It's never been more clear: companies should give up on back to office and let us all work remotely, permanently
- With the rise of the Delta Variant, companies should switch to all remote.
- All-remote is better for workplace collaboration, the environment, and companies' bottom lines.
- Companies that switch to all-remote should be intentional about collaboration and technology.
- Jeff Chow is SVP Product at InVision.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
- See more stories on Insider's business page.
It's time to go back to the office for good – the home office.
With the CDC's recommendation that even fully vaccinated people wear masks indoors in areas with "substantial" and "high" transmission of COVID-19, employees across industries are wondering what the new future of work looks like. As the possibility of another shelter-in-place order looms, companies are deciding whether moving to a hybrid situation – simultaneously in-person and remote – is worth it.
It's not. Simply put, the concept of "forever remote" makes sense for numerous companies and industries. For many, America's "back to work" isn't a simple light switch, but many organizations are better off to shut the lights off at the traditional office. The switch to all remote will broaden a company's talent pool and increase employee happiness and retention, while limiting a lease and lowering its carbon footprint.
There are benefits to becoming a fully-remote organization. A top example is that the talent pool now goes national, or even international. Organizations are no longer limited to recruiting employees from a given radius to their offices. Asynchronous work helps to open the door for employees to work across time zones to get projects and deliverables completed in time.
InVision, where I work, has been all-remote since its inception. We have the luxury of hiring people living across the US and in 25 countries.
Additionally, without the need for a large physical office presence, companies can save hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, on leasing office space or building an expansive campus.
There is also evidence that eliminating an office for all employees to work remotely is better for the environment. Eliminating a daily commute, whether it's driving a vehicle or taking mass transit, helps cut down on emissions. This was initially noticed back in the spring and summer of 2020, when a decline in transportation due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a 6.4% decrease in global carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of 2.3 billion tons. The United States had the largest drop in carbon emissions at 12%, followed by the entirety of the European Union at 11%.
In a June 2021 McKinsey survey of over 1,600 employed people, researchers found about one in three workers back in an office said returning to in-person work negatively impacted their mental health. Those surveyed also reported "COVID-19 safety and flexible work arrangements could help alleviate stress" of returning to the office. Not everyone who works for the same company is going to get along. In an all-remote environment, it is far easier for people who are at odds to simply avoid each other. HR won't have to spend nearly as much time mediating between (or terminating) office Hatfields and McCoys.
So, how exactly do you quickly pivot to remote again and stick with it? The key is intentionality. Teach managers to make a point of celebrating wins and good work on group calls. Build encouraging collaboration into managers' Key Performance Indicators (KPI)s. Take advantage of face-to-face opportunities by holding in-person, all-company all-hands meetings as a time to build culture, not a time to just do more work.
Treat working groups to dinner (use some of the money you saved on your lease!) and let them get to know each other as people. To be intentional, invest in new ways of working that are oftentimes better ways of working: reducing necessary meetings and adjusting more feedback sessions to asynchronous collaboration. Meetings that remain on calendars should be reserved for the purpose of being highly engaging and energizing moments for teams to brainstorm and do generative sessions.
Second is technology. By now, we're all familiar with the likes of Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, but there are other products that can actively improve collaboration (full disclosure: I work for InVision, which makes one such digital collaboration tool, namely Freehand).
Take a thorough look with your IT team (and talk to your employees) to see what they need on a day-to-day basis. What tools does your accounting team need? Do they differ from what the marketing team needs (spoiler alert: they do). And don't force everyone to use the same tools. If your accounting team loves Microsoft Excel, that's fine for them. I can guarantee, however, that your product design team is not going to use it.
Finally, invest in your employees' ability to make the transition (again).
GreenGen, which provides green energy solutions for businesses and infrastructure projects, had one of the most pioneering ideas. "We had our employees do a two-day work-from-home resiliency test. This was to ensure that everyone's home Wi-Fi was adequate so that all of our documents and materials were easily accessible online, and that we could troubleshoot any potential problems preemptively," said Bradford H. Dockser, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of GreenGen. "Ensuring that our team members got monitors, mice, and keyboards at home made the transition seamless." With that sort of intentional stress test, GreenGen didn't skip a beat.
Above all, the main key to returning to the home office for good lies within communication. Technology and innovative products have helped to bring colleagues closer together virtually, as people work from anywhere at any time. Initial shelter-in-place orders taught many businesses across industries that remote work can be just as effective, if not more so, than the traditional office model. Businesses should make the call to go all-remote permanently. Their employees, their investors, and the environment will all thank you.
Financial planners say their clients thank them most for 5 smart money tips
- Financial planners say their clients get the most value from a handful of money tips.
- Those tips include how to save for the near future, and how to choose the right life insurance.
- Other advice: Time in the market is better than timing the market, and use your HSA to invest.
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services
When it comes to managing your personal finances, there's a lot of advice that gets floated around. You might find yourself asking friends for tips, reading articles for hours, or even scrolling social media to see what your favorite financial influencers have to say.
I spend a lot of quality time learning about finances and trying to figure out how to optimize and enhance my own portfolio. When I talk to financial planners and advisors, I find myself inundated with so much good information that it can be overwhelming. That's why I decided to try to find the best tips that financial planners give to their clients by asking them which tidbits of information make their clients thank them again and again. Here's what they had to say.
Don't just save for the faraway future
Many people work hard now and save for their future retirement. But Jake Northrup, a financial planner and advisor, says that it's not enough to just save for later on in life, and his clients appreciate his strategies that focus on the near future as well.
"You need to save in the right ways to provide you with the flexibility to use money throughout your life, rather than just waiting until age 59.5 when most pre-tax account penalties disappear," says Northrup.
He encourages his clients to save in different "buckets," each with a corresponding investment strategy: zero to five years, five to 15 years, and 15+ years.
"Many people handcuff their ability to enjoy money throughout life because they only save in their 401(k). By also saving into a Roth IRA and brokerage account, you give yourself the flexibility to utilize money much earlier in life," says Northrup.
Get a financial education
If there's one thing I've learned in my own personal finance journey, it's that you have to seek out personalized advice along the way. Financial planner Cody Garrett says that personalized education during the financial planning process always garners tremendous appreciation later on.
Says Garrett, "Unlike financial 'advice' that tells others what to do, education provides the clarity and confidence for families to make their own well-informed decisions. Given the uncertainty and financial variables out of our control on the path to and through retirement, having clarity about one's financial situation and a measurable action plan to refine the plan has greater value than the numbers on the page."
What kind of life insurance is needed
A big part of working with a financial planner or advisor is getting help figuring out what types of insurance you need. Charles H Thomas III, a financial planner, says that it means a lot to clients when he can help them plan for big situations that could happen later on.
"I work with lots of families who know they need life insurance to protect their children, but are unsure where to start or how much they need," says Thomas. "When I work with a family to see what future obligations need to be covered, like college, income replacement, and more, it removes a lot of stress and uncertainty from the decision."
Treat your HSA as a long-term investment account
Perhaps some of the best advice involves strategies that aren't so obvious.
"Many of the millennials with whom I meet have not considered how an HSA may fit into their overall investment strategy," says Mahoney. "For my peers who do have these accounts, they often spend the contributions in the same tax year or don't take advantage of the HSA's investment option. But the HSA's triple tax benefits mean that contributions invested today in low-cost, diversified funds can grow to significant amounts by the time retirement (and our larger healthcare expenditures) arrives."
Time in the market is better than timing the market
When it comes to getting advice on investing in the market, there are varying schools of thought. Financial planner Keith Onto says clients appreciate it when he reminds them that time in the market is more important than timing the market.
"I can't tell you how many times clients have reached out and asked whether now is the time to sell and move to cash in anticipation of the next correction," says Onto. "No one can consistently time the market, and more often than not the market has gone the opposite direction of what the client may expect. More importantly, the client needs to be reminded of the time horizon for their individual goals."
Everything You Need for Starting a Pressure Washing Business
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and feel ready to go into business yourself, the pressure washing business could be the best option for you.
Starting a power washing business doesn’t require lengthy learning and the startup costs are relatively low. Since the demand for such services is always high, this business can provide a solid flow of income if mastered and managed properly.
Like any other business, a successful power washing business requires proper preparation and planning and this article offers a step-by-step guide for embarking on such an entrepreneurial journey.
Research the Market
Doing some in-depth research about the pressure washing market, what customers you want to target, and how many similar businesses are already operating in your area is essential. Even though this business is expected to register decent growth in the coming years, you should still dig a little deeper to see if there’s more work than the existing pressure washers can take on.
You can choose to focus on residential accounts or take on commercial clients. If you feel that you can manage more work, explore opportunities for pressure washing in surrounding neighborhoods and towns.
Proper research and identifying what opportunities exist is a crucial step in establishing a flourishing pressure washing business.
Get Your License
The moment you decide that this type of business is a golden opportunity, you need to check the local requirements for doing business as a pressure washer.
Depending on the state you live in, you may or may not need a business license. However, you should apply and obtain one before getting started as it will cover you legally. Make sure to check with your local authorities on what the rules and regulations are to stay on the right side of the law.
This is also a major plus when attracting potential customers as they’ll feel more comfortable and it will help establish trust in your business. It may also help in meeting the requirements of other parties, such as vendors, who might want to see your license before deciding to do business.
Even though it sounds easy to start a pressure washing business, make sure that you develop the proper skills on how to pressure wash without destroying the surrounding area, damaging your client’s siding, and causing an injury to yourself or somebody else.
However, accidents happen, so in order to protect your new business from claims of negligence, injuries, accidents, financial risks, and legal fees, you should purchase insurance coverage. Nowadays, insurance companies can provide you with a quote for pressure washing insurance online, so you don’t have to waste time standing in lines.
Not only is pressure washing insurance a safety net for your business, but new potential clients will also take this as a positive sign that you’re a professional who takes their job seriously and ensures customer satisfaction.
Depending on your service offering and scope, the type of equipment you’ll need might vary. If you only intend on working for residential clients, then you’ll be good to go with a pressure washer with a force of up to around 4,000 PSI, but for commercial work, you’ll need stronger equipment that offers more functionalities. Since this business is physically demanding, choose equipment that is fast but safe and helps you get certain jobs done efficiently.
Practicing also plays a big role as you don’t want to accidentally damage someone’s landscape while power washing their siding. Regardless of how technologically advanced your equipment is, not knowing how to efficiently handle it can get you bad reviews and cause unwanted accidents and lawsuits.
Before making any big investments, rent a pressure washer and practice on your friends’ patios, or driveways as this will give you the best hands-on experience.
Price Your Services
Once you’re done with all the administrative work, decide on your pressure washing service prices. Since you’re a new business owner, you should start with lower prices while trying to attract new clients.
Test what hourly rate gets you most jobs and try to slowly but surely bump the price up every year as your expertise gets better.
It might feel overwhelming at the beginning but focus on mastering few services first and settle on a rate that works for you. As you improve your skills and your business grows, you can adjust your prices accordingly.
Market research, obtaining the right pressure washing insurance, choosing the right equipment, and pricing your services, are all important aspects on the road to becoming a successful business owner.
We’re sure that you’ll be glad to have considered all the above-mentioned steps once your pressure washing business is set up and running.