Potomac recently launched a page on our website detailing our Values. While a staple of many firms in this industry, the “Built to Conquer Bullsh*t” header should give you a clue that you’re not in for a typical HR song and dance.
It’s been a phenomenal experience to share and has given us much to talk about as we challenge the industry to be better. But what does this actually look like day-to-day? How is Potomac different beyond a good webpage full of great perks?
Like many of you, I once had an in-office 8-5. I won’t out the firm, but we all have LinkedIn—do the math. As a Creative Director, I would often get in early to start my day before the team arrived and things got crazy. Tack on a commute, and it was more like a 7-6.
In the winter months, the sun would barely be up by the time I got to the office and would most certainly be down by the time I went home. When the occasion called for me to work in the (windowless) studio, I could go all day without seeing the sun.
On a good day, I’d get to see my son for a moment before I left in the morning. We’d maybe get an hour when I got home. Get in a workout? Over lunch, if I hurried (and didn’t eat) or at night if I didn’t (and gave up my evening).
I’m not the only one on my team who has experienced how rapid things can get when all your energy is spent centering your life around work—when it should be the other way around.
Jordan Cordiner, our Engagement Associate, had spent over six years working in retail at grocery stores before coming to Potomac. He’s nine months in, and I’ve only seen him take a day or two off; let me remind you, we have an unlimited PTO policy. “I still hesitate to utilize our benefits because all of my past stops were too frugal to provide us with benefits and working conditions that might hurt their bottom line.”
Caring for your employees and taking care of them, often at your company’s expense, is an unfortunately new and unpopular concept. One I am thankful and proud to have found here at Potomac.
Now, he schedules the first medical appointment that is available without worrying if his boss will give him the time off. He can hop online five minutes later than usual to take his dog on a walk without fear of being scolded for it.
What I’ve heard from Tori Levy, our Copy Associate, seems like her previous workplace could come from a movie titled “Office from Hell.” She dealt with plumbing issues (traveling outside the office to use the bathroom), ceiling tiles that leaked, little to no benefits, and a boss that spoke to her once a month.
“When I was first hired, my company had promised they would offer a matching 401k plan by the end of the year; that was in 2019. I left in 2021, and there was still no match,” Levy said. She was flabbergasted when I told her our benefits plan. “It’s still a wild concept that my employer actually cares about my financial health; Potomac wants to make sure I’m taken care of.”
As Cordiner says, “working here doesn’t feel normal because it’s not.”
I have seen numerous voices on social media with “bullish” attitudes on the return to the office. “Teams are more energized in person” they say. “High functioning teams are less effective in a remote environment” they say.
Potomac has grown from $150M to $600M in AUA/AUM in the past 18 months of remote work. High functioning, my ass. I wonder how many of those voices have a stake in commercial real estate.
Today, I usually start my morning at 6 am. I check in with the east coast team, look over the day’s tasks, respond to any urgent items, and plan out my day. Then I wake up my son and get him ready for (and to) school. I book all my meetings during the morning hours to accommodate my team spread across the country.
The afternoons are quiet and my most productive. I pick up my son around 3 pm, get him started on any schoolwork, and wrap up my day while he works/plays. We then have 2-3 hours together in the afternoon—every damn day. All of this, I get to do with my partner. After bedtime, I’ll get back to the computer if there is anything that needs my attention.
Our employee’s personal life comes above all else. Martina Beda, our Graphic Designer, is originally from Italy. After spending two years apart from her parents, she asked us if she could travel there and surprise them. “I stayed in Italy for almost two weeks, working from my parents’ house. Having this flexibility allows you to create an optimal work/life balance which is the best benefit any company can offer,” Beda said.
You get it. Our schedule is flexible.
I left out that remote work allows me to live anywhere I want. And I do. This means I can use the lunch hour to get in a quick hike without climbing back into business attire. Or jump on the bike while I listen in on a call. Or text ideas with Manish on a Saturday while we’re both out wine tasting. Or block out a Sunday night to complete a project (distraction-free) because I need to tour a potential magnet school Monday morning.
Our Values aren’t a list of perks. They’re a way of conducting business and a way of living. It is possible to be excellent at what you do, committed to your company and its success, AND not have it dominate how every single moment of your week is structured.
A return to the office means a return to the commute. Less time with family. Less time for your health. All to do the same work for the same company at a different desk.
Bullish? I call bullsh*t.
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