The Future of REMOTE WORK -- ADVANCED Native English Conversation

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In this Advanced listening lesson and Native English speaker conversation, we discuss the future of remote work. With companies providing fully remote, hybrid, and fully in-the-office options, there's much to consider. We talk about productivity, output, and the changing landscape of working from home and the office.

00:00:00:09 - 00:00:37:06
Mary Daphne
Hello, Advanced English learners. Welcome back. Today, Greg and I are going to have another native English speaker conversation. And the point of this episode, Codes and Lessons, is to give you an opportunity to practice your listening comprehension, to work on pronunciation and connected speech by listening to what we say and trying to replicate it, and then to acquire some new vocabulary and also to get a sense of what's going on in the world, because we're going to try to come up with topics that are pretty much relevant to current events and American lifestyle and culture and pop culture.

00:00:37:06 - 00:00:43:09
Mary Daphne
And so we hope that you enjoy this lesson and we're going to have a fun time having conversation, aren't we good?

00:00:43:15 - 00:00:44:10
Greg
Yes, we are.

00:00:44:26 - 00:00:53:04
Mary Daphne
Definitely amazing. So this week's topic is all about remote work.

00:00:54:11 - 00:00:59:22
Greg
Remote work. All right. Yeah, that's definitely been a hot topic over the last couple of years.

00:00:59:22 - 00:01:10:21
Mary Daphne
All right. So let's get right into it. All right. So, Gregg, something interesting came out of the Netherlands recently.

00:01:11:15 - 00:01:20:06
Greg
Yeah, there is an interesting piece of legislation that was proposed. I'm not sure if it passed or not, but it definitely caught my eye.

00:01:20:07 - 00:01:21:02
Mary Daphne
Yes, mine.

00:01:21:02 - 00:01:35:01
Greg
Was the premise of it was that remote work, your ability to work from home or at the very least away from the office was going to become effectively a constitutional right.

00:01:35:01 - 00:01:47:00
Mary Daphne
Right? Meaning citizens have the right if they were to choose to, you know, take it up, take take the government up on this offer, so to speak, to be able to do it.

00:01:47:11 - 00:02:04:26
Greg
Yeah, that's right. So a constitutional right basically means by law, you are permitted you are allowed to do a certain type of thing. Yeah. For example, in the US we have a constitutional right to free speech. Yes. Which means we can say what we want to say.

00:02:04:26 - 00:02:10:17
Mary Daphne
What's on our minds without being afraid of what other people might think of that. Exactly. Or comments.

00:02:10:22 - 00:02:23:03
Greg
Exactly. So in the Netherlands they passed this constitutional right, or at least it's been proposed to allow people to work from home. So it just means that your boss basically can't tell you. You have to come into the office, right?

00:02:23:09 - 00:02:54:20
Mary Daphne
So this is something because originally, I mean, the the first foray into remote work was really with a 9 to 5 job was really the pandemic. When people were asked to stay home, cities and towns and countries were on lockdown and we were working from home fully. Right. That's where this idea of remote work came. And many of you viewers and listeners might have experienced this with your own jobs, doing your job from home at a remote location.

00:02:54:20 - 00:03:00:22
Mary Daphne
So you might have been traveling after the pandemic or you might have just been at home working remotely.

00:03:00:22 - 00:03:18:04
Greg
Yeah. I mean, a lot of offices shut down, right? So where else are you going to work? Yeah. And so everyone was forced to adapt to working from home. It was funny because for us we were sort of used to working from home for for many years already. So it wasn't much of a change, but for a lot of society it was a huge change.

00:03:18:10 - 00:03:28:02
Greg
Everyone was used to that commute to the office, meeting all their colleagues at the office, having that sort of discreet workspace away from home to to do your.

00:03:28:02 - 00:03:33:02
Mary Daphne
Work, having these clear cut boundaries, work time, fun time.

00:03:33:27 - 00:03:46:04
Greg
Yeah. So and then all that disappeared and suddenly, you know, husband and wife and children all crammed into one house, you know, all doing their own thing. It was a big challenge, I think, for a lot of people.

00:03:46:06 - 00:04:10:28
Mary Daphne
Yeah. I think especially if people had roommates or they were in relationships or they're with a family in a family setting. There was a lot of navigating that had to be done and clear distinction of what's the office space, what's the workspace and what's the communal space. And so that was quite challenging for a lot of people, like you said.

00:04:11:12 - 00:04:27:08
Mary Daphne
But the funny thing that happened is once people started getting used to it and maybe they moved out of their apartments and into homes, or maybe they moved into bigger apartments, or maybe they got rid of their roommates. Once people started getting used to remote work, they didn't want to give it up.

00:04:27:27 - 00:04:50:03
Greg
Yeah, yeah. You know, there are some substantial advantages. One of the biggest ones for sure, I think is the commute. Yeah, right. It's quite time consuming to, you know, get into your car or get into a subway, you know, and spend that 30, 45 minutes. Some people have, you know, two hour commutes. Yeah. To get all the way to their office.

00:04:50:12 - 00:04:54:00
Greg
And then you have to repeat the process in reverse. Yeah. At the end of the day.

00:04:54:00 - 00:04:54:08
Mary Daphne
To go.

00:04:54:08 - 00:05:01:14
Greg
Back home. So that's a big chunk of time that gets eliminated if you can just, you know, open up your laptop from your kitchen counter and get to work.

00:05:01:20 - 00:05:20:27
Mary Daphne
There are some companies that have shuttles where you can start your workday effectively from the time that you get on the shuttle or the bus, effectively when you're in transit. And then, you know, you leave the office and then your workday continues while you're on your return trip back home. So in that sense, it can be productive, but it's not an asset.

00:05:20:27 - 00:05:36:02
Mary Daphne
It's not a perfect sort of work situation because you'll be huddled over your laptop and crammed in a train, or you might be preferring to look at the beautiful scenery if you're, you know, have a nice commute.

00:05:36:03 - 00:05:55:14
Greg
Yeah, I think people have found ways to make the commute efficient, but if you don't have a commute at all, even better. Right. And so that was a big advantage. Another one I think was casual dress. Yeah, right. My understanding is that during the transition to remote work, everyone got a little more casual about the way they're dressed.

00:05:55:14 - 00:06:02:23
Greg
You know, what's the point of putting on a blazer and tie and dress, you know, or a fancy dress for for for the woman? A suit.

00:06:03:14 - 00:06:04:00
Mary Daphne
Heels.

00:06:04:00 - 00:06:13:28
Greg
Heels. Exactly. Yeah, yeah. When you're just at home. And so most companies, their dress code, all, you know, became quite, quite a bit more casual.

00:06:14:03 - 00:06:40:17
Mary Daphne
Well, yeah, that is interesting. I've I've spoken to a quite a few different friends and they've all sort of said similarly that they get so much more work done at home when they're working remotely. So maybe it's because of the commute, maybe because they're more in charge of their schedule, maybe they just have a better, you know, a better sense of how to use their time effectively when they have a designated space at home.

00:06:40:28 - 00:06:50:24
Mary Daphne
And then we have a lot of friends who've also created offices for themselves in their homes, in their apartments, in their houses, just because they like having that set up at home.

00:06:51:08 - 00:07:11:04
Greg
Yeah, we've actually it's funny, we talked about this before when we were talking about the real estate bubble, but part of what has actually fueled the skyrocketing prices of homes. Right, the very fast paced increase in home prices is the need for these additional office spaces. Right.

00:07:11:06 - 00:07:12:17
Mary Daphne
You need more rooms for that.

00:07:12:18 - 00:07:22:12
Greg
Exactly. You don't necessarily want kids screaming in the background or if your roommate's playing a movie, you don't want that sound. When you're on an important business call.

00:07:22:24 - 00:07:46:09
Mary Daphne
It's true. It's true because it's not just that you need a, you know, a quiet space to work and to get your thoughts in order and be in the zone. But it's also that you might be taking calls and you might need to have a quiet background, right, without children or pets or, you know, family members speaking to you and making noise, which is great on the weekend.

00:07:46:09 - 00:08:12:05
Mary Daphne
But when you're in, you know, your 9 to 5, it can be quite challenging. So now it seems like there is a trend toward well, I think it's sort of it's divided. I've seen big companies trying to get the employees back into the office. And I've also seen companies do a more hybrid approach where they have a policy of remote work, but it's not ensured.

00:08:12:05 - 00:08:31:03
Mary Daphne
And so or they have a policy where they want people in the office at least 2 to 3 times a week, but that's not ensured. And so, you know, it's a situation where it's really at your own discretion, where you can choose whether to work from home or from the office.

00:08:31:10 - 00:08:43:29
Greg
Yeah, it's a little messy, honestly, from what I can tell, because companies aren't used to this hybrid policy. They were slowly able to come to terms with working from home.

00:08:43:29 - 00:08:44:12
Mary Daphne
Yeah.

00:08:45:12 - 00:09:04:15
Greg
Of course they were very familiar with working in the office. But this in-between state is very confusing because you know, if they make it optional and flexible, you know, who what do they actually want? Like, what's the sort of under under what's the sort of subtext?

00:09:04:15 - 00:09:05:07
Mary Daphne
Right, right.

00:09:05:11 - 00:09:10:19
Greg
You know, like some companies, they say, oh, yeah, it's flexible. But by the way, if you come in, you know.

00:09:10:19 - 00:09:11:16
Mary Daphne
Get free breakfast.

00:09:11:17 - 00:09:19:15
Greg
You'll get free breakfast, or more importantly, like, you'll be more likely to be promoted. Right? You'll get more more attention from your managers and so forth.

00:09:19:16 - 00:09:48:00
Mary Daphne
But at the same time, a lot of these companies are not enforcing meaning. They're not, you know, watching you closely and seeing, oh, did you check in? Did you check out are you or are you working from home? I think the bottom line is it really depends on company, company culture. But also, you know, if you're if your output is the same or even better from home or in a in a setting that you feel more comfortable in, because some people like going into the office when they're given that chance, I think it depends on the person's output.

00:09:48:00 - 00:09:50:01
Mary Daphne
And that's different for everyone depending on.

00:09:50:16 - 00:10:14:07
Greg
It's different for different people. It's also different for different roles, right? Some roles really benefit from being in the same room, particularly a highly collaborative roles or roles where there is sort of competitive pressure and people enjoy being all that same room, that kind of riffing off each other. Kind of like when you go to an exercise class, you can work out by yourself, but some people do better when they're working out around others.

00:10:14:07 - 00:10:14:23
Greg
Right, right.

00:10:15:07 - 00:10:15:21
Mary Daphne
Yeah.

00:10:15:23 - 00:10:27:02
Greg
So that's that's a personal preference and it can also be related to your role. So I agree. There's there's definitely advantages to either based on what it is you're doing and the type of person you are definitely.

00:10:27:02 - 00:10:59:16
Mary Daphne
And I think it really, as you said, the role can dictate that that need if you're in in a setting where you really do need to, you know, go up to someone's desk and say, look at this project. Can you have a look at this blueprint or look at this prototype that I built or whatever it might be, where you're showing something visual and you need that immediate feedback and not the asynchronous feedback where there's a lot of back and forth emailing, scheduling and time for a Zoom call or Google Meet and trying to come, come together and collaborate.

00:10:59:16 - 00:11:11:03
Mary Daphne
That might work if you're really on top of things or if you have, you know, you have an open slack or a channel of communication open constantly. But in some situations it's not always ideal.

00:11:11:18 - 00:11:24:27
Greg
Yeah, you can definitely, you know, if you are working remotely, you definitely get a lot more Zoom calls, a lot more emailing going on and that can be inefficient. Yeah. At the same time, you know, for some people, they wouldn't want someone coming by the desk and interrupting their flow through.

00:11:25:03 - 00:11:25:11
Mary Daphne
Right.

00:11:25:11 - 00:11:42:18
Greg
So it is tough and I think companies themselves are trying to determine what is better for productivity. Is it better to have people in the office or are they more productive at home? I mean, they've been studying this quite closely. I suspect over the next couple of years we're going to get real data on what the conclusion is.

00:11:42:26 - 00:11:56:29
Greg
And hopefully, you know, companies can take that data and then more intelligently, more strategically to implement company policy that optimizes for productivity and employment and planning, employee happiness.

00:11:57:07 - 00:12:19:15
Mary Daphne
Satisfaction. So, yes, I was going to say, you know, the two goals, I think well, it's twofold, right? So there's two components to it. One is the will ultimately employee retention, right. So the company, they want to be happy with you because you're being productive and you want to be happy at the company, right? So the employee satisfaction, so there's this nice sort of symbiotic relationship there.

00:12:19:15 - 00:12:39:15
Mary Daphne
And oftentimes the two go hand-in-hand, right? The happier and the employee, the more productive they generally will be. Right. Because if you feel like you belong at this company, feel like they value you and your time and your effort and you know, you're not easily replaceable. Right. You feel like you're making it making a good positive impact there.

00:12:39:22 - 00:12:56:16
Mary Daphne
Well, then it's a positive and you're going to perform even better than if you feel like nobody cares and doesn't matter what you do and your contributions are not that significant. Right. So it really it depends. It's a mindset thing that also dictates, you know, productivity and happiness.

00:12:56:26 - 00:13:18:08
Greg
Yeah, that's right. And, you know, one of the challenges is not that we didn't discuss as much, but you alluded to was this sort of blending of personal and professional life when you work from home. Yes. And this relates to employee satisfaction, because some many employees working from home actually feel much more overworked because they don't know when to stop working right.

00:13:18:08 - 00:13:39:15
Greg
There's there's not the office clearing out. You don't have people around you going home, packing up and and you don't have a commute to worry about. And so while it's an advantage from a time perspective, on the other hand, you don't have that designated into your workday. So you could end up working late into the night, you might miss dinner or you might open up your laptop after dinner and start working again.

00:13:39:15 - 00:13:47:17
Greg
And it's just it's harder to to sort of, you know, manually designate when you're going to work and when you're not.

00:13:47:17 - 00:14:08:16
Mary Daphne
It's true. So I think it's still up in the air for a lot of companies, for a lot of individuals. And, you know, it's something that we're going to see come closer. Well, we're going to see it from a, you know, different perspective in the next few years, because people will have had more time in the remote setting or in the hybrid setting or back at the office.

00:14:08:24 - 00:14:11:02
Mary Daphne
And we'll see what the data has to say for it, too.

00:14:11:08 - 00:14:26:00
Greg
Yeah, I think we'll see both. We'll have companies that are fully remote. We'll have companies that are, you know, fully in the office and people can kind of choose which of those configurations they prefer. I don't think we're going to see as much of the, you know, true hybrid. Right. You might have.

00:14:26:00 - 00:14:27:02
Mary Daphne
What what which is a.

00:14:27:02 - 00:14:31:04
Greg
True hybrid is you must come in three days a week and must not come in two days. Right.

00:14:31:05 - 00:14:32:02
Mary Daphne
And it's enforced.

00:14:32:02 - 00:14:48:09
Greg
And it's enforced. I think what you're going to have is fully remote companies where sometimes you can come in or whenever you please. Yeah, there's a space there to meet, but as you please. And then there will be companies where it is. You definitely must come into the office. Right? Unless you're in the Netherlands as well.

00:14:48:09 - 00:15:06:26
Mary Daphne
Yeah. And that's unfolding too, as we speak. So it's interesting. It's very exciting, too, because it gives people a lot of different opportunities and yeah, I think I think it's moving in the right direction. And there are a lot of there are a lot of positives from I think the direction that it's headed in. Yeah, that's yeah, that's awesome.

00:15:07:04 - 00:15:21:10
Mary Daphne
All right. Well, we want to hear from you. What do you think about this remote work kind of approach? What do you think of the hybrid approach, even though it might be on its way out? What do you think of going back into the office? What's your work situation right now? Are you working from home and loving it?

00:15:21:18 - 00:15:52:21
Mary Daphne
Are you just ready to get back into the office or have you already gotten back there? So we want to hear from you. Leave a comment down below. And if you're enjoying the podcast, be sure to share it. Leave us a review that really matters. So it means the world to us when we get a five star review that tells us that you're enjoying the podcast and when you share it more people can have access to this kind of high quality content, because our goal is to empower you with the communication skills you need to excel in your English lives.

00:15:52:29 - 00:16:22:10
Mary Daphne
So we hope that you do enjoy it and check out the YouTube channel as well. So that's it for us today. We're going to see you in another one. All right. Take care.