YOU GUYS, #SHRM17 IS ALMOST HERE!!! I’m so excited! I love having the opportunity to see some of my HR Friends from across the globe, learn new things, and meet new people. I spend a lot of time going through the sessions listed and deciding which sessions are relevant to where I am in my career or current problems I’m trying to solve as well as which sessions might stretch my capabilities or prepare me for a future problem I’ll face as I work to progress in my career. I’m also always interested in who is presenting each session and I imagine you all are too! I love that the blog squad gets to spend time interviewing a few speakers before conference gets here so that you all have an opportunity to learn a little about them before you build your schedule. I recently spent some time with Heather Kinzie discussing her presentation she will be doing at #SHRM17 titled Out of the Office: The Rise of the Remote Worker.
Before I get into the discussion about her presentation, let me tell you a little about Heather from my perspective. I first met Heather at a national SHRM conference several years ago. We were both part of the blog team for the conference and it was my first time attending a national conference. Heather turned out to be one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I remember attending a session with her and Joan Ginsberg, who was also on the team, and just being amazed at how the three of us could sit in the same session and learn something new together even though we were all at different levels of our careers. Heather became a great contact in my HR network and a friend I keep in touch with year round. It was only last year when I had a chance to hear her present for the first time. I knew Heather was smart, I knew Heather was passionate about what she does, I knew Heather was well-spoken so I wasn’t surprised when she presented an awesome presentation on the Smart Stage at #SHRM16. At some point I stopped watching her and started watching the audience. Everyone was engaged and paying attention. People were smiling and nodding along. People were enjoying her presentation. To be fair, I think she could give a presentation about beef jerky and we would still enjoy listening to her present.
One of the other things I do at national conference is look for speakers for my local chapter and our state conference so when I saw how engaged the audience was I knew my local chapter needed to hear from her. She did not disappoint! In fact, this year she did 3 sessions for our local chapter in one day. We started with an executive level breakfast, then our normal monthly luncheon, and an evening meeting with our student chapters. The after meeting survey results raved about Heather, her presentation style, and her topics! Having her spend the day with our chapter was a great investment for our local HR community.
Now, her topic for SHRM. My first question to Heather was “why this topic?” I need to admit that I saw it and kind of stopped and made a squish face at it… I’ve been known to use this phrase often “It’s 2017, everyone is providing flexibility for professionals.” This is usually in response to any one of my HR pals that are thinking they may want to find a new job, but they enjoy the flexibility their current one provides. Turns out, I’m wrong… a lot of places still aren’t offering this flexible “work from wherever you need to occasionally” type of flexibility. If you had the same response, stay tuned because she’s going to spell it out for me/us.
Q: Why this Topic?
A: Well, being based out of Alaska I think if we can’t get it right, who can? We have a lot of businesses that have employees across the country and that requires some flexibility. Secondly, we’ve noticed a huge rise in what I like to call “intermittent remote workers” because it has been added to the employee value proposition required of a global economy. If commerce can happen globally why can’t the workforce happen globally?
Q: Since I naively thought everyone offered this already, I’m curious what your thoughts are on what is holding some organizations back from rolling out some form of remote work?
A: There is a myth that its hard to do or should only be reserved for special situations. I want to bust those myths and show how it prepares the business for success. I should clarify, just because it’s not difficult, doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are factors to explore and consider and some times there is a plausible business case to not have remote work options for employees. There are legitimate obstacles to consider from network security to ability to handle meetings. There are good reasons to shy away from it, but not stay away from it.
Q: A kind of expected question, what is the number one reason you hear from organizations that don’t have remote work in place already?
A: What I see often as a consultant is organizations shying away from flexibility because of trust. I say to that, if you don’t trust your workforce, why are they there? If you are afraid your employees are stealing from you, there is a bigger problem to solve.
Q: Okay, remember when Mayer took over at Yahoo and then pulled all the remote workers back into a physical office? Do you think the media coverage of that ‘mess’ and how employees responded may have hindered HR professionals consideration of remote work?
A: I think its important to make sure we are trying to solve the right problem. I can’t recall an article that really dug into the real issue of why she chose to do it, rather talking about the shock to the employees and culture change that was happening because of it. Was the remote workforce the problem or was it a leadership problem? Were they being managed properly? We must avoid headlines when we are working in our organizations and identify the failure so we can provide the right solution.
Q: I don’t want to giveaway your presentation so I want to switch gears on you. What are you most excited about for this years conference?
A: I’m excited to be in New Orleans, it will be my first time in New Orleans! I’m super excited to see HCJ… I’ve had a crush on him since 1995, maybe you saw the movie copycat?
Q: Never saw it. Where can people find you to connect- online and in person at #SHRM17?
A: One place you’ll be able to find me at the conference is the bloggers lounge! Please stop by, I’d love to meet all of you! I’m honored to have represented SHRM for years on the blog team. You can find me on twitter @HeatherKinzie and on LinkedIn (I don’t think I’m the only Heather Kinzie on LI, but surely the only cool one!!). Folks can also find some of my work at thestrivegroup.com or any of The Strive Group social media sites!
Attendees, you all can hear more about what Heather has to say on Wednesday June 21st at 11:30 a.m. Conference happens so fast and I can understand the exhaustion some of us experience by Wednesday, but you will not regret going to hear Heather elaborate on The Rise of the Remote Worker! It sounds like she will be tying in many aspects for us to consider as we look at remote work as an option or improve the way we are using remote workers.
See you all in #NOLA soon!!