Hailley Griffis 0:00
for five, six years ago, it was always communication and collaboration, communication and collaboration. It’s a problem for us. And it’s interesting because over the last two years, communication collaboration hasn’t been in the top spots for biggest struggles anymore.

Anne Bibb 0:16
Welcome to unexpected journey, the show where each week top professionals share work wisdom and life lessons about their careers and what they have learned about human experience in the workplace. I’m your host, Anne Bibb. Today we’re joined by Haley Griffis, Head of Communications and content at Buffer, and co host of make work work. Haley is an expert in remote work, career growth and public relations. Her writings have been featured in publications such as Fast Company, Time Magazine, and entrepreneur. Before we begin, don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments below. Now, let’s get started. Welcome, Haley,

Hailley Griffis 1:01
thank you so much for having me. And thanks for the nice intro. Congratulations to you as well for being on the remote influencers report. I feel like it’s, it’s a very fun report a lot of good people in there.

Anne Bibb 1:12
Some amazing people like 150 people, I love how it’s broken up into three different areas. And, you know, I have to say, you and I have known each other for a while, like we met remotely on Twitter. Yeah. And we finally, like started talking on another platform and then connected in other ways. And I met so many people that way. It’s it’s just the way of our remote world.

Hailley Griffis 1:39
Yeah, and I do feel like that industry, the people who build remote companies and talk about remote work and talk about the future of remote work, I feel like that list is pretty well connected. So of 150 remote influencers that they include in that report are actually quite a few that I know pretty well are that are like big contributors to the community. I’m like there’s a there’s a group of us that have just been doing this for years and years and years, right kind

Anne Bibb 2:03
of made us realize how connected and how much this remote industry has expanded over the last decade.

Hailley Griffis 2:13
Yeah, and it has been a decade, I feel like a lot of people came to remote work over the last couple of years. And they’re like, Oh, this is a new way of working. It’s like no, there are many of us who have been doing this for years. It’s not new, and also stop saying it’s here to stay. It’s obviously here to stay. We don’t need to say it anymore. We’re good. It’s definitely here.

Anne Bibb 2:33
Like it. It’s not new, it’s not going anywhere. It’s not here to stay, because it never left. I mean, it

Hailley Griffis 2:40
never left. Yeah, I feel that and they’re like it’s a trend. I’m like not a trend. We’re not a trend.

Anne Bibb 2:47
A trend is bell bottoms, people Yeah.

Hailley Griffis 2:51
And that trend left and the I came back. And it’s you know, that’s not what’s going on with remote work. It’s been around for a good group of us. And I think that the the thing that I love is that there are so many of us that have been doing this work and in this space, trying to draw attention to remote work in this different way of working in this this way of working that is healthier for so long. It’s good that it’s become a little bit more mainstream.

Anne Bibb 3:15
And this is something that whenever I hear somebody say, remote work is for everybody, you know, it isn’t black and white. It absolutely is not. Just like with most things in life, people need to figure out where they work best how they work best. And then hopefully, you know, companies need to take that into consideration and start thinking about giving people choices. Let people choose where they work most successfully. And that will improve productivity, it will improve mental health, it will improve so many things. Now, can this be done for every job? No, doctors can’t do it. janitors can’t do it. Like I mean, it can’t be done for everything. This is not a pie in the sky pipe dream. We have to be realistic, but for those companies and positions that it can be done. Give people a choice.

Hailley Griffis 4:14
Yeah, yeah, give people a choice. And then watch how your workplace becomes better for it. Ideally, if you do it the right way. Like all of a sudden, you are communicating more effectively, you have to make sure that you’re documenting things, maybe meetings aren’t as practical, you have to make sure that communication is accessible to everyone. Like there are just there are a lot of benefits to moving forward with remote work in organizations too. And then the other thing I like to your point too, but make sure that people have access to where they want to work from. And it might not be from home for everyone like at Buffer we have will pay for coworking membership for people so will either pay for your home internet if you want to work from home, you need internet to do it. I believe that the company that you work for should pay for your home internet if there anyway so that’s a separate conversation. And if but if you don’t want to work from home, we’ll pay for your co working space. And so you can go work from a co working space, if you’re someone who needs to have that separation, physical separation between home and work, you need to go to a co working space, that’s an option as well. So I think there are policies and you can be intentional with this, if people don’t work well, at home, set up another location for them. There are entire companies that will help companies find private office spaces as well for if you’re primarily remote company, you just want to have a space for a couple people to gather every now and again, know they can expense that you can put that on them. Or you can figure out a way to find some of these spaces in different cities for people to.

Anne Bibb 5:39
And I think it’s really interesting. So one of the things that buffer has done over the last few years, and you’re gonna tell me the exact number of years because I can’t recall that off the top of my head, but you do an annual State of remote work report. How many years? Have you been doing that? Now?

Hailley Griffis 5:53
That’s a really good question, actually.

Anne Bibb 5:57
I want to say like four or five, but I think it’s actually more than that. It’s I was so close, you

Hailley Griffis 6:03
are very close. You’re very close. I was just looking, I was like, is it seven, but I think it’s six. So um, because one of them doesn’t live on the main, the main page that I have the rest of them on. So it might actually be seven, six or seven. It’s a lot at this point doing the state remote work, which I’ve been at Buffer for over seven years now. So I have been doing it for pretty much every year that I’ve been in the

Anne Bibb 6:24

Hailley Griffis 6:26
Thank you.

Anne Bibb 6:26
So we will actually put up a screenshot or a link to the latest state of the remote work report. But you know, can you talk about? You know, how did this start? How do you gather the data? Like what? What do you what do you get out of this?

Hailley Griffis 6:45
Yeah, this started. So we also did so buffers a social media software company, we help a lot of people, you know, schedule their posts a longtime

Anne Bibb 6:53
customer, when I love I like I still have one of the legacy like $9 plans. Thanks.

Hailley Griffis 6:59
Oh, my gosh, are you talking about legacy user?

Anne Bibb 7:05
Know what you’re trying to get me to? Like?

Hailley Griffis 7:09
There’s a lot of messaging. Yeah. I know, there’s a lot of communication coming your way. That’s hilarious. We will talk after this about that, no.

Anne Bibb 7:21
We’re not gonna be like, happy but either way.

Hailley Griffis 7:27
But so we we had a state of social media report is what we put out first, I think 2017 or 2018, we did a state of social media report that tracks for who we are as a company that makes a lot of sense. I’m the person who was running our content at the time. So he was running this, this report, I was running our blog that’s more about like company culture, transparency, productivity, remote work. And I saw him doing that. And we thought, like, a couple of us were like, Why don’t we do a state of remote work, there’s not a lot of remote work data in there out there. One of the things that I was doing with that blog in my role as a public relations person was essentially seeding media mentions where I think people need to write about something, but they’re not writing about it. So I’m going to write about what we’re doing. And then people find those blog posts and they come to me, they’re like, Hey, I’m writing about this, and I found your blog post. And now I want to include you. And that strategy has always worked really well for me, because it’s like, we’re just documenting what we’re doing, which already we want to do. Anyways, we’re talking about something that’s really interesting to us. And then if media finds it, and if they’re interested, they can reach out. And then that turns into a story. And this is almost like inbound press at this point, right? So the state of remote was just another piece of that I was working with a lot of reporters, and they would ask me for remote work stats, they’ll be like, Do you know anything about this? And the answer is no, there wasn’t a ton of in 2016 2017. When we started thinking about this, there wasn’t a ton of remote work data out there. Like now there’s everyone has a state of remote. And I you know, I see them all popping up. And I’m like, Okay, I see you, you you haven’t been around for very long, but that’s okay. It’s good. It is good, ultimately, to have more data. So I am happy about that. I love someone did the state of hybrid. I think it was HubSpot. The state of hybrid teams like that was fantastic as well, or was it FlexJobs? Someone I’m like mixing up reports in my head. But there are a lot of reports out there. So we just realized, we have the audience for this like with the people who are interested in buffer who follow around, follow along with buffers culture online and our newsletter and on our blog. They work remotely so we can get this data. So I mean, initially, and I did this the hard way. I just did it all myself. So I set up I write out all the survey I did this for years and years, I write out all the survey questions, which is more difficult than you think because you It turns out that designing a survey is hard. And to get the data that you need data that you can write about it has to be designed properly. So now I work with an agency that helps with the research agency to help but for the first couple of years, I was just putting questions into a document running it by my team, setting it up in type form and then promoting it on buffers channels. The other place I would promote it would be with partners. Like we’d work with other remote work partners, they would promote it to their audiences. So we would get results. And I’d include quotes from them in the final report, but it was really just a, we’re missing the data here. And I think we can do something about it. And it has turned into one of the best things, one of the most fun things like first of all, it’s extremely valuable. I always learn something I love adding to the conversation, the remote work conversations are so many. I remember, I don’t know, they’re just so many important topics, like career growth in 2020 2021 was a really big conversation topic, like, oh, you can’t grow your career anymore, because you work remotely and no one’s gonna see you. And like, I think now we realize all of those people were probably in hybrid setups, and they’re their managers were in the office, and if they weren’t in the office, and then it was a problem. But yeah, it’s a very fun report to work on.

Anne Bibb 10:48
So what are some of the interesting trends that you have seen over the years? With regard to this report?

Hailley Griffis 10:56
i There have been a lot of them. I think one of the, one of the ones I was most interested in, was that early on, in the reports, you know, five, six years ago, one of the biggest struggles, this is one of the things I love looking at his struggles, what are remote workers struggling with? And like, that tells you two things, it tells you what companies can improve from a policy standpoint. And then also like, what are challenges that people are facing while they’re working remotely. And for five, six years ago, it was always communication and collaboration, communication and collaboration, it’s a problem for us. And it’s interesting, because over the last two years, communication, collaboration hasn’t been in the top spots for biggest struggles anymore. And I think that there has just been so much knowledge sharing from organizations and from people about here’s how we communicate effectively. And I’m seeing a lot more people implementing like head of remote roles or internal roles where people are in charge of communication. And they’re not just like, oh, everyone communicate, however, like each team will do something different. And so there’s been a lot more structure, which I think is important. So I’ve seen communication, collaboration decline as a struggle over the years. And I’m happy to see that for remote work, because there are a lot of tools out there. And of course, that’s the other side of this is there are a lot of really great tools out there that can help make communication collaboration easier. And like for remote work in particular, I mean, I love loom and CloudApp for recording quick video calls. And those are newer tools or like newer to being used all the time. And I feel like you know, a lot of people just kick off video calls or do like a quick send someone a quick video link. Now, it’s a normal way to communicate, which is incredible.

Anne Bibb 12:39
So as we’ve moved through, and I know we’re not through the pandemic, but we are on the other, you know, we’re on it on the other side, you know, we’re not kind of at peak fear mode. Yeah. What are some of the things that you’ve seen transition from one side, up through the peak, and now on the other side, you know, and I’m gonna say, 2019 2020, all the way each of those reports had to show some pretty massively different indicators. As those reports came out.

Hailley Griffis 13:14
They showed some differently, you know, the interesting thing was, is that overall, remote work was always perceived as very positive by everyone. What’s so interesting is that I think in 2021, especially like late 2020, you were seeing a lot of media and press talking about like, remote work, no one likes working remotely anymore. And like, we’re all sick of this. But I think the thing is, like, we were all sick of being stuck at home and everything being closed and not being able to go anywhere. It’s understandable that we would all be sick of that. But the trend that I saw is that people just continuously perceive roadwork, as very positive, do they want to work from home 100% of the time, not everyone. I mean, me, that’s definitely my preference. But I know that’s not for everyone. I even specifically in 2021, and that 2021 report, I specifically asked people if they were remote as a result of COVID. And then I dug into their responses, but that group was just as likely to select that they wanted to work remotely for the rest of their career as everyone else, which was incredible.

Anne Bibb 14:21
But it and you’re right, and I don’t know how many times we’ve had to say this, that that period, and 2020 that was not standard remote working from home during a pandemic.

Hailley Griffis 14:36
I also it drives me up the wall when people are like working from home isn’t working and I’m like, okay, so work somewhere else working from home and working remotely are actually not the same thing. You can work remotely from home, but you can also work remotely elsewhere. So I those terms are two that really, really needs to be separated. I think the other one that gets associated with remote work a lot and this is what we saw this year. And I’m not saying that this is wrong, but I just think that there are actually broader societal trends that that kind of don’t get tapped into always, is that loneliness is always a tough struggle for remote workers. And this year, in particular, loneliness, but then the other option was, I stay home too much, because I don’t have a reason to leave. And so people were saying that was the top struggle for remote workers is just they’re staying home too much. And they don’t have a reason to leave. And I think that people often say, Well, it’s because of remote work. It’s like, not necessarily, because if you think of it, the other thing that has been happening over the last couple of years, is a decline in a sense of community a decline in like organized activities, we see the rise of social media and people being on social more than they aren’t necessarily doing, you know, like, out and joining their local community in their local activities. So that one often gets associated with like, well, people are lonely, because they work remotely, it’s like, actually, if you look into the data, people are just lonely. This is a problem in general, with our world and with the way that society is set up. And we need to work on that. And people who work remotely might be extra susceptible to it, but it’s not caused necessarily like 100% By working remotely. That’s my strong opinion on that one.

Anne Bibb 16:15
You mentioned about community and I am, you know, how do you stay connected with colleagues? And how do you build that sense of community that you were talking about, because people have mentioned about getting lonely and, you know, that was I, we just talked about, I’ve worked from home since the 1900s. And, but that it was still a struggle for, for me, because we couldn’t leave the house, we couldn’t go to the grocery store, we couldn’t do a lot of the things that we normally would do just to get out of the house and see the people that we would normally do. So that loneliness was real. So many, yeah, and and some people never kind of got out of that funk, and got back into the community. So how do you build that sense of community, with people that either never got back into it, or are just new to the remote world?

Hailley Griffis 17:16
So I think the answer is different if you’re looking at building community within organizations versus just like you as a person, so maybe I can answer it just as you as a person, then let me know if you want to dive into with Let’s go. Let’s go. So for you as a person, I mean, I struggle with this a lot, because I have been working remotely for over seven years. Now. In that time, I have moved a lot to new locations where I don’t know anyone, every two or three years. So we’ve had multiple moves, where we’re only there for a couple years. And I don’t know anyone in the city or maybe have never even been there before. So the context is that my husband is in the military. So that’s that’s why we that’s why we keep doing that. And I have found, you know, I found a couple of ways to connect with people because it is important. I don’t just want to spend two years living in a new city and then like not meeting anyone. So one of the things that I do is always get involved with an activity or a sport or a group or something like that. And for me, that’s Brazilian jujitsu. And I’ve done it everywhere that we’ve lived. And I just always end up in like this great group of other women who do jujitsu, which is already there aren’t a ton of us, and they end up I end up becoming friends with them. So find that thing for you. Whether it’s what I’m hearing in group

Anne Bibb 18:29
is don’t get on your bad side.

Hailley Griffis 18:33
Yeah, I mean, I would never be close enough to you anyway, because I stay at home. Always working at home. But But yes. But, uh, yeah, so I do jujitsu. And that’s the community, it’s a community for me that I can just drop in. And like, we have, you know, shared experiences and language and shared interests. And that’s always really useful. But you can find that with whatever a running group or a book club or something like you have to kind of put yourself out there and find people. And then the other one for me is I’ve just had to be that person if you meet someone that you really like. And you click and you know, when you click with someone, and I had this last week, yeah, I happen to click with someone at a co working space last week, and I was just like, Oh, she’s great. This is awesome. You have to, you have to just reach out like you have to be the one you have to make them. It’s like it can be awkward. It can be like dating like you’re making friends. It’s kind of like you’re the one doing Hey, are you on Instagram? Are you following? Can we be friends? Are you looking for friends? It’s very awkward. And I just realized you just have to be we did Haley. That is what we did. And it worked out.

Anne Bibb 19:44
It was awkward, but we

Hailley Griffis 19:45
did it. It works. It works. It’s awkward, but it’s worth it if you if you want to have other people in your life like it’s it is hard and it’s and it sucks to and you’ll know this if you’re someone who has moved to other places. You meet someone and you have that kind action. And you may know you’re might not run into them ever again, intentionally, like you happen to be at the coffee shop at the same time, and you don’t take the chance to be like, Hey, are you interested never co working together again and you never see that person again. And you’re struggling with loneliness. Like that sucks. Just just put yourself out there. Just try a little bit. And you know, what, what’s the worst that can happen? They say no. Okay, great. Same as though if you never asked doesn’t matter. You know, it’s

Anne Bibb 20:22
so true, though. Because people ask me all the time, like, and you’re so positive, you’re so cheery, and like, you know, so many people, you network so well. And I do, but that’s how I get this network. And I know this sounds unrealistic. But this is this is honest to God the truth of all of the people that I have approached in the last, I don’t know, year and a half, two years.

Anne Bibb 20:52
I have literally only gotten to know from one person. Yeah, one person. Yeah, people that was connected. And that was the only one company who I, I just wasn’t his cup of tea. And that’s okay. That’s Oh, K is okay. You know what? Because if I am not some, if I don’t want to be associated with me, then that’s okay. Look at how many other people I have gotten to know. And, you know, step out and just introduce yourself and say, Hey, would you like to have coffee virtually? Or would you want to go have coffee in person?

Anne Bibb 21:33
It is awkward. It is scary. But it is also priceless?

Hailley Griffis 21:40
Yeah. 100% 100%. And I realized, like I’ve been talking about making friends in a new place. If you’re like meeting people in a new place, when you work remotely, if you work from home, if you’re like isolated, but absolutely online. This is this is my this is my jam. I’ve never lived. I mean, I one for one year, I lived in San Francisco. And otherwise, I’ve never lived in major cities. But I work with media. And people will often say like to work with reporters, you have to live in New York or DC or, you know, San Francisco, depending on the reporters that you’re working with. Not true. And also to to grow your career, you have to be in these big cities like the network. And I’m sure you know what the the networking opportunities are incredible in those big cities. That doesn’t mean that you can’t also do it, working from literally the middle of nowhere, Canada, which is what happened to me to meet people. And I’ve done the same thing. One of my favorite things to do is to message people who have the same job title as me, and similar ish companies, like other tech companies, for me, other software companies, for me, and just reach out and say, and say, Hey, I, I’m also in this role at a different company, I have a couple of different challenges that I’m working through. If ever you want to meet up to talk through challenges, I would absolutely love that, but no pressure. And you know what most people replied, and said, Yes, and I have all these fantastic connections with other people who are heads of communications that I didn’t have otherwise.

Anne Bibb 22:59
So speaking of, you know, people that have the same titles and careers, how has your career and approach to work kind of evolved over time? And,

Anne Bibb 23:12
you know, what are some of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned throughout that time? Because you, you’ve been with buffer for seven years, I know, You’ve so much, you’ve met so many people.

Hailley Griffis 23:22
I mean, I think one of the things is that I’ve realized that, like who you work with, and what you work on, are actually very key to everyday happiness. And to having a long term career, the only reason that I’m still at Buffer seven years later, like you better believe that I love our product, and that I really enjoy the people that I’m working with very closely, because otherwise, why would I still be doing this? Right? So it’s, I’ve sort of realized that like that, it just makes a really big difference whether your work is draining, or energizing, and I’ve found work that is very energizing for me. So that has been good. I think over the years too. I have just become a lot more focused on long term, what is the life I want to design for myself? And how does my career play a role in that versus thinking, I want this title or I want this role, and I’ll design my life around whatever that looks like. And so that reversal of like I’m going to design my my life first and fit my career in to make sure that it’s supporting that kind of life has been has been really big for me. So I feel like I’ve just overall had a more positive approach to it and just been a lot less focused on just like growth, get to the next level, get to the next like roll area and just a lot more focused on like, I love the work that I’m doing. I love the people that I’m working with. I love the way that I’ve set up my life and like that means a lot to me for the way that I’m doing it but lessons specifically to I have a couple of things that come to mind. We touched on this when we’re talking about reaching out to other people. But one of the biggest things that I talked to people about When with their careers, especially younger people, is I see a lot of younger people or people who are earlier in their careers or newer to a career, they’ve just made a career transition. And they’re like, Okay, I want to talk to like, for example, I’ll get a lot of writers who reach out to me and they’re like, I want to talk to you, because you manage buffers blog for career advice. And I’m like that, that’s networking, you know, vertically. And actually, what you should be doing is networking horizontally. So who are all the other writers that you want to be connected with who write in software, because you’re all going to come up together, so be connected with those people. And as you move up, you move up together. And that is what I did. I was always connected with other public relations managers with other people who are working at software companies. And like, now, you know, now I’m connected with a bunch of other people that they have moved up. They’re also the Head of Communications. And like, what in one case, she’s also the Head of Communications and content, which is really funny, because we were both originally Head of Public Relations, and it’s just sort of like, has shifted and grown in our our roles that way. But networking horizontally, I feel like people don’t think of that enough. They think of networking vertically.

Anne Bibb 26:08
What is your advice for somebody who wants to get into this field of marketing and communications?

Hailley Griffis 26:16
Yeah, that’s a good one, I get that question quite a bit. And I’ve had a lot of different responses. I think the biggest thing with marketing and comms is building experience and growing experience. And you don’t even have to in a lot of jobs necessarily have a specific degree like that might be different. But especially in tech and in software, they’re not always looking for a specific degree. I think that might be different in some industries, like government or maybe more corporate areas. But one of the things that you look for in marketing in comms is experienced in his specific examples, like, can you prove that you’re good at what you do. And you should be able to do that, either through projects that you’ve worked on, you know, at work, or in internships, or volunteering, or whatever that looks like? Or you should also like, and this is just general career advice for everyone. I think everyone should be building a personal brand. But for people who are in marketing and comms, you can leverage that as proof that you’re good at what you do. Are you good at messaging? Like, yes, you can, they can check out your website, they can look at your LinkedIn, they can see that you’re good at messaging, because they can see it in your personal brand. So I also think there’s something very key to, to building a personal brand. But getting that experience and being able to show examples of here’s exactly what I did. Here’s how I moved metrics. Here’s how I contributed to business goals. I think that’s the biggest thing in marketing. I will get that experience. However, you can.

Anne Bibb 27:40
Haley, why would people be wanting to get in touch with you? And then how would they get in touch with you? Oh,

Hailley Griffis 27:47
gosh, well, I don’t know. I don’t know why they might want to get in touch. I don’t know why you want to. The thing is that I am not a I’m not currently a consultant, I write a lot. But I know a lot of people in the real work space are like, Oh, we’re looking for consultants for this. I don’t do consulting, I write buffers from a work report, I write a lot. Maybe reach out to me if you’re looking for a writer and I can maybe help you or I can maybe connect you with other people who can who can help you reach out to me if you’re looking for remote work data, definitely commentary on the state of remote work, because I want to always make the questions better. And because I’m still creating content around that data, I still have a couple of pieces that I’m working on writing. So if there’s something you’re like, you didn’t really answer this, I probably can find the data and answer it. So reach out to me about the state remote work report reached out to me for career advice. And I might write about it on my blog, or in my newsletter, which is some of the stuff that I’ve done. But in terms of getting in touch with me, I think the best way to do that is my website is Hayley griffis.com have a contact page. You’re welcome to reach out there. If you’re on Twitter, you can reach out on Twitter, too. I’m pretty responsive there.

Anne Bibb 28:52
Haley, thank you for joining us this weekend. I hope that you have an absolutely wonderful Mother’s Day for your second Mother’s Day.

Hailley Griffis 28:59
Oh, thank you so much. And thank you very much. I hope you have a good Mother’s Day as well. And it was lovely to talk to you.

Anne Bibb 29:05
And for everybody else. We hope that you have a great Mother’s Day as well if you’re celebrating if you’re not, you know what? We’re wishing Haley one and we will see you again next week. As we wrap the episode up, we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guests information will be linked in the episode description along with a link to our company website, remote evolution.com and our hosts website and bibb.com. Please don’t forget to like subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app and on our YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section. And once again, thank you for joining us. We hope to see you again next week for another episode of Unexpected Journey.


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