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29 What's a Flexible Work Environment Really Like?

Flexiblity = Freedom!

This week, we're sharing some thoughts on our flexible work policy. It's been a game-changer for our team, and our guest/producer Zac has utilized it well. He's used the policy to travel the country with his wife, and it's been an incredible experience. Our team has benefited from this policy, and we're excited to share some of our insights and tips!


This week's cocktail is a classic Paloma. A perfect drink to have when traveling to warmer climates. 

  • 5 oz of Tequila.
  • 5 oz of Lime Juice.
  • 1 oz of Grapefruit Juice.
  • Optional Soda Water.
  • Optional Grapefruit peel or lime wedge.


  1. Combine Tequila and fresh lime juice into a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a glass over ice.
  3. Top cocktail off with grapefruit juice and soda water if desired.
  4. Garnish with grapefruit peel or lime wedge


Want to Learn More?

Our producer Zac just wrote a blog about this topic, and we highly recommend checking it out. Also, feel free to peruse some of our other blog posts while you're at it. Happy reading!


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Episode Transcript

Rich: Catelin, how are you? 

Catelin: I am hanging in there. right now It is Friday. It's my first food truck day here in Sioux City. 

Rich: Oh yeah, that's always a great day And you guys are close enough to probably just walk it right. Yeah, Probably a nice walk. 

Catelin: I dressed for the weather that we have and not the weather that I want. Coincidentally, the weather that we're having today is the weather that I want, So I yeah. 

Rich: Oh, is it like 70s and kind of cool, but sunny Yeah? 

Catelin: Yes, that's nice. I have my feminist grandmother sunglasses at the ready. I'm just Fantastic. 

Rich: Yeah, i love a. Paloma Yeah, you're not going to take a Paloma with you on your wall. 

Catelin: No, I'm not going to. 

Rich: I think that's illegal. 

Catelin: It is, It's frowned upon. I mean open container. 

Rich: So here's a question. So open container when you walk is illegal. but what if you put a lid on it? I don't, Is that still open? 

Catelin: Yeah. 

Rich: I guess we'd need a police officer or a lawyer to talk to us, and that sounds boring, so let's talk about what a Paloma is. So did Zach pick the drink? I'm curious to pick the drink. 

Catelin: So Zac chooses everything for us. 

Rich: We can ask him. 

Zac: Yeah, I definitely chose this drink. 

Rich: There he is, the Phantom Voice. He has his camera off, but the Phantom Voice coming in, i actually Oh sorry, i just wanted to tell you why? 

Zac: That was the fun fact I actually had a really good one at a place called Fizzy’s in Omaha and I was like, let's do a Paloma. 

Catelin: Let's do it. 

Zac: It's super good. 

Rich: So I do like a Paloma and I will give you the like down and dirty quick. Three. Second Paloma, once we get through the real one, so real one. 

Rich: These are super refreshing and really great when it's warm outside, i'll send half a tequila, a half an ounce of lime juice, fresh squeezed, as Caitlin would always remind us. Yes, an ounce of grapefruit juice. So it should be fresh squeezed. But that's a lot of that's a lot of heavy lifting, and you can get pretty good stuff in the little cans, which is what we do, because it's just a good one, like the grapefruit juice, yeah, yeah. 

Rich: And then, if you want to, you can put some soda water in it. If you want a little fizz and then like, garnish it with a grapefruit peel of the lime wedge. 

Catelin: So good. 

Rich: Yeah, so we're into dried fruits for garnish now, because we had a blood orange and it was going to go bad because they only last so long, so we sliced it and dehydrated it in the toaster oven. 

Catelin: Which is like. I think you put it on when you're having, when you're having all the oven troubles. 

Rich: Yeah, That was our only oven at the time. Got it. I was like I had a toaster oven And it fit on one of the little cookie sheets anyway, but I think it was just like we kept it on like a hundred degrees. It was a super low temperature for just a really long time. 

Catelin: Yeah, it's like smoking meat slow and slow. 

Rich: Yes, exactly So. yeah. So tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice feel free to double or triple those if you want to. Obviously, you put everything into a cocktail shaker. Obviously not the soda water or garnish. Shake that baby with ice to make it cold, i guess is what that does. And combined Yeah, i'm just I'm out of it today, so we've got a lot going on here. It's important to a glass and drink it. 

Catelin: It's. Yeah, the drinking part is the important part. I cheat with these and fever tree makes a really delightful grapefruit soda, so I just do my like tequila and lime juice in there. So and then just, and then just a straw. 

Rich: It's great. My super down and dirty cheat on this is fresca and tequila. 

Catelin: Oh, that's a choice. 

Rich: Yeah, i mean some people frescoes will love it or hate it. I get it Like it is a controversial soda. So the fresco, the hard frescoes that they've made, we tried and we did not like them at all. They were terrible. But we like a good, refreshing fresco. So that's really down and dirty and cheap. But you can also buy the little tiny cans of grapefruit juice and it's so easy to do grapefruit juice, tequila, squeeze a little lime in there. It takes like five seconds. 

Catelin: Yeah, yeah, i also like the. The story is Paloma is a great patio. 

Rich: Pounder Porch, pounder patio pounder Porch pounder, patio pounder. It depends on whether you're at a porch or a patio. 

Catelin: No, I was like we have both, So it's hard to say. 

Rich: Yeah, we really just have. 

Catelin: Front porch and a back patio. 

Rich: Yeah, Yeah, i think you can also. 

Catelin: Anywhere is a good place to drink some tequila and grapefruit juice. 

Rich: It really is. And this one is fun because you can be like high class and put it in a coupe glass and have a really nice sippy cocktail, or you can like quadruple the ingredients and put it in your Yeti, or whatever your choice of. Thermal beverage container is and just take six. 

Catelin: Take it to the golf course. Yeah, sure. 

Rich: Why not? Because they come around with the alcohol cart. I mean it's expensive. 

Catelin: The bar cart The bar cart is Bar cart. 

Rich: What do they call it? I think bar cart, i don't know. They have snacks too, sometimes Beer cart, beer cart Yeah. But they always have beer, which is great. 

Catelin: Yeah. 

Rich: All right, so that's our drink. We have not talked at all, except that Zach is our guest today. So what are we talking about? 

Catelin: Well, today is all about a flexible work environment, which is oddly prussian Given that you are recording from home in a room full of dogs while you pack your house to relocate hopefully. I don't know Like we'll see right, Like it's mostly a done deal at this point. Yeah, and like relocating like three blocks. You're not going very far. But all of that to say It's like 30 miles. 

Rich: I mean it's a papillion, so it's down there. But yeah, so on that, since we were on that tangent, just got noticed that our Our house that we're selling, appraised at value, so that's good. 

Catelin: Woohoo, that's great. 

Rich: There's one thing they want to look at from the inspection, just to verify. So hopefully it's nothing. The new house loan is approved. Appraisal came in fine. However, because it's a VA loan weirdest thing ever with So sometimes it's a VA loans Like there's little things you need, you don't have to do an inspection, but you have to do an appraisal And the appraisal looks at certain things. So what we have to do, or what the sellers have to do, there's a shed out back And it's a decent shed. It's solid, it's got a new roof, everything. But the paint is chipping off. 

Catelin: No, let paint. 

Rich: Well, it's not lead even But there's no chipping paint period, Nope. Paint has to be, it has to be scraped and repainted, and they specified specifically Scraped, painted, and all of the paint chips need to be removed. 

Catelin: I used to process mortgage loans and this is also a requirement on FHA loans. 

Rich: Yep, yeah. 

Catelin: Coincidentally, that work environment was not flexible. It is part of the reason that. I can't work there anymore. 

Rich: Got it Well. We have a pretty good flexible work environment And I think it honestly does keep people here. I believe that if somebody were to go to a traditional environment where you get I mean, I've had somewhere you don't get any vacation for the first year And then you get two weeks or a week. 

Catelin: And then it's like five years Yeah. 

Rich: And then that's it. 

Catelin: And you just like cap out And you get 15 days a year to be a person And then the rest of the time you have to be an employee. It's fucking garbage. 

Rich: Yep, and sometimes there's sick time, sometimes there's not sick time, so we don't do any of that. 

Catelin: My rage is going to care. I'm going to fly away. 

Rich: Okay, well, don't fly away. 

Catelin: Not from here, but like it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't make any sense. 

Rich: Well, we'll get into that with Zach. But the point is, Zach had been in the office almost every day if he didn't need to like be home with his dog or whatever. 

Catelin: With his puppy, Miss a girl. She's so sweet. 

Rich: Yeah, but then he'll explain it better to us. But his wife got a job as a travel nurse, which is an amazing job. If you're a nurse and can get it, i guess there's. It's wonderful, pay, good benefits, they pay for your expenses and living. And so Zach debated like okay, like do I just travel to see her on the weekend, since stay in Omaha, or do I just pack up and go with her? And that's what he chose And we'll see, like if he was nervous to talk about that or ask about that, but it is within our policies And so yeah, so he's a really good example of kind of living the dream of the flexible work environment, and he just got back from his first kind of round of that, i think three months in Indianapolis, if I recall. 

Rich: It went so fast, it did go fast. 

Catelin: I was like, certainly, it was only like six weeks. 

Rich: I'm pretty sure it was three months, but yeah, so we'll talk about that. We'll talk about the difference, like we were talking about, between you know traditional work, you know time off, remote working, office working. What's flexible work? How's that different from work from home or vacation policy or remote working? How are they related? And how the heck does unlimited PTO work Like personal time off for those who don't use the PTO thing, because we have that as well And is it really unlimited? What does that mean? And I think that's one of the rules you know of that excitement. 

Catelin: After the break. All right, don't threaten me with a good time. You said I could debate the patriarchy, and now here? 

Rich: we are. Well, here we go. I think we really need to get into the topic and maybe introduce the guests before we get into talking about the man keeping you down. So all right, Hey, Zach. 

Zac: Hello, good to be here as always. 

Rich: Yeah, zach's always here. He's just not usually on a microphone. I was gonna say camera, but nobody else gets to see the video. We don't publish that, just us. 

Catelin: Nobody wants to see this madness. 

Rich: It's a little crazy most days, but yeah so, zach, and actually jumping in and breaking in on the intro was a new one for me too. I don't think you've done that before without like a plan to do it. 

Zac: Yeah, it's not on the internet. It's probably like. It's probably the first, maybe the second time I've done that, because I just couldn't hold back. 

Rich: Yeah, I think it was good context and we didn't have to wait for this part of the show to learn more about the Paloma from you, and you got a really great one. So where is Fizzy's in Omaha, sorry? 

Zac: It is in Little Bohemia. Oh, okay, bohemia Cross from Dundee Bank. 

Rich: Yeah, it's right across from Dundee Bank, so in that area So usually I park at the bank park or not. It's a sign with like the cherries and the neon. 

Zac: So if you ever see that that's Fizzy's. 

Rich: All right, i'll look next time. But I mean, obviously that's our bank, so I go through that drive-through constantly and that one is the closest one to us. 

Zac: It opens at five. You probably really enjoy it. They have really good food and drinks. Nice What kind of food. So you can get a really good cheeseburger a literal bucket of fried chicken but you can also get what is it? It's really not upscale, but it's above normal bar food. 

Catelin: Like a gastropub. 

Zac: Yeah, I like that. I like to explain when I'm not looking at the menu. 

Rich: French fries. I'm sure they have fries. Oh yeah, I love the fries. 

Catelin: Okay, but they're good, yeah, okay. 

Rich: That's fine. Does the chicken come in a metal bucket or a paper bucket? 

Zac: I have not ordered it yet, but I'm pretty sure it's a paper bucket. 

Catelin: Before you leave for your next travel adventure, we need you to go order the fried chicken and tell us what kind of vessel it comes in. I think, it could be a Hallmark assignment. 

Rich: I mean we could do it as an Omaha happy hour. We could go over there five instead of four, since they've been open at four or open at five. Yeah, so, and just have like a bucket of fried chicken and some drinks. 

Catelin: Hello my friends, it only counts if you clink your chicken drummies together, though. 

Zac: I think that works. 

Catelin: My two. Dorothy is really into cheersing right now but, she does it with everything, so like do we toast it with our doughnuts the other day, and what else? she does it with toast a lot, so she like toasts her toast, which I find really entertaining. 

Rich: I mean, I'm not mad about it Celebrate every food and beverage that you have with friends, that babe loves a party. 

Catelin: She went to her first parade last night and girlfriend woke up this morning and she was like we go to parade again. And I was like, heck, yeah, we can go to a parade again, you bet. 

Rich: But not today, because there's not right now. 

Catelin: Right now we need to put on our fucking shoes so we can go to daycare. 

Rich: The shoes struggle. 

Catelin: I tell you what. 

Rich: Okay, i have a friend who's Todd. I guess he's like four or five maybe. 

Catelin: Still a toddler until they're like five. 

Rich: I think, having a meltdown because he couldn't wear two pair of shoes, of shoes at once. And so another friend said I've had this, give them one of each shoe, they'll be happy all day, it doesn't matter, if they don't match, they won't care. Yeah, anyway. So now we're under toddlers, which I don't have. Zach doesn't have. 

Zac: Well, that made me think about what my parents were like that times three. Oh, my God. 

Catelin: Three of you at one time, that's so many shoes. 

Rich: If you're new to the podcast, zach is a triplet. So yeah, he has two brothers his same age and an older sister. 

Catelin: Right, They're four. 

Rich: Older sister, younger brother. 

Catelin: Yeah, older sister. 

Rich: Oh my gosh there's five Yep. Because the younger brother doesn't look like any of them. No, he's like. 

Zac: He's like six foot one six foot, two straight brown hair. 

Rich: Yeah. 

Zac: Which, if you know what I look like, definitely nothing like me. 

Rich: Yeah, you can see him on our website. But yeah, like because I saw you all at that, the Asian market, in the cafeteria, because it was like I was like, who is that with you? Oh, that's my little brother, and I'm like, okay, well, he's like twice your height, yeah, that's why he's really tall. He's taller than me, like it was. That was bizarre, but yeah, i mean, that's genetics, that's how it works. They, different people get different genes, unless you're triplets then you all get the same genes. 

Catelin: Well, just like different versions of the same Identical triplets That's true If you're not identical triplets yeah fraternal triplets would be different. 

Rich: Yeah, although you can have fraternal or identical twins and a fraternal triplet And a fraternal triplet. 

Catelin: That's possible Genes are wild, i think this is an important call out right now Here's the thing. 

Catelin: Because, like all of this to say, like, bless your mother and your father, here's me talking about the patriarchy And I'm like, oh, your mother, but presumably your dad also helped raise you and did some that you know parenting things right. But I think so. For me as a parent of a young child, our flexible work environment ensures that as long as I'm not late for a meeting, my kid can take as long as she wants to put on her shoes, because no one's going to yell at me for being 10 minutes late in the morning. 

Rich: Well, it also helped. 

Catelin: A godsend, because girlfriend can't pick her shoes. 

Rich: You also eased back into from your maternity leave, as I recall like you worked from home for quite a bit because, well, when it was like COVID times and pandemic was hard Yeah. Turning over an infant to daycare at that point was like crazy, but it's like she sleeps a lot. I could probably do a ton of work. 

Catelin: Yeah, She was just like near us. But then as soon as she got mobile, it was like OK, this isn't going to work. 

Rich: Yeah, But it is nice. So, Zach, let's talk about your recent experience with flexible work policy, which was really a work from anywhere policy, I think would be a little bit more accurate. So what was your situation, What did you do? And then we'll get into the details of why it works, how it works and how we manage it. 

Zac: Yeah, sure. So before I went on this crazy adventure, i'd say the most like Crazy adventure. It's like you said in the intro. I'd come into the office every day and occasionally I'd just stay home to take care of Misa if she was feeling sick or something. And when I first got my puppy, i did the pet eternity leave. So that was probably like the first experience I had with it. 

Catelin: But yeah, is it pet eternity or paw eternity? 

Zac: I can't remember. Either one is good. 

Catelin: I wanted to Right. Either one of those are good, it doesn't. I think pet actually makes more sense because fish don't have paws. If you need to stay home and take care of your fish, or like your iguana, i don't know Does it only cover dogs and cats. 

Rich: We call it pet adoption leave, okay, and for us. 

Rich: So it's an automatic 100% for two weeks and then 50% for two weeks after. That is what we I mean, we do have a flexible schedule but that's the official, that kind of kicks in at default. So the idea is that you can spend time bonding with them and getting them adjusted to their new home and their life with you, and then in the two weeks with the 50%, it's If you're crate training or still potty training. Getting there and back to be able to Going back and forth is a giant pain. So basically work for four hours and then go home at lunch and let your puppy out or your dog Deal with your cat. Cats really don't need any kind of a done-up. 

Catelin: Deal with your cat, but maybe you just prefer working on your laptop with a little kitten in your lap. 

Rich: That'll be what we'll have to bring Riley on for that one, though I don't think he took time off when they got the cats. I think the cats just showed up. He worked from home for a little bit. 

Catelin: He took his cat to the referee When Bora came home it was like I got to keep these punks separated because But now they're the best of friends, and it's so cute, okay, so you've taken a couple of weeks just to work from home. 

Rich: Deal with the dog. 

Zac: Yep, and then a lot further down their line Chloe was talking to me about. Okay, we have a lot of student debt and we love to travel. This is obviously an option for us, so why not? 

Zac: You should definitely talk to your work and see if this is possible, because it would be a really good thing for us, not only financially, but just being able to travel and see new places in the United States. That's something we've always wanted to do, because we love trying new food and seeing new places. So yeah, initially when we started talking about it even though I knew we were super flexible it's not very something that I ever thought I'd have to ask or do or utilize. 

Zac: So I was a little nervous just with the logistics of everything. But as soon as I had a conversation with you, rich and Jesse, it became really clear that it was definitely something I'd be able to do and definitely something that would work well for me. So yeah, it was really great. 

Rich: Yeah, and I'm noticing. I'm actually looking at our benefits book, page 17. And the work from Anywhere piece didn't really make it in there. I think we were that's sort of on a case by case basis and we were kind of cautious about it. But technically it is written down in a policy on the server. But typically after you've been here a year, if you need to work from another location or work remotely, totally fine. And if that's you know, paris, great. If that's San Antonio, fine, like it really doesn't matter. But it wasn't something that was necessarily. I don't think anybody had done it before. We didn't have any remote, fully remote employees at that time And no one had even taken. like you know, i'm going to work from my grandparents house in Arizona for the summer, like, or actually do that in the winter Winter. Yeah, summer in Arizona is a nightmare. 

Catelin: That sounds terrible. 

Rich: I have aunts and uncles there. My grandparents were there. We used to worry. 

Catelin: We're very sweaty. 

Rich: We used to vacation there all the time and like you'd get into the pool and the pool water would be 92, because it's 110 outside And you're just like it's like bathing and sweat, anyway, all right. So she ended up getting a travel nursing job, right. And then I remember you talking about like well, maybe I'll go with her, maybe I won't, maybe I'll just go see her sometimes. And then it was like all in packing up where we're heading out. 

Rich: I'm going to be working remotely for this very quick, because I think that you had like I feel like in my mind it was like the final definitive Yeah, i'm just going to go with her was like on a Wednesday and you left on like the next Monday. I don't think it was that quite that tight, but it felt like it. 

Zac: We're learning really quickly, like as we. We just accepted another contract. I don't know if I've told you yet, rich, but it's going to be no with Carolina and it'll be at the end of the month, so I'll be here a little longer, but we're learning quickly that things move pretty fast with like how everything works Like you could apply and then like get a call back and then you could be like hired within like two days. 

Rich: Everything goes well, So yeah, it definitely can fast So this, being flexible, definitely helps. So end of the month is her new assignment in North Carolina is fun, And actually we're in North Carolina. 

Zac: Charlotte, okay. 

Rich: I have restaurant recommendations for you. 

Zac: Oh nice. 

Rich: When I was at LPL. one of their headquarters is in Charlotte, so yeah, it's a, it's a fun place, just. 

Catelin: Charlotte, just like North Carolina, just seems like a Nicholas Sparks movie, like movie based on a Nicholas Sparks book. Like that's all I see is like a like Long Beach with some like reedy grass and like a lot of it's more, I think. 

Rich: I think that's more South Carolina. 

Zac: Okay, one of the things that's good about Charlotte, i think, is that, like, you're only a couple hours from mountains and you're only a couple hours from a beach, if you like want to go either direction. Yeah, so that's a good summer spot. Well, no kidding. 

Rich: And you're really close to everything on the West Coast, like you can go up and down the West Coast super easy. East Coast, okay. So here's a question for you East Coast, sorry, yeah, oh my gosh, wow, what a day. So question for you Maybe I shouldn't triple the tequila in my Paloma. So you said you know she got this call like whenever it was, and it's the end of the month, so we got some time, which is fine. Do you feel like if she found out today that she needed to go like Monday, would you feel comfortable like letting us know that and just doing it? 

Zac: Oh, for sure, Yeah Now there's that likely. Okay, Like the first time you know maybe like the first time, like, like, i don't know Like, cause this is like a new thing, and these situations can be kind of scary because you don't know like the logistics of everything, but now, like, even though I've just done one contract, it's like I feel like I kind of know like what to expect now, just based off of that like one. But yeah, definitely not afraid anymore, okay. 

Rich: So that was. You did that as a work from anywhere. So something else happened while you were there, right Cause she was doing four tens and you actually shifted to flex time. 

Zac: Well, cause we ended up like I ended up like seeing her like she'd get home at like six and then she'd be so tired that she would just, like you know, go to bed after like a couple of hours. So I was like, well, you know, i kind of want to like be able to like do things with her and like kind of like match up our days off. So I asked you guys if I could do a four day work week. And I've been trying to keep that up ever since, but yeah, I know who you are working on a Friday, though. 

Zac: I know A little bit of extra time. 

Rich: All right. So so, Caitlin, you had talked about working somewhere without a flexible work environment. You worked at multiple places, I believe. 

Catelin: I have. Jessica actually brought this up the other day at lunch. I'll be starting my fifth year here in like a couple weeks Oh my God, no, it's it, isn't it the end of your fifth year? 

Rich: It's at the end of your fifth year. But Jessica's fifth year is coming up, very soon, i think. 

Catelin: Yeah, because she's like a year ahead of me. I think, yeah, but this is the longest I've ever worked at a place, at the same place, like continually ever. 

Rich: I think me too, honestly It is, i'm kind of locked in, but yeah. 

Catelin: You have a different set of circumstances, but I think so it's. It's a lot of things for me that all kind of coalesce together. I love the people that I work with desperately and I tell them as much nearly every time we sign off a meeting, like love you, bye. And it's not weird, right, because I truly mean that, like it's a different kind. 

Catelin: You know it's not like I love you, like my spouse or my human child, but you know I have a deep appreciation and respect for the people that I work with, which is one, and that I think is directly correlated to the fact that we are all people first, and we've talked about this before that like we all know and understand that there is an entire life in world of ours that exists outside of the four walls within which we, you know, work air quotes, because sometimes we're working in different four walls And it has never, i mean, short of like the first few months that I was here, when there is that like trepidation and uncertainty about, like, where the boundaries are, but since then there has never been a time where it's like I'm nervous about what happens if I have an emergency or if I need to go home because my kid is sick. 

Catelin: Like I remember my grandma passed away last fall and there was no question, like I went and got to spend time with her in the hospital And this is like going to make me emotional, but there was no question. Like I was able to leave when I found out she had been admitted. It was like I packed up my stuff and I drove and nobody questioned that at all. It was like do what you need to do to take care of your family and yourself, and like all of this will be here when you get back. And that is such a rarity, which is just unfathomable to me, that it is so rare because, like, this isn't our life, you know, like this job is not our life, and yeah. 

Rich: I get it And I think for a lot of people it is, and that's I mean. For me it has been. I mean I've had places where I worked 60, 80 hours a week. I've been working 20 days a month, which I think is part of why, like, i've just revolted with this company and the pendulum just swung the other way. Like we had, we had the unlimited time off when I joined the company. That was a thing that had been around for a while. In part, as a company, you don't have to like carry that time on your books, so it's not really a liability that you owe to people if they leave. 

Rich: So there's that. It's also just a, like you said, it's just a human thing to be able to do that. 

Catelin: Yeah, i think it is. it does like warrant a mention that we are a small company and we generally don't have issues with abuse of that policy. We also don't really have issues with the enforcement of it. Like, i think there has been kind of a backlash to the unlimited policy because mid-level managers at larger institutions don't have the same philosophy around it, where it's like oh, it's unlimited, well why do you need to be gone? or what are you doing? and and the Response to it has been like unlimited PTO isn't actually unlimited and I can't stress enough that it actually is. 

Zac: Here. Yeah, definitely, and I actually have like an example. We're almost. Yeah, i came across, when I was doing research for this, a rant that someone posted about flexible Agri-environments. Yeah, i think it's a. Really. I'll just read it exactly how he wrote it, and I have some people too, so you guys can just give me your perspective on it too and I think you're pretty fun. 

Zac: So Rant. This is titled unlimited or flexible PTO policies suck if your teammates never take time off. So I Started a job about 10 months ago with a flexible PTO policy. Essentially, i have unlimited time off to use at my discretion, up to two weeks at a time. I understand the other arguments against these open PTO policies, but something else has become abundantly clear to me, having been with the job for about a year now. The problem is my immediate teammates there are five of us never take time off. So what ends up happening is I am the slacker of the team and mm-hmm With me. I do not hesitate to take a random Friday off if work is slow and plan to take whole weeks off for various trips and Vacations coming up this summer and fall. All in all, i will probably take four weeks of total PTO this year. 

Zac: I get my work done on time and I'm generally well liked with the company and team, but I feel like an ass because, in comparison the rest of my team to the rest of my teammates, i take a lot of time off. I want to be there for my team and pick up some of their work when they take their own time off But, as I mentioned before, they never take time off, so I have mm-hmm. Yet I Have yet been able to prove my ability to be a good teammate. I speak with folks from other departments and they regularly take time off sharing fun stories about the trips They've taken and the places they've seen. Another thing I do not get to relate to with my team because, again, they are working too much to speak about anything else besides work, and I have a couple comments. Someone said let them rot in their cubes. Enjoy your PTO. Yeah, you can go. Actually, you can you get. You can feel free to like chime in if you want. 

Rich: So there's one problem that's going on here It's that manager, it's their manager. Yeah, that's the problem, 100%. If other departments are doing it, it's not the company. If he's able to do it and not get in trouble, it's not the company, it's not HR, it's the boss. And one of the interesting things that I heard I Was kind of looking at our benefits and kind of where we go with them And what do we do, because we kind of maxed out on the normal stuff and I found an unlimited PTO policy That was a minimum of seven business days a year. So if you haven't taken seven days off by December, you have to pick seven days in December and take them off. Mm-hmm. 

Zac: And that's, that's initially what I thought when I first read that too, because we're like definitely encouraged to take time off If we haven't here, which I think is like a lot different than a lot of companies, for sure. 

Rich: Yeah, Jesse got in trouble early on because he hadn't taken any vacation for over a year and I made him take two weeks And he's like I don't have anywhere to go and I'm like I don't care, stay home Like you got a list of things. Like this was even it was before they had kids before the kids. 

Rich: Yeah, and he's like, yeah, i guess I'm like go see your parents, go see your brother, like go camping, like I don't care what you do, you just need to not be here for two weeks And it's I was really hard for him it was, but you know what sense said he's been way better about mm-hmm. Well, yeah, he's like Madison. 

Catelin: His wife doesn't have the flexibility. She's a teacher, so she doesn't have the flexibility to be like Oh my kid's sick, got to go. He's. He's the one that stays home with them most of the time. I think they'd trade off. If he's got like they do, she can take like she's got time off in sick time. 

Rich: Yeah, yeah, yeah but yeah, but like you know, and she, she's also a coach, so she's got after works, after work stuff too, yeah. So, yeah, i think that that's one. That's the biggest problem that I see is, people don't take it. But it's on you to take it, but it's also on your manager to know you haven't and be like I've never approved time off for this person in two years. We need to have a conversation about why you're not taking downtime. Because you come back fresher, you come back better or relaxed like get out, go leave. 

Zac: And there's there's also There's this, there's another comment, but it also is a gives another perspective on why they might not be taking time off. Because Because this is what this user said sometimes is really strong social pressure not to take the PTO. Mm-hmm, i once worked at a small company that offered unlimited PTO. I Straight up ask what the norm was and how much time off the managers We had to we're fine with us taking. When I got the job offer, they threw it back at me and ask what I would want. I said I'm thinking Probably four to five weeks. Their expression immediately soured and they said wow, that's a lot. We only usually take two to three. That's what people don't say it's unlimited. 

Zac: And so so much for that ridiculous. 

Rich: Mm-hmm, that's just yeah, i mean, that's their. 

Catelin: Right. 

Rich: Yeah, it is. So I think that That's hugely problematic. So let's talk a little bit about abuse, then. Because, like, so, taking four or five weeks over the course of a year is an abuse. If you're billable, if your work's getting done, if you're covered when you're gone And you've given enough notice, like technically, if you take a two-week vacation, you need to give us two weeks notice at least. So we know, and that's in part because we just to make sure the work is covered, but most of us I mean most people like arrange with the person backing them up to cover it anyway. It's not like a boss has to do that for you, right? but in our handbook we've got four examples of abuse, which is sort of unlimited time off, flexible time, work from home, all of that. So If an employee takes every Friday off in the summer, that's not what unlimited PTO is for. That would be a flexible schedule. So that's one where they should sit down with their boss and talk about having a flexible schedule similar to what you did. That's where you did. I think you did three tens and a seven and a half or something like that. 

Rich: The example we give is you know, if they want Fridays off. They could do nine and a half hours Monday through Wednesday and nine hours on Thursday in order to have their Fridays off and keep the bill ability up and all that I mean. But if their bill ability was at a hundred percent nobody would care. But that's a conversation you have with the boss. You don't just do vacation time every Friday. You arrive for work at 10 am Every day and you leave at 5 pm. So you know we do billable hours. So coming in late and leaving like on time or early Consistently isn't what the policy is designed for. Again, you need to have a conversation with your boss and maybe go to three-quarter time or a part to half time, which I know, caitlyn, you know because you were. You were half time to start, then you went full time, then you went half time again. 

Catelin: Oh, dear, god, yes. 

Rich: So whiplash from Caitlyn's adjustable schedule. 

Catelin: She's a real Camelia in that. Caitlyn Dre can't make up her mind. 

Rich: But every time you made the switch, we had a conversation and you worked it out with Jessica or with me, and we move forward. So that's one. If you call in sick every Monday, we know what's going on on Sunday. Yeah, we are going to have a conversation. And again, if you always need Mondays off because you were just a weekend partier, bless you. Go to a, go to a flexible work schedule and finish, you know work. 

Catelin: The other probably get your liver checked. 

Rich: I mean, there's that too and maybe have a conversation with your doctor and or therapist, and if you don't have a therapist, you might need one. 

Catelin: Everyone should be in therapy. 

Rich: Okay. So the last one is important, especially in the state of Iowa. You don't request time off, you don't put anything in our system, you just don't show up for three days in a row. 

Catelin: So that's abandoned your job. 

Rich: It is, and we actually have had somebody do that at this company and had to base some, or I started. I think so, But basically just sent them a letter and said you know, you haven't been here for three days in Iowa. This is job abandonment, So you know turn your computer and buy your terminated effectively media. 

Rich: Oh, he left his computer on his desk. It was already there, i think. His building, that's the only thing he had and we can have those shut off. So yeah, and that's legally considered voluntary resignation. Again, your, your laws may vary in your state, but those are kind of some examples of abuse. But no, we're in. There is Taking four weeks off during the year, taking three weeks off, working remotely for six months. Those are not abused, those are totally fine. It's really like are you doing something logical and covering your work or are you screwing people over? 

Catelin: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think the other thing to know in places where this might be the written policy, but it's not the social policy, is just the lack of trust on a team and the infantilization of the workforce, where somebody has to be watching you all the time and what are you doing if you're not at work and are you actually getting your stuff done? So, like we don't really micromanage here, You're kind of left to your own devices, We don't really get your stuff done and then go do what you need to do. There's just none of that watchdog-y kind of I don't know gossipy nonsense There is another places. 

Rich: Nobody likes being micromanaged, can you? 

Catelin: imagine caring that much about what other people are doing and like what are you doing, sheila Mind? 

Rich: your own business. Oh, i've had bosses that stopped in every morning at like 8.35. What are you working on today? What's your plan for today? And it's like I don't know. I just showed up like work changes and shifts every day. 

Catelin: What I think is so funny is like I think that's like an attempt at being relatable, but when managers don't have like a sense of self-awareness to know what their title grants them in perception to their employees, that like that might be me just checking in to see how you're doing, but really what it comes off as is like I'm watching you, what are you doing, are you earning the money that I'm paying you? And it just like it doesn't translate. Yeah. 

Rich: Yeah. So, zach, did you feel like you were kind of out on your own while you were working remotely, or did you feel connected to the company? 

Zac: Well, it was definitely like an adjustment, because I was so used to going into the office. I think a lot of people actually made an effort to like reach out to me and talk to me, which was nice because me so they can't talk back. But yeah, So it definitely. it definitely was a little bit of an adjustment, but I didn't feel like I was like on my own island ever. Like sometimes I'd be like, Oh, I'm kind of lonely because you know it's just me out here. But, like I said, like I have I talked to Riley just to reach out to me. Other people would ask how I'm doing. So, yeah, I don't really think I felt too isolated. 

Rich: That's good. I mean, we have regular meetings and, honestly, even in the office, we'll slack each other. Like when you're in the office you sit across from me and sometimes I'll still send you something via Slack, even though you're right there and I could just talk to you. But I don't know if you're busy, i don't know if you're doing something, and I just want to make it's like just a Hey, here you go, you can have this, this message, for when you need it. I think the other thing you talked about micromanaging, caitlin, and for me, i think, it's like a damn novel. 

Rich: We have plenty of documentation on what people are doing, so we know, how busy they are, we know how much is assigned to them, we know whether they're doing it, whether it's billable or not. I think the biggest issue would come in for us is if people just weren't coding any time or they just had like half of their day was like just administrative with no notes, because I mean I can have half a day, that's administrative, but I try to put notes in on what I was doing, even just for me, because it's such a catch, all like bucket. 

Rich: Yeah, but we also have different classes for that right. So if you're like doing billing, there's an accounting class, or not class like course, but a class of time classification, if you make me take an accounting class. 

Catelin: I will quit. 

Rich: You're not going to have to take an accounting class. You voluntarily, under slight duress, got a digital certification. that was really great, but yeah, and very helpful. There will be no, no it was like. 

Catelin: It was like eating my vegetables where I was like I know this will be helpful for me, but I don't want to do it. 

Zac: Yep. 

Rich: But yeah, it's some. it's not hard in this day and age to understand what your team members are doing and what your teammates are doing And if you need, them to be physically tracking software. 

Catelin: we're not like watching each other through our webcam. That's creepy and weird, like no, only if you. 

Rich: Yeah, i know we don't even have that capability at the moment, not the way you ever get it. But if you like, like face to face, I know I said, when I said that I was like okay, yeah, like we're not getting it, Like that's not how ever I don't want to pop in on somebody's webcam while they're working from home. That's so creepy. 

Catelin: That's gross. 

Rich: I mean, and with Zach's internet the sex internet was also super sketch in their temporary apartment, so he was rarely on camera and he would routinely like drop off a call and come back, and drop off a call and come back. 

Zac: But yeah, definitely became a routine. 

Rich: But it became kind of a comical thing. We knew you weren't trying to like game the system by turning your camera off And like you weren't really there and you were on Bluetooth like on your phone, like six miles away. But but honestly, if you wanted to join a call while you were walking the dog like putting your headphones and join the call while walking the dog, we don't care. 

Zac: I almost did that, But I literally had no idea how well the service would be, So I was like afraid that I would just drop off and not be able to join back. But yeah, I had, like I definitely had to be on my game because just paying attention like if it got a little too quiet, like while I was sitting there, I'd be like did I drop off? 

Catelin: So I had to like make sure, like am I still here? 

Zac: Yeah because I just somebody got quiet But I knew it was time to rejoin But yeah. 

Rich: Oh, and I misspoke. Like page 20 of our benefits book we got a whole section on flexible location. It's just not covered in flexible time off. It's a whole section. 

Catelin: It's a whole section Short term and long term. 

Rich: How do you do it? How do you plan for it? Well, we really have a good guide here. We were pretty smart about this. 

Zac: I think that's what's really important about attention. 

Catelin: We know what we're doing. 

Zac: Like if you, i think a lot of people go to companies where they don't have, like it clearly defined And so they have no idea, like it's almost like a fear thing, like you don't know if, like, what you want to do is right, so you just don't do it to avoid. 

Catelin: Like yeah, don't rock the boat, baby. 

Rich: And so many companies you know they had to go remote during COVID and all that. 

Rich: And then people got used to it And people moved like because they thought it was going to be permanent. And some companies have gone to permanent, like remote, and it's great, or your option of remote or in office, and we've got that like full time, remote, part time, remote, full time in office, whatever you want to do, we've got plans for that. But then, like they started forcing people to come back to work or like get fired, and everybody, i think, really panicked and was like God, is my remote job really remote? And there's a whole thing about like people posting jobs as remote on Indeed and other places when they're not really remote, they just know they need to to get applicants. And then when they get into the interview they're like Oh yeah, this isn't a remote position, it's in XYZ location or one of these three locations. And it's like then remote, right, and and I think that there's been a lot of pressure on those job boards to crack down on those, yeah, and really make sure that it truly is a remote option, but yeah. 

Catelin: Now, and this is like this is where we have to dismantle the patriarchy, like the one of the articles that you sent Zach was talking about. They didn't use this term, but it's basically like survivor bias. So it's like all of these upper management folks are pressuring people to return to the office when that doesn't fit the employee's lifestyle any longer, because they're caring for aging parents, they're caring for young children, they live many hours away from the office and they don't want to have to commute every day because, like that, that commute time is an account for. But all of these upper management people have this survivor bias where it's like, well, i had to be in the office all the time and it wasn't that bad, so you need to be here too. But what they don't realize is that their wives or their mothers were home making sure that the laundry was done and the dishes were clean and the groceries were brought, bought, and like they didn't have to do any of this other unseen domestic labor to keep their life running. 

Catelin: And that's the part that is so important in a flexible or remote policy is like there's all this other stuff that has to happen for us to be people And not appreciating or understanding. That is a disservice to the workforce at large, because you're losing out on really talented women managers. Most often it's women with additional talents but for whom the home workload falls too, and they're not able to devote time in both places. And so the choice is do I keep my household running and my sanity, or do I quit this job? It doesn't equate, and the lack of understanding around that is just beyond frustrating for me. 

Rich: Well, i mean, and I would think that a lot of the shift that happened when Gen X was growing up which I am I mean we had a. Most of us had both parents working outside the home And we did a lot of stuff on our own And things kind of shifted there and responsibilities were at home, were transferred a little bit. You would think that that would have shifted a few things. But I feel like we like make a little bit of headway and then we just recoil And actually what happened was a lot of Gen Xers would do a one parent working from working outside the house And the other parent being a stay at home parent. 

Rich: Because of the way they were raised, that I was like the you know, i want to be there for my kids or they would just take time off until the kids were like five and then go back to work, but do it part time. So you go to work when the kids are in school. My mom actually did that early on with me, before she was, had a banking job where she could go in at nine and be done by three, and if I was going to school at eight 30 and done at three 20, it was perfect She could drop me off, go to work, leave work, pick me up. 

Catelin: But that's also because you lived in an exceptionally commutable area to people that live, yeah, right Like like six thousand people, exactly Like wide. Right, but like that's not tenable for most people in larger metro areas, like even in Omaha, that's not you know, 20 minute commute is not really an option for a lot of people. Just, depends. Yeah, you have to make sure there are too many variables. Exactly, exactly. 

Rich: Yeah, And then you know, a semi spills tomatoes on I 80 and your commute is now an hour and a half. 

Catelin: Avocados. 

Rich: Yeah, it was avocados I think, but that was over. But yeah, and I think that that commute time that you're not getting paid for, But like when you don't have that commute time, you can actually be fresher and ready to work sooner. You know much easier for Zach you to start your day at 7 am Or 6 30 or whenever you were starting. Oh yeah our days when you're just rolling out of bed. You didn't even for shower. If you don't have a meeting like hair. 

Catelin: Even if you do have a meeting. You're on camera. Nobody can smell you, true, must the hair a little bit? 

Rich: my hair will look a little crazy If I don't shower. I need to get it cut. But um, yeah, it's just easier. I mean, and I work from home, i'm working from home today We have a sick dog that were we're keeping for a family member. He's doing alright, but just easier for here. And You know it was. I actually started work this morning at 7 30 and then resisted the urge to start messaging people because I know y'all aren't like. You're not sitting there waiting for slack to pop up. 

Catelin: No, mentioned about being on a wrestling a tiny child into shoes but yes, also that's accurate. Like, hey, i'm working on this. I'm like I haven't Put my clothes on yet. Today, i'm really impressed with your work ethic. 

Zac: Because starting at 7 on the East Coast is starting at 6 for you guys. 

Rich: So it's like That's where the In Gmail you can schedule an email to go later. In slack, you can schedule a message to post later. So if you're thinking about it and you wanted to post, like at 9 o'clock our time, you can do it. I did that over the weekend for Jesse and Jessica. Oh, we may have dogs barking here in a minute. Oh boy, we're looking at the window, so I don't know if something's gonna happen. But I feel like we've kind of exhausted this topic in a roundabout way. 

Zac: Yeah, yeah, we definitely covered everything. 

Catelin: Right. The point is treat people like people. Let Parents and people with lives outside of work do their lives outside of work and like don't, don't be an asshole about it. I don't know. It doesn't seem like it's that hard. You make it seem very easy, so I don't know what everybody else is doing. 

Rich: We try, we try to make it easy. Yeah, i would be. 

Catelin: I would be curious to hear from someone Who does not have a flexible policy and likes it. 

Zac: Mmm, this is like those like rides and grind, like yeah Who? I mean that that's no. 

Rich: I hate hustle culture. 

Catelin: It's so gross, it's so gross. 

Rich: Yeah, some people are working 12 hour days 12 hour days. 

Zac: Are you really working? 

Rich: Yes, Yeah well, you don't need to follow those dude bros on Twitter or wherever you're at, because it's like no, if you're toxic. I'm like I'm done with you report Work ten hours at your main job and then four hours on your side. Hustle and it's like. 

Catelin: I got it And that's all. Because that's all? because we're drowning in student loan debt and there's no other option. We've had to monetize all of our hobbies because the world is expensive and It's fine. 

Rich: That's a whole other podcast, i think. 

Catelin: I think we have to have it Yeah. 

Rich: That's gonna be a much stiffer drink than a paloma. This is too light for discussing the state of student loans in America. 

Catelin: All right. 

Rich: I think with that we should probably wrap this up because we've really gone long. You're gonna have an editing job on this one sack. 

Zac: Might be a two-parter, i don't know. 

Rich: Could be, or it could just be long, who knows? that's up to you, come all right producers y'all on the flip side. All right, bye everybody. 

Zac: Thanks for having me. 

Rich: That's it for another episode of cocktails, tangents and answers. 

Catelin: We hope it was as much fun to listen to as it was to make you can find me on Twitter or Instagram at at rich Mackey. 

Rich: I try not to make it too difficult, it's just my name. And you can find our agency at antidote, underscore seven one That's a NTI. Do te underscore seven one. On Twitter and Instagram as well. 

Catelin: And you can find me at home sipping a craft cocktail prepared by my in-home bartender It's my husband. 

Rich: We'll be back with another episode every other week and a whole new cocktail recipe, plenty more tangents and, of course, answers to those pressing marketing questions. 

Catelin: And if you'd like to send us a question, you can go to cta podcast dot live to send us an email. 

Rich: Or you can call our hotline at 402 718 997 one and leave us a voicemail. Your questions might be used for future episodes of the podcast for now, like and subscribe And tune in next time you.