"I was meeting with a CEO last week, and she shared a personal story about remote work that I want to share with you. Her son works for a software company, and during COVID he started to work remotely. But now his company is returning to the office and he's struggling because he really prefers remote work. Probably sounds familiar.
Now, in Episode 91, I explained why ultimatums don't work and how rational discussions that lead to rational choices are a much better approach. His mom's advice is a great example of what I'm talking about, and that's why I'm sharing it.
She said he was very frustrated by his company's return to office policy. It felt like a mandate. It felt like he didn't have much choice. So she empathized with him. She didn't debate him. She agreed that he likely did really good work and was very productive and that remote work was a very viable option for a lot of companies and a lot of employees. It just didn't sound like that was the case for his company and their employees. So she said he had a choice to make, but encouraged him to consider his options and face reality.
Here's all she said:
'If you've proven that you job could be done well remotely, you've also proven it could be done from India, Poland and the Philippines'.
Now, that sounds like an ultimatum or a threat, but it wasn't. She acknowledged that he had other options and encouraged him to study and pursue those options. He could go work for another company, or maybe he could apply for some special exception, or maybe you could just slow-play it and I hope the policy softened.
Whatever the case, she said that she really encouraged him to face reality. And this is the reality:
- Remote work is a very different career path than office-based or hybrid work.
- Remote work puts her son and others that choose that path in a very different labor pool. And it's a global labor pool.
- If you're in a global labor pool that's going to impact your wages and it's going to have an impact on your job security, it's not a matter of if, but when.
Now, I don't know how the story ends up. I don't know what decision her son made. But this isn't about the return-to-office challenge.
I share it because it's a great leadership example. Leadership is a transfer of thought, and that's what she did. She introduced an idea or a thought her son hadn't considered, and whatever decision he makes, he's got the benefit of her thinking.
Ultimatums don't work. But when you encourage people to consider their options, to be open, to think rationally, and to deal with reality, you help them make good choices. And I think that's what she did with her son."
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