Fair Debt

Hosted ByLex Patterson

Unlocking Possibilities...

Episode 23: The good, the bad, and the ugly of remote hybrid work

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

Hybrid and remote work options offer employees greater flexibility, open up opportunities for companies to hire from a larger talent pool and reduce office space costs.  But these options don’t come without challenges.  In this episode we’re going to talk about the good, it’s benefits for both employers and employees, the bad the drawbacks and challenges especially in the consumer finance space, and the ugly, or the shift in mindset, technology and effort of of remote and hybrid work options and explore why companies in the ARM space have been slow to adapt to this growing trend . 

Takeaways include

The benefits of remote and or hybrid models

How are creditors handling remote/hybrid

The challenges specific to ARM companies and ideas to solve them

We’ll review results of a recent ARM poll and look at trends, adoption rate etc.

We explore health, mental health and mindset.

Guests:  Ashley Campanella of Arbeit software and Jeremy Ruth of Arvest Bank.  

Ashley is a deeply engaged leader of sales strategy, sales operations and people management processes. In her role as Senior Customer Success Manager at Arbeit Software, she is skilled at establishing strategic focus, setting clear goals and building high performance teams. Ashley possesses expertise in end-to-end customer life cycle models to deliver revenue, renewals, and expansion. She has a passion for working with people to solve problems improve processes and and create satisfaction.

Company LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/arbeit-software/

Website: arbeitsoftware.com 

   LinkedIn Personal: Ashley Campanella

Email ashley@arbeitsoftware.com

Jeremy serves as the Sr. Director of Default Account Servicing for Arvest bank. He has been with the bank for 20 years and has experienced the bank’s growth from $2.5B to over $20B in asset size. He oversaw the transition to a centralized collection environment, while emphasizing customer service, compliance, and performance throughout the collection cycle. Responsibilities include early stage through post charge off collections and recovery for direct consumer, indirect auto, small business/commercial credits, equipment finance/leasing, as well as overdrawn and charged off deposit accounts. Bankruptcy, repossession, foreclosure, loss mitigation, third party collections, vendor management and quality control functions are within scope of his responsibilities. Jeremy has a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in management and a Marketing minor.

Resources:

    Website: https://www.arvest.com/

    Company LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/company/arvest-bank/

    Email:  jruth@arvest.com

   LinkedIn: Personal: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeremy-ruth/

Jeremy’s Podcast The Mayo and Mustard Show

Resources:


Arbeit Improving Communication and collaboration in remote teams


Games / Apps to use:
– An example of Arbeit’s Wellness Challenge they do every month is included on the episode show notes page kindredforce.com


– For Slack users, the Donut App allows employees to have quick 15/30 minute meetings once a month to just get to know each other more: https://www.donut.com/ (free with available upgrade)
– Assembly: https://www.joinassembly.com/ is used for rewarding employees, they can be given points and they can save them for whatever rewards the Owner / Managers create. (Free up to 10 users, anything above may be $2-$4 a month)
– Games: Scribbl (https://skribbl.io/), Scattergories (https://stopots.com/en/), Arbeit also put together their own trivia for game days (examples: ‘Whose pet is this?,’ ‘Whose handwriting is this?,’ ‘Random facts’) and the employees will send whoever is running these a picture if need be to be guessed by everyone else. Whoever wins 1st, 2nd, 3rd place gets assembly points! (all free to play!)

Additional Resources:

Adam Grant Tweet
Stats on Remote Workers

Gallup Poll

Lex LinkedIn Post on Remote habits

https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/how-to-adapt-to-a-remote-work-lifestyle-when-you-are-really-bad-at-it

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2021-02-12/majority-of-americans-work-remotely-a-year-into-coronavirus-pandemic-poll-finds

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/mar/29/hybrid-work-experiment-post-pandemic

Episode Transcription

Lex Patterson 0:11
Hybrid and remote work options offer employees greater flexibility, open up opportunities for companies to hire from a larger talent pool and reduce office space costs. These options don’t come without challenges. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of remote and hybrid work options and explore why many companies in the HRM space have been slow to adopt this growing trend with Ashley Campanella of our mind software, and Jeremy Ruth of Arvest. Bank. Here we go.

Welcome, Ashley. It’s good to see you again.

Ashley Campanella 1:04
You too. Thanks for having me. Yeah. So I like to ask everybody, where does this podcast find you? Where are you at right now?

So I’m just at home working. The reason why I met you and found you is through a mutual acquaintance. So networking is a beauteous thing.

Lex Patterson 1:28
It sure is. So whereas home where tell me where your home is, then?

Ashley Campanella 1:33
Yeah. So I’m in Buffalo, New York, and I’m with a company called Arbeit. So most of our employees are in Buffalo, New York. We also have an office in Brazil, too.

Lex Patterson 1:44
Oh, nice. Nice. Yeah. So you’re doing communication all over the world? And a little bit? Yeah.

Ashley Campanella 1:51
Yeah. Yeah. Our developers are there. We mainly just work in the in the United States.

Lex Patterson 1:56
Okay, cool. Yeah. Yeah. Well, tell us a little bit about your journey into the HRM space. So I was researching a little bit on you. And I see psychology major. And I always like to hear about what how those dots connected that you ended up where you are today. And so tell us a little bit about the journey.

Ashley Campanella 2:18
Sure, yeah. So I had a crazy journey to get where I’m at. So after I finished high school, I always had my since I was a little girl, I had my heart set on going to nursing school and becoming a nurse. And I went, Yeah, so I went to college, at just a community college here to get my gen. Ed’s done. And I was going to apply for that program. And they gave me the wrong date for the exam. So I would have had to wait a whole nother year. Did it end up working out and I ended up getting into? Well, I applied for occupational therapy. And then in this program, yeah, in this program, there was only 100 spots that you could get in with and there was over 300 applicants. So I didn’t get into that. And I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, then at that point, and my parents gave me an ultimatum, say if you’re going to either go to school, or you’re going to work. And so I did end up going to UB University of Buffalo. And I chose psychology. And I did get a part time job and Arbeit at the time as well. So I started out by when I was 20 years old. And I was just doing admin stuff, billing and stuff like that. And I was still going to school, and I didn’t really, I was never really a big school person, to be honest. So I went for psychology for a year, and everybody had great opportunities. So I grew from just doing admin to going full time in sales. So I did stop going to school, I went full time at arbeite. And I was in sales for about two years. And then I transition into customer success manager for another two years. And then I recently this year just got a promotion to senior customer success manager. So I’ve been with our BI now for six years. So it’s just a great opportunity. I couldn’t pass it up. So that’s kind of how I ended up here.

Lex Patterson 4:32
Yeah, well, and it sounds like that psychology study work, you know, tapped right into sales, obviously in marketing, because there’s a lot of psychology behind all of that. Yeah. So tell me though, when you first started with Arbeit then were they How long have they been around? Were you one of the first ones there? Yeah, but about that. Yeah. So

Ashley Campanella 4:53
this past year, we celebrated I think our nine year anniversary. So yeah, So when I started, they were open for about three years. When I started, there was five, guys. So I was the first woman to join Arbeit. And yeah, so there was six of us in a small office. And then we grew and grew and grew. We got a second office right next door. And then we grew out of those two offices and bought our own building. And then the pandemic happened. Okay. And we had only been in our building for a year, and we went full remote for a year, and then our owners decided to sell our building, and go 100% remote said, wow, yeah, it’s 2020.

Lex Patterson 5:45
Right? Yeah. Okay, so yeah, we’re gonna get into that that’s a great segue into what happened because we met, as you mentioned, and then we started talking about our connection with the software pieces, and that and just the curiosity to always learn more about what’s, what trends are happening in the industry, right. And one of the things that that kind of got thrown into the mix was the whole hybrid remote situation. So we work together to understand more about that this phenomenon and the adoption rate, especially in the air space. And it’s been a little bit over a month, I believe, if I’m thinking about this, right, since you and I started this journey together. And we’re gonna get into that, let’s start off this episode with an overall view of kind of what’s going on. So, and I’ll kind of leave this for a minute, actually, we gathered some information, obviously, we’re trying to do surveys where we’re both out, you know, beating the bushes trying to figure out what is going on. And so here’s some information that we gathered from various sources, which I’ll share in the show notes on the episode of On the episode page of this episode. But let’s start off with Adam Grant tweeted, and he said, working from home two days a week is good for people and organizations. And he backs this up with he, they did an experiment 1600 people for six months. And people were randomly assigned to three days on site, versus five. Okay, so part of the group randomly assigned would have two days of where they would be at home and hear the results of the experiment, the quit rate, down 35%, sick days, down 12% increase satisfaction on the job, and no cost to performance or promotions during that time. So according to Adam grants view, the future is hybrid, with a few caveats. Okay. 32%. According to him, 32% never want to go back to work, especially. And I thought this was interesting. Women with young kids. And I’m sure that has to do with flexibility, you know, and working around some of those schedules that are really difficult. 21% never want to be remote. And this is interesting to especially people that are single or empty nesters. So that’s the people I guess that are craving that connectivity with each other. Right. Okay, so that’s one view from Adam Grant, then we go next, a Gallup poll found that 56% of US workers were always or sometimes working remotely. This was a survey by slack of over 9000 workers in six countries, found that 72% prefer a hybrid remote office model, with only 12%, preferring to always work in the office setting. They also found that 13% would like to always work from home, if given the choice. So we’ve got that. And then finally, I found in this was more a little bit closer to closer to the industry, Stephen Rosenthal, who used to work for the CFPB and I follow him, and he put a poll out that had 239 votes, which is interesting, Ashley. And, yeah, and the results of that poll that he shared, and again, I can post this stat out there too, was that he asked would where would you prefer to work? 45% said from home 7% in the office, and 49% which those there’s a 2% difference, or I see on this poll, but 49% said both, so a hybrid. So that’s kind of a general view. But now what I want to talk about is what about an airspace, you know? And a question I guess, do you feel like is the future of work in the consumer finance and HRM space hybrid? mean? What are your thoughts on this, Ashley?

Ashley Campanella 9:58
So I was just like, I I was just dying to interject in some of the these percentages, because I feel like I do have a good perspective on remote work. I’ve been doing it for two years before that two years, I was always in the office. But the one that really got me was the 21% never want to be remote, especially singles and empty nesters. So when I first went remote, I live by myself with my two cats. And I wanted to be in the office so bad. And it took me a really, really long time to like accept the fact that I’m never going back into the office. So I get that. And then just in general, like you get used to it, it’s nice, you have to set up your own space. And there’s always going to be I think, a divide in what people want to do. I think there’s always going to be people who either want to be 100% remote, and there’s always going to be people who want to be 100% in the office. And I do think like the happy medium is hybrid, like if we had the option for a hybrid style. I would absolutely love that. Being working remote for two years, I am used to working from home. So it’s like now do I really want to go back to the office. Not really. But it would be nice to have like that human interaction again. So I think like hybrid is just like a happy medium. And then who never want to go back to work. So the 32% women with young kids and we at our BI we did a study with our clients. And we’ll kind of touch on different Topps topics of that throughout this podcast. But where this comes into play, I think is in that survey, a lot of people really liked that they had the extra time with family, they don’t have the canoe, they’re either with their family during the day, or at least have, you know, their office spaces is away from everything else. But they are still with their family and it’s easy to have access to them. If something goes wrong, you’re there. You don’t have to drive 4050 minutes to come home. So do I think it’s the future work of the arm industry? I don’t know. I I know we’re both seeing a huge or a hardship, I guess of transforming to any remote work. To me it look, it seems like a lot of people in the arm industry are still 100% in the office. So I hope it’s the future of work. And I do kind of think like with great resignation going on. And that, of course, throughout all industries, I just think flexibility is just a huge thing. Now with everyone, they are looking for either flexible hours or hybrid work or remote work. So for anyone in the arm industry who is struggling to hire, I would consider the hybrid model. I think in your you’re having issues hiring, I think it might attract more people

Lex Patterson 13:11
to definitely, which is something that we want to dive into more but let’s talk about for a minute. And you’re a great one, I think to talk about this because you’ve you’ve experienced it on both ends, right? You You were fully fully in the office, and brick and mortar and going in every day, like you said and then the pandemic hit and you went 100% remote and it sounds like you’re you’re still remote. And so not even implementer standing right not even hybrid then you’re fully remote, or are you do Yeah, yeah. No full of remote remote. Okay, so that’s very interesting. So, but let’s talk about the benefits then, from your perspective of remote work, or hybrid, but remote, I’m think is what we’re really trying to dive into there. So yeah, maybe let’s touch on some of that stuff.

Ashley Campanella 14:04
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, a lot of people, specifically in the arm industry are worried about productivity, are they getting the same productivity out of their employees if they’re working from home, and this is something we did also touch on in our survey, and most people said they’re just as productive if not more productive at home. I think it’s just more of like a comfortability thing. A lot of people said they were comfortable being at home. So I think it’s just kind of goes hand in hand with productivity. The biggest or highest response that we got on why people enjoy being able to be at home is cannot commuting. That was out of I think 60 responses. We got 17 of those responses saying knock meeting is the best benefit that they have.

Lex Patterson 14:57
Yeah. And just to tag on to the end of that to Ashley I mean, I think one of the biggest factors to that, from the research that I was doing, even on a couple of their surveys, the two main factors were, they could turn the commute time into productive time, actually, you know, which is if you think about that you’re in a car, or you’re on the bus, or you’re trying to worry about trying to get to work, you gotta get ready for work. You know, there’s a lot of jokes going around about, you know, your work, you’re working in your pajama pants, or whatever, you know, they’ll put us they’ll put the upper, the upper part of us is good. So we’re on Zoom, or whatever. But you know, they’re in their pajamas and their slippers or whatever. But, but it’s productive time. And then the other thing, that’s a big factor that I think is an important thing to bring out here is, according to one survey that I saw, estimated 2500 to 6000 annual savings, due to not only the cost of the commute and gas, and all that, and especially with what gas is doing right now gas prices are but lower food costs, parking, car maintenance, you know, all those things, I think, tap into that as well. So just kind of add a tag a little bit on to what you were saying there.

Ashley Campanella 16:06
Yeah, and I know of some, you know, agencies who may be like, a bit bigger or something, and they do have like parking passes that they need to give, and I’m sure that’s not free for them, if they’re, you know, leasing a building or anything like that. So yeah, I think it in general just reduces overhead costs as well, just as a benefit for an agency also. And then just like, on top of like, the productivity comment that I made, I do feel like most agencies with technology nowadays, and what they’re using, they do have, you know, good reports, to be able to see what their employees are doing, if they are working, if they’re not working. And you know, it is a different time. So, you know, that’s kind of more manager managerial things that they would need to change and see, you know, what works best for them as how they go about, you know, finding those people who may not be as productive? And if it’s, if they are a good fit for the company or not, like, for me, I can’t not work like, what I love to lay on my couch all day. Yes, of course, who wouldn’t. But if you truly love the company you work for and you love the work you do, you’re going to be just as productive if not more at home, I mean, being home versus in the office shouldn’t change that drive for an employee.

Lex Patterson 17:32
An interesting stat to that I saw was that 23% of people surveyed said they’d take a 10% pay cut, to work from home permanently. Now. I guess that that kind of taps back into though if you think about it, that same stat where we were saying that some people never want to go back. And then there are people that really want to go back. So I guess that’s not across the board that people would take the pay cut, but it’s it’s definitely an incentive. And you know, that flexibility. Versus pay is a potential draw. You know, I think when we get into this whole thing about, you mentioned that the resignations, and you know, Florida in particular is been hit very, very hard. But I think it’s leading the nation in resignations. And so, you know, as we’re looking at ways to differentiate yourself, I think that’s a big piece. We we set out on this journey to find out okay, there’s these benefits. And you mentioned it earlier, you know, what we’re finding is that, at least from our what we’ve been able to uncover is that we’re really lagging as an industry behind as far as adoption rate of this right. And so I’m trying to understand, what do you think is the hold back there? What productivity obviously, is gotta be one of them. Right? Yeah. Do you think culture then plays into a fear with debt collection companies as well? Do you think that’s, I mean,

Ashley Campanella 19:03
yeah, um, well, I we we did send out a survey together, didn’t get as many responses as we would have liked. But it did give us quite a lot of insight as to why some people in the arm industry don’t want to move forward. So biggest things that we got in there was collectors access to sensitive data, so PII data, payment information, patient information, if they’re doing medical debt, and then the next thing was culture or not really feeling part of the team. Yeah, I think culture is huge. And most agencies, I know, they do have contests or they do have outings or they do put on donations for organizations that they’re working with and they all get together and they, you know, do something a carwash or games or something. So yeah, I think culture is huge. I do think the protecting sensitive data was also a big factor for that. I would say there are 1,000% ways to get around that VPNs screen sharing where they can’t access this, if they’re not on something like that. I just, I feel like, you know, these are issues that people have, but don’t do the research maybe to see if there is any workaround for it, or really look into it. They just say no, can’t we can’t do this, because there’s so much sensitive data in there, and we don’t trust our collectors. And that is another big thing that you need to trust your employees. So yeah,

Lex Patterson 20:49
yeah. And, you know, again, going back to some of the stats in other industries, you know, this was a survey of over 800 employees, 94% of these employers stated that work productivity was the same or higher, since employee started working from home. And so it’s kind of interesting. In some cases, people are actually seeing that people work more hours, which I’m not sure that’s necessarily a good thing. But yeah, flexibility, I think is a key, I was looking at a 2021 TransUnion third party collection survey. And it said that debt collection, company rolls are expected to be hybrid, or returning to the office with less than 20% expected to remain remote by the end of the year. So that’s really kind of an interesting statistic, when you look at what’s happening in the world, and then with our industry. So here’s a thought that I was thinking to is what about creditors? Okay, so what about the clients? What are their thoughts on the topic? So I, we reached out you and I reached out to a few people and said, Well, you know, what are your thoughts on this, we were having a little bit of trouble getting survey responses. So we thought, Hey, let’s go to the personal approach, right. And my good, my good friend, Jeremy, Ruth of Arvest Bank was gracious enough to speak with us about his experience,

Jeremy Ruth 22:12
when the pandemic hit, there was only about 10% of my staff that had remote capabilities, that was not an environment we were exploring, we weren’t moving that direction, we just, you know, we had some requirements for each position, travel requirements, you know, associates in multiple locations, because we don’t have a big central office, those folks that traveled or had multiple locations. And, you know, they had remote capabilities. And so we dispatch, those folks that had those capabilities pretty quick. We had a few folks that had laptops that were still in the office. So we we dispersed those votes. In the first, I don’t know, six, eight months, we ended up, we ended up making a few decisions about just a handful of positions, like my vendor manager, who, you know, a lot of her work is online research, no customer interaction don’t have to be in the bank, when she travels, it’s traveling on site to do audit, she didn’t have to be in the office, I have a compliance manager, you know, all the audit work and stuff that they do, can be done from home then had to be on site. So we, we took four or five positions like that my Director of Operations, my foot, my my trainer, and we made all of those positions, permanently remote, got them out of the office, and we kept them that way. Myself and my other frontline directors, we’re still a hybrid, you know, we’re like three, and two, we can work three days from home two days in the office, we can go the office five days, you know, if I had to work from home for a full week, there’s not there’s not a whole lot of heartburn with that my boss knows where I’m at. But we’re just now rolling some of that thought process down to hourly associates, you know, we’re located in more rural areas, you know, we didn’t have some of the restrictions, our associates, were able to go to the office the entire time, through the pandemic, we obviously got hit like everybody else, you know, we had periods where we were short staffed and, and all that, but I mean, we were able to manage it for the most part. But, you know, we’ve kind of taken a long, long view approach. It’s not just about the pandemic, it’s trying to retain our associates. What are our associates looking for when they’re leaving? Is it increased pay? Is it more remote work? What is it you know, then you got the the inflation environment that we’re in right now that you know, we’d nobody planned for, and you typically wouldn’t make a decision. But, you know, there’s only so much we can pay per hour. And there’s only so many other things we can do to relieve some of that pressure. So the hybrid work environment is something that that we figured we could do to they don’t have to drive to the office three days a week, it’s gonna save on fuel cycle maintenance, you know, potential harm, whatever. So we’re, we’re in the process of making 100% of my staff, what’s called Remote friendly for our environment, which is the same classification that I’ve got it’s it’s a three into if they want to work in the office five days a week don’t want to work from home. They don’t have to, you know, if something happens, a pandemic blew back up and we had to send folks from home everybody would be able to work from home. But again, it’s originated with the pandemic, obviously, but we’re looking at it now from a more long term approach and we’re gonna make Yeah, yeah. What do you think?

Lex Patterson 25:04
What do you think’s the biggest challenge with that? Jeremy?

Jeremy Ruth 25:06
I mean, go back to technology.

Lex Patterson 25:09
Going back to technology,

Jeremy Ruth 25:10
you know, how do you supervise it?

Jeremy Ruth 25:15
We’ve run it up the flagpole internally to our compliance folks and the tools that they have in place. That’s what they’re comfortable with. You know, I’ve heard a lot of other people, a lot of input from other folks, everything from having software that tracks every click that you do on your computer, when you’re in a remote environment or in the office, to, you know, people having cameras at home to watch what the associates are doing to make sure they’re logged in and not. You know, we’ve had to have all those conversations to you know, and that’s, that’s the biggest challenge, I think is what do you do to manage it? Because, you know, my conversation with my staff and with my HR is pretty consistent. The job doesn’t change, the expectations of the job performance don’t change. The only thing that’s changing is the location. But it’s like I’ve told them, you know, we’ve got, I mean, I think every office has this when you walk by and somebody’s doing reading a book doing a crossword puzzle, reading something on the phone in between calls, they get their call queue or they’re waiting on an inbound dial. Well, I mean, it’s easy to see that when you have a supervisor or manager and a director all in the same office walking by how do you see that at home? When they’re working from home? You don’t know what that environment looks like? And that’s, that’s probably the biggest struggle is how to how do you develop the same amount of purpose, commitment to the job at home that you do in the office when you know, it’s a challenge, even in the office, somebody, but that’s the biggest challenge. You know, as much as as much of a people person as I am, it really bothered me working from home, when I first started, I’d never worked from home, I didn’t like, yeah, me either. Me either. I have learned over the last couple of years, there are benefits to it like this. I mean, if we were in my office, you’d be able to hear the two or three ladies outside my door, and I treat them the same way I treat you those folks have gotten used to me working from home for two years, it’s not fair for me to go back to the office to three days a week and expect them to change their lifestyle or their work habits. Because it’s just been the two of them in that office for two years. You know, so I tell them, hey, I’m going to office day, they see my door shut. They know, I’ve learned to use headphones for their benefit. But I’ll tell them, you know if I’m on a call, but like today, I mean, I had been on nothing but call since 830 this morning. And you know, I don’t want headphones in my ears all day. So there is some benefit to me working from home today, I can’t be named. Right. So if I feel that way, I can’t prejudge my associates and think that they would be any different because I’m not special. I’m just Dumb ol’ redneck having to figure it out like everybody else. And you know, if I don’t at least give them give them the the rope to go explore what to do with it, you know, some people might make the most perfect knot out of it, some people is gonna hang themselves with it, some people might die horse up with it out, some people might burn the rope, I don’t know, at least gotta give them the rope to see what they’re gonna do it, if you ever give them the rope, you’re not giving them the opportunity to succeed or fail? I don’t think so. Yeah, that’s kind of where we’re at. I mean, I’ve had at least two of my managers look at full time remote positions, even within the company, you know, some other areas that are not necessarily customer facing, but it’s a comparable pay grade comparable salary. And I get to work from home, you know, or if it’s even a pay grade higher, and all I have to do is paper push, and I don’t have to deal with all the bad customers. I mean, yeah, let’s just be honest, that one and a half to two and a half percent of the customers that I deal with are not really the ones that want to deal with us whether we’re at home or in the office. Yeah, if you get an opportunity to get away from the customers that don’t want to talk to you to work remote and make more money. I’m at a loss. I’m out there, right? Well, yeah,

Lex Patterson 28:46
and think about I mean, a collector job that’s tough enough to find and fill in the first place, you know, and retain. But now you’re gonna throw on top of okay, I can go over here. And we’re just like you said, get rid of all this tough conversation and I can be remote. Yep. Well, why am I gonna stay here? Yeah. So finding and retaining talent is challenging in any organization, but especially so in debt collection. And Ashley, what are your thoughts on the CRM companies competing for talent if they don’t offer hybrid?

Ashley Campanella 29:21
Yeah, I mean, we’re never gonna get everyone to go to the hybrid model. But to retain or grow your employees, you definitely are gonna have some incentives. So I think bonuses are good, which I feel like most agencies already do now. Contests having office lunches once a week or once a month. So you know, the company would buy them lunch. We used to do that our buy and I loved it. So and everyone did that was like one of the biggest perks. So something to think about leaderboards so you can kind of see and kind of make it more of like a competition. And I know gamification is becoming a big thing in our industry. So you don’t have something like that at least having like, something where everyone can see what they’re doing and kind of making it fun that way. And then if you aren’t going to do hybrid or can’t do hybrid, having the option for flexible hours, might be appealing, even with, you know, not being at home. So, maybe not working late on Sundays, or leaving early on Fridays, just something small, like that might get a lot of people in the in the door.

Lex Patterson 30:39
Okay, so. And you mentioned in the lead in that you are remote 100% And not even hybrid, are there. Are there other suggestions that you have, other than what we just talked about that would help people? Like, I guess the real thing is, tell us about your company, your culture, and some of the things you’re doing to build camaraderie, because I know you guys have a strong bond there. Even though you are remote. I’ve talked to several of you on the phone and, and you’ve got that community and that team continuity, it seems like each other knows what’s going on. And there’s a real trust there. So you’re doing some things right there, I guess is what I’m trying to say. And I’m just trying to pick your brain a little bit about, you know, what do you feel? Are those key pieces that keep all that together? In because you’ve been remote now for what? Over a year? Right? Yes.

Ashley Campanella 31:28
Two years? Since 20? March of 2020. Yeah, yeah. So honestly, we do a lot. And I love telling people what we use there, what we do, because everything we use is either free or very, very small costs to get. So just some of the things that that we do every single week. So we are we do game days on Tuesdays. So at 2pm Eastern time, we’ll have we’ll play a different game Scattegories scribble, and there’s those are just you go online type in scribble, you create a room and you send a link free. Nice, and it’s fun to kind of

Lex Patterson 32:09
is that like that? What’s that Jack TV or whatever? Is that is that? Yeah,

Ashley Campanella 32:14
yeah, yeah. Yeah, kind of, yeah. Okay. It’s fun, you know, it makes people laugh. And, you know, just something different. Every Tuesday, we’ll do that. And we only do it, it’s only, you know, it’s less than a half hour, 20 minutes, maybe. So it’s not taking too much, you know, work time. We do nerd of the month. So if you know, our budget, you know, we call each other nerds. So we allow everyone in the company to nominate someone, and then give a reason as to why you’re nominating them. So normally posted on our LinkedIn, or Instagram, you’ll see those you know, every every month we do them. We have a wellness challenge. So every month, we basically have like a bingo board, and it has different things to do on it. So 20 squats, 10 push ups, listen to a sound track, watch the sunset, they’re all different things to do. And

Lex Patterson 33:10
yeah, so it’s, it’s complete wellness and mental health, as well. Yeah,

Ashley Campanella 33:15
yeah. So it changes throughout the month. But you know, we get bingos and we use this app called assembly, I didn’t set it up or anything, I don’t know if there’s a cost associated with it, but we also use Slack. So assembly connects with Slack. So you can send points essentially. So for people who get mangoes or whoever’s nerd of the month, or who wins game days on Tuesday, they get rewarded assembly points and you as you know, managers or the owner of your company can put rewards in there, so you they can redeem them so you you know, keep adding up your points you know, we have use use 100 points for a PTO day, we have two hour lunch we have half day, we have make your manager do something that you would normally do. So just fun rewards that like your employees can choose to use them for. Or if you are, you know, fully remote or looking to go fully remote, we do these donut breaks. Dona is an app in Slack so you can connect it with that. And it basically randomly pairs you up with someone who is also in that chat. So are in that group. So you pair up with them you set up a 15 minute meeting and you just get on a video call and talk with them. And just up and it’s not work related. You talk about what you did last week or over the weekend or what’s your favorite things to eat so it’s just kind of getting to know each other and like still have that interaction even though it’s not face to face.

Lex Patterson 34:57
You know, I love I love that one. From the aspect of mentorship and a way to really kind of identify and foster intellectual capital, or that specific knowledge that is accrued within a business that is refined problem solving, you know, it’s hard won from periods of trial and error, you know, that have happened within the culture. And it’s just, plus it’s building on forming those deep working relationships, and that connectivity and mentorship that can happen, because I’m sure when you do that donut thing. Once you do that a few times you feel comfortable. Now you know something about Ashley, let’s say, you know, and through this just general conversation, they can reach out and say, Hey, I’ve got this problem or this question, or I’m wondering how to handle this, or, Hey, I’m talking to this customer, and this particular thing is happening. Do you have any nuance that would help me in this and you can, it just really tightens that up, which is similar, in a way to the way it would be in the office, if you just rolled the chair back, right and said, Hey, I’m in another cubicle here to help me out. It’s a good way to connect with that. Yeah. And the donut facilitates that Right.

Ashley Campanella 36:12
Right. Yep, exactly. And you can like, it kind of auto. But it’s like, questions that you can fill out, like each of you can fill out just like, What’s your favorite food? What’s your favorite kind of music, stuff like that. So like, you can kind of know them before you get on the call. I mean, there’s, for us, like, being 100% remote, we’ve hired people 100% remote, and we have people who’ve never met their manager or their co workers. So it’s, it’s a cool, you know, cool way to do that. So, and because of all these, we were able to hire eight to 10 new people our baits in 2020. Yeah. Which is pretty incredible. Yeah, with, you know, the way the world is with working in the gray resignation, and all of that. So,

Lex Patterson 37:03
did you feel that culture? Do you feel that you feel that, that those on boards were fairly easy for those people? And they, they’re implemented? They’re doing well, they’re there? I mean, what’s your feeling on that?

Ashley Campanella 37:17
Yeah, um, I mean, we have like a, you know, every department has their own 30 60 90 kind of onboarding, schedule, and where they should be at 30 days, where they should be at 60 days, and then 90, and just, you know, ongoing training, because we’re remote. A lot of people, you know, let’s, for example, just say a new support person started, they’re going to be basically following everything our support team does. So there’ll be listening and on calls, instead of just being told what to do on a call or anything they’re gonna listen to whoever their, you know, co worker is, or manager is and what they do for weeks before they actually start doing anything on their own. So just ongoing training, and still hands on learning, like they’re gonna be included in meetings. They may not talk, but they’re listening to what clients say, what their co workers say, and kind of learn, you know, that relationship between us and clients, and the procedure for things. And I do think that is, you know, a scary thing for the arm industry is how, how do I train new people? So video conferencing, Slack. I love Slack. Slack has a free version too. And just being in constant communication with any new hires, and co workers throughout the day is huge, is huge.

Lex Patterson 38:45
Yeah, yeah. And in your, okay, we’ll put links to all of these tools and disinformation that you’re talking about in the show notes. So you can go and do a little more of a deep dive and pick up on some of this great stuff that you’re sharing with us. So that’s

Let’s circle back and talk about this. So you talked about being at home, you know, when this first started, so you were in the office, and then you went full remote, and you were with your two cats, which I’m dying to know what their names are.

Ashley Campanella 39:18
Elroy and Tolkien.

Lex Patterson 39:21
ORoy and Tolkien.

Ashley Campanella 39:24
No Elroy and Tolkient… Little Dweeby names

Lex Patterson 39:30
Right. I like that, though. Yeah. So you’re home with your cats. You know, and you mentioned maybe a little bit of loneliness there and whatever. So do you think there’s a mental shift that has to occur with remote work? What are your thoughts on that?

Ashley Campanella 39:48
Yeah, this is like, one of my favorite topics to talk about is mental health and working remote. It’s real and it does didn’t get the attention it deserves. I think people just aren’t used, especially in the arm industry. I mean, I know, you know, previously, there was an article that said, a lot of people had already worked remotely. And I don’t really think that’s the case with the arm industry, I think almost everyone is always in the office, and I just going and making that transition to having to work remotely. You don’t think about what is going on in that person’s home. You don’t know where they live or what they’re going through. And I know you had a question about a permission slip. But it kind of wraps into that. And it’s if you need time to yourself, take it, burnouts, real, overwhelming feelings are real. And if you feel that way, take time off your employers, if you’re an owner, you should understand that, I just think, being at home there, it’s hard, because you’re also at home. So you may be thinking, Oh, well, I have a quick lunch break, I’m gonna do the dishes really quick, or I’m just gonna throw in a load of laundry really quick. There’s not really that on off switch. Or it could be the opposite way, well, oh, I just got an email, I might as well check it, I’m home. And you’re just working more than you should be. It’s a it’s hard to turn it off. When you’re, you know, in that setting. If there’s employees watching this, what I recommend is designating an office space. And if you get a lunch break, which I hope you do, take it to the fullest. Do not do any work. Don’t do any household work, sit, eat your lunch, go on your phone, watch TV, whatever you’re going to be doing. And completely separate the two because there was a point in time when I first went remote, where I did get burned out and I wasn’t being productive. I had anxiety, I was just frustrated and everything. And I took a week off of work. I said I need a break. Good. Everyone in my company was a ok with it. And I felt so I didn’t do anything. I stayed at home. I didn’t go anywhere, didn’t do anything. And I came back and felt so rejuvenated. So owners, managers, check on your employees, make sure they’re okay. Ask them how they’re doing. Don’t always make it about work. I know. People have this glamorous idea that when you’re in work, that’s all you should talk about. And not true. People, people are people and you have personal lives that intertwine with work, and you should be able to talk about those things. So ask how they’re doing employees. If you are feeling like that, where you are just burned out, you don’t feel like working? take days off. It is okay. Your employers will be okay with it. And you’ll feel so much better once you do that. So those are my

Lex Patterson 43:20
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. It’s interesting. No, it was that thank you for sharing all that. That’s, that’s great. And I went through a lot of the same things. And I, I have this little metaphor that maybe will help I don’t know. But everybody’s familiar with Mr. Rogers, Mr. Rogers, and that and so I kind of likened remote a little bit to the Mr. Rogers routine, because if you remember, he would come in, he would change his clothes, he would get into his work kind of attire, or maybe it was home for him. But what I’m trying to point out here is there was a clear separation, where he would change his sweater, he would change his shoes, he would turn out that turn on the light, you know, and go to work, okay. And then at the end of the episode, it was the reverse, I’m taking off my shoes, I’m putting on my tennis shoes, I’m taking off this sweater I’m putting on my coat and closing the door. And leaving work, you know, and I think that’s what you’re saying with the office and having a space and that that more of a clear separation, because it really can. The technology is great. But it can all run into together where you’re working everywhere in a way and you’re not getting the break that you need. And in true innovation and creativity comes from giving your mind a little bit of a break on those things. And that’s when those aha moments will happen, at least for me, you know? Yeah. And I think well, you know, I’d like to wrap Jeremy back into this too, because part of the thing that I want to share with my discussion with him was he had a really cool thought on mindset. So let’s listen to that.

Jeremy Ruth 44:55
You know, it goes back to stuff that I’ve I’ve talked with my leadership team minutes Four words that I’ve used for the last 20 years to kind of keep myself between the mayo and the mustard, if you will, is DEPAC Discipline, Purpose, Attitude And Commitment. You know, you have to have discipline, whether you’re in the office or at home, whether it’s in a relationship with your wife or relationship with your employees, you got to have discipline, right? You need to have purpose and all of that if you’re just showing up for a paycheck, and you don’t have a purpose in the job. I mean, I don’t think an attitude changes whether you’re at home or the office, if you don’t feel like there’s a purpose there, which goes to the attitude, right? I don’t expect my my associates my leadership team myself to have a perfect attitude every day, I think you have to have the right attitude for every situation. If you have people that are performing, it’s a good attitude, and you’re joking around, if your people are not, you’re gonna have to have the attitude, we got to fix it. They know. And then the commitment, the commitment to the job, the commitment to the company, the commitment to success, the commitment to your spouse, whatever that is you want to apply that to. And I think when you go back to the very first word, I think we all get motivated by different things. And so what you hear internally is people are motivated by the opportunity to work from home. But what I tell them is motivation. Without discipline is nothing. But continue to get motivated to go to the gym, you want to look better summers coming up. But if you don’t have the discipline to get up, like you said, I get up, my wife gets up at 415, I get up at five, she goes to bed at night and I go to bed at one, you know, it’s a little different scale. But you we can both be motivated for the same thing to go to the gym. But if she has the discipline to get up, and I don’t my motivation is useless. And I think it’s the same in work from home if you’re not motivated properly, or you don’t have the discipline to maintain that motivate motivation. When I tell you, Hey, we’re gonna get to work from home, and you get to work from home and you’ve lost the discipline. And that’s the part it goes back to culture to same thing. How do you instill that? How do you get them to practice it? How do you get them to appreciate it? And that’s absolutely everything we’re doing. We’re, you know, we’re not threatening associates to tell them you got to go home and performer, you’re coming back. But we got to have both sides of that conversation. You got y’all ask for something, we’re we’re doing everything we can to give it to you. All we expect to return is don’t make it a bad experience for either one of us. We don’t want to have to make you come back to the office. But again, the jobs the same, the job expectations are the same. It’s just the location that’s different.

Ashley Campanella 47:14
And it is it’s just that simple. And five, yeah, five letters, that, you know, he goes by and his employees know those. And that’s what he goes by in his in that’s kinda I think what I said on our last one, I said, if if your employees aren’t following, you know, your rules, or what you have set in place at home, most likely, they’re not going to be following those in the office either. So do you really want those people? Probably not. And, you know, I think, going remote or hybrid? Yeah, those are gonna weed out some of those people who you may put on a good show in the office and don’t do anything at home. And then you look at, you know, what they’ve been doing, and, and it’s not there. And I think it’s, you know, there, there could be hard decisions that would be made. But going by something like this, ultimately, in the long run would help your business. So I loved it. I loved everything Jeremy had to say. So I’m excited for the people listening to this that will be able to hear that.

Lex Patterson 48:26
Yeah. Yeah. Well, I just appreciate you coming on and talking about this topic that I know that you’re very passionate about and sharing so much of that personal information with his two. I mean, you’ve given a lot of good ideas and thoughts on this hybrid, I think it’s here to stay whether or not people adopt it, I think it’s could be a real differentiator for companies as far as trying to attract talent, especially when you’re when you’re dealing with, you know, inflation and the resignation and all of these different areas, just being aware of these type of things, at least exploring it, I think, is a great idea. So maybe as a wrap here, is there a challenge that you would give to companies that maybe are afraid with this or a way to dip their toe or any advice or any closing parting thoughts on this?

Ashley Campanella 49:20
Yeah, I think it will take time in the arm industry. I think it will be a disservice to your agency. If you at least don’t look into this, or ask your employees. I think that is the biggest thing I can say. Because if your current employees would rather be half at home and half in the office or 100% at home and not in the office, and you’re not accommodating that now how are you going to attract You know, new employees to come? I think surveying your office seeing what they think. Also, we do satisfaction surveys once a month that Arbeit. That seems like a lot, and it is, but questions in there like, how are the benefits? Arbeit? Do you wish there were other benefit? Is there anything that we can add that would help you enjoy working here more questions like that to your employees, and making it anonymous, will be so helpful to you. And maybe you might not implement anything, and that’s fine. You know, some may be absurd requests. But you could take that into consideration. And if it is a longer, you know, request that they ask for, take the time to at least look into it, see what we’ll go into it. And maybe you don’t go 100% hybrid or 100% remote right away, but you start doing these things in the office, let your your employees adapt to that. So if you ever do make that switch to go to hybrid or remote, you’re going to continue to do these things. And it will feel like nothing really changed. They’re still doing the same things that they were doing in the office. So incorporate some of those things that I talked about. We do so much hour by hour. And I’m really grateful for that. Because when we first went remote, we weren’t really doing a lot because it was new to us. And it was long like it it took a long time to get used to and a long time to say these are the things we’re going to do to make people feel like we’re still a team. But those things I mentioned are so easy to implement. So I Yes, I love sharing with everyone. So I can’t wait to for you guys to check those out. And hopefully it works out for you guys. Yeah,

Lex Patterson 52:00
well, great stuff. Really great stuff. Thank you, Ashley for coming on and for hanging with me for all this time and doing you know, doing that joint survey and really trying to dive into problems and always a pleasure to work with you. So

Ashley Campanella 52:15
you too, like thanks so much for having me on. I am so glad our mutual connection put us in touch with each other and I love talking about this stuff. So anyone watching have if they have questions, reach out, I am always willing to talk about this topic.

Lex Patterson 52:34
Right and very knowledgeable on it too. So lessons learned so good job. Yeah. Okay, well thank you

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