Innovation in the (Virtual) Workplace with Jason Falls & Heather Whaling [PODCAST]

Welcome to the latest episode of Explore Marketing Uncensored, Social Media Explorer’s official podcast. Explore Marketing Uncensored is your one-way ticket into the twisted minds of some of the greatest digital marketing and social media thought leaders around. The goal: to provide marketing executives with the knowledge they need to be rock stars in their organization.

In this week’s episode, podcast regular Jason Falls and CEO of Geben Communications, Heather Whaling, sit down with host Jason Spooner and SME President Nichole Kelly to discuss innovation in the workplace. Inspired by the recent decision of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer to discontinue remote working, our team of industry experts discuss the benefits and complications of innovative workplaces. Through open forum, the group provides their take on Marissa Mayer’s decision, the possible motives behind this decision and some solid best practices on how to create an innovative workplace that thrives. Are you a virtual employee? Then stay tune to the end of the episode where we’ll provide some tips on maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Don’t miss an episode Explore Marketing Uncensored! Subscribe to the podcast through iTunes and receive the latest episode on your preferred podcast listening device.

Show notes

Geben Communications – Heather Whaling serves as CEO.

Four Hour Workweek – Example of lifestyle content referenced in podcast.

<a target="_blank" href="http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/social-media-marketing/be-prepared-as-digital-natives-demand-the-4-hour-work-week-lifestyle/”>Be Prepared as Digital Natives Demand the 4 Hour Work Week Lifestyle – Blog post about a new type of workforce and working environment.

Original Marissa Mayer Memo – Article containing original memo from Marissa Mayer banning remote working.

<a target="_blank" href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Idea-Factory-American-Innovation/dp/0143122797/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362670378&sr=8-1&keywords=bell+labs”>Bell Labs – Example of collaborative company referenced in podcast.

CaféPress – Jason Falls serves as their VP of Digital Strategy

 

Can’t Listen Right Now? Complete Transcript below:

Announcer: You’re listening to Explore Marketing Uncensored: everything you need to know about marketing, and a few things you didn’t. Now, here’s your host, Jason Spooner.

Spooner: Hey, welcome to Explore Marketing Uncensored. I am Jason Spooner. With me, as always, I’m being joined by my lovely and talented co-host, Nichole Kelly, president of Social Media Explorer. Nichole, how are you doing today?

Nichole: Doing awesome, thank you.

Spooner: Great. Joining us today on the podcast, reoccurring guest star Jason Falls. Jason, welcome to the show again.

Falls: Thank you very much. I’ve always wanted to be a guest star. I feel like I’m on the Hollywood Squares.

Spooner: You’re reoccurring by now, man. This is two of three. You’re there. And then joining us also, special guest Heather Whaling, president of Geben. How are you doing today?

Heather: Hi, I’m good. Thanks for having me.

Spooner: Fantastic. So the focus of today’s podcast and why we have all these brilliantly smart people in this room is to talk about innovation in the workplace. And how—Does that lead to creativity? Does that lead to better operations? That’s the structure and the topic of today’s podcast. Nichole, I think you wanted to kick this off. This is going to kind of be more of an open forum discussion, whereas before we usually do the interview sessions. So Nichole, why don’t you kick us off with an opening statement that kind of encompasses the focus of this group?

Nichole: Sure. So, I mean, obviously this is something that I feel pretty passionate about. You know, growing up in kind of corporate marketing, working in buildings and cubicles and offices, and all that kind of fun stuff. As a marketer, I always kind of found myself, when I needed to be productive, having to go and work from home, so people wouldn’t distract me and things like that. And, you know, the reason that I kind of wanted to talk about this is because I wrote a post about how the digital native is kind of transforming into The 4-Hour Workweek lifestyle, and we want to be able to work anywhere. And then obviously with the conversation around what Marissa Mayer has done at Yahoo, I thought it would be an interesting topic, to just talk about creativity and innovation in companies, and where that innovation happens. Does it happen in the office? Does it happen at home? Is it an environment where we can work from anywhere and still be creative? And with that, I guess I just want to open it up for conversation.

Falls: Well, I’ll share sort of a personal perspective on this. I am most creative, and I’ve sort of told people this before, I’m most creative actually sitting in a coffee shop. And when I—I’ll sit in a coffee shop—and I’m not a big coffee drinker. I just like watching people. For some reason, that fires my neurons and gets me thinking, and I write really, really well, and some of the better things that I’ve written in the past, I wrote in a coffee shop, listening to music, watching just people. Not even really listening to conversations. Just watching people while I listen to music. So I think there’s some great benefit, and I think it varies per person on what sort of drives you to be creative. But I think you need to find, to be optimally creative, you’ve got to find your sweet spot. You know, mine is sitting in a coffee shop listening to music. Someone else may need to walk around and pace. I know when I was at Doe Anderson, which is obviously an advertising agency, there were a couple of people there, who when they were on conference calls, they needed to have the Bluetooth or the headset, and they would pace around their office, because that’s what got their energies going while they were talking and thinking. And they would do the same thing when they were in the conference room, doing white board ideation or whatever. So I think you’ve got to find your own sweet spot. But the problem is, and we kind of open the discussion up now to a wider conversation, when you find your sweet spot, as a creative person, a creative thinker, and it doesn’t match up with your company’s policies, like the Yahoo policy. According to this policy, I guess I wouldn’t be a good fit at Yahoo, because in order for me to be optimally creative, I’ve got to go sit in a coffee shop, and if I’m not in the office, then that’s probably going to violate some sort of policy. So that’s the rub: when you find your sweet spot, and it doesn’t match up with what is acceptable to your boss or your employer.

Spooner: Now, I want to clarify real fast what Jason’s referring to with the Yahoo. In case you missed it, Marissa Mayer sent out a memo over the past week, bringing all hands back on ship and denouncing virtual working. You can no longer work from home. You have to come into the office. Everyone needs to be working from a central location by a certain date. Otherwise, we’ll see you, have a nice time. We’ve enjoyed your time at Yahoo. And so I just wanted to give a little bit of clarity and back story to what Jason was saying there. Heather, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. Go right ahead.

Heather: No, definitely. So from our perspective, we have—our company, we’ve tried having remote employees. We’ve tried having people in the office. And so we try to do a little bit of a hybrid. I have found that having everyone in the office does tend to foster a little bit type of relationship among the employees themselves, and creates more collaboration, and at end of the day, I think helps us get better results for our clients faster than what may have happened if everyone was spread out.  But we also try to embrace letting people work when and where they’re most productive. So for at least half the day, every week, everyone’s required to work from somewhere outside the office. We call these work-aways. And so they go to wherever they’re most productive. So like for Jason, if that’s a coffee shop, great. If that’s your bed, or a park, or the library or wherever, that’s fine. But that’s that time. If you really need to focus and be creative, that’s a great time to do it. Or if you’ve got a bunch of little things that you’ve been putting off all week, and you just need to sit and concentrate and bang those out, it’s a good time to do that. And we’ve found that that tends to be a pretty good balance. But we’re also fairly loose in our work schedule. It’s not like everyone has to be in the office from 9 to 5. So I think by having that flexibility built in, then people still are able to optimize their creativity and have those bursts of smart thinking that maybe they wouldn’t get if they were stuck in a cubicle type office. But we also try, though, to—when everyone is in the office, the office is a pretty open environment. It fosters collaboration. It’s designed and set up to have a certain work culture around it that I think is sort of the mix of the two.

Falls: Let me throw in something too, ’cause I kind of agree with Heather in a lot of ways. I have always found that I prefer a physical proximity to the people I’m working with. Especially if I’m managing a team. While Nichole and I obviously have worked very well together with her being in Baltimore and me in Louisville, I certainly can work in virtual situations and have done that. At Cafepress, we’ve got a team. I’m eventually probably going to be hiring some people, and my preference is to have them in our Louisville headquarters. When I was with Social Media Explorer and I wanted to hire a virtual assistant, I didn’t want a virtual assistant. I wanted someone in Louisville who could come into the office and be there with me to do things. Now, I’m not the kind of employer or boss personally who believes that there has to be a 9-to-5 constriction, because on the opposite end of that spectrum, even though I want physical proximity to the people that I’m working with, because I think it does foster good collaboration, good teamwork, good morale, etc., etc., I don’t like the 9-to-5 confines. You have to report in, you have to clock in, you have to clock out. You have to take certain time off. All the constrictions that happen in larger companies. And I think obviously this is one of those things where you have to try to draw a balance, but at the same time, it’s also a consideration when you’re being recruited for a job, or when you’re pursuing an opportunity. You have to take that into consideration and understand. Can you be creative and collaborative in this environment? Because I’ve worked with some clients in the past—not worked there myself—but I’ve worked with some clients in the past who were, “you’ve got to wear a suit and tie and polished shoes, and you’ve got to be in by 8:45 and you can’t leave till 5:15.” And you only get 30 minutes for lunch. And that’s just the rules, and nobody violates those rules. And quite frankly, I found it very hard to work in those constraints. And so I think it’s a big question mark for people when they’re looking for a job. But it’s also a good question mark for managers and leaders as they’re trying to hire people.

Nichole: Yeah. And I think that’s kind of the key is, with SME Digital, the goal has always been to get the absolute best talent. And the one limitation that I didn’t want to have was that all of that talent had to be in Baltimore. Because I’ve met people all over the world that are amazing people in digital marketing. And I wanted to make sure that we were absolutely hiring the best. Now, with that comes challenges. So everyone in our company is virtual and they work from anywhere. I don’t even say they work from home. I really don’t care where they are. But one of the things that we’re considering now, to kind of foster that collaboration, is doing these kind of work-cations, where we bring team members and rent a beach house and work there for a couple of weeks. So that we get that—the team unity, and everybody’s working together. You can bring your family and they can go do stuff during the day. And then we all hang out at night. That’s one of the things that we’re testing. The other challenge I see is that when—is making sure that people feel a part of a team. It’s not—because you’re not having those water cooler conversations, which I know is in the Yahoo announcement as well. Because you’re not having those water cooler conversations, little things like having chat open all day so you can bounce ideas off of people, has really served us well. So the big limitation I see with that physical proximity is that, unfortunately, all of the best talent isn’t in Louisville. And so sometimes you have to make choices on whether you’re going to go with the best person for the job, or the best person for the job that also is local.

Falls: That’s true. That’s a big challenge, and I think what this really boils down to is—well, it boils down to a couple different things. For the employee, it’s can I be creative and can I contribute optimally in this organization? For the hiring manager, it’s can I foster creativity within the constraints of the corporate policy? And I think in the bigger the organization, the more tight those constraints tend to get, and the less creative the organizations tend to be. Which is ironic though, when you think of some of the most creative companies in the world. A lot of times they are really, really big companies. So I wonder if there’s some insight out there into how they do it, because—you know, for instance, Apple is a huge company. I’m sure they have policies on attendance and so on and so forth. I wonder how they do it.

Nichole: Yeah, it’s an interesting point. I think—I guess if I was, as a business leader, I think that the question is exactly what you said. How can we create an environment that inspires and fosters creativity, and ensure that that environment doesn’t inhibit us from hiring some of the best people?

Heather: I think everybody has their own way of being creative though. And it’s hard to force that on other people. Obviously Yahoo’s different. It’s a large, large organization, and there are a number of other challenges that they’re trying to overcome that we’re certainly not privy to, and that probably have impacted their decision to bring everyone into the office. But I know, from our perspective, even when people do have chat—so when we’ve worked with remote employees—even if they do have chat open all day, or if they’ve got Skype, it’s just a different relationship. It’s not the same, and it ends up that the work product ends up being different than what comes out of the people who are physically in the office. So I think it could be the best person, it could be the hardest worker. But there are benefits and economies of scale that just come by physically being in the same place and being able to have those quick conversations, those quick brainstorms that you can’t get virtually. And so, while maybe you’re not able to hire the world’s best person, are you able to hire the person who’s the best fit for your team? And I think that’s an important distinction.

Spooner: When I think of water cooler conversations and impromptu meetings, I think about Bell Labs. Here is a research and a production, just wonderful scientific location that fostered those impromptu meetings. They would go after the best talent and bring them into the Bell Labs, so you have Nobel Prize laureates. You have Nobel Prize physicists. And they would meet in the hallways and have discussions. And that produced some of the greatest technology of the 20th century. And if it wasn’t for those kind of impromptu meetings, and those impromptu—Hey, what happens when the physicists and the chemists that are experts in their field get together in the hallway and have a conversation? What’s going to come out of that? I don’t believe that that would have been able to have happened if Bell Labs had gone virtual. Now, granted, Bell Labs existed in its heyday at a time that virtual commuting, telecommuting wasn’t possible. But you’ve got to think, in this day and age, if it was possible, and they did go down that road, would they have been as productive in what they were producing, from a theoretical and from an applicable standpoint.

Falls: Well, but I think also too, you could look at the opposite end of that equation and say that the Internet and technology, even the technology that we’re using—I know the people who are listening to the podcast don’t know this, but the four of us are watching each other on Skype video as we record this, so that we can give hand signals—hang on, I want to talk next, or whatever—and so the technology, including bringing in white boarding, bringing in real good webinar video conferencing software, etc., etc. allows physicists and chemists and whatnot from all over the world to collaborate without having to leave their house, right? So the opposite end of the spectrum is, Bell Labs may not have been—may not have worked the same way in this day and age, but it might have actually worked at least differently, if not better, because they could have brought in more perspective to the table.

Nichole: And I also look at—I mean, I believe that there is a model for this that kind of exists today. Like, if you look at the big consulting firms, Accenture and Sogeti, some of these really, really big consulting firms, they have people all over the world that consult both on-site with their clients, and many times off-site as well, and collaborate with whoever that client is. So I think there’s a model for it. I think it’s just a question of what the company’s core values are, what is important from a corporate policy standpoint for whatever reason, and then how you bring the best people in that are going to be a good fit for it. I know another thing that we’ve been considering is that as SME grows, we’re even thinking about one of the things that—we want to have that collaborative environment, but we don’t want to have a physical office, that it’s like, you have to come in and report to the office. So we’re thinking about that, as we hire employees, we do want to create an environment where there are several local employees in the same market, and then possibly building what I call a think tank, which is essentially a room that is designed for creativity and collaboration, that has beanbag chairs and all the walls are glass, so you can write and you can brainstorm together. But it’s not a central place that you have to report to every day. It’s specifically a creative space. And I don’t know if that’s going to work or not. I think we’re trying to figure that out. But we definitely are trying to be creative and collaborative and a company without walls.

Falls: I like the way we’re doing that, and I like the way Heather obvious does Geben as well. But I wonder how scalable that is, ’cause if you want to go back and look at the Yahoo situation, there’s—everybody’s been quick to jump on the criticism bandwagon here and say that this was a really bad decision. But there’s a couple perspectives I think that we need to bring to the table. #1, this could very well have been the fact that the CEO of Yahoo was charged with trimming staff and trimming budget, and she looked at this and said, “You know what? If I just tell people who are telecommuting that they can’t telecommute anymore, a certain percentage of them will quit, so now I don’t have to pay severance packages. So now all of the sudden, I’ve done part of my job of cutting expenses, without having to buy people out of contracts and so on and so forth.” So it might have been financially a very, very smart move. But also too, you have to think—I saw one report and I don’t know—I didn’t get into the details of it, ’cause quite frankly I don’t really care—but I saw one report that said that Mayer analyzed the VPN usage and saw that it was almost nonexistent. That people who were supposedly working from home were not dialing in on the VPN. Which doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not working, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re not plugged in. So I don’t know that that would have been a really smart decision if that was the only thing the decision was based on. But when you get into a scalable situation with a company, you have hundreds, maybe thousands of employees, and the impetus for someone as an employer to say, “Yes, you can work remotely,” is that they trust that that employee is going to get their work done and do what is required of them, and maybe even exceed expectations because they’re in a more comfortable or wanting environment. However, a thousand employees—out of a thousand employees, you’re probably going to have a couple hundred that are like, “I’m working from home. I don’t have to do anything today. I can just work for an hour and then go take my kids to the park and blah, blah, blah,” right? So that happens. That’s just human nature. And so maybe in large enterprise organizations, the scalability factor comes in there and it’s just not practical because there’s always someone trying to take advantage of the system.

Nichole: Well, I think it comes down—so I have two things to say about that. My first is that if the decision was made because there were problem employees or people were taking advantage of the situation. I think that forcing all employees—essentially punishing all employees for what is happening with a few is not necessarily fair. And as a business owner myself, like if I’m going to make a decision like that, I’m going to stand up and say, “Hey, I’m weeding people out because they’re not performing and I’m going to fire them” versus trying to go around the system. So there’s that element. The other is that—you’re right, as teams grow, the scalability becomes a problem. But the big question here is, are you hiring the right people? I think if you’re hiring A players, they perform wherever they are, and they’re going to be able to make do wherever they are. And A players will also say, “If I need an office environment, then I’m going to tell you I need an office environment, and I’m going to go get a workspace somewhere, even if it’s not with everybody else.” B players have a hard time performed anywhere. And so I think it comes down to the question of were we—we’re trying to weed out a bunch of B players, so we’re solving the symptom of working from home, and not the actual problem of that we have some people that we need to get rid of.

Heather: I think it’s a little different, I guess because—so having done the remote and having everyone in the same office. I think the person who was remote, had that person been in the office, would have been an excellent, excellent fit. And I don’t think it has anything to do with that person’s skills or talents. I think it’s a matter of, there are things that happen so fast that if you’re not in the office, you just miss some of those things that happen. We do a lot of work with technology startup type clients, and I know a number of them started having—with people in various locations and ended up moving everyone out to either New York or San Francisco, depending where they’re located. Because they were trying to build something and make it happen so fast. And sometimes having everyone spread out, you lose that speed. So it has nothing to do with the skills or talents of that individual. It’s the speed of—and the pace that everything is getting done. That if you’re just not there, it’s much, much more difficult to keep up. And so sure, you might be able to keep up at a slower pace, but is that what’s really best for the company? And so I think you have to differentiate between an individual’s ability to do the job. They may be an A player, and be the best, but there are other things that are happening from that team perspective that doesn’t matter how good they are. It just may not work as well as having everyone in the same location.

Spooner: I agree with that. And further, Nichole, I love your point about only hiring A players. But as you scale from a company of hundreds to a company of thousands, it is hard to find A talent at all levels. When you’re bringing on the junior or the midlevel employee that might only have two or three years of experience, they don’t even know if they’re an A player yet. Fresh out of college, everyone thinks they’re an A player yet. But they don’t know that, and you don’t know that either. So how do you account for that? I mean, there is work that needs to be done by a junior level employee. We can all agree by that. And if you’re a virtual company, you’re going to have to bring on a junior level employee in the virtual space. How do you plan for whether or not that person’s going to be an A, B, or C? And do you take the time to cultivate that person into an A, or—how does that work, is what I’m asking?

Nichole: Well, so an A player can’t be created. People are either A players or they’re not. And it’s not just about their work performance. It’s about how they approach life and their philosophies on life. And so I can tell you the way that we do it is we actually do an interview with a personality coach that helps us define whether that person’s an A or a B player. And the reason that that’s important is because B players interview really well. They interview really well, because that’s how they get jobs, right? And then they get in the company and they perform moderately. So there’s that piece of it. But also, I think it’s—one of the things—I think it’s different when there is a corporate office and some people working virtually, versus when everyone works virtually. So like with us, everyone works virtually, so it’s not that some people have better collaboration than others. It’s that we all have the same collaboration because we are all virtual. And I think that that may cause some challenges as well, and I know there’s been a couple companies who are in Baltimore where they did that. They had an office and then they hired these virtual people. And then what ended up happening is that there was the virtual team and then the office team, and it kind of pitted people against each other. And so I think it’s also different when everyone is virtual versus just a few.

Heather: That’s a really good point, Nichole.

Spooner: So Heather, on your side, your team—’cause you’re the one who has the mixed office day, right? Where half the people can go off-site for half the day and whatnot?

Heather: Yep.

Spooner: Do you find that people naturally gravitate—are there people that spend the whole day in the office and don’t utilize the work-away hours?

Heather: So for the most part, everybody’s really good about the work-aways, and they love that opportunity. And they I think look forward to it and sort of build their week around knowing, “This is something that’s going to require a lot of creativity,” or we do a lot of writing in our office, and so sometimes it’s easier to write when you can just shut off everything else. And so I think they really seize the opportunity to do some of their best work. And then in the office, they can focus on the things that maybe require input from other people, or maybe don’t require such extreme concentration. But they love the work-aways. They’ll email or text me in the morning and say, “Hey, I’m going to go do my work-away now.” It also varies. So people aren’t assigned—it’s Wednesday, this means your half the day of work-away. So it can really be based on however your work is evolving and if it—you know, I had one person this morning. It’s Friday morning and they said, “Hey, I’ve got so much stuff I have to get done before the end of the week. I’m going to do my work-away this morning so I can just bang out a lot of stuff.” Which is totally fine. So I think that they like it. And I think that they like the flexibility too, that I’m not—we’re not clocking in. We don’t bill our clients by the hour, so while we track time loosely, this is certainly not like a law firm, where we’re billing every six minutes. Or even like most PR agencies, for that matter. We’re much more focused on, are we getting the results that we need to get? And if so, great. And if not, then we need to work more, even if that means we’re going to exceed our hours that month. And so I think they appreciate the flexibility that comes with that, and the trust that comes with that. And so then they’re able to generate even better work.

Spooner: Interesting. Now, I have one final question before we start really wrapping this up. And this is more for the virtual employee, not so much for the virtual manager or for the virtual company. As an employee, how do you struggle with planning out your day? Where when you’re in the office, you know that you need to be on and accessible 9 to 5, or 8 to 6? When you’re a virtual employee, how do you set those boundaries, to where you’re not working 7 to 9, just because there’s work that can be done? Without that natural stopgap? Or do you think that—oh, go on.

Falls: I was just going to say, I can answer that question because I am technically now a virtual employee of Nichole’s. And I just don’t return her phone calls. [LAUGHTER] No. But I think there is—and I’m a big proponent of work-life balance. I think my wife might object to that assessment. But I try very, very hard to make sure—I have to be home at a certain time every day, because I have two kids and we do dinner together as a family, as a rule, so on and so forth. And until I put my kids to bed, I don’t—I try to turn it off and stay away from any sort of work assignment. Obviously there’s some flexibility there, because at Cafepress we have a California team. Sometimes Nichole’s on the West Coast. Sometimes I’ve got to do a call in the evening time because of just the people that I need to talk to. But at the same time, I try to limit that sort of 5:30 to 8:00 or 8:30 window. And I’ve tried, although not successfully in every occasion, to turn off from 5:30 till like 7:30, 8:00 the next day. And so I think, as an employee, you have to sort of set those boundaries. And the easiest way to set those boundaries is to not reply to emails during off hours. Or basically tell—establish an expectation of, “Hey, I’m going to check emails between 8 and 9 at night, just in case there’s anything that flares up. But I’m only going to respond if it’s urgent. But I’ll be monitoring the email account” or something like that. I think if you have a conversation with your boss about what the expectations are, and that you have a family and you have personal life and so on and so forth, I think typically most people are pretty amenable to that. But it’s really just establishing those expectations and then reinforcing the expectations with your behavior. If you say you’re not going to respond to it unless it’s urgent, then don’t. If you say you’re not going to answer your cell phone on the weekends, then don’t. ‘Cause the first time you do, then they’re going to call again.

Nichole: Yeah, so this is—I have an issue with this, personally. And it’s a combination of things, in that we’re obviously starting a company that’s growing very quickly, and we have deadlines with clients. And then there’s also business development work that needs to be done. To actually make sure that we’re running the business effectively. And so last year, I was working 80-, 90-hour-weeks. I mean, it was pretty ridiculous. And I also have an 18-month-old daughter, and a 14- and 12-year-old, two sons. So it was a crazy year for us. Now, I will say that I structured that 80 to 90 hours in a way that worked for my family at the same time. It’s not that—I didn’t work, for example, in the evenings, when everybody was awake. It was more working late at night. Now, what I’ve done this year is—this is a big priority for me, and I’m trying to learn how to put myself first a little bit more than I have in the past. And so the way that I’m doing that is that the first thing is that I’m really creative in the morning. And so for me, actually the best creative time is between 5 in the morning and 9 in the morning. In that solid four-hour window. So for example, I will start work at 5 or 6:00 in the morning, when I get up, or after I’ve run or whatever I’ve done that morning. And I’ll start work immediately, and then—but now I have a rule that after 5:30, I am no longer working. And I might look at emails, and I might process my inbox, in terms of, “I need to respond to this tomorrow,” but I’m not going to respond. And on the weekends, it’s a little bit more of a challenge. Mainly because I do have a lot of stuff going on. But again, I follow that rule of, “If I can get my work done between 5 in the morning and 9 in the morning, before all the kids are up and stuff like that”—that’s how I’m balancing it now. It’s not the perfect answer. But I think it all comes down to priority. And that as an individual you have to make those choices. And let everybody know what the—what your kind of parameters are.

Spooner: Interesting. Heather, what about on your side. Do you see team members struggling with their work-away hours, turning them off? Or how do you manage that? Or is it pretty easy, 5:30, unless there’s something big, people are out the door?

Heather: No. I think it’s something that we sort of all struggle with. But—so we try to balance it out a little bit. So we’re managing for a number of clients. We manage their social communities, and those don’t turn off at 5:00. So there is an expectation with clients that we’re doing some of that monitoring and responding in the evenings or early mornings, or on the weekends. But at the same time, if somebody needs to go to the doctor during the week, or if somebody needs to cut out early or—if somebody needs to run an errand during the day, we don’t dock them that time either. So I think if you have an expectation that people are going to be responsive in the evenings sometimes, then there has to be that flexibility during the day as well. So—and then, but also we do try—unless it’s a crisis, crisis, really don’t respond on the weekends unless it’s urgent. Make sure you’re taking—we have pretty unlimited flexible vacation and sick time. So if you feel like you’re overworking, go take some—take a day. Go do a three-day weekend. Take some time off. So I certainly don’t want our people to burn out, but we also need to be responsive to what it is that our clients need. So it’s definitely an ongoing struggle that we are trying to work through.

Spooner: No. I don’t think there’s a clear cut answer to this question, but I think you guys all gave some really great advice and some insights into that. So that’s all the time we have today for Explore Marketing Uncensored. I’d like to thank Heather Whaling and Jason Falls for joining us. Nichole Kelly, it’s always a pleasure.

Nichole: Thank you.

Spooner: And until next time, my name is Jason Spooner. Have a great day.

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