• The Evolution of a Remote Workforce

    working remotely

    “Don’t answer that – it’s a fax coming through!” “Hey Jackie, will you please crawl across the floor when you come out of the bathroom? I don’t want my client to know I’m working from home today.” “Honey – what are you doing in the closet?” These are only a few examples of what some of us experienced in prior years working remotely. We never dreamed that almost overnight the rest of the professional working world would become a remote workforce as well.

    The past ten years have seen some progressive organizations offer hybrid work schedules while launching green initiatives or accommodating their employees’ caregiving schedules. Progress in this direction has been slow.

    Enter the pandemic. This brought about the migration of employees to their home “offices” so quickly that many are still scrambling to cope with the consequences. Many employers have embraced the viability of some form of remote workforce for the future.

    As for us, little has changed. Our executive recruitment mission is to find the professionals that can lead your company through this and any challenging time.

    Working Remotely and Job Recruitment Today

    While we don’t consider ourselves to be remote job recruiters, we are focused on finding candidates who can work effectively from home for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, we know a lot about what it takes to do just that.

    At Duffy Group, we have had a remote workforce since our inception in 1991. Kathleen launched the company from her kitchen table and has expanded her reach ever since. While we do have an office with a conference room, all but a few of Duffy’s employees work remotely.

    Employees with the right mix of self-discipline, organization, and great written and verbal communication skills are the backbone of any successful organization, but imperative to one operating from home. Hiring the people with the know-how to help us optimize our methods has been vital. Equally important, we have found that the ability of our employees to embrace changes in technology is essential to success.

    The Pros, Cons and Comedy of Working Remotely

    Not everyone is cut out to work remotely, and the buzz on the street from many a millennial is they miss the social aspect of office life. Some worry about diminished opportunities for growth with the lack of exposure to a range of executives and interdepartmental projects. The allure of the city which draws many young professionals dims when their companies can hire remote workers nationwide and pay them accordingly if they live in less expensive locations.

    Others love the flexibility working remotely allows – getting a workout in between meetings and staying at their “desk” later to make up for it. That post-workout shower can wait when there aren’t co-workers close by to offend!

    This flexibility allows for creative endeavors that enrich the lives of remote workers. One of our employees runs a cookie company, another is studying ballet and two are track coaches.

    Evolving from a company where the only things digital were our alarm clocks to one connected via VPN, GoToMeeting, Slack, internet phones and Zoom meetings, we have learned to embrace change, and accept our foibles with humor.

    Our coworker Leah pressed the mute button and scolded her barking dog with a “Stop! Quiet!” while interviewing a candidate. Hearing the candidate’s laughter, she realized she must not have pressed mute hard enough.

    Tanner, a newlywed, got to know a different side of his lovely wife in recent months while they both were working from home. Wearing a boot after suffering a track injury, he made his customary hot lunch and hobbled back to his office. His wife, who was on the phone with a client in a room nearby, ignored the screams coming from his direction. Her client said perhaps she should go check on the source of the screaming. She found Tanner furiously digging out the hot rice that had fallen into his boot. She left the room, shaking her head and remarking. “You’re such a drama queen.” They are still married.

    Our children have learned to read our faces and our gestures, most of which are telling them to leave the room quietly. Eden’s 4-year-old screamed for candy during a conference call with a major client many years ago. Bill’s wife often returns home singing loudly – sometimes catching him mid-call. Nancy’s daughter kindly offered her mother a Snickerdoodle during the middle of a call – again loudly. It appears perhaps Duffy Group has a need for door signs – or maybe doors?

    Some disturbances come from outside the confines of home. Novice delivery people knock insistently at our doors, and our neighbors, not expecting anyone home in the middle of the day, have surprised us by allowing pets to do what they should not, right outside of our office windows. Unfortunately, one Duffy employee swiveled their chair to see a contractor doing the same!

    The work-life balance that employees at Duffy Group enjoy is one of many reasons we are loyal and appreciative. We realize the need to compartmentalize our workday, so that we can enjoy our families, our friends and give back to our community. COVID has necessitated that others do the same.

    Kim says, “My most significant take away from working at home, during COVID especially, is that I love having my kids at home with me. While it has added an unexpected layer to my workday, I love being near them and hearing their little voices. I am excited that school may be starting again but also secretly hoping that it does not so I can have them around while they are still relatively little and cute!”

    Working remotely has changed a bit since our inception. Whereas once our goal was to hide the fact that we weren’t in a glittering high-rise, we no longer require our family members to slither across the floor, and we aren’t hiding on a chair in the closet.

    We embrace the rewards of working from home and are transparent about its challenges. We walk erect, standing tall – earbuds in, enjoying the opportunity to connect our clients with the candidates they seek.

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