The Causey Consulting Podcast

What's Your RTO Survival Plan?

February 02, 2023
The Causey Consulting Podcast
What's Your RTO Survival Plan?
Show Notes Transcript

I've reported for months and months that RTO was and is an inevitable conclusion, IMO. I don't agree with it, but I don't think it's fair to put out hot air and hopium just to get likes and shares.

Key topics:

✔️ With more and more layoffs, how long can people hold out for a fully remote role? Let's be real here.
✔️ You're being told that remote work = bad and companies still "allowing" it are in financial trouble whereas companies that have demanded RTO = good and still thriving.
✔️The issue is not productivity and never has been, IMO. With that said, it certainly has not helped that people will go on social media and brag about goofing off.  Doing that is like loading a cannon and pointing it at yourself.
✔️There are areas of childcare and eldercare deserts. Depending upon where you live, certain facilities that were open in 2019 may not even exist anymore. How would you handle that scenario?

Links I discuss:

Need more? Email me: 

Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at And now, here's your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. In today's episode, I want to ask, do you have an RTO survival plan? I've asked many times before, do you have a job loss survival plan? If the company closed down if you received a pink slip unexpectedly? What would you do? Have you wargame out your strategy? And do you know who you would call? What are your first five phone calls going to be in the event of a layoff or the company you work for closing down? Those are very important questions. And hopefully, you have already done that you feel a little bit more secure, because you know what you would do. Now I want to ask, do you have an RTO survival plan? I understand that is not appealing, it is not an appetizing topic. I return again to Jed hills, quote, in the movie malice, this is the here and the now. I have warned you for months and months. Lord Ilan, kicked the door open. But this was not going to be an isolated incident to this attitude of RTO. Or it's your job. You're either going to be in an office but in seat 40 hours a week minimum, or we will assume you have resigned and you no longer want to be here. I told you that was going to spread when other people were telling you that Oh, no. The great resignation was going to go on and on and on. And remote work was here to stay just across the board. I was telling you what I perceive to be the truth, maybe a difficult truth and an unpopular truth. But I was out here trying to mourn, you know, will there be companies that maintain a remote work policy? Yes. Yes, there will. I'm not going to tell you that every single workplace in America is going to cease and desist on remote work full stop. I try to avoid the always never everyone no one huge generalities. It's just silly. Do I think most companies will have an RTO edict at some point in the next year? Yeah, I do. I do. Not all, but I think most we are already seeing this narrative shaping up of companies that are still allowing employees to work from home. Well, that's like so yesterday. Okay, we understand that at the start of the pandemic, when we didn't really know what was going on. We were all scared. Poopoo lis? Yeah, okay. We get it. We understand people had to go home, we had two weeks to flatten the curve, it made sense. But now, I mean, work from home like that was then this is now it's time to come on back. Work From Home equals, your company is going to go broke, and your employees are going to screw off at the house and do nothing. Whereas our to that equals happy, productive workers. Everyone has camaraderie. They're high fiving each other around the coffee pot. Everybody just feels like super jazzed to be there and your company is profitable if you're throwing up in your mouth a little hearing all that yeah, I got it. The thing is, this is not about productivity, in my opinion. It's not about productivity now and it wasn't about productivity then. This is in my opinion about control, surveillance, obedience. go along to get along. Do what you're told. You'll if we want you to come back in and sit together in the conference room and just all be here in the same place at the same time and polish yourself up a little bit have on your polo and khakis or your your dress suit then you should just you know like do that. It doesn't matter if you were wildly productive at home in your sweatpants we can I don't care about that we want you back because that's what we want. On January 26, over on We have a shining example of this we find Ken Griffin credits citadels historic $16 billion Hall to one thing. Employees full time return to Office. Wow. Let's read. Citadel CEO Ken Griffin could easily be considered the top dog in finance right now. The hedge fund saw record $16 billion in profits for clients last year beating the rest of the hedge fund industry that surpasses the $15 billion that John Paulson generated betting against subprime mortgages in 2007. There's another shade of the Oh 708 time period. Interesting. All together the top 20 hedge funds generated$22.4 billion in post free profits Citadel included. The secret to Griffin's success if you ask him is simple. Workers returned to the Citadel offices. Fortune CEO Alan Murray. I'm gonna try not to say that like Arthur Fleck, Moray Alan Moray sat down with Griffin and New York City Mayor Eric Adams two weeks ago as part of an interview for the Partnership for New York City. At that meeting, Griffin gave what he said was an important reason for his 2023 success. His employees were all back in the office full time marae wrote in his CEO daily newsletter on Tuesday, many assume nodded their heads in agreement per morays account. Of course, there could also be other reasons contributing to Citadel success, huh, really? Wow. You mean it's not just commanding everybody to come on back? Okay, do tell. Chairman of LCH investments. Rick Sofer said in a statement that the strong gains multi strategy hedge funds like Citadel have made in recent years reflect their increasing dominance and strategies which do not depend on rising asset prices and their substantial size. But this isn't the first time Griffin has boasted about the benefits of a return to in person work. If you are early in your career, you are making a grave mistake not being back at work. Griffin told Bloomberg Erik Schatzker. hope I'm saying that right in 2021. Citing the importance of managerial and interpersonal experience and developing one's career, Griffin added that he was concerned that the loss of opportunities for young professionals would cost us dearly over the decades to come in quote. Well, won't someone think of the children? Oh, those poor Djinns ears. They just don't know the power and the glory and the majesty of being in the cube farm the way that all of us older generations know it. If you ask me, they're not missing out on a gosh darn thing. Oh, God, I don't miss it. I'll continue to read. He brought the Citadel employees back to the office full time in June 2021. Having everybody back together has been really powerful in driving forward our business, Griffin said at the time. Well, I'm there driving, I'm sure grabbing forward. Return office fever has infected many CEOs and executives in the financial sector. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman recently said coming into the office was not an employee choice. Goldman Sachs is David Solomon was one of the initial finance CEOs to push for a return to office as early as a full year ago, only to be met with opposition. I'll break in and say Well, that's because that was then this is now I told you. I freaking told you. Once people are allowed to know who we actually are in a recession and Oh, unemployment is higher and No, you really can't go get a job that pays a living wage in five minutes after you've been laid off. What do you think the outcome is going to be? If you need a j ob a s AP, and your only option is are to guess what you're going to do? This is reality. Let let's please stay grounded and stay in reality instead of getting our head up in the clouds. Even today, not all employees are showing up rich handler CEO of investment bank Jeffrey's also joined the work in the Office team. If you want a job stay remote all the time and be efficient in a very limited way handler set in an Instagram comment on a Wall Street confessions post. If you want a career, engage with the rest of us in the office and use work from home only when and smart flexibility is essential mental health calls and life balance needs help and quote, it's kind of a weird phraseology there. But essentially what he's saying is if you want a J, OB, then you just sit at home and you stay remote and you be efficient in a limited way. But if you want to career, then you need to engage with the rest of us. So here's the deal. And I can speak to this, oh, I can I can get up on the stump and pop root as an introvert in a highly extroverted field. Yeah, you I can't tell you how many times over the years that I was told, Well, no, you don't have to go to happy hour, but it would really look good. If you did. No, you don't have to lurk around the watercooler for 30 minutes in the morning and do meaningless chit chat. But it would really look good. If you did, we would really think that you were serious about your career here. And the ability to move into a management role. If you did these things, I was very much punished and made to feel like a second or third class citizen for being an introvert. And there are plenty of companies that they'll say that they are welcoming to individuals that have neurodiversity, and they are willing to make any accommodations or factor in those issues of neuro divergence. But in reality, they're not. They're just not. It is about toeing the line. It is about singing the company song when they asked you to do what you are told. Now, if you want a job, then okay, you stay remote, and you do your thing out there at the house. But if you want a career, you're going to have to engage with the rest of us. He could have just as easily said one of us, you better get your ass back in this office and be one of us. If you want to go somewhere in this life. Gross. You know what I've told this story before. As an XOR raised by boomers, I was very much trained, that you move up in the company, you get a promotion, and then you work for the next and then you work for the next and then you work for the next you should always be trying to climb that ladder. And I remember getting into a management position I had a huge, I mean, too big and kind of gaudy corner office. And I remember getting in there, putting my feet up on the desk looking around and thinking this feels like a Pyrrhic victory. It feels hollow. I was told all through my childhood and adolescence and early adulthood that this moment here, this is the arrival This is where you've done it. And it sucks. This doesn't, just doesn't feel like I thought it was going to feel to some degree I felt trapped. I didn't like it. So I mean, who's to say what makes a good career, what makes a j ob from a career, and that in order to have a successful working situation where you feel fulfilled, you like what you're doing. You're making money at it, that you have to do it in a traditional way. Who who's to say that? I don't buy it. I continue to read. This is a time to treat Wall Street the way it was treated for generations. Mike mayo, a bank analyst at Wells Fargo told fortune in July. Yeah. You know, Jamie Dimon said that he wanted it to go back like 2019 It was kind of like okay, this this little dust up this blip on the radar has ended. Let's go back to the way it was. The thing is more and more people are just coming out saying exactly the same thing. You should be able to see it clearly at this point. Despite the insistence that being in person at the office is good for business research shows that working from home is just as good as in person work. Many workers spend their extra commute time working and their productivity may be higher. Hybrid workers who have the best of both worlds are more loyal and more connected and productive. But if the CEOs have their way, and here's a little spoiler alert, they will okay. But if the CEOs have their way, a return to traditional ways of work is on the horizon. As marae pointed out if you are part of the New York financial community and haven't gotten your return to Office notice yet stay tuned. Exclamation point and growth. Told you so here's the temptation. People look at this information and they go Yeah, but that's not me. I don't live in New York City. I'm not in finance. I'm not in big tech. I'm not in Silicon Valley. So this is not going to impact Ask me. Are you sure? Oh, well, I mean, Sarah, my manager, like promised to me, with their fingers crossed behind their back that we would never go back to the office. And so I like believe them. Okay. The owner of the company said that he wanted everything to stay remote forever. The CEO said that she was committed to remote work. Okay. Are you sure, because there have been companies that said they were committed to remote work forever or indefinitely. And now they're telling people to come on back. This is like the financial phrase, if you don't hold it, you don't own it. It's the same thing in the work world. When you are a full time w two employee for someone else, you do not own the company. You're not on the board of directors, you don't have some voting right in how the company is managed. You don't have a say, yes, you can walk with your feet and leave. Or you can put a comment card and the suggestion box, you can complain, you can try to see if everybody will get together and maybe have some kind of walkout or strike I mean, maybe. But at the end of the day, if the owner or the board of directors, depending on the size of this company we're talking about. If they say RTO, or it's your job, that's what they're going to do. I hate to burst your bubble, and I'm not here trying to sound negative. What I'm trying to do is, I hope, help you to contemplate this question. Because it really sucks to be smacked upside the face with a sudden, unhappy surprise. So if for example, that manager has told you, yeah, we're going to be remote, there's just no reason for us to come back. Or we wouldn't invest in corporate real estate. Again, we've already let the other office space go. I don't think we would even rent anything. And then one day, you get an unhappy email RTO by x date, or resign? How are you going to handle that? The thing of it is when you have so many people living paycheck to paycheck, as well as swimming in debt. Oh, and then the interest rates are going up. So if you have a bank loan or credit card debt, it's getting more and more expensive to pay that each month. Are you really going to be able to foment some kind of big rebellion? Most people I think, okay, maybe I'm cynical or whatever. But most people I think would just go along. RTO or it's your job, well, okay, I need the money. I need to pay the bills, I need the health insurance, I need the retirement plan. I can't just have a big rebellion and walk off. In a situation where you have moved away from the office and you're not within reasonable commuting distance. Have you thought about that? Have you planned out how you would handle it? If you got the RTO edict from your employer? Meanwhile, you might have moved two hours away. Are there opportunities closer to where you're at? Do you feel really confident that you could secure something else that's remote? Or be able to freelance and set your own rules of engagement? I mean, do you have a plan? We also find and I in a lot of ways I hate to even give this any publicity. But I think it's important for us to just take a look at some of the messaging that's going out. I've talked about this person before and I still don't really know how to pronounce the name correctly. Before I get there. I'm gonna give you my standard Michael Corleone boilerplate. I don't know this Merle. I don't know what he does. And I don't know what he lives on. I don't know this guy, Lulu a Raheel. I don't know him. I don't know who he is. I don't know what he lives on. I personally do not like what I perceive to be anti work from home hit pieces, slash pro RTO fluff pieces. I don't like them. They're not my cup of tea. I don't agree with them. But this is another aspect of what we're being spoon fed right now. So his article from January 24 is titled remote work destroyed America's most profitable industry. And in the byline, we read how did tech become America's most troubled industry. So we see a graphic that he's provided here, that 10 If you have 100 people working on a project, then 10 of those individuals will produce 50% of the work whereas the other 90 individuals will produce the other 50%. So the idea there obviously being the 10% of people that are making 50% of the work are doing a hell of a lot more than the 90 who are making up the other half of the work. So here we go. America's most stable companies are laying off stable. Big tech is most stable was he around for boom and bust America's most stable companies. Okay. Some of us are old and salty. We remember, America's most stable companies are laying off so many people every day when everyone knows why, but no one is willing to say it. In the last few months, you witnessed the collapse of America's most profitable industry, the tech industry, the tech industry is crumbling. And if you work in it, you better get your resume ready. According to the layoffs tracker, more than 158,951 people lost their jobs in 2022, and at least 56,570 employees were laid off in the first three weeks of 2023. Companies that allow remote work are struggling more than others. For example, when Elon Musk took over Twitter, the company was considered one of the laxest companies about remote work. However, Twitter was losing $4 million daily. Then Elon Musk took over and asked employees to show up at the office. As a result, Twitter has been more innovative in the last three months than in the previous three years. That sounds rather subjective. To me. I mean, this this sounds more like an op ed disguised as hey, this is all fact. Okay. Musk understands that about 10% of remote workers produce 50% of Twitter's results, his views are confirmed by Jordan Peterson, and by a law called prices law, the law states that 50% of the work done by the square root of the total number of people who participate in the work. So if you have 100 people doing any job, 10% of them produce more than 50% of the results. So companies that want to survive in the coming few years, should be flexible with the top 10% and offer less flexibility with the rest and quote, Okay, how's that gonna go? Animal Farm, all animals are equal. If I can talk properly, all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. How's that gonna work? Okay, so you peons and plebs are not as good as the others. So they get to work from home as a reward for their productivity or their contributions, which I'm sure will get up further and further and further and further till they're working, you know, 90 hours a week or something. The rest of you have to come back to the office and sit here and be surveilled. I mean, how would that even play out in reality? On the other hand, the top 10% of the workforce that produces 50% of the work don't mind coming to the office really. However, the other 90% of the workforce that don't want to be held accountable are voicing their displeasure with the end of remote work. Yeah, I mean, it could also be that high performers and top level producers don't like to be micromanaged and surveilled. They don't like having a sales manager who knows considerably less than them standing over the top of them barking out orders. I mean, I'm just saying. Musk understands the above principle. That's why he asked his managers to be flexible with his top performers, but strict with everyone else. At the risk of stating the obvious, any manager who falsely claims that someone reporting to them is doing excellent work, or that a given role is essential, whether remote or not will be exited from the company, or, Lord, the Lord has spoken. Only a few executives have the guts to do what Elon Musk does. But it is becoming obvious that companies who are afraid to hold people accountable regarding the quality of their work, or about showing up to the office will lose in the long run and quote, yeah, yeah. And then he goes on to talk about like, the layoffs at Amazon, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, but you know, I mean, Microsoft can find the money to invest in open AI. Now they are going to have to lay people off and too bad, so sad, but you know, they can come up with a substantial amount of money to invest in open AI. I guess I'm just not fooled. Like, I don't feel like the wool can be pulled over my eyes on this topic. This is in my in my opinion, it's not about productivity. And even if we look at the structure of that last sentence that I read to you, but it is becoming obvious that companies who are afraid to hold people accountable regarding the quality of their work or about showing up to the office will lose in the long run. That's a highly subjective statement. Anyway, this is I mean, it's clearly an op ed, but the quality of their work or showing up to the office this is an either or proposition in my mind, if The quality of the work is suffering. What the hell fire doesn't matter if the person is at home, or the person is in the office? Do you not think that people are incapable of screwing off in the office? Yes, they are. Of course they are. I've told you before I worked with a guy in the past who could go catatonic. It was like he was asleep. But his eyes were kind of sort of open. I have never seen anything like it. It was like he could just disassociate from reality for hours. I also told you about the guy that got busted because he was in the men's room, and he would run an extension cord from the wall outlet to one of the stalls and sit on his phone. Like the whole day. People can and will and do find ways of gaming the system. In my mind, it who who cares if they're at home, or if they're in the office, if someone is a poor performer, if it's obvious that they're just being unproductive, unmotivated, and they're not doing anything, they're just collecting a paycheck. That's a separate issue from we want to punish everybody. You need to come on back because that's what you're told to do. Even in his statement, he sort of acknowledges that they're regarding the quality of their work or about showing up to the office who is going to be obedient, who's going to go along to get along. That's, to me, this is part of the purging of the dissidents. Let's get rid of the troublemakers. Let's get rid of people who won't tow the line. They won't sing the company song on command. They don't really kind of go along with our pantomime and our cult like tactics. Let's get rid of them first. I'm picturing like, you know, when Scarecrow was exiling people out to the ice of Gotham, let's throw them out onto the ice of Gotham. And then once they realize that there aren't an abundance of jobs open periodic to let alone fully remote work from home jobs that pay a living wage and good benefits. They'll change their tune. It's where I see this going. On a similar note, there was an article on daily And I was like, Yeah, hello. The article is titled this is why people have to work in the office remote worker who issues who works hard issues PSA to those who don't the byline reads don't ruin it for the rest of us. In this article, we find a remote workers video imploring other workers to cease sharing if they only work for a portion of their day has resonated with other work from home employees on tick tock, where the video has drawn over 43,000 views as of Sunday. In her video user at journey with Rosie says she is extremely busy with work during the day and can't relate to those who brag about having very little to do all button and say I can't either between working on the business and in the business, and then having a working farm and ranch and having animals with special needs and considerations. Who the eff are these people that are using mouse jugglers and they're falling asleep on the couch? I can't relate to it either. But I'm not naive. I know that those people are out there. And I agree with what this user is talking about by going on social media and having like, I guess no ability to maintain your flippin privacy anymore. They are ruining the situation for everybody. It's like letting people into the pool that are just going to peepee and poopoo all in it. No matter how much chlorine you've put in there. Eventually, all of that waste is going to overwhelm the pool and you're going to need to get out of it. Please do not think that corporate America is not aware of this, because I can assure you they are. Listen, I am getting sick of you guys that work from home shouting from the rooftops on Tik Tok, that you essentially spend half your day doing nothing she says in the video. Because first of all, I work from home and I am so busy that I feel like I am ripping out my eyeballs. She continues but most importantly, if that is the case, just be glad to be silent. Because your employer and every other employer, they're going to see your posts and say this is why people have to work in the office. Just accept it. Um, yeah. Some viewers echoed her sentiment in the comments calling on fellow remote workers to stop sharing that they do not work for much of their day. Right. Like don't ruin it for the rest of us. And I'm busy so. So like, preach it. I manage 70 people remotely and it upsets me to see that too because I work harder from home than I ever did in the office. Yeah. Oh, yeah. See, that's another thing because they're large chunks of your time, taken up in the office with stop and chat. Getting up to walk down the hall to the bathroom and going to the coffee pod and getting pulled into a meeting that 100% could have been an email. Very little productive work actually happens in the office. But yeah, you're supposed to believe that you need to go back. But look, all of these people, they're just playing games and acting silly at home, we need to all come back. I just don't see any way around it. As I've told you before, I don't tell anybody what to do. I don't give advice. I just sit here and opine for your entertainment only freelancing and or owning and operating your own business. It is not for everyone. And I think sometimes the media can glamorize entrepreneurship, or they will come up with these bizarre stories. Oh, this lady picks her belly button lint and sells it on Etsy. And she's now a multimillionaire, these people rent out their swimming pool, and they make six figures a month. And this guy is the most in demand dog walker in his community, and he can command$100 An hour and it's like, Well, okay, if those stories are true, that's great. Those people are news because that's abnormal. That's not something that happens every day. I don't know most dog walkers that are doing it for celebrities, or that are making 100 bucks an hour, I don't know most people that have a pool, that are renting it out to randos and making six figures a month. We're selling their belly button lint, or their bathwater, or their gas and a jar. This, these are not common money making reliable business strategies. Not everybody wants to freelance. And here's the thing. When you freelance you own and operate your own business, you do have more power and control over your schedule and the terms of engagement. It's less expected for freelancers and contractors that they're working on their own. They have their own LLC or their own S corp, they whatever your situation is legally and tax wise, it's less expected that you are going to go somewhere and be but in seat. So if you live in Des Moines, Iowa, let's say and you're working with a client in Anchorage, Alaska, as a freelancer, they typically don't expect that you're going to get on an airplane and go up there and work a project for them for three months. Now, if you're in the construction industry, for example, or oil pipeline, yeah, you may have to go that may be work that needs to be done in person, you may be turning wrenches or looking over a building in person. Understand, but let's say you're a freelance accountant in Des Moines and you're working with somebody to do their bookkeeping, bookkeeping, in Anchorage, no, they're not going to expect you to get on an airplane and fly up there and sit in an office somewhere to do that. With that being said, not everybody is going to be able to just jump into the freelancing market. Some people want and need employer provided benefits. Some people want to work for somebody else. And there's nothing wrong with saying I want to be plugged in and accompany as an employee. I just don't want it to suck. I don't want to have an a home manager. And I don't want to have to be at a company that I think is a cold. There's nothing wrong with that. As we go further into whatever this downturn is recession, depression, slow session, 1970s, stagflation, great recession 2.0, whatever it turns out to be. Do you have an RTO survival plan? Do you have the means of really sitting down and thinking this out? What would I do? If you're in like a two person household and it's you and your spouse or you and your partner and both of you had to go back and there are children involved or their pets or an elder that you care for? Think about these things. What are you going to do? Unfortunately, one of the ramifications of the pandemic has been that there are more childcare and elder care deserts now. So there may have been eldercare and daycare facilities that were open back in 2019. That just flat out don't exist in your area now. Or if you took advantage of the Zoom boom, and the work from home, work, work from home work from anywhere revolution, and you're out in the middle of nowhere, and there's no business that's close to you for 30 or 40 miles. How are you prepared to handle that? I can't answer that question for you. And I hope that you don't have to find out if you're working remotely and you enjoy it. I hope that you get to stay doing that forever and ever. Amen. In the event that that's not an option. Have you thought about how you will handle that? Stay safe, stay sane And I will see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We'll see you next time.