Why Remote Work is Good for DEIB

April 16, 2024 00:24:10
Why Remote Work is Good for DEIB
Underrepresented in Tech
Why Remote Work is Good for DEIB

Apr 16 2024 | 00:24:10

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Show Notes

In this episode, Samah and Michelle discuss how remote work is beneficial to many underrepresented groups, and why they have found working from home (or wherever they happen to be) to allow for greater flexibility, improved productivity, and overall work satisfaction.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Welcome to the underrepresented in tech podcast, where we talk about issues in underrepresentation and have difficult conversations. Underrepresented in tech is a free database with a goal of helping people find new opportunities in WordPress and tech. Hello, Sama, how are you? [00:00:23] Speaker B: Hello. I'm good. How are you? I'm sick today, but I'm fine. [00:00:28] Speaker A: There's a lot of stuff going around for sure. And it's, you know, and the topic we're going to talk about today I think really does come into play when you're not feeling well, when you're sick. I think there's a lot that is good and perhaps negative about working from home. So remote working, it's not always working from home. Sometimes it's working from, you know, a coffee shop or something like that. It's hard to record podcasts, though, if you're not in your home setup, I will say that. Or your office coffee shops are not the perfect place for that. [00:01:01] Speaker B: But yeah. [00:01:02] Speaker A: Tell us a little bit about the article that you found and the topic that you present that you put forward for today. [00:01:09] Speaker B: For me, the subject is something I really love and believe in, which is like how remote work strategies encourage diversity at work. And of course, it's not only about diversity, it's encouraging more productivity, more work life balance. I think after COVID, a lot of companies forces their employees to work from home, of course, because of their safety. But of course after COVID, it's open a lot for a lot of companies. The mentality, or let's say the new work system, it just work remotely or work from home. And I think a lot of companies now are doing it. I'm going to speak about yoast. My experience in yoast, like before COVID I was working five days from the office. Now I can work whatever I want from the office, which is good. I cannot complain. And also at the same time, it's not only working from home, you can work from anywhere you want around this world. But it's really important for, let's say for women, for people of color, because most of people of color, when they live, let's say in a new environment, in new country, they all the time live in very big cities because where's the large number of, let's say, people of color, underpresentative group or they have bigger community. And most of a lot of companies, they work in a smaller city, maybe it's cheaper for rent. It's a lot of things better to work in a small town or a small city. And those time like taking the travel up and down, people can benefit more doing it at home and it's open. A lot of opportunities like enabling geographical diversity, increasing accessibility. And people with disabilities can also now joining from all their own comfort home. Instead taking this time to come to the office, the difficulties to come to the office and yeah, offering flexibility. I love flexibility. [00:03:14] Speaker A: Flexibility is absolutely one of the pluses, I think so. I used to work in higher education. Unfortunately, school settings aren't necessarily someplace. Doctor's offices, hospitals. Not everybody has the opportunity to work remote, of course, but we work in tech, which makes things a little bit easier for us to be able to work remotely. When I first started working freelance for myself, I rented an office. My ex husband was, I would consider him a hoarder. Like our house. I couldn't, I couldn't keep up with the, the amount of things in the house and keeping it clean and all of that. So I didn't want customers or clients when I was web designing and doing marketing, I didn't want them to come to my house. It didn't feel professional, definitely. It wasn't in a, in a situation that it was conducive to having people in. So I rented a small ten by ten office, and I started working in that office. And yes, it's still remote, right? So then when I closed that down, and I went to work with Givewp, they said, hey, we'll pay the rent on the office and you can hire somebody to come work with you. And then I brought Amanda Gorman, and she lives in this town too. So we rented office space and we worked together. This year, in January, we closed that office down. Liquid web is going to basically fully remote, and I was in a space they were paying for. So they decided it's not fair for two people, just me and Jeff, to have this big, huge office space when nobody else in the company did. And I understand that money and all of that. So I moved back to working from home 100%. And it took me a little while to get used to being in my home seven days a week and working from home, because even though I did it for a few months during lockdown, it was temporary. And it felt like camping out and like there was almost, I mean, it was a tragic time in history, of course, but it almost had a sense of excitement to doing something so differently than you ever had before. And so for me, coming to a fully remote type position and working for all of this time from my home, first of all, I had to change. I had to get this room set up to be a place where I could enjoy spending lots of time. I didn't want to sit at my coffee table or my kitchen table, those kinds of things. But also from a perspective of somebody who is disabled, it is very convenient not to have to go someplace and, you know, either try to find somebody who will help me with my scooter or that I can walk with my cane. So that's definitely easier for me. And I could, if I want to take a rest, I don't sit at my desk and take a rest. What know, I can go sit on my couch or lay on my bed for my lunch hour, things like that, and put myself in a different position. And so those are very helpful for sure. For me, the toughest thing to overcome is the feeling of isolation. Because I live alone and I'm in my home seven days a week now, and because I do need help. When I go out someplace other than like to walk in and out of the old office was just a few steps. I could do that. But now if I want to go someplace and meet up with people, I have to make sure somebody can come who will do my scooter and all of those things. So it feels a little more isolating to me. And so I wonder about, you know, other people who deal with disabilities or stay at home mom or not stay at home mom, but work from home moms who also might get that feeling of that cabin fever we call it, like when you're stuck in the same place for so long. But I will say the benefits far outweigh the any negativity that kind of creeps in every once in a while. [00:06:59] Speaker B: Yeah, I totally agree with you. But I want to say your room looks awesome. I'm jealous. You should see my office at home room. It's a big mess. Yeah, for me it is opening new opportunities because I would be honest, like waking up and going. Because for me, I take my bicycle to the train and from train I'm so lucky that it's only one train. I have to go 35 minutes and then I walk. I calculated it's almost 1 hour from my home to the office. It's so amazing that at 04:00 p.m. Or 05:00 p.m. When I stop working, I close it and then I have this, my life, you know, that I have 2 hours extra in the day. I can do whatever I want to do. And I find it sometimes very handy, especially for women, because then it's, let's be honest, sometimes you can put the laundry while you're walking this five minutes. Or you can see, because as I said before, daycare is really, really expensive. And also after the kids, after school, they have to stay in special day care. So if you're working from home, mom, they can play, they can do something. So it really can be so benefit also, at the same time, it can be if your manager doesn't know how to handle you. Because the manager should avoid out of sight, out of mind syndrome. Yes. Because if you're working a lot remotely, like kind of you're not existing in the company, or if you're, if you prefer to work at home or you prefer to work from different company, and I think that is lay on and the managers to not to overlook remote employees and give them equal treatment as the one who's showing up to the office more often. [00:08:44] Speaker A: Yeah, I think that's very true. I think it's the out of sight, out of mind part is a little scary sometimes, I think from a human resources perspective. But I think one of the things that comes to mind with remote working is the trust that has to exist. So it's not so much necessarily, and it may be this different for different companies that I am being tracked, that I'm at my desk from 09:00 a.m. Until 05:00 p.m. Like it's, there's a trust that I'm getting the job done and the work done and putting in the hours needed to make sure that that happens. But I can see how it could be that people could totally take advantage of it if they're not careful. So there has to be this trust built between the employee and the supervisor and the business and vice versa, making sure that there's tracking different ways to stay in touch, which is why I think we use slack a lot in tech, because it's a way to be in touch with people regularly. And I think it's why we use collaborative things like Google Docs and things like that, because it just makes it a lot easier if we're not having to always jump on a call, for example, working remotely means a lot of asynchronous work. And I think that that's great, too. Cass, her tail just keeps coming in. Sorry, she just made me laugh. [00:10:02] Speaker B: For me, I don't know when I work, let's say, don't say remotely, because my family lives one part of the world and my brother lives in the States the other part of the world. So if you only depending on your vacation date to visit, visit the family and beyond. Let's be honest, visiting the family is not vacation. You have to go to do round on all of the friends, so it's not a vacation. But while you're working and visiting your family, I always put my a game. Like, I always want to give more. I'm always more productive. And because like my manager taco, or previously, managers before trust me to go to work remotely, they always make sure that I am doing my things around the best. And it's so amazing. I'm so productive when I work remotely more than working in the office. And the office just, it's like normal day, but way you feel guilty, like you need to be like replying quickly to every message, you need to do more, you need to focus and yeah, it's. [00:11:04] Speaker A: That is very true. I think about that a lot, actually. And how, I don't know, just how the infrastructure has to be in place. Excuse me, but also how you have to have a comfort level with doing what you're doing. Because it's easy to. For me, it's easy to blur the lines. Other people probably have better discipline than I do. We talked about discipline a little bit last week. Where. And boundaries. But because it's right here in the house, I sometimes blur the lines and I'll come back to my desk later when I have an idea, or I'll work a little bit longer to finish something up. Which, yes, you could do that in an office, too. But when you leave an office, there's just that absolute sense of boundary, right? Like, I left the office, it's all shut down. Nobody can bother me until tomorrow. When your office is in your home, you have to really be good at setting those boundaries for yourself so that you're not checking slack. And we talked about that last week, too. But you're not like, I'm just going. [00:12:01] Speaker B: To pop back in and do a. [00:12:02] Speaker A: Few more things from my desk, kind of thing. But. But also, I think that, you know, I think about some of those when talking about the trust issue. I mean, I know that there, I've seen TikTok and everybody else, all of these ways that they track your mouse and they track your keystrokes. And now that people have, like, devised these things to keep the mouse moving so they can actually go to the bathroom and they're, you know, at home while they're working without somebody saying, why did you stop working for ten minutes? Kind of thing, you know? [00:12:32] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:12:32] Speaker A: And so that it's not a healthy situation if you are working remotely. And that's how closely, you are being monitored. So I think that there's. There's a lot to be said for good. It's so good to be able to work remotely. We. You are able to hire people who meet your criteria and your needs that might not live in the vicinity of where you are. So you're able to build a team that is probably more diverse, especially if you're paying attention to diversity and inclusion. But that definitely pulls in just more opportunity for people who are doing the work that you need done and perhaps less training and a shorter learning curve for them to be up to speed, too, because you're able to pull from a worldwide resource as opposed to just your local. And I can't hear in my tongue, sorry. She's right here, and she's driving me crazy. She's so cute. [00:13:29] Speaker B: Me, I just want to put my hands through the screen. [00:13:32] Speaker A: And, yeah, she's the cuddly one, but she's also shedding. So I apologize. One of the also that is the work from home hazard is the cat hair is everywhere. [00:13:45] Speaker B: I think she. I don't know if she. He loves the cat. She loves the topic that she wants to participate. She's happy that you're home. [00:13:54] Speaker A: She is, exactly. She loves that, for sure. I don't know what they do. If they were like, where'd she go? Whenever I travel, I come home after a week. They're like, you again, huh? You abandoned us. But. But you make some really good points about, like, especially parenting. And I think when I wrote an article for advanced WP way back at the beginning of the pandemic on this is, you know, there are ways that we can get through working from home. If this is something new to you, I think I wrote a. Wrote one for another company, too, but different ways that we can think about it. And part of it was creating space for yourself that is your workspace, so that you can. Even if it's one end of your kitchen table. Because at the time, I was in a very small one bedroom apartment. I had no place. I had my desk set up at the end of my living room, and then at the end of the day, I would close the laptop and pretend that wasn't over there so I could enjoy the rest of my evening. But if you can create space that is dedicated to work, so that you can only wander in when you want to break your own boundaries, but you have dedicated space, I think that really helps. And if you do have kids at home, it's sometimes more difficult to work with kids at home than not, but you have to find a way that works for you, whether that's sometimes bringing somebody into help, whether that's, you know, working when the kids are at school or whatever, whatever it is. But if you work remotely and you have the ability to be flexible with the time that you work, then I think it's, you know, it absolutely is just, it's an amazing thing for so many people to be able to work from home now. And the, the impetus for a lot of companies to try to go bring people back to the office, I think is going to bite them in the butt because I think that people are used to being able to have the flexibility now. They don't want to spend money to drive into an office. They don't want to spend money to take a train. They don't want to pay for parking if, like, in city situations. I used to work at a university where I had to pay for parking at the university I worked for. And it was like several hundred dollars a year just to park where I worked. And all of those things would be much better off if I could put my kid, if I could be home and put my kid on the bus, I could be there when she got home, but I couldn't. Those were not things that were available to me. But I could tell you now, looking back, I mean, she's a grown up, but if I could put myself in the same situation now, to be able to work remotely and have the opportunity to welcome her off the bus, set her up with her homework, whatever it was, I think definitely would have made my life as a single mom so much more fulfilling. [00:16:44] Speaker B: I totally agree with you. And for me, like this relaxing because at the end, if you relax in your personal life and you have this, your own space, then you'll give more to work and going back a little bit for people, because sometimes it's so difficult to get visa to work physically in countries or especially for people outside of Europe or outside of the states that you applying to go to work in specific company or in specific field. Let's talk about the it, because it's kind of sometimes impossible when you have the company to offer you, but now people can just have a good Internet connection. They have their computer, and here they go. They can be sitting in India and working in the States. They could be in Philippine working in the Netherlands. And that is the beauty, because more people, more cultural, more diversity, more different opinion can make things more creative more successfully. [00:17:42] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:17:42] Speaker B: And at the end, I know a lot of remote works, but I have also some people, they don't love it. They want to come to the office. Otherwise they feel bored or they feel distract. So I think it also should be the freedom for the employees and not for the employer to decide if I want to be working from home or I want to work at the office. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you work 8 hours or 10 hours. I believe there's tasks needs to be done, there's partial responsibilities that you need to finish, an obligation to your work. And if it's done in 6 hours of the day, here you go. Then you don't have to stay working 8 hours. [00:18:21] Speaker A: Exactly. Exactly. It's interesting. I know that at one point, liquid web only hired people who could report to an office. So if you lived in New York, you couldn't work for liquid web because they had several hubs, but this wasn't one of them. And I do believe that yoast actually, at one point in time, very seldom, um, employed remote workers as well. And the pandemic changed that for a lot of businesses. And I could be wrong about yoast. You could correct me if I'm wrong. Yeah, but I. But it's. It's made it. I think I. I enjoy working with such a huge group of people from around the world. I'm. I try to be sensitive to when they're awake and I'm not, and vice versa. Right. So, like, I message you sometimes. I'm like, I hope she didn't hear that. I message you when I think of it, and I'm like, oh, I don't want to. I know that now. Now that I'm in her slack, she's gonna be like, oh, I heard it. I'm gonna look like, no, don't look at it until tomorrow because we're so far off. I think we're about six, 6 hours difference between us. [00:19:22] Speaker B: Yeah, I'm a night owl. Just feel free to text me anytime. I'm a night owl. [00:19:29] Speaker A: I've discovered I'll message you, like, at 05:00 in my time. And you're like, okay, no problem. I got that. I'm like, you're supposed to be on your own time right now or sleeping, but never. I understand. I understand. Because, you know, workaholic myself. [00:19:47] Speaker B: But no, but about. I want to just. I don't want to correct you, just want to say differently. In the past, before COVID we have a lot of remotes, but it was mostly they were in support team. But of course, when the COVID hit, and I love how we, as your company developed so fast then now we having a lot of colleagues in other teams are working remotely. Even in our leadership team either. Our CEO, Kimberly, she's like, she's working between Netherlands and UK and Hong Kong. And before it was like, it's very difficult. You need the person to be physically there, but now not at all. It's. She's like so present with us on slack, she's so present with us on Zoom meetings, so she feels she's there. Also we have our product manager, Nico. He's living in Germany, Germany and Netherlands on our neighbor's country. And they close by. But 6 hours or 7 hours where he lives to come into the office. Come on, it's too much. [00:20:48] Speaker A: It is, yeah. [00:20:49] Speaker B: To come to the office every day. But also he, he know that he's there. We also have a leadership will from the states also. And now this is what I love. You can have all of those great minds from around the world, plus the great minds that you already have in the Netherlands working with us. It gives you this amazing culture, this amazing product, this amazing vision of the company. And I wish more and more companies do it and not forcing their employee to come to the office. I don't like it. Yeah. But also imagine if me and you, we're having our podcast from Costa Rica or from nice tropical weather. [00:21:32] Speaker A: We should make that happen. One year. I don't know, maybe. Wouldn't it be nice if like word camp, I don't know, like Wordcamp us was like in Puerto Rico. We could do that. It's part of the States. We could meet. We could go to wordcamp there and then we could also record the podcast while we were there. It would be okay. [00:21:52] Speaker B: It's so not me. I was, of course, Taco doesn't know about it yet, but I think I will, maybe I will ask him to. I want to work at the end of the year, like one month away, because then you become more productive, like. And, and it's. I don't honestly for my lifestyle. Also, my husband, he is working with a red cross, so he goes to places every six weeks. He come to the home one week. Now I can go stay, visit him three weeks and work from there. So now he's going to the Congo in September. So for me, I hope I can visit him. So, Taco, I hope so too. I'm joking. So, yeah, but it is really, I hope all of the companies give the freedom and also take it as their policy to hire more remote, remote colleagues to enhance their diversity at the company, it's really enhanced. [00:22:46] Speaker A: Yeah, I agree. I agree. Absolutely. So if you are out there thinking about building your team, think about remote workers. I mean, you get some of the cream of the crop when you're willing to look outside of your geographic location. Not that there aren't good people everywhere, because I'm sure there are. But maybe that perfect, that person that's such a synergy for your team is further away than you know, than being able to come work in an office with you. And also, man, reduce your overhead, get out of office spaces if you can. If you're a small business and you don't need to pay for that work remotely, like, just go for it. So anyway, and for the managers. [00:23:26] Speaker B: Yeah, and for the managers, really avoid out of sight, out of mind syndrome. [00:23:31] Speaker A: Yes. [00:23:32] Speaker B: And so it will be life changing for everyone. [00:23:36] Speaker A: Yeah, I agree. Maybe some week we'll talk about remote tools that work really well for us. [00:23:41] Speaker B: Definitely. [00:23:42] Speaker A: Yeah, a good one. So. All right, we'll see, everybody next week on underrepresented in tech, the podcast. [00:23:49] Speaker B: Bye bye, everyone. Bye bye. [00:23:53] Speaker A: If you're interested in using our database, joining us as a guest for an episode, or just want to say hi, go to underrepresentedintech.com. See you next week.

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