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Someone Needs to Say it

I've seen so many articles about remote work lately, some saying it is the worst thing ever, some saying it is the best thing ever and most somewhere in between. The thing that strikes me the most is when I see articles from the same publications over and over laying out the separate points using more and more clickbait-y titles.

I get it. It's 2023 and you feel like you have to do anything you can for every single click. But honestly, if you can't pick a side as an organization then you are not doing anything positive for society. Stop trying to pacify everyone and just take a stand. We live in a world run by algorithms and click through rates, time on page and buzzwords, and it is really bringing the quality of the articles and content online down several notches.

I am the kind of person that tends to spend less time on my phone, and usually only browsing the odd article or story while I am waiting on something. Because I have a Google Pixel, the main news feed I go to is the one catered by Google based on my viewing habits. The problem is that algorithm has no idea WHY I clicked on an article and tends to lean into the reason being because I liked the publication AND the topic. This isn't always the case.

Because of this method, if I click on an article that includes the words "work from home" (for instance) I get inundated with other articles using the same buzzwords as well as ads about work from home job "opportunities". I could write an entire article about how bad you make your company look as a recruiter who buys ad space for a position, but that is for another time. The issue I have today is more centered on the articles I see.

Sticking with the work from home/work remote articles for just a second, I am really tired of seeing articles that make it sound overly dramatic or like there is only one answer across the board. Personally, I started working remotely when the pandemic began in 2020 and felt I was actually getting more value out of my time because I tend to get things done quick and being remote meant I didn't have to drive an hour into the office to make 2 hours' worth of work look like it took 8 hours.

Some people out there might read that last sentence and say something like "well you were obviously overpaid if your work didn't require more time", and to that I say...maybe? The company hired me to do a job and they assigned a dollar value to that job. I'm not going to argue with them unless I feel the dollar value is way below what the actual work is worth.

But, therein lies the problem with the whole work from home debate.

Too many managers and companies have this idea that they are paying their salary employees for 40 hours+ a week. This may be how they calculate the hourly rate for the position for paperwork, but it is not, in fact, how they should be looking at jobs.

If I run a company (I mean, I do own a small business, but I don't presently have any employees other than myself), I am expecting to pay someone to provide their expertise in a place I am lacking or to assist with volume. I might think a particular task would take 40 hours to accomplish, but someone who has been doing it for years can do it in 20. Should I pay them less because it doesn't take as long as I expected?

This mindset of "I am paying this person for 40 hours" is the kind of mindset that cultivates a working environment where employees slow down and take their time on tasks to purposefully make them seem like they take longer. They do this because they know that if they complete a task faster than expected, some executive is going to come along and pile more and more on them, expecting to see it all done quickly even if some tasks do actually take longer.

How does this apply to the work from home thing?

Many of the companies I have seen quoted in the aforementioned articles seem to point to productivity (alongside collaboration) as one of the biggest reasons to force employees back into the office. The thinking appears to be that employees will either take longer to complete work or that they will complete it super quick and then "waste company time" by not actively working on another project. This is a failure of leadership, where they don't have any idea how long a task or project will take and assume that the person doing that task or project is not working at all if they are not being watched.

This also goes right back to the "we are paying you for 40 hours" instead of "we are paying you to do a specific job". The fallout of this isn't just that employees stretch out their work to make it look like it takes longer, it is also that contractors brought in to do a specific project wind up being overpaid because the person signing the contract doesn't know that the project should only take 3 weeks instead of the 4 listed in the contract.

The solution would be to find a middle ground and start compensation employees for the value they bring to the company rather than basing the salary on 40 hours. This, of course, would mean dropping the salary of many executives way down, but they are typically way overpaid anyway.

Digressing back to the general bit about articles, I'll make my point simple and sweet.

Stop trying to write articles based on buzzwords and trending topics aimed at getting as many clicks as possible while sacrificing quality along the way. Your ad dollars will be much higher if you write more quality articles that real people want to read and you might even pick up a subscriber or two along the way because people are normally willing to pay for quality.

That's it for now. This is a little different from the topics I have been covering recently but, to be fair, I have stated several times that I am going to write whatever is on my mind at any given time. Let me know below what you think.

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