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Torn between remote work and hybrid for my business

As the MergeYourData.com team has grown, an issue keeps popping up in my mind. One that’s a hot topic for today’s work world. Hybrid vs. 100% remote. I can’t decide what to do going forward. Currently we’re hybrid with two days in-office and 3 days remote.

As a rule of thumb, I’ve been trying to build MergeYourData.com’s policies around things I did and didn’t like while having corporate jobs. Trying to balance my experiences with the understanding that everyone has different preferences has been a challenge. Knowing that everyone thrives in different conditions has made this an even more difficult task. Somewhere I need to be able to strike a balance between the productivity of the team as a whole and the individual preferences of team members (myself included).

What we currently offer based on my past experiences

30 hour work week for full-time employees

Butts-in-seats is not fruitful. Pushing past 6 hours per day typically causes more mistakes than the net gain of those extra hours.

That’s why we cap employees at 30 hours per week.

A day is when you start and when you finish, everything in-between is up to you

Most of my creative solutions to difficult problems come in “down” times. Riding a bike, going on a walk or run, standing in the shower… you get the point. From my conversations with others this is a common occurrence.

So during the work day, why would you only count hours where you’re sitting in front of a computer or in your chair as “work hours”, while not counting lunch, breaks, walks, etc.?

My expectation is that people can show up to work, turn on their work brain and then turn it off when they leave for the day. Everything in between is most likely going to include work thoughts or improving productivity by taking a break.

So 6 hours is 6 hours. That’s 9am-3pm every day (or 11am-5pm if that’s your cup of tea). It’s about consistency and focus, not gathering the most hours you can in a day for work.

Paid and Unpaid Sabbaticals

Taking an extended break from work every few years does wonders for creativity and passion. Being able to unwind and clear your head from work responsibilities make you even better when you come back from your break.

We’ve built in sabbaticals starting with the 3rd year you work for the company. Then every two years after that.

Asynchronous communication only

Having constant notifications and interruptions is disruptive. There’s a time for collaboration and a time for individual focus. By not using instant messaging tools, this preserves focus and intentionality.

Need to reach someone immediately? Call them. Otherwise an email, scheduled meeting, or @ in Coda is all that’s needed.

Coda.io is our documentation, planning and collaboration tool. It’s the bomb.

My List of Pros and Cons for Remote and Hybrid

Pros of Remote Work

As an employee, remote work is the most convenient work-style. Being able to skip a commute, take breaks without the concern of being viewed as a “slacker”, and having less (uncontrollable) distractions throughout the day.

Deep and focused work is easier to achieve. Office politics is kept to a minimum. Flexibility for those with families or other circumstances are easier to handle on a personal level.

Health and wellness is a big one too. At home it can be easier to choose to take a walk around your neighborhood and eat a homemade lunch. Or take a 15 minute nap. Or meditate between meetings. The list goes on and on.

From a company perspective, remote work saves on office lease costs and encourages extensive documentation of everything.

Cons of Remote Work

Controllable distractions (aka temptations) can be a serious detractor. For nearly all people, the lack of physical human interaction with those you work with for hours every weekday takes a toll after a couple years. Yes, even for introverted people this causes problems.

Depending on your remote setup, the lack of separation between work and home can be distressing. Productivity can drop because there aren’t easy cues for when it’s work time and when it’s not work time.

Meeting up with colleagues become an extra “unpaid” activity associated with work. If you don’t participate in these socializations, you can find yourself on the outside of those who met in person. Plus, traveling to any in-person work meetings is time away from family and an extra hassle.

From a company perspective, the logistics of bringing people together for any in-person even once or twice per year can be complicated.

Pros of Hybrid Work

Having a balance between in-person and remote work achieves both collaboration and dedicated focus time.

Collaborative planning in-person provides much better results than remote planning. This has remained true for the 8 years I’ve been involved in remote planning meetings.

Synchronizing for ad-hoc communication is much easier when you’re in the same office together. Building personal relationships is much more effective in-person and creates a better virtual relationship when working remote.

Many of the Pros of Remote Work also apply to hybrid, but only 60% of the week.

Cons of Hybrid Work

Commuting is not fun, and ultimately are extra hours you have to spend that aren’t beneficial for your life.

Needing to be in-person a couple days per week limits the ability to work remote in other parts of the state you’re employed in. It ultimately ties you to a location.

Some days in the office just aren’t more beneficial than working from home. Sometimes there is immense value being in-person, and other days it’s no different than being remote.

From a company perspective, the talent pool is limited when in-office is required in specific locations. There’s also double the equipment to purchase per headcount when it comes to monitors, desks, etc.

Final Thoughts

I’ve been bouncing back and forth about how to run MergeYourData.com going forward. A few times I’ve been 100% sure of which way I wanted to go but ended up feeling 80% after having conversations with others.

The one thing I know is that switch from 100% remote back to hybrid is not a possibility. As an employee, if I started a job as remote and then was expected to start going into an office a few months into the job, I’d be upset. That would feel like a bait and switch.

Any recommendations from business owners, leaders, and employees who have experienced both styles of work would be greatly appreciated.


So, what do you think?

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2020 Presidential Election: Florida early and mail-in voting participation

Election day is closing in! Let’s take a look at one of the swing states current voting stats: Florida. Florida releases early voting and mail-in voting statistics on their Division of Elections site. I used that data to build a visualization of current trends.

I’d recommend using the visualization below by opening the 2016 Presidential election results (Trump vs. Clinton) and comparing the county results versus the voter participation so far for each party. Voters aren’t guaranteed to vote strictly along party lines, and small deviations from parties can have a big impact in small margin states like Florida. That being said, it can be telling to compare the current votes for each county by party to the results in 2016.

This next part is using numbers from October 30th. For example, Miami-Dade in 2016 had 623,006 votes for Clinton and 333,666 votes for Trump. Currently Democrats have 352k votes and Republicans have 269k votes in 2020. 225k unaffiliated voters have cast a ballot as well. This could mean several things (if we irresponsibly assume people 100% vote along party lines):

  • Republicans have already voted around 81% of their vote total from 2016.
  • Democrats have already voted around 57% of their vote total from 2016. Democrats have about 200k more registered voters in Miami-Dade, but if their participation doesn’t increase significantly, this could indicate an overall negative change in demographic voting for the party across the state.
  • If Republicans keep voting at this rate and the county gets around 75% voter participation, Trump will significantly outpace his 2016 total for Miami-Dade. In 2016 Clinton won Miami-Dade county by a margin of 29 points, but decreased Democratic turnout could narrow that margin significantly.
  • It still all comes down to the voters with no party affiliation. These voters make up 26% of registered voters in Florida, and nearly 33% of voters in Miami-Dade county.

With that in mind, take a look at my viz below! Make sure to hover and click to see additional information.


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Twitter still hasn’t unlocked the New York Post’s account

Related Article: What could polls be missing for this election?

Update: Twitter finally unlocked the New York Post’s account on October 30th. This occurred after the Senate Commerce Committee interview multiple Tech CEOs, including Jack Dorsey of Twitter.

Disclaimer: I’m a registered voter with no party affiliation. I have a personal interest in tracking major news networks such as CNN, Fox News, Breitbart, the New York Times, and other outlets who publish misleading information since 2008. Twitter is a recent example of a large, influential medium that has now subjectively interfered with information flow to the public.

It has been over 10 days since the famous New York Post story discussing Hunter Biden’s activities with the Ukranian energy firm Burisma. Twitter reacted by locking the New York Post’s Twitter account from any activity, citing they were trying to prevent the spread of hacked information. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admits blocking the story was a mistake and ended up reallowing the sharing of the story on Twitter.

Then one must ask, why is the New York Post’s Twitter account still locked?

If the decision was reversed, why isn’t the New York Post’s account unlocked? Why isn’t the New York Times account locked due to releasing Trump’s tax returns that were clearly stolen or “hacked”? Especially after the New York Times declined to share their evidence? Here’s a quote from the NYT article where they decline to share:

“…Alan Garten, a lawyer for the Trump Organization, said that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate” and requested the documents on which they were based. After The Times declined to provide the records, in order to protect its sources…”

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/09/27/us/donald-trump-taxes.html

So no records have been released “in order to protect sources”, which isn’t an explanation as to why the actual documents haven’t been published. You can publish tax returns without exposing your sources (for an example, look at all of the WikiLeaks releases over time). Ironically, by publishing the tax returns, you’ll force the hand of Trump to actually release his returns. Instead, all we have is the NYT claiming to have records that they won’t show and have obtained without permission. So why is the New York Post account locked and the NYT account not?

A speculation

Maybe the answer lies in Twitter’s rules and policies, which give plenty of wiggle room by utilizing “exceptions” that they alone determine is best for the public interest. Apparently unverified and unreleased tax returns are important for the public interest, but direct evidence of high-ranking US politician’s family member receiving a highly paid position without prior credentials is not of concern to the American public.

Maybe it turns out that Twitter is in fact biased? Considering it’s difficult, if not impossible for a human being to truly be entirely objective, Twitter’s review units are undoubtedly biased themselves since they’re made up of humans. Should there be insights into who makes up the committees that Twitter uses to review posts and their potential biases? Either way, the main question is; why are they subjectively trying to change the flow of information to the American public?

You’ll have to come to your own conclusion on that.

To be transparent, this is my opinion.

Any institution (private or public) with the power to influence outcomes of anything at scale, are incentivized to take a side. Since humans make up these institutions, they are inherently biased, no matter how hard they try to be unbiased. The resulting bias from the institution’s parts eventually come through as the bias of the whole institution. It’s inevitable and unavoidable, and this is what we’re seeing on Twitter’s decision to lock the New York Post’s account but not the New York Times.

The New York Post should be able to post their own articles without limitation unless other media outlets are restricted as well (such as BuzzFeed news). Unless every single news article is researched by a transparent committee with their justification on blocking/allowing it, one side will always benefit.


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What could the polls be missing in this Presidential election?

Recently I wrote an article on the New York Post’s Twitter account still being locked. This is still the case, and it made me brainstorm many other topics associated with elections . This thinking session brought up the topic of polls and predictions. How accurate are they? Why were many polls so far off in 2016? Why do polls seem to tighten the closer to election day? [1][2]

Many polls are predicting Biden to win by a large margin, and many of the points I make below indicate factors that could make the margin much smaller. The one factor that could cause a greater margin than predicted would be an increase in Black and Hispanic voter participation. This is due to the fact that Biden still holds majority over those demographics so an increase in the total number of voters would benefit him the greatest.

Here’s what I think the polls could be missing

Narrowing party registration gaps, especially in swing states.

There are indications that Republicans have significantly closed the registered voter gap, especially in swing states. Trump narrowly won the 2016 election in many of these states, so a lesser difference between registered Democrats and registered Republicans could indicate Trump holding his lead in swing states. Of course, non-affiliated voters still hold a large chunk (often 20%+) in swing states, so nothing is set in stone.

Unwillingness for people to truthfully poll, especially for a candidate like Donald Trump.

Some studies have shown that people are unwilling to share their vote choice with polls. The study linked states that around 11.7% of Republicans don’t share their truthful choice with polls, 10.5% of non-afiiliated, and 5.4% of Democrats. That’s certainly not insignificant.

Shifting demographics in the Black and Hispanic vote.

If the Black and Hispanic vote turnout is the same or less than 2016, this will be a net negative impact for the Democratic party. Trump closed the polling gap from 2016 between both these demographics (although still doesn’t poll above 50% for either demographic). So if the total pie of votes for Black and Hispanic voters doesn’t increase, Trump takes a bigger portion of a pie the same size as 2016.

Increasing distrust of media and technology amongst conservatives.

If a person doesn’t trust the news, believes they’re being censored, or is generally less trusting in institutions, why would they answer truthfully to polls? Why would they participate in the polls in the first place? Are polls even further off than the “shy” voters study linked in the truthful poll section above?

Unknown voter turnout for the Black and Hispanic vote.

2016 saw a decrease in participation with these two demographics. If participation is higher than anticipated, it will significantly benefit Biden and result in a landslide win.

Wrapping it up

While many polls try to adjust for factors like these, it’s impossible to accurately measure all the variables associated with elections. For example, every time that Florida has seen under a 4% party registration spread, Republicans have won the state, anything above 4%, the Democrats have won. Right now the spread is under 2%. But mail-in voting will be at an all time high, so will overall participation increase or are only active voters shifting their voting method?

Many polls will correctly predict the election within their margin of error. The only issue is that it’s not useful in states consistently decided by less than the typical margin of error (like Pennsylvania and Florida).


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