for to your point, it is a nice to have for most and that makes sense.

george grombacher 12:37
BP is an excellent example. Thank you for that. And I’m not saying that you don’t do those things, right.

Sentari Minor 12:45
I’m saying that you don’t lead with doing those things

george grombacher 12:48
that? That’s right. We don’t water it down. We don’t we don’t get it twisted. Once we are crushing it, cpp. I’m sure that they give tons of money that yeah, they actually very much the end of the day, and probably they’re probably best positioned to be doing social good, even though right there. It’s reflection of let’s keep our eye on the prize. And when we try it, I’m probably reaching here, and I’m probably going just too far on things. But there is a lot of rumblings about socialism, and wanting to do more social good, and all that I think that’s awesome. I think we should protect people who are at risk. But you don’t rob Peter to pay Paul. We, we, we cannot destroy capitalism, and just replace it with socialism, because socialism is not that socialism is great at distributing resources, they’re not good at producing resources. And if we stop companies from producing at their highest capacity or their highest level, it’s going to negatively impact our ability as a society to do the social good that we’re interested in.

Sentari Minor 14:09
And the best way to I mean, really, the best way to kind of lift someone out of poverty or to give opportunity, right is for them to figure out a better way for them to engage in capitalism, not socialism. It’s like, get the education, providing the resources, all those things to get them to be a better player in a framework of capitalism. Not that not the opposite of like, here’s just a bunch of money. Go for just be so I completely agree with you there.

george grombacher 14:35
Yeah. I don’t know whether it’s such a controversial thing. Maybe it’s not.

Sentari Minor 14:40
Maybe it’s not. Yeah, I think there’s like, I do think also to our previous conversations, if we take a step back, there are so many kinds of firebrand people, let’s say on the left, where you hear these things about like, we have to God, whatever it might be moved more towards socialist views. I’m like, I actually don’t think that many people I’m hoping that many people at actually believe that I think most people fundamentally believe that, like capitalism works. Now that the some of the externalities of capitalism, we can try to kind of curtail, and I totally agree with that, too. But for the most part, like this country was built, and it’s great because of that framework. There should be laws, regulations, whatever it might be Southwest Airlines being a great example of when capitalism doesn’t go well. But other than that, like people should want to engage in something that’s going to make them and their families in the country more money, more prosperous, all those things.

george grombacher 15:31
Yeah. And I probably think that, that it’s something that’s in the ether, because it’s definitely in the ether, there’s plenty it’s in the ether, for sure. For sure. That’s why I think that that’s why people because there’s lots of people spending so much money, and and spending it on nice to haves anyway. Anyway, anyway, anyway. Well, let’s circle back on this, what else? In terms of hybrid Return to Work stakeholder capitalism, what companies are responsible to?

Sentari Minor 16:12
You know, in the, in the return the office hybrid conversation, and this is something that’s been going on since COVID, started, like, what is the opposite? I think we talked about this on a couple of months ago, what is the role of an employer, right? And so you have all these folks saying, Well, I can’t come back to the office because I have to take care of my kids, or I have to take care of an elderly parent, or I have to do these things, which totally understand, right, but like, is it my job as your as your employer or your boss to? Is that for me to take up the tab and deal with? And I think that’s where companies are trying to figure out right now, like, how much of that do you want to engage in? Or you’re just saying, like, Hey, we’re not big enough to absorb that. So this may not be for you? And I think that’s, that’s a larger conversation of like, what is the what is your job as a company for your employees, other than to make sure that they’re safe, both physically and psychologically, make sure they’re paid, making sure that they’re engaged, hopefully, that they’re living a healthy happy lifestyle? But other than that, like, is it my job to make sure that you can pick up your kid every day, it’s a nice to have, and if it works out great, but don’t tell me that I’m a bad employer, because that’s not happening, or that or that this, this, this model is unsustainable, because you’re not letting people be free, you’re flexible, it’s like, well, that’s again, that’s a nice to have, and kudos to the companies that can make it happen. But for many, that it’s just not feasible, because they need you here. That’s also okay.

george grombacher 17:35
Thank you. It’s a lot of in a lot of ways chicken to the egg kind of thing is it the company’s job is an individual’s job. You look at the benefits and, and drawbacks of unions. You look at the benefits and drawbacks of of tenure, you look at the benefits and drawbacks of

Sentari Minor 18:01
so true 10 years. 10 years are very good.

george grombacher 18:07
And the more upfront I can be with my employer about who I am and what I want on the front end, the better off I’m going to be, the better positioned I am financially as an individual, and then I can walk away or be more demanding, or be more proactive in what my demands are of my employer. And the better job I do, and the more productive I am. I am a self reliance guy, I am a power of the individuals person. That is that is what I believe,

Sentari Minor 18:44
obviously. That’s very George grombacher, for sure.

george grombacher 18:47
And there’s a lot of people that aren’t that way. And that’s okay. And they’re probably the union folks. They’re probably, you know, more benefits. And I guess that neither is right or it’s wrong.

Sentari Minor 19:06
What do you think? It’s interesting. You talked about the the, like, the pluses or minuses with unions, because you’re right, there’s like there’s, I understand why unions exist, for sure. But then also you get to a point where like, now you’re just, you’re greedy. And also, that’s also you’re not doing what’s in the best interest of anyone right now. So that’s it. That’s an interesting one. Same with tenure, like I get why it’s exists, but also like, I don’t get to just have a job just to have a job. So especially if I’m not particularly good at that job.

george grombacher 19:32
Yeah. Right. It seems a little bit misaligned. Yep. And suboptimal if I’m interested in, in really streamlining my organization and innovating and doing good work. You know, there’s always going to be 20% of the people who are the highest performers in any organization and 80% and 20%, who just human beings 20% of us are going to be the top of warmers, there’s going to be 20% of the population who are going to struggle for a million different reasons. And then there’s 60% in the middle. And from an organizational standpoint, the opportunity is to help those 60% really self actualize and, and become as strong contributors as they’re interested in becoming and have the best lives as they can. And companies are a delivery mechanism for that here for those

Sentari Minor 20:30
guys. It’s got a delivery mechanism I like that is. So you’ve pretty much worked from home for probably a really long time. Do you ever feel like isolated but you’re always out doing stuff? So like, it’s probably a different thing for you? Yeah,

george grombacher 20:45
it is. Yeah, I’m not just at home. Never. I don’t I don’t like to work at home.

Sentari Minor 20:50
I remember that. Yeah.

george grombacher 20:51
I loved about I love being out and about. So I always put on headphones and just have like, ambient noise. I was gonna say white noise and target but I didn’t want to be perceived as racist. I was gonna I always have black noise going on in my in my head.

Sentari Minor 21:10
So good. What are your as someone who has been a manager and you’ve managed teams and done a lot of things in your career? What are your thoughts are just top level on or top line on the the hybrid? Return office?

george grombacher 21:24
Yeah, my my, my experience has always been in hiring salespeople and hiring managing salespeople. So but I did I, there’s before zoom. So my, my sales management career was six years, and it ended before we did virtual calls. So I don’t know how that would have gone. But certainly, I think at this point, should I ever have a large organization that I’m running, I would want everybody to come in at least once a month, I’m not a fan of meetings. So I don’t know that I would mandate that people come to a physical location. But it just, it just just kind of depends. So depends on that, you know, I’m never going to hire 1000 people. So you know, knock on wood, I can’t imagine. So when I do hire people, it’s I work really, really hard on the front end to make sure that I’m selecting somebody that’s that’s going to perform the function that I expect, and they’re going to be happy and get the experience that they want also. So I think it’s all about selection, I think it’s all about doing your best to figure out expectations up front. And it’s not perfect, because people can say what they want to do to get a job in a job. You know, people have kids or whatever, or we get job life life changes, and we forget to tell one another. So just expecting and encouraging as much transparency and openness as possible. You know, from what I experience when you tell somebody, Hey, I would like this or I’d like change here or there. That’s way better than having a quiet quit or quiet fire somebody.

Sentari Minor 23:07
Yep. I agree with that.

george grombacher 23:11
So unlimited PTO, same kind of thing. I just I just read about that. It’s kind of a ruse, people were bitching about it on bitching about Microsoft’s unlimited PTO policy. And what happens is that you end up not actually didn’t ever take any PTO. And yeah, and so if you don’t, you would be compensated for that. Right? Because most people have X number of days off every year. And there’s value in that. So if you don’t take it, then you get paid out on it. So who knows? Yeah.

Sentari Minor 23:45
The unlimited PTO? Yeah, I’ve been at companies where it’s there. But it’s like, okay, you no one ever took it or dad to your point. Like I’m now not entitled to that if I ever leave because you get usually get paid out by PTO. So it’s like, oh, that was nothing. I have nothing. Nothing to show for it.

george grombacher 24:01
Yeah. That’s again, it’s really a selection thing on on kind of the front end. So all right. So there it is. Stop bitching about it. Do something about it. I don’t know if that’s appropriate at all but

Sentari Minor 24:18
I don’t know for this topic.

george grombacher 24:21
What else cuz I’ll talk about it be about it is how gross nobody cares work harder. Is that Is that how it goes?

Sentari Minor 24:30
Find a company that is aligned to what you feel you need to fulfill yourself personally and professionally.

george grombacher 24:37
Yeah. I couldn’t agree with that anymore. You know, I think that if we’re in a job that we hate, then it’s not going to be a good experience for anybody.

Sentari Minor 24:46
So that’s very true.

george grombacher 24:49
That what’s what’s what’s what’s in store for the weekends and Tari he got some board meetings, actually not sort of retreats.

Sentari Minor 25:00
Ah, wait, maybe? No. We have our all team. We’re getting all of our company together next week. And so spending some time just putting together that deck and some facilitation points. So doing a little work, probably going to go see a couple of movies. And I think that’s it. What’s in the what’s in store for the gram packers?

george grombacher 25:19
Awesome. We’re going to be Arizona. So if this is the last time we talk, it’s because a bear ate me.

Sentari Minor 25:25
Is that what you’d like to drive through it?

george grombacher 25:27
Yeah. Yeah, the joke. White people. That’s it. Because I was thinking, for sure. will be there. I’ll keep my eyes out for any non white folks at Berra zona.

Sentari Minor 25:43
You tell me how many of those are

george grombacher 25:49
amazing. We’re going to Arizona. So either I’m going to come back with with a bear skin rug or all been eaten by a bear or hopefully we’ll just have a great time and my kids will love it. Why don’t we just why don’t we just plan on that?

Sentari Minor 26:04
I think we’ll just put on your kids having a great time. That does sound really cool. Take a bunch of pictures.

george grombacher 26:08
Excellent. All right, sir. Well, thanks as always for listening. Do LIKE SHARE, COMMENT all the things and as always keep questioning because the struggle is real.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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