Remote Work Is the New Signing Bonus | Kanebridge News
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Remote Work Is the New Signing Bonus

Workers are trading jobs, enticed by the guarantee of flexible schedules and working from home.

By Chip Cutter and Kathryn Dill
Mon, Jun 28, 2021 11:52amGrey Clock 7 min

After almost a year and a half of working from home, many white-collar employees say they are not willing to return to corporate offices full-time. Even whispers of returning have been enough to send some professionals searching for an exit—and plenty of bosses are welcoming them to new jobs with the promise they can work remotely, at least most of the time.

The push for flexibility is adding to the wave of resignations rippling through the U.S., recruiters say, and motivating many employers to re-evaluate their work-from-home policies. Canadian video-software firm Vidyard says it has seen a steep increase in job applications in recent months after emphasizing that roles can be performed mostly at home. And at Allstate Corp. , conversations about every new position now begin with the question: “Why can’t this be done remotely?” says Carrie Blair, the insurance giant’s chief human resources officer. “It’s a big workforce shift for us.”

Hardly anyone will return to Allstate’s offices full time, Ms. Blair says, after employees expressed in surveys that they didn’t want to and the company found most functions don’t require an office setting. Allstate recently decided 75% of roles can be performed remotely, and another 24% can be done on a hybrid basis, with workers splitting time between home and the office. The 1% who will go back to a pre-Covid-style office setting include some top executives and certain people in field offices with customer-facing roles.

Brandon Minaya, a 26-year-old tech-company employee, calls remote work ‘the arrangement that I want to keep.’ PHOTO: JOVELLE TAMAYO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Marc Cenedella, founder and chief executive of Ladders, a job-search site for roles that pay north of $100,000 a year, says greater flexibility is shaping up as a perk that companies can wield to poach talented people.

“Remote is going to be the new signing bonus,” he says. “Instead of dangling, ‘We’ll give you $10,000 if you sign for this job,’ it’ll be: ‘Instead of having to commute 35 minutes every day, go to work, and get in your car and drive 35 minutes home, you can work from your home office all the time.’ ”

Matt Croak, a 27-year-old software engineer in New York City, wasn’t actively looking for a new job earlier this year, but believed his consulting-firm employer could begin reopening its offices this summer in a hybrid capacity. So, when a recruiter reached out in April about an engineering role at an e-commerce company that would allow him to continue working fully from home, he pursued it. The job comes with higher pay and the chance to learn new skills, but it will also allow him to spend mornings reading in his living room in Brooklyn, instead of hunched over a subway seat while commuting 45 minutes into Manhattan. Mr. Croak says that, over the past 16 months, he has had more personal time for meditation and other self care—activities he wasn’t ready to give up in order to rush back and forth to and from an office again.

“I do really want to work from home permanently,” he says.

More American workers are quitting their jobs than at any time in at least 20 years, according to the Labor Department. One factor behind the trend, executives say, is that more employers are outlining their return-to-office plans in detail, giving employees a clearer sense of what to expect next. Apple Inc. recently said it wants most office workers to show up Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the option to work remotely on Wednesdays and Fridays. Other companies, such as Pontiac, Mich.-based United Wholesale Mortgage, are recalling thousands of employees to a corporate campus in the coming weeks, with a goal of getting close to 100% of workers back and resuming a traditional five-day workweek, according to the company’s chief executive, Mat Ishbia.

“You see tons of bold statements. Companies saying, ‘No remote work.’ Some companies are saying, ‘We’re getting rid of all of our offices,’ ” says Bret Taylor, president and chief operating officer of Salesforce.com Inc. In many cases, it is the employees who are primarily calling the shots. “There’s like a free market of the future of work and employees are choosing which path that they want to go on.”

In a recent survey of 2,000 workers commissioned by Prudential Financial Inc., a quarter of respondents said they planned to look for a new job post-pandemic, with many of those planning to leave citing work-life balance issues as among their top concerns. Half of the respondents reported feeling that the pandemic had given them more control in deciding the direction of their careers.

Jeff Simonds, a 38-year-old who lives in Burlington, Vt., began a new remote job this past week as a search engine optimization manager at Updater Inc., a New York-based tech company that makes software designed to help with logistical challenges when people relocate. Before the pandemic, Mr. Simonds worked in an office and says he never would have considered doing otherwise.

One benefit of working for an all-remote company, says Pallavi Daliparthi: ‘You know there’s nothing happening in the background, in-person somewhere.’ PHOTO: PALLAVI DALIPARTHI

Over the past year, he says he appreciated being able to throw in a load of laundry during the workday or to begin his day from home earlier so that he could squeeze in a round of golf in the late afternoon, with his work completed. The new role came with a raise, and he says he considers the ability to work remotely as a kind of bonus. “It’s the freedom to kind of define my own workday,” he says.

His prior company, which provides marketing services and tools for auto dealers, had tentatively discussed returning to the office in September, Mr. Simonds says.

“Knowing that there was somewhat of a looming deadline of life back in the office” helped to inform the career move, Mr. Simonds says, adding that he was primarily drawn to his new employer’s growth prospects and the chance to help shape a new team. “I didn’t hate the office life, but I’m very accustomed to this now.”

Though a number of companies are still calling workers back to offices, some bosses realize policies must shift to remain competitive. At First Advantage Corp. , an Atlanta technology company that employs more than 3,500 people and had its initial public offering this week, CEO Scott Staples says the company plans to reopen its offices in phases over the coming months. Some employees, particularly those in technology roles, will likely be able to spend more time working remotely.

“I think CEOs of the future just have to have a lot more flexibility on policies and procedures. It’s the only way you’re going to grow and survive,” Mr. Staples says. “There are certain roles where if a person doesn’t want to come back in for a variety of reasons, we can accommodate that, and I think that will make us an attractive employer.”

Technology giant Adobe Inc. said this week that its roughly 23,000 employees could spend 50% of their time at home once U.S. offices begin reopening in July, but also said that remote-work arrangements would expand for those who desire them.

“Our default work arrangement going forward for employees is to be flexible,” says Gloria Chen, the company’s head of human resources. Adobe won’t mandate which days employees go into offices or track how much time they spend in them. “Flexibility means flexibility,” she says.

Last fall, as Amy Culver’s employer began discussing plans to eventually return to the office, she found herself filled with dread. Without her typical 40-to-60-minute commute, Ms. Culver, a marketing copywriter, had more time to spend with her daughters, 11 and 16. She was able to continue horseback riding, her postwork outlet, even as the winter sun set earlier. Previously, she and her husband, who works irregular hours, might go several days each week without seeing each other. Working from home outside Richmond, Va., eliminated that issue, she says, and made it easier to spend time together as a family.

The Seattle beach where Brandon Minaya often starts his days looking for seals and birds. PHOTO: JOVELLE TAMAYO FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

“I felt like I had a handle on everything for the first time in a long time,” says Ms. Culver, who is 43.

Though her manager told her she could continue to work from home even after the office in Richmond reopened, Ms. Culver worried about scrutiny and whether she’d be treated as a second-class citizen in the company, losing out on opportunities if she stayed in her basement workspace while co-workers returned. She began applying for jobs at companies that allow most employees to work remotely, and quickly had an offer that appealed to her. In November she started at When I Work, an employee-scheduling software company.

Today Ms. Culver typically works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but says she has the autonomy to take her daughter to driver’s ed class in the middle of the day or return to a project later in the evening when she feels creative.

“Now that I work for a remote-first company, we’re all in the same boat. I’m not concerned that’s going to hold me back at all,” she said. “I’m on a team, but I still get to work from home, and I feel like that’s the best of both worlds.”

Other employees have chosen companies with defined remote-work cultures. Pallavi Daliparthi, a 36-year-old who lives outside Austin, Texas, took a job in May with GitLab Inc., a fully remote company that sells tools for software developers. Ms. Daliparthi, now a senior manager on GitLab’s sales team, had previously worked remotely at a large enterprise-technology company, and knew that in a hybrid environment, decisions could be made over coffee in the office that she may have missed while at home. “Whereas here, everybody really is remote,” Ms. Daliparthi says. “You know there’s nothing happening in the background, in-person somewhere.”

A lot of people say they hope to stay remote for years to come. Brandon Minaya, a 26-year-old tech-company employee, moved to a neighbourhood in Seattle late last year that has few links to public transportation, anticipating that he would no longer be commuting to an office in future roles. In March, he took a fully remote client-facing position with Intellum, an Atlanta-based company that makes education software.

Instead of taking an hourlong bus ride each way to a WeWork location, as he did in a previous role, Mr. Minaya says he often starts his mornings walking to a nearby beach, where he looks for seals and birds. Most mornings, he takes the time to brew himself a pour-over coffee, something he once reserved for weekends.

While searching for a new job, he prized companies that seemed committed to remote work. “I wanted to find somewhere where this isn’t something that’s going to be pulled back in six months,” he says. “Like: ‘Just kidding!’ ”

He has the flexibility to meet with colleagues in person, or to travel to the company’s Atlanta headquarters, he says. But “the fact that it’s not expected of me is kind of the arrangement that I want to keep.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 27, 2021.

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For the Best Interior Design Finds, Take a Guided Shopping Tour to Paris, Istanbul and More

Passionate about both decor and travel? Design industry pros are leading global tours to share their secret shopping sources—and help you score one-of-a-kind pieces.

By ANTONIA VAN DER MEER
Mon, Feb 6, 2023 6 min

WHEN MELANIE BURNS of Oklahoma City first entered the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, she was stunned by its sheer size and the pathways winding through its tented structures like a tangle of yarn. Though well-traveled and an old hand at hunting one-of-a-kind objets, she’d never experienced such an onslaught of potential riches. “The bazaar is intimidating,” she said, “the size of about five football fields.”

She had expert allies, however: Clare Louise Frost and Elizabeth Hewitt of Tamam, a lifestyle brand and Manhattan store specialising in Turkish antiques and their own collections. The duo led Ms. Burns to a shop layered deep behind other shops. “It was no more than about 14 feet square, and stacked high with the most beautiful hand-woven vintage tapestries I’ve ever seen,” Ms. Burns recalled. “I would never have tackled the place without these women. They are walking encyclopedias, they speak the language and when you shop with them, you don’t overpay.”

Ms. Frost, who calls the bazaar “her second home,” lived in Istanbul for nine years, and her business partners, Ms. Hewitt and Hüseyin Kaplan, still live there. Together they host trips to Turkey, capped at 14 participants, all eager to buy décor to take back home. Overseas shopping sprees like this are an increasingly popular new category of travel. Interior-design pros immerse travellers in a country’s culture and guide them to fabulous finds, whether an ornate vintage camel bag from Turkey or a contemporary French sculpture.

Indagare, a travel company in Manhattan, is seeing a growing market for overseas shopping trips. The 30 Insider Journey trips it ran in 2022, including seven design-centred jaunts, drew 540 travellers, twice as many as in 2019. Sicily, Japan and Mallorca are locales Indagare is eyeing for future design trips. Penta, a magazine that, like The Wall Street Journal, is published by Dow Jones & Co., has a partnership with Indagare to organise trips.

“Covid taught us we need to go when we have the opportunity,” said Grant K. Gibson, a San Francisco interior designer who himself has led eight trips to India and two to Morocco and is adding excursions to Egypt, Mexico and Turkey.

Trips are as cultural as they are commercial. Before Mr. Gibson’s group of 10 globetrotters start looking for linens or bargaining for bowls, they tour Jaipur by electric rickshaw and visit a textile museum. “I want them to understand the history and know where design ideas come from,” he said. Cynthia Smith, a biotech exec from San Francisco who traveled with Mr. Gibson to Morocco, came home with pottery in a vibrant green glaze unique to Tamegroute, a village that edges the Sahara. “Everyone asks me about the vase, and I have a story to tell about Tamegroute pottery,” she said. “It gives character to my house.”

The packages don’t come cheap—from around $4,000 to $18,000 (not including flights) depending on location and length—but offer you insider access. Designer Chloe Mackintosh of Boxwood Avenue Interiors in Reno, Nev., is leading her first trip this year to parts of Italy and France she knows well. One focus will be the weekend antique markets in L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue, in southeast France, but she’ll also introduce guests to local artisans, including a fifth-generation ceramist. Her group will take a pottery-making class to understand the process behind the product.

Known as “the huntress” because of her many years buying and selling vintage furniture, Ariene C. Bethea says people began asking her to lead a trip so they could hunt alongside her. The owner of Dressing Rooms Interiors, a shop and design studio in Charlotte, N.C., teamed with TrovaTrip to create a journey to the Paris flea markets this May. With Ms. Bethea’s input, the Portland, Ore., group-travel managers lined up accommodations, vendors, translators and tickets to museums. “I plan to help my guests shop, give them ideas and help them learn to tell stories in a space,” said Ms. Bethea, known for her playful use of colours, bold patterns and culturally inspired designs.

Lodging on these guided forays offers design cred, too. Ms. Mackintosh has reserved an entire 16-room château in the French countryside for just 12 people. Tamam’s Istanbul guests stay in a marble-floored hotel that was a late 19th-century Ottoman bank—with a vault that doubles as a wine cellar—and for excursions to Cappadocia, a region in central Turkey, they bed down in a traditional cavelike home carved out of soft rock.

On a trip to the South of France with Los Angeles-based designer Kathryn M. Ireland, visitors stay in Ms. Ireland’s farmhouse near Toulouse. Her trademark fabrics and colourful Bohemian and English-country style are on display in every bedroom lamp shade and living room chair. “Guests shop my house, and then I point them in the right direction to buy similar things,” she said. Ms. Ireland has been leading groups (a maximum of 10 people) for over a decade, taking them to neighbours’ villas, antique markets and out-of-the-way bakeries and bee yards.

Abby Landers first visited Ms. Ireland’s home as a high-school senior, traveling with her mother. Now five years out of college and living in Boston, she recently returned. “Kathryn embraced us, and she has been a mentor for me ever since.” Inspired by that first trip, Ms. Landers earned a master’s degree in interior architecture, and her current boss is someone she met on that trip. “You’re there for a week, and it’s a whirlwind of meeting artists and artisans, all friends of Kathryn’s.”

Kirstan Barnett, a tech investor from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., traveled to Tangier with Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of Indagare. Ms. Barnett was particularly moved by dinner at the 300-year-old, whitewashed, riad-style residence of Jamie Creel and Marco Scarani, two of the many designers she met at private events. The home was so richly layered and eclectic, she said, it inspired her to approach her own décor more bravely and reject the notion that a room must adhere to one style.

Some pros who organise such tours offer itinerary planning to folks who don’t want to travel with strangers. Mr. Gibson recently created a program for a group of four going to Jaipur. Though he won’t be joining them, he’s chosen the lodging and booked the restaurants and the experiences.

Travelers laser-focused on in-the-know shopping minus the touring can hire Chicago-based Skin Interior Design in cities such as London, Paris and Milan. The company arranges excursions so clients are shown exactly what they want—whether French midcentury chairs or Venetian-glass chandeliers. “We have an education in art history and antiques, and we help find pieces that keep value,” said Lauren Lozano Ziol, one of the founders. A recent two-day antique-furniture and art expedition in London cost $10,000.

How to get all the booty home? Mr. Gibson advises guests to travel with at least one empty suitcase. Bulky items can be packed and airfreighted home using DHL or FedEx. (Most carriers will pick up at the hotel.) Some vendors ship direct to the States from their stores at reasonable rates. For those who travel with Tamam to Turkey, easy shipping—including having your purchases collected from the vendors—is one of the perks. Ms. Burns, who bought ceramics, four suzani bedspreads and six rugs, said Tamam handled shipping for about $400. “Some of my things arrived before I even got home,” she said.

International Harvest / Souvenirs that guests collected on their design-focused journeys abroad
DESIGN JAUNTS ON THE HORIZON

Five 2023 trips abroad devised and helmed by interiors experts imparting their insider info

Ready to shop your way around the world? Here are just some of the available packages that focus on home design. Prices are per person and generally include accommodations, meals and beverages, guided touring, activities and local transportation.

Flea Market Foraging | May 4-10, 2023

The owner of Dressing Rooms Interiors, a vintage-home-furnishings boutique and design studio in Charlotte, N.C., Ariene C. Bethea takes travellers shopping the Paris vintage markets and art galleries and on visits to lesser-known museums such as the Museum Nationale Gustave Moreau. Also on the agenda: a foray to Versailles and its gardens, a tour of Montmartre street art and a tasting at the Museum of Wine. From $3,649, Trips.TrovaTrip.com

Ciao, Italia | May 15-19, 2023 (wait list only)

Chloe Mackintosh, owner of Boxwood Avenue Interiors, a Reno, Nev., studio and shop, leads a 4-night trip in Florence, Italy. Travelers stay at the five-star Il Salviatino, a restored 15th-century villa that mixes Renaissance and contemporary décor. Along with shopping excursions, antiquing and a workshop at a local artisan’s studio, the trip includes wine tasting and cooking lessons. Florence, from $5,500, Learn.BoxwoodAvenue.com

Turkey Club | May 17-26, 2023

Designer Clare Louise Frost, Tulu Textiles owner Elizabeth Hewitt and carpet dealer Hüseyin Kaplan teamed up to create Tamam, located in Manhattan and Istanbul and specialising in antique and vintage Turkish textiles, rugs and ceramics. Travelers tour Istanbul, Konya and Cappadocia, shopping the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar and visiting textiles and antique dealers. Plus: a hot-air-balloon ride and cooking class. Tamam in Turkey, from $3,600, Shop-Tamam.com

English Town and Country | June 11-17, 2023

In London, South African interior designer Serena Crawford guides travellers through Kensington Palace’s Sunken Garden (Diana’s favourite) as well as shops such as heritage brand Fortnum & Mason. In the university town of Oxford, architectural highlights range from medieval to modern, and in the bucolic Cotswolds, guests visit private homes and gardens of renowned interior designers. London & the Cotswolds with Serena Crawford, from $15,350, Indagare.com

Joie de Vivre in France | Sept. 9-16, 2023

Los Angeles-based designer Kathryn M. Ireland takes you on private museum tours, flea market hunts and a trend-spotting tour of design fair Maison et Objet in Paris (ticket not included), followed by leisurely days in the French countryside at her farmhouse outside Toulouse. Paris & La Castellane, from $7,900, Paris hotel not included, KathrynIreland.com

India, Indeed | Dec. 11-18, 2023

San Francisco interior designer Grant K. Gibson shares his passion for India with a guided tour of Jaipur and Taj Mahal. Participants stay in a guesthouse once part of a maharajah’s gardens; enjoy traditional Indian feasts; learn the history of block printing; rendezvous with rescue elephants; and conquer the chaotic bazaar, comprising flower and spice markets and rug and textiles vendors. Travel with Grant from $9,500, GrantKGibson.com

The Wall Street Journal is not compensated by retailers listed in its articles as outlets for products. Listed retailers frequently are not the sole retail outlets.

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