Crafting Virtual Workplaces

Questions, Tools, and Approaches to Consider

As a companion piece to our “How to Transition to a Virtual Workplace Overnight,” we recorded a Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. podcast episode with people who work in, and manage, entirely virtual teams and organizations. We asked them: If you had to transition to this kind of workplace quickly, how would they approach it? [Full episode transcript is below.]

We covered a wealth of topics from VPNs to video meetings; going “virtual first” to balancing life and work when they both are happening in the same space; isolation and loneliness to how exactly *can* people work when no one is watching them. Our guests’ advice in a nutshell: It’s OK to be wrong, we only learn by trying to new things. Keep iterating and adjusting.

Podcast guests include: Chief Technology Officer Shawn Anderson, Chief External Relations Officer Lauren Ruffin, Senior DevOps Engineer Andrew Hanson, and Associate Director of People Operations Nicola Carpenter.

The Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. podcast is available for free on your favorite podcasting platforms: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and RSS Feed. If you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes to help others discover the podcast.

Episode Transcript

Tim Cynova:

Hi, I’m Tim Cynova and welcome to Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. A podcast about well, that. On this episode we’re talking remote work arrangements. Specifically we’re talking about what teams and organizations can do to introduce experiment and iterate on remote or virtual work tools and arrangements, especially in light of things like the spread of COVID-19. We’ll explore ideas about how to structure the infrastructure from software to stand-ups. We’ll talk about spoiler alert, how people can actually get work done when no one’s watching them and we’ll address things like building trust. Approaching this with intentionality and introducing agency in ways that allow people to better craft work arrangements where they can thrive.

We’re joined by people who have a wealth of experience building, managing and working in remote work arrangements. People with titles like Chief Technology Officer, Senior Dev Ops Engineer, and Associate Director of People Operations. Our guests include Shawn Anderson, Nicola Carpenter and Andrew Hanson, and a little later in the show, we’ll again be joined by podcasting’s favorite cohost, Lauren Ruffin. So let’s get going with Andrew Hansom and Nicola Carpenter. Andrew and Nicola, welcome to the podcast.

Nicola Carpenter:

Thanks for having me again. I feel like I’m on these so frequently that I can almost compete with Ruffin for the podcast’s favorite co-host, but Ruffin’s going to win every time.

Andrew Hanson:

And thanks for asking me to be on.

Tim Cynova:

Before we really dive into the meat of the topic, Andrew, most people probably have some idea about what an operations or people operations professional does. Also, Nicola has been on the podcast a couple of times talking about that, but they might not know exactly what a Senior Dev Ops Engineer does. Can you break this down for everyone?

Andrew Hanson:

I’ll try to make this as short of a rant as possible. It’s actually funny to me when I hear that somebody works in operations because to me what I do is operations. So generally in the tech field, when you talk about operations, those are the people that keep your servers running, keep your email up, keep it so you can continue to make Zoom calls and all those types of things. When I started in technology, that’s where I started my career, which was called operations. Generally you were either called a systems engineer or a systems administrator. That’s kind of where I started. And then the field kind of shifted a little bit and we came up with some new… I don’t want to call them titles, not that I’ll get into this now, but dev ops really isn’t supposed to be a title, it’s supposed to be a philosophy, but a lot of companies took that and have dev ops engineers now.

Andrew Hanson:

So I am a dev ops engineer, which basically means that I try to take my skills from operation side and managing servers and I try to also marry that with some development work and also understanding what the other developers that I work with kind of go through and making their lives easier on a daily basis.

Tim Cynova:

That’s awesome. So also a future podcast episode where you’ve talked about dev ops as a philosophy. We’ll be reaching out about that one too.

Andrew Hanson:

I have a lot to talk about on that one. That would be great.

Tim Cynova:

Great. Awesome. So today we want to take a moment, especially with a lot of organizations right now thinking about introducing almost immediately remote or virtual work arrangements as the spread of in particular, COVID-19 is really making people worry about gathering, taking transit, the spread of an infectious disease. A lot of organizations seem to be going from zero to 60 on this, without having given some thought to this that might allow them to be more intentional with rolling it out. So I wanted to have an opportunity to talk with both of you about in your experience, things you’ve done, things that have worked well, things that haven’t worked well, what tools are available for people to use maybe immediately? What kind of switching costs or adoption costs might be introduced into an environment where there is remote work? Let’s just go high level. When you think about the difference between working in a physical office with other people and working remote or virtual, what comes to mind for both of you?

Andrew Hanson:

Well, for me the first thing that comes to mind is a difference in the way that you interact with people. I think everybody can relate to working in an office or in entertainment or restaurant, any of those places where you’re kind of around people all the time and you have the “water cooler” talk and you have these kinds of face-to-face interactions with people that don’t go away when you do remote work but are definitely greatly reduced. And so the way that you interact with people needs to be more intentional because you’re going to have less of these non-intentional interactions.

Nicola Carpenter:

So we have this ongoing joke that just keeps on getting more amusing of the working from home and homing from work is how I think about it, my mind. But think of two comics. One of them is the things that you imagined someone doing when they work from home but in a physical office. So like there’s a laundry machine next to their desk and their pet is sitting below them, anything like that. And then there is someone working from a coffee shop that carries along with them a whole fax machine and printer and a physical phone and then just plugs it in, in a coffee shop. I mean, it’s an absurd thought, but I love how it kind of shows some of the things that we think about that might be different. And then also shows how we’re not doing those things.

Nicola Carpenter:

I mean, if we’re working from home, it’s not like we have an actual physical water cooler, which would be amusing if we all had water coolers in our homes. But I mean I think a Fractured Atlas, we try to… And I think we’ve gotten really good at communicating virtually in a way that is just as… I don’t want to say productive, but I guess it is productive but just as decent of a conversation as we do in person. I mean for example, we are recording this podcast virtually the experience of doing that is very similar to the two podcast I recorded with people in the same room. So I think that there are a lot of similarities that we don’t necessarily think there would be similarities for, but there are definitely differences. I think that if people were to say there are no differences, they would also not be correct.

Tim Cynova:

I saw on Twitter yesterday that someone posted, “I guess we’re about to find out which meetings really could have been emails after all.” And I thought, “Yeah, right. Yes. Finally.”

Nicola Carpenter:

I know. First, I just want to say not everyone can work remotely and I think that, that’s also important to acknowledge in a conversation like this. There are jobs that it is impossible to do remotely. I mean, sure there’s telemedicine, but for certain things you have to go to a doctor in 3D. There’s food service. There’s lots of various things where it would just be impossible to have that work in a virtual world. So I think that we are talking about a smaller group of people than every single employer, but also it’s bigger than I think a lot of people think. I mean, I do talk to people and they’re like, “Oh, well I could never work remote because of this, this, and this.” But they say things that aren’t necessarily barriers. But I think that, that’s something… Where was I? What was the actual question? I wanted to use it as a caveat and I was going somewhere that was going to be really interesting.

Tim Cynova:

We might actually find out what meetings actually could have been emails.

Nicola Carpenter:

What magic. What magic we need. Part of me is kind of happy that people are rethinking these because I think we always should have been doing this. We always should have been thinking about what meetings do we need? We always should have been thinking about, how can we have more flexible work environments? Because I mean, you already have people in your workplaces who live with disabilities, who live with chronic illnesses, who might not be as able to come into workplaces, et cetera, but part of me is thinking, “Oh, okay. Well, this is an opportunity to have people think of this, but I also worry that people are going to do things too quickly, not put any effort into making virtual work, work and think that it fails. I wonder if this push to have more people working from home will make more people think that it works or have more people think that it doesn’t work.

Andrew Hanson:

I think that’s a good point that you bring up because for context, I’ve been working on remote teams for probably six out of the 12 years that I’ve been in tech. So obviously in tech, remote work is something that’s very normal. Even here at Fractured Atlas, the engineering team has always been completely remote while the rest of the team has traditionally been in an office and has made that move only fairly recently. But I think it’s a good point that you have to be very intentional about these moves and you have to be very intentional about the things that you’re doing when you’re making this move to be remote. It’s very easy to just say, “Oh, you don’t have to come into the office because you have a laptop.”

Andrew Hanson:

But if you don’t think about the things that people do in the office, if you don’t think about the ways that people communicate, if you don’t think about the ways that meetings are handled about the tools that people have access to or don’t have access to when they’re not in the office, it’s going to sink and it’s going to cast a shadow on working from home, when the problem wasn’t working from home, the problem was the way that you implement it. So prior to coming to Fracture Atlas, I worked at a fortune 500 company and this is exactly what happened. We had an amazing manager. He did a very big push to do remote work and work from home.

Andrew Hanson:

Our team was doing very well at doing that remote work, but that wasn’t being reported back to my manager’s manager and so at this point it was cut off and suddenly everybody had to be in the office from eight to five every day. And one of the worst things you can do is to take your team who’s working very well, who maybe not all, but for the most part 80% or more are enjoying remote work and then suddenly take it away from them. Because remote work opens up a lot of really great things for people, a lot of freedoms in the way that they can work, in a lot of the things that they can do and generally speaking, people don’t like when something they like is taken away from them. That’s kind of the flip side of the coin, is that when you’re pushing for this momentum to do these things, you have to be very careful and very intentional. Because if you take that away, people are going to generally be upset.

Tim Cynova:

The loss aversion theory. You don’t know what working virtually is like and then you have it and you’re like, “Oh that’s actually really great.” And now you lose it and you didn’t know how much value you put on that. So I once was speaking at a conference in Canada and I did the classic thing where it wasn’t until like four days before the conference that I thought, “Oh, is my passport still valid?” I looked at my passport and sure enough, no, it had expired. So I had to go to the passport renewal website and look at expediting renewal for a passport. On the top of the expediting your passport page, it says at the time, “One way to avoid expediting your passport is to not wait until it needs to be expedited.” But I thought, “I mean, that is great information and great advice, but I’m sort of in this situation where I need to expedite my passport, so not really useful this time around.”

Tim Cynova:

I kind of feel like for organizations, yes you should have been putting a lot of thought into intentionally creating workplaces and how people work in different styles and whatnot, but at the same time we need to do this tomorrow is what I think increasingly a lot of organizations are feeling like. So for people who are like, “Yeah, that’s great. I’ll give some more thought to it the next time around, but how do I do this right now? What’s the first thing that I need to do? Where do my files live? We don’t have phones. We might have desktop computers and hardwired phones and a physical server at our location that has files maybe we have laptops. Maybe we use something like Dropbox. I haven’t heard of Slack. I don’t know what flow dock is. There’s this Trello, there’s Zoom, there’s BlueJeans. It seems overwhelming in the moment. What advice would you have for organizations who find themselves in this position right now?

Andrew Hanson:

Before we get into that, I have two points I want to say on that. The first thing is from a technical operations perspective, that’s absolutely terrifying. To have your boss come to you and say, “Tomorrow we’re going to have 500 remote workers.” From an infrastructure perspective alone, that gives me heart palpitations. So please if you’re listening to this, don’t do that. Try to be a little more intentional than that. The second thing is like it blows my mind that in 2020, this is the first time that we’re really having this conversation about this. What is so great about the typical office? What is really the benefit of the typical office? The thing that I hear all the time is like, “Oh, but you get people together and people need to be together.” But you look at all the research and everything out there and it shows that, that’s just simply not true.

Andrew Hanson:

All the research shows that people work just as well from home. People work just as well in remote spaces, doing remote meetings, things like this where we can see each other on a screen. So why is this the first time we’re having this conversation and why are we freaking out about this now, because this is the first time we’re having this conversation?

Nicola Carpenter:

I also think that it’d be very hard to say, “Oh 500 people, they’re all working throughout tomorrow.” It also stresses me out a little bit and I understand that there are companies that have to do that and are trying to figure out how to do that. I’m trying to think, I’m like what is the first steps I would say, but I guess my first thing is that, okay, you haven’t thought about this before, so it is going to be hard. I don’t think it’s going to be easy for anyone if you’ve never thought about it and you have to do it now. I think that kind of is a good? Well, I mean this is a reason that we’ve had as a argument for having remote work options from forever in that like what if something happens to your physical office? What if people can’t get there? What are your backup plans? So I think that, that’s maybe not the most optimistic and being like, “This is going to be hard for you.” But I also don’t want to make it seem like it will be super easy and set people up for immediate failure.

Tim Cynova:

One of the things I’m hearing from both of you or one of the themes or reading between the lines is it’s not one thing, don’t set it and forget it if you have it, if you’re not iterating and adjusting, I guess is the point. Yes, it maybe that one person that one time used to work remote when they needed to for whatever reason, but it never really worked for anyone else. Or we try it right now because we have to, it fails because we weren’t prepared and we never do it again rather than why might that thing have failed? Was it the right person?

Tim Cynova:

Were they able to work from home? Did they have the right tools? Or did it fail because they had to call in on a physical phone and they were the only person of 20 people who wasn’t in that meeting and their voice couldn’t be heard, literally or figuratively in that meeting. And then so how do you address for that? How do you iterate and adjust because of that? Not, “Oh, it didn’t work for us at one time.” Or, “It doesn’t work for us this time.” It must be in that, remote work does not work for our organization. Broadly speaking.

Nicola Carpenter:

I feel like that’s recurrent on this podcast is, how do you think about these things and iterate on them. But I would want that to be the biggest takeaway of, okay, we’re going to try these things now, but we’re going to continue to have those conversations that we don’t have to be in the situation again in the future.

Andrew Hanson:

I would definitely agree with that. And in technology there was this big shift and it came with the dev ops movement, so they call it agile. Being agile basically met you fail fast. So you build fast, you put out the smallest amount that you need just to get your product out to market and you fail on these small little things, but you iterate, you iterate very quickly. I think the same thing can be applied to this and I think it’s to that point, which is you shouldn’t just say, “Well, we put Slack and Zoom out there and people didn’t use them and nope, it just doesn’t work. We can’t do it as an organization.”

Andrew Hanson:

I have a hard time believing that most corporations, businesses, obviously with the exception of some things like Nicola pointed out before, I have a hard time believing that you can’t have remote work. I just really do. After being in the industry for 12 years and seeing the amount of remote work across a plethora of different types of businesses. It would strike me as very surprising that your company is the proverbial special snowflake that can’t make remote work, work correctly.

Tim Cynova:

One of the things that probably bears mentioning is at Fractured Atlas where we all currently work, we have coworkers that includes some of us who work in 12 different States and six countries. We’re an entirely virtual or distributed organization, but that didn’t happen last month or that didn’t happen all in Q4 of last year. It was multiple stages that took us from being a place that everyone worked in the same physical office to where we could support people that wherever they wanted to work. Because they had tools like a laptop and VoIP phones and it was virtual first.

Tim Cynova:

Everyone joins a meeting on Zoom because that’s just what you do even if you’re physically co-located and that Slack is the way we communicate and that everyone uses Slack. Not just this team or a couple of people, but we also did it in a way that rolled it out. Almost all of the tools that we used or the very beginning iteration of the tool started with our engineering team. Andrew you mentioned has always been entirely distributed but people vetted that and then thought, “All right, here’s how it works. Now, let’s roll it out to another team.” And then you sort of spread through that. So for those who have slightly more time, who are looking to do this over slightly more time, that’s one way to get the organization familiar with tools before company wide adoption.

Nicola Carpenter:

I would like to say, I mean, I know that people are feeling the urgency right now, but I hope that people don’t avoid thinking through some of these things just because of the urgency. I hope that people are still taking the time to think through all of the things that we like to think through when we do change management. How is racism and oppression layering over these changes that we’re making? How is this setting up teams for resiliency and self care? How is this… I hope that people are still thinking about all those things that we continuously talk about here and in our work at Fractured Atlas and with Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. I mean, yes, there is a sense of urgency here, but I also think that we can’t forget a lot of these things that we’re also trying to think about, at the same time of creating great places to work.

Tim Cynova:

Let’s go to some listener submitted questions because I think this will bring us down to the tools that we can use, how we can roll things out, how we can approach things. One of the things we’ve already touched on a little bit is something that Kate Stadel sent us around managing trust without micromanaging. It’s a really big theme. One of the reasons people don’t introduce remote work is because we hear this all the time, “If I can’t see people, how do I know they’re working?”

Andrew Hanson:

I always find that the most hilarious question. Because would you rather have the person underneath you, your work or whatever, working incredibly hard, as hard as they can, putting out a ton of work for five hours a day or sitting in an office for eight hours and four of those hours they’re on their phone looking at Facebook. People do this, right? Obviously you’re not going to work five hours straight, you just can’t, right? Our brains cannot focus in that way. We need to take these kinds of structured breaks from the things that we’re doing, but the point is kind of do you trust your worker? Are they getting their work done? Are they missing deadlines? Are they hitting deadlines? What does it matter if you can see them or not? If you don’t have trust in them, you don’t have trust in them. Quite frankly from my perspective, being a manager, that’s a management problem. That’s not a worker problem.

Nicola Carpenter:

I think if you’re talking about specific tools that help with this, I mean, we have a whole podcast about objectives and key results. It’s a way to transparently see and set priorities throughout the quarter to have these conversations more frequently. I know some people at Fractured Atlas have used something called GoalFest, to plot out what work is happening in a week. But yeah, I completely agree with Andrew that there’s got to be a way, besides seeing people sitting at a desk to assess if people are doing their work or not. Because sitting in a desk and looking at a computer screen doesn’t necessarily mean that work is actually happening.

Tim Cynova:

This kind of feels like designing for the one percent or maybe designing for the five percent, the edge cases. To the point that if you could trust this person to get their work done the way they’re supposed to get the work done before you introduce this, why would you not trust them until they prove you otherwise that maybe they can’t work remotely? Maybe virtual work just doesn’t align. There are some really amazing, high-performing, talented people who do not like working remote or virtually, they just don’t work well in that kind of environment. But let people demonstrate that after you’ve provided trust. If you can’t trust the people you work with, I think you have bigger problems than that and maybe things that relate to performance improvement plans or moving them along or whatever it might be.

Andrew Hanson:

I think just to tie into that point is that the old saying, the bad apple spoils the bunch, right? You’re taking a very extreme case and guess what? There are absolutely going to be people who abuse the system. There are always people who abuse the system for their own game. That’s just how it works. Are they necessarily on your team? Maybe, maybe not. There might be one in an organization, there might be five, there might be none. But we can’t take an extreme situation of one person or two people who are going to abuse the system in order to not have to do as much work and look at that as a reason to not do something across an entire organization.

Tim Cynova:

Paul Millerd posted some questions on Twitter, also wrote a great article about virtual work. One of the questions that they sent us was, how do people raise issues when they’re stuck? It feels related to this. I trust the people, what they’re doing, but getting stuck in person when you just spin around and talk to someone might be different than getting stuck and spinning your wheels for hours while you’re trying to figure it out. Because what do you do? Reach out to someone, toil away. What’s your advice for when this happens? When people have issues, they feel stuck. This might also relate to their other question about how do you control flows of information?

Nicola Carpenter:

So I think, I mean, if there was a company that had this question that they’re trying to look into what it would mean to working virtually, I would say, how do people do it now? If it’s that someone walks over and asks them a question, then maybe something like Slack asking quicker questions via some sort of messaging thing would work for that. But also, I mean that’s why we have some meetings. I think that setting those expectations is just as important in an office as it is working virtually. And that, yes, maybe you can’t walk over and ask a question but maybe that wasn’t the best use of time in a physical office anyway.

Andrew Hanson:

Being from the engineering team, I have a slightly different perspective on this. So first just let me say, getting stuck is not necessarily a bad thing. People come up with incredibly creative solutions when they get stuck. That’s something that happens all the time, especially in engineering where you’re dealing with a really tricky problem and you’re trying to figure it out and you get stuck. Sometimes if I spend an hour or two on it, I come up with a really great solution.

Andrew Hanson:

So let’s not get stuck on getting stuck is a bad thing. That’d be the first thing that I would say. The second thing, to Nicola’s point is you have Slack. We mentioned Slack a lot. There’s other chat tools out there as well. I worked at companies that have used Skype, which is now I guess transitioning Microsoft teams. If you’re a more security conscious organization, there’s self-hosted things like matter most, which is basically a Slack clone and other tools out there that you can use, but you have a chat system and you have private channels or you have being able to privately message someone and say, “Hey, do you have five minutes? I’m stuck on something.” Something nice and easy.

Andrew Hanson:

Maybe it’s just done via Slack or you say, “Hey, can you jump in? For instance, Zoom with me and I’ll share my screen. Can you look at this with me because I’m just stuck on it. I think it probably takes a little more… Self-discipline is not the right word, maybe it is. To reach out to someone and ask for help versus just maybe spinning around in your chair being like, “Hey, I need some help with something.” But to say that there’s no way or that there’s no real corollary between working from home and working remote between the two, I think it’s just incorrect. There’s absolutely ways to be able to do that exact same thing and have that exact same interaction.

Tim Cynova:

I know different teams approach this in slightly different ways. Andrew Taylor posted a question asking, “Curious about how you make opportunity for “drop-in” or unscheduled conversations among the team. Do you leave your video running during an open office hours or is it that you just ping someone on Slack and pop in? I know on the engineering team you have some pairing together. You also have open conversations where you just talk about other things, but some teams have fully scheduled days where there isn’t really a drop-in. You wait until the next meeting that you have and you bring your thing to that or you post a question in Slack. Curious if you have any thoughts on Andrew Taylor’s curiosity about this drop-in or unscheduled conversations.

Andrew Hanson:

So again, I think this is interesting because to me it’s the exact same as in an office. If my boss is running from meeting room to meeting room, I don’t really have a chance to drop-in and ask that question either. That to me is kind of the same thing. I can speak on engineering, specifically what we do is all the time with my boss and I’ll just private message him, “Hey, do you have five minutes? Do you have 10 minutes?” “Yeah.” We jump into zoom room, we do a quick five, 10 minute call. A lot of times it ends up being 30 minutes as most of these kinds of ad hocs do and then you kind of go on with your day. So a lot of this, I think for me with my background in psychology, just goes back to not knowing and then being afraid.

Andrew Hanson:

So people are afraid that you’re going to lose all these things when you go to remote work and you’re really not. There’s really not that much difference other than you’re not in the physical same space as the other person. Now you have to be intentional about the things that you do. You have to be intentional about the changes you make and the way that you put these opportunities forward for people. But it’s really not that different.

Nicola Carpenter:

I think that that intentionality kind of forces people to figure out what is important in the day and I think that that can be helpful. For example, I’ve learned that it’s very difficult for me to sit in front of my computer for eight hours without having some kind of either communication with people or podcast, if I don’t have some sort of interaction. If I don’t do that and I’ve learned that I should either intersperse this or there are a few people also work at Fractured Atlas who also work similarly where we’ll just like, “Oh, do you want us to talk about something?” We’ll either talk about something related to work and make an excuse to have a meeting or I’ll just listen to podcasts, which somehow fills that kind of need for human interaction. I don’t know. I don’t exactly know how that works, but it fills that.

Nicola Carpenter:

I think that that it’s helped me realize how I shape my day and how I work best and I think that if everyone has to think about that, I think that it helps people be more mindful about what they’re doing in a workday, how they’re shaping their day, what they need to be successful in that day, which are all the questions that I think that we have been asking with Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. from the start.

Tim Cynova:

Yeah. They’re often the things that when you go to the office, you just know you show up at 8:00, 9:00. You leave at 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, whatever time and you assume without really thinking about it, if I’m at the office, I’ve been working and however I get what I need done during the day is maybe the best way to do that. When you work at home where you can work virtually distributed, you have to give some more thought to what times is the best time to eat? I need to make sure I get a shower and get dressed. How long can I work before I really need to stop because my brain just shuts off and I need a break? When we were getting ready for the transition at Fractured Atlas, we had a lot of monthly full staff meetings that just took a topic every staff meeting.

Tim Cynova:

Loneliness or creativity, what do people do? How do you set up your work day? Do you have something on your calendar that says you need to get up and have lunch? Do you have kickball scheduled at 6:00 PM three nights a week because it’s going to get you out of the house, otherwise you’d just work until 9:00 and then… Or not even realize what time it is.

Nicola Carpenter:

We should probably talk about how do people structure their day.

Andrew Hanson:

The one that I really want to talk about besides how people structure they day, I’d to talk about that one, but also how does anyone get anything done working from home? I think that’s such an important question and I always love when that question comes up. I’m a father of three, my wife is pregnant, my wife’s a stay-at-home mom. My house is constantly crazy. Probably unless we have a phenomenal editor, you’re going to hear that baby screaming at some point in some of these questions. So my house is super chaotic and that question comes up a lot. How do I get anything done from home? The thing that… I actually think that it kind of ties into how you schedule your day.

Andrew Hanson:

So for me, I wake up because I don’t have to commute because I don’t have to wake right up, take a shower and get ready to go to a workplace. I wake up at six o’clock I grab a cup of coffee and I’m at my desk by 6:10, 6:15 and I’m working for an hour or two hours before my house is even awake. I’ll tell you those are the most productive two hours of my entire day. And then usually around eight o’clock. I’m helping getting kids ready. I have one kid that I have to take to school, things happen. Then I’m usually back to my desk by 9:30 work until around noon, eat some lunch. But you structure your day how it works for you.

Andrew Hanson:

That again is one of the beautiful things about working from home. Within reason and depending on what your job is, if you’re answering phone calls and things all day, you might not be able to structure quite the same way. But you could definitely wake up a little earlier and answer those emails you need to or write those couple documents you need to, so you don’t have those things weighing down on you first thing when you come into the office. That’s a beautiful thing about working from home. You do have this sense of autonomy. When I was working as a psychologist, a big thing we studied that motivated people, big three, autonomy, competence and relatedness.

Andrew Hanson:

Those three things are the most motivating things that anybody can have. When you’re giving people the ability to structure their day in a way that works for them, you’re giving them an incredible amount of autonomy.

Nicola Carpenter:

Yeah. So I am still very new to working from home and it’s been a fun and interesting transition. I don’t know if either of you watched the Netflix show, The Circle. But I reference it very frequently and basically the premise, if you don’t know, is that there are a number of different people who are put into separate apartments and they’re communicating with other people through a voice activated social network basically. And so the only communication they have is via text and it’s very amusing. I find it charming and hilarious and just absurd in all the best ways. There’s this one person in it named Seaburn who just… They show different clips of people just hanging out in the day. There’s this one clip that Seaburn is just like sticking stickers to his face. I feel like there are some days when I’m working from home where I’m just finding random craft materials and just start playing with them, which is kind of silly, but I mean, I’m so used to doing so many tasks in an office that if I don’t have things to do, I have to make them.

Nicola Carpenter:

There was one day when I was like, “Oh, I can’t look at my computer anymore.” But there’s nothing to do in an office. So I just cleaned my windows. And so, I mean, my prom is going to be really clean now and so I feel like there will be a point when I’m more used to it, but I guess I just bring it up in that it is a transition and our brains don’t really like change and it’ll take some getting used to and I think that, that’s fine and I think also recognizing that makes it a little bit easier. So just like, “Okay, how can I make this easier? I’ll just have a little dance break or I’ll do something that’s not just sitting in one place so that I still get that kind of activity that I’m used to getting of walking around changing a light bulb or there’s a leak or other random things that often happen in a physical office.

Tim Cynova:

Yeah. In the same way that organizations need to be intentional about introducing remote work arrangements, we as human beings should be more intentional about what those remote working arrangements look like because if you just go with the baseline, you’re going to get up, not brush your teeth, walk in, sit down, work from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM not having eaten anything, not interacted with… Just the inertia of it. If you’re not giving thought to setting these things up, it could be quite bad if you possibly live by yourself or if the people you live with might be away for the day and you’re working someplace else or going to school, but setting this thing up might have a negative impact on you as your health, your wellbeing, self-care.

Nicola Carpenter:

Now let’s please all agree to brush your teeth and wash your hands. I was a little grossed out thinking of everyone just not brushing their teeth and just go on right in the work.

Tim Cynova:

No, I was going to make the connection to unlimited vacation days and what research has for unlimited vacation days, that people take fewer days and being more intentional about it.

Andrew Hanson:

I think that’s interesting, because like what you were saying, there were people taking less days when you have more vacation days. People tend to work longer when they work from home. That’s another reason why I find the question so interesting from managers, especially when they’re like, “Well, how do I know if somebody is working?” If you look at the research, most people end up working longer hours. I am in no way forced to work the hours that I work, I generally most days… I mean, now take it like I’m taking kids to school, I’m bringing kids back home from school, so on and so forth. But it’s not unusual for me to spend nine or 10 hours in a day to be working because I’m just here and I’m just doing my thing. And so I think the thread that we kind of weave throughout this entire thing is being intentional. And that’s the companies have to be intentional, the managers have to be intentional and the people have to be intentional when you’re working. It could easily-

Nicola Carpenter:

Yeah, I think that’s a good point too of also what you perceive to be the issues might not be the issues. The issue probably isn’t going to be that people aren’t working enough. It might be that they’re working too much and burning out. So I think that, that’s another thing that we need to about, is the expectations that we all have surrounding remote work might be totally incorrect. I think we have to be willing to correct those assumptions if our assumptions are incorrect.

Andrew Hanson:

Absolutely.

Nicola Carpenter:

But one of my favorite tips that a friend gave me was to have a virtual commute, to have some sort of thing that you do at the start of the your day and at the end of your day to notate that your work is starting or ending. I have been working on my kitchen table, but I sit on a different side of it than the side that I eat on and I specifically set up my laptop with my laptop stand, my keyboard, my mouse, my notebook, and I set it all up. I then start my Workday. At the end of the workday, I put it all into a box and I do not see anything related to my work. Because I don’t own, I don’t… I mean, I live in the New York city area.

Nicola Carpenter:

I have a smallish apartment. I don’t have space to have a dedicated desk just for working, but that is enough for me to kind of separate my workspace from my home space in a way that I’m not necessarily thinking about work when I’m eating dinner and watching The Circle. Although apparently I do think about work when I’m watching The Circle.

Andrew Hanson:

I like that you bring that up and that’s something that’s phenomenal for a lot of people is being able to really divide that time in your mind. I’ve been working remotely for a very long time. I still have a very hard time with that. And part of the reason is because even before I got into technology, at a very young age, I was very fortunate to have computers in my life. I am 100% a computer geek and I often not so jokingly say my hobbies are in the same place where I work. So I sit here in front of this computer and I work, and then this is the same place where I also like to do other things. I like to program my own things and build my own things. So sometimes I have a very hard time separating that and it’s very difficult because then I’m in the same space for 12 or 14 hours a day.

Andrew Hanson:

So I haven’t quite found a way to combat that yet. So even someone who’s been doing this forever, it seems like, doesn’t have it all figured out. But one of the things that I do that’s very intentional is when I’m not in my office, I’m not working. If I’m downstairs having dinner with my family, I’m having dinner with my family. If we’re watching TV, I’m not on my phone, we’re watching TV. If we’re outside of this house, I do not think about work. It is all about my kids and about my wife and about my family. That’s at least one way that I can separate at least a little bit. When I figure the rest out, I’ll let you know how I got there.

Nicola Carpenter:

So I went to this art event a few years ago and there was this art project where they were selling products and I ended up buying a pair of shoes. But before I could make that exchange, I had to sign this waiver that I would only ever wear that pair of shoes to work. It always has stressed me out because I’m like, “Well, does a commute count as work?” So I’ve never worn them. I mean, it’s kind of silly, but I’m like, “Oh, when does work start? When does it not? What happens if I go to event after work? Do I have to change shoes?” But I’m kind of thinking about having these shoes be my work from home shoes because I have my slippers that are my house shoes and I have my outdoor shoes but I kind of want to try having my work shoes. I just changed-

Tim Cynova:

Mr. Rogers.

Nicola Carpenter:

Mr. Rogers. Yeah, exactly. I kind of love that and want to have something, some way of changing the work to not work.

Tim Cynova:

I think this is one of the other things that you can do, when you’re working remote is sharing that. On our Slack channel, someone posted a couple of months ago, “Do you wear shoes and socks when you work from home?” A sincere question and the amount of new information and how people approach it, and, “I wear slippers, but only during these times of the year.” Was really fascinating. Just one simple question posted there really opened up all these different ways of people approaching how they think about their home workspace in a similar way. When I put these slippers on, do we have a coworker who has work slippers? When they put the slippers on, they’re working. When they take the slippers off, they’re not working. They have to have those slippers on. So I think that’s sort of a fun way, but also gets useful information for teams to connect, to see how everyone’s doing and also learn different ways of approaching maybe how you want to think about your remote work.

Tim Cynova:

So let’s transition to tools. We’ve mentioned a number of them as we’ve been talking. We’ll post links in the episode description so people can go directly to that description and find out what the tools are that we’re talking about. We had one question that came in that I want us to address first and then go to some of the other tools that we use for remote or virtual work. The question came from one of Nicola’s friends asking, “What’s a good remote desktop solution for Windows to Mac?” Does someone want to explain what that means and then let’s answer it.

Andrew Hanson:

With all tools, the first thing I’ll say is especially because we’re talking about work, if you have an IT department, if you have people who work in IT, please ask them first. That would be the first thing that I would say. You might have security requirements that you’re not aware of. You might have certain policies that are in place that you’re not aware of that you’re already in compliance with, because you’re in an office, so please always check with your IT person. Nothing is more frustrating than when somebody tries to get around those things and in some ways not only frustrating, but it can also cost the company a lot of money. That’s the first thing I’ll say about tools.

Tim Cynova:

Andrew, when you say that though, when I worked for smaller arts organizations, I always hated that I was the person who worked with the computers and the message comes up like, “Contact your IT specialist. I don’t know what to do about this thing that just popped up.”

Nicola Carpenter:

Same.

Andrew Hanson:

Well, in that case there a much wider tech community you can go to. There are lots of great places to go to. That specific tool. I did a little bit of research. There’s a lot of tools out there. There’s a lot of different implementations of something called VNC, some better than others. I’m not going to speak on which ones are which. I don’t really have a ton of experience with VNC. There’s also go-to PC. There’s a lot of tools out there that can do exactly what you’re asking for. All it takes is just a little bit of research. If you’re looking at GoToPC, go to news.google.com which is all the Google news type in GoToPC, see if there’s any horrible news articles in the last three years, talking about a giant security breach they have or something really terrible that happened with them or any of the VNCs or anything like that. Really just spending 15, 20 minutes of research. You’re going to find the tool that works for you. Almost every tool that’s out there as far as remote tools with rare exception, are going to work across both Macs and PCs.

Nicola Carpenter:

GoToPC years ago, might be the first tool that I used to start working remote. I was traveling for work, and for those unfamiliar with the tool, you essentially have it open on your “work machine” and then you can access it through a portal, wherever you might be from your phone, from a tablet, from a laptop, but while you’re moving it appears as though you’re sitting in front of your desk using a tool like that. GoToMyPC is not the only one. It was the one that we used at the time, but it does allow you to access things that you might not be able to access. Although Andrew’s advice about making sure that you inadvertently aren’t exposing the organization over various networks to a myriad of threats while you do this on the open wifi network in wherever place you choose to be working. I know he has a lot of thoughts because both he and Nicola had been in various ways working on solutions for this. I wanted to throw that broad enough.

Andrew Hanson:

I feel like public wifi is an entire another podcast. The short of it I’ll say is public wifi is generally pretty horrible and I wouldn’t recommend using it for anything. I definitely wouldn’t recommend you do your banking over it or anything like that. The general suggestion we give to people is, if you can’t work from home, if you don’t have good reliable internet and you have to be in a public place all the time, it’s generally about the same cost to go to Verizon or AT&T and get… They call it MiFi which looks like a little… We always used to call them hockey pucks, a little hockey puck that lets you connect to a wifi network and then it goes over the cellular network. Generally speaking, I would recommend that over using public wifi.

Andrew Hanson:

There are other things you can do on public wifi. You can use VPNs, you can do other things. The simplest is just not to use public wifi. I’m not saying don’t connect to it and look at Facebook, I’m saying don’t connect to it and do your banking or look at highly classified documents because you work at some banking company.

Nicola Carpenter:

So there was one day when I was on the New York subway and there were two people talking about things that made me think I should maybe call the SEC or something. I mean, they were talking about super classified things and they were like, “Oh yeah. Did you hear about that person at some golf course talking about something?” “Yeah, we should go and do…” Whatever this thing because of what they said. I was like, “This feels illegal. And also why are you giving me all of this information on the subway?” So I feel like that should be obvious, but maybe just pay attention to also who is around you when you’re having conversations or when someone’s looking over your shoulder, even if you’re not connecting to public wifi,

Andrew Hanson:

That’s an absolutely phenomenal point. In security, we call that OPSEC, operational security. You need to be careful what you’re saying, who you’re saying it to, when you’re saying it. I’m probably slightly over paranoid just because of the industry that I’m in. When I go into a Panera’s or a Starbucks or something, I tend to find a seat that’s against the wall, not close to a window. I don’t like people looking at my screen, even if I’m not working on something super top secret. But yeah, these are all things to be mindful of, if you’re going to be working in public. Again, intentional. The string of all of this, intentional. You have to be intentional with all of this.

Nicola Carpenter:

For those who might have flown and sat on an aisle, you can see someone who doesn’t have a screen protector on 10 rows back. You can read what they’re working on if they’re there. So yes, there are technology tools. There’s maybe “common sense”. Don’t talk about highly classified stuff in a crowded place and there are physical tools like MiFis and screen protectors that make it more challenging for people to read what’s on your screen. Let’s post the rest of them. We’ve talked about Slack, we’ve talked about Zoom and a myriad of other ones. I want to go with last thoughts or maybe not last thoughts closing thoughts on this topic for this podcast, especially recognizing these aren’t your closing thoughts ever on this topic. Nicola, what are your closing thoughts on the topic of organizations introducing remote or virtual work arrangements?

Andrew Hanson:

I would say that if people are coming to the Work. Shouldn’t. Suck. Podcast for this topic specifically, I think they should go and listen to all the rest of them and read the other things. Because, a lot of this stuff that we talk about in this podcast is relevant to making the transition to virtual work. I think that people might not necessarily draw that connection and I think that they should.

Tim Cynova:

Andrew thoughts.

Andrew Hanson:

As long as they’re not my last thoughts ever, then I’ll give you my thoughts.

Tim Cynova:

Yeah. Not your last thoughts ever.

Andrew Hanson:

I know. I think as I’ve said kind of throughout the podcast, intentionality. Just make sure you’re very intentional about the things that you’re doing, whether you’re at the top of the food chain or the bottom, intentionality is the way to do this correctly. I think the other thing is to make sure you’re always iterating. Make sure you’re always making changes. Make sure you’re open to making changes. I joke with my friends all the time that my wife hears me say I’m wrong probably more times than any husband has ever said it ever. I’m perfectly fine with being wrong all the time. We only learn by trying new things and by looking at new information. I think part of that comes from being a scientist. Scientists should be wrong all the time. Our theories are always changing and this is no different. We’re navigating for a lot of people, uncharted waters, and it’s okay to be wrong and it’s okay to iterate and just keep moving forward. Don’t take something small and leave that as a sign as the whole thing is a failure and should be abandoned.

Tim Cynova:

Terrific advice. Andrew. Nicola, thank you so much for sharing your expertise today and for being on the podcast.

Andrew Hanson:

Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Nicola Carpenter:

Yes. It’s fun.

Tim Cynova:

To close out this episode. It’s again my pleasure to welcome back to the show, podcasting’s favorite cohost, Lauren Ruffin. Hey Lauren, how’s it going?

Lauren Ruffin:

Hey, it is a rainy morning in Albuquerque, which is rare and my voice hasn’t changed yet, thanks to daylight savings time. So hopefully I’ll be a little bit more chipper as our conversation goes. Guaranteed, because this is a dope conversation, but the voice is really something right now.

Tim Cynova:

We have a special returning guest on the show today, our fellow co-CEO and Chief Technology Officer at Fractured Atlas, Shawn Anderson. Shawn, how’s it going today?

Shawn Anderson:

Hanging in there. I’m in Denver. It’s not that far from Albuquerque, but it’s sunny and nice here.

Lauren Ruffin:

Dang! Shawn. That is brutal.

Shawn Anderson:

I can’t complain.

Lauren Ruffin:

Dang! Early in the morning, a knife to the gut.

Tim Cynova:

So this episode is all about remote work. Something many organizations have been giving serious thought to, especially in light of the spread of COVID-19. Both of you have extensive experience working and managing remote teams. Sean, for nearly the entirety of your career, I imagine you’ve only worked that way virtually and remotely. With that in mind and with your CTO hat on, what advice do you have for organizations now wrestling with how to quickly implement these types of arrangements?

Shawn Anderson:

Well, first of all, don’t be too afraid. The consequences for not finding a way to allow your workforce to engage remotely is probably greater than letting them work from home. It’s really important to get tooling in place as soon as possible. I certainly recommend using video communications over the phone or trying to rely on email. Those are both notorious for horrible lag time, feeling very disconnected. Video really does help get over a lot of the bumps that you would experience with managing a remote workforce.

Tim Cynova:

At Fractured Atlas, we use zoom. We’ve used BlueJeans, we’ve used Skype in certain situations. We used to use whatever Google had-

Lauren Ruffin:

Hangouts.

Tim Cynova:

Google Hangouts.

Lauren Ruffin:

People still use that.

Shawn Anderson:

My least favorite of the bunch, but yeah.

Lauren Ruffin:

Yeah, mine too. My computer doesn’t let me use Google Hangouts. It’s pretty finicky. So we use Slack as a messaging tool. We used to use Flowdock and there’s a built-in function though in Slack that allows you to hop onto video lines as well, right?

Shawn Anderson:

Yes. So Slack has integrated video and it also has integrations with tools like Zoom that you can launch off into your own Zoom channel at any time. I think those things are all great, but you really just have to get whatever the low hanging fruit is for your particular company or organization. So if you’re already in the Microsoft ecosystem, go ahead and lean into Skype, lean into Skype for business, look at those kinds of tools. If this is something that you haven’t really done anything with at all, I would suggest checking out. Even though I’m not a big fan of Google Hangouts, it’s free and it’s fairly simple to start rolling that out to your teams. But if you can’t afford to pay, we’ve definitely found Zoom to be a really good platform. It’s fully featured, it’s very easy for people to get it installed on their systems and I think that’s really the way to go.

Tim Cynova:

One of the things we haven’t mentioned yet on this podcast, I know we have a number of people who work with nonprofits who are looking for the free or inexpensive options. Oftentimes companies provide nonprofit discounts for some of the subscription services available. So it’s always worth asking.

Shawn Anderson:

For sure. That’s kind of our built in first request to any vendor that we work with across the board. So whether it’s a communications platform or just any kind of software license, it’s like a knee jerk. “Hey, we’re a nonprofit. What kind of nonprofit rates do you offer?” You’ll find that sometimes you’ll even get stuff for free. So Slack, we get an organization level membership entirely for free, which is fantastic. Thank you Slack. For Zoom, without any nonprofit discount you can get, I think it’s 40 or 45 minutes per session for free. So you can just try it out. Worst case scenario, you just hop right back in to the room again. But they also do provide nonprofit discounts. I can’t recall what the percentage is, but it’s a fairly healthy percentage.

Tim Cynova:

Or maybe your meeting doesn’t need to be longer than 40 or 45 minutes and Zoom tells you that.

Lauren Ruffin:

Yeah, exactly.

Tim Cynova:

It’s like, “You’re done having this conversation.”

Lauren Ruffin:

Yeah. That’s my philosophy. 45 minutes max.

Shawn Anderson:

It’s a great built in reminder. We’ve actually done that a few times where we’ve scheduled meetings to be 40 to 45 minutes instead of the full hour to prevent the lengthening of meetings. I don’t know. I’ve just seen this tendency that if you schedule an hour, it’s an hour and five an hour and 10 minutes. If you’re seeing that tendency within your company, schedule 45 minute long meetings if you want to make sure that you get done in under an hour.

Tim Cynova:

Well, Lauren, we talked about earlier in the podcast, a lot of the intentionality that goes into how we work and how we need to work differently when it’s remote or virtual than if we were just all in the same place. Both of you have managed completely virtual teams. You’re a co-CEOs of an entirely virtual organization. I’m curious, Lauren, why don’t you start, how do you structure team interactions? What does that actually look like and how might it be different than if everyone were in the same space?

Lauren Ruffin:

There’s a mind shift that happens when you have employees who occasionally work from home to really being intentional about implementing sort of remote work practices, that I think those are totally different philosophies. Mostly because, and we’ve spoken about this on the podcast and I know that you chatted about it with our other guests, but to me it’s important that everyone’s having the same experience professionally. And so I found it particularly hard being the only non-engineer working remote at Fractured Atlas. It wasn’t even that the systems weren’t there, it was that the culture hadn’t shifted 100%. But I know the engineering team really felt that as well. But I manage my team remotely the same way I would manage them if we were all in the office. That’s just about maintaining fidelity to whatever model you set up as a manager.

Lauren Ruffin:

So we do stand-ups in the morning. They should be no longer than 15 minutes. Sometimes we do a little water cooler talk on Mondays and Fridays in particular, but we’re in and out just sharing what we’re doing during our day. And then we do our team meeting midway through the week and that lasts usually anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. But all the processes are the same for everybody on the team. And we always end up talking about trust and to me, trust starts with hiring. Hire people who want to do the job. But the shifting point for my team, we had people who we hired who were in the office five days a week and I think at one point it was pretty much only my team and Tim and Nicola were in the office five days a week at that point.

Lauren Ruffin:

Shifting to being virtual really had an impact on one of my staff members for sure. She couldn’t handle it, which is great and I completely support her self-awareness around knowing that remote work wasn’t for her and deciding to leave the team. But mostly it’s about making sure everyone has the same experience, which is what you want to do as a manager anyway.

Shawn Anderson:

Yeah, Lauren. Building on that, this idea of blending onsite and remote staff I think presents some of the largest challenges. We’ve had tons of meetings at Fractured Atlas, over the years where you have a conference room full of 10 to 30 people and then a number of people, maybe another 10 to 15 people coming in through a screen. That is the least ideal way to have remote work ongoing. I’ve heard anecdotally from other people as well that you end up with these separate cultures. That you have your online culture and then you have your onsite culture and that is a recipe for stress and strain within the organization and I feel like this outbreak that we’re going through, it’s an opportunity to lean in and try to set up something that allows remote work to flourish across a larger swath of the organization and just raising awareness here that if you think you’re just going to have five people working from home and 25 people in an office, there’s going to be struggles. There’s going to be problems in maintaining consistency across your whole team.

Lauren Ruffin:

Yeah, I mean there’s nothing dorkier than when you’re on video and people are in the conference room. Somebody says something funny, everybody’s laughing. You’re like, “Oh, what happened? What are they saying?” And then they’re like, “Oh.” You just miss stuff.

Andrew Hanson:

You had to be there.

Lauren Ruffin:

Yeah. I’m like, “But I am here. I’m still a person.” It’s so awkward.

Tim Cynova:

Which is likely why I think when organizations are experimenting with this a little bit here, but everyone else really isn’t in person, they’re having such a bad experience with it. “We tried that once and it didn’t work.” Type of thing. Rather than virtual first. Everyone does it. It equalizes the experience and we figure it out together and we figured out what’s necessary for us to do on Zoom, necessary for us to do in email, when do we really need to meet in person, but this one foot on one side, one foot in the other, creates this place where it never works out great for the people who are not in the physical room because of those things. When you laugh it overloads the microphone so you can’t even hear the followup. You just know people are laughing and you’re missing something and you just have to sit there until it’s done and then hop back into the meeting.

Shawn Anderson:

One of the things we’ve tried at Fractured Atlas that I think works to a certain extent, even staff in the office can come to the meetings through a screen. You do have to watch out for having people sitting right next to each other because you’ll experience what latency there is, as you hear someone in real time in one year and then you hear them coming to the speakers on the other side. But aside from that, it’s a good way to try to go virtual first even if you don’t have everybody literally working from home.

Lauren Ruffin:

I do think that one of the things that has surprised me in the last couple of years as 10 people have reached out to us to explore going remote has been the idea that I think people overestimate the value they’re getting by being face-to-face. I like people well enough, not a whole lot but for the most part I’ve been fortunate but I find the being in the same space means that people lack boundaries and getting work done in the office is really hard, especially when you’re in a managerial position, people need your time a lot, so you can’t really structure it or set boundaries and it becomes really informal, which can be really distracting.

Lauren Ruffin:

I just keep thinking about just sort of the experience people have with commuting. Instead of being like, you’re not getting face time. Imagine a world without traffic. Imagine what your employees would be like if they could just be in the office in two minutes when they walk to wherever their designated home office is and especially in cities like LA and New York where the commute is just even on a good non-pandemic day, the commute is just so hard. And then you’re getting there. They have to shake off their commute. Working despite the time it takes to get to the office is really just, I don’t know, I just think there’s so many opportunities to going remote in addition to just the savings and overhead for once you hit a certain size organization like you do experience a return on the value is pretty significant.

Shawn Anderson:

Often people express concern over, “How do I know what my people are doing? How do I know that they’re being efficient?” I always say, “You think they’re being efficient in the office. There’s so much wasted time.” To Lauren’s point. That shouldn’t be your biggest concern. It’s just human nature. People are going to find ways to waste time wherever they are and I’ve found more often than not that when you allow people the freedom to start working from home, they are more committed to making sure that they’re getting the work done, that they’re being efficient in their process, that they’re staying in touch with people around the organization and then yeah, Lauren, you’re right. The commute thing. I lived in New York for a long time. I spent three hours a day going back and forth just to get to high school. That’s a lot of time that your employees have to spend and it’s kind of passive time that’s wasted that they perceive as part of their work day.

Tim Cynova:

Well, and I think there is the issue if you’re in an office, “Oh I can just walk over and say this to this person.” Without giving thought, “Do I need to walk over there right now? Is what I’m going over to interrupt them with, really important?” And when you’re virtual you have to give some of that thought. There’s a couple more hurdles before you could just talk to Sean on a video. From a managerial standpoint though, I think it’s sort of the flip side. How do you make sure that people who are on your team know that they can come to you? What kind of conversations do you have so that people just aren’t struggling for four days but that they feel like it’s not a big hurdle for them to ping you if they get stuck on something?

Tim Cynova:

What does that look like on your teams? We all have logistically it a team Slack channel for our specific departments. We can do one-on-one Slack exchanges. We have a full staff Slack if we need to talk that way. We have weekly check-ins like Lauren was saying that, are there stand-up? Also one-on-one team. What does it look like more managerial and guidance for people who might need a little more virtual assistance.

Shawn Anderson:

So on engineering, we do daily stand-ups but we don’t actually do them in a meeting format. We do them posted as a bulleted list in Slack and one of the things that I watch out for is people not posting their stand-ups. What’s going on? Why are you distracted? What can I help you with? Because a lot of the time it’s not them forgetting per se. That’s an indication that they may even be overwhelmed. On the other side of the stand-ups though, you can look out for people who are posting the same thing over multiple days, which suggests they are stuck and if they’re not reaching out and asking about it, it’s an opportunity and an indication that you need to reach out to them, which I will almost always do in a direct message.

Shawn Anderson:

So you want to be careful about how your communications as a manager are perceived by the rest of the team when it may be leading to a conversation that is a little bit more challenging or a little bit more personal in nature. But I use those kinds of things to know when is it time to reach out. And then the other thing that I have in place is every two weeks I do have an in person, but virtually, an in person meeting with every member of my team and they are encouraged to write the agenda. This is your time, not my time. Since you’re not seeing people in the in-between times, you need to be super intentional about giving them the opportunity to reach out and telling you about what is going on that might be impacting their work? What is going on that might be impacting them personally? And that really helps to keep them connected.

Lauren Ruffin:

Shawn that raises something I hadn’t thought about around the difference in providing feedback in an office environment and providing feedback virtually. Because when I worked in an office, open-door policy, there was a signal that happened, if someone was talking in my office with the door closed for a while. There’s a social signaling around the entire team knows this person is struggling, they’re having a conversation with their manager or how you provide feedback face-to-face versus how you provide feedback virtually.

Lauren Ruffin:

Perception shifts in remote environments because people don’t see all the conversations happening in an office environment, even if someone’s not privy to the conversation, they see the conversation happening. One of the things I try to do is I’m intentional about when someone needs motivational feedback. Doing that in a full… Picking out when to do that. Whether it’s when we’re all in-person on Zoom. Sorry, I’m using Zoom as in-person, but when we’re all on video as opposed to doing it in our Slack channel as opposed to doing it in a private message.

Lauren Ruffin:

All of those things do require a little bit more thought once you get to the point where you have a team member who is struggling and you need to let everyone else on the team know that you’re aware of it, the signaling looks a little bit different than it does when you’re working in the same space.

Shawn Anderson:

Yeah, it’s hidden. You won’t see it. You’re right. That’s one of the contrasts of working remotely.

Lauren Ruffin:

I guess what I’m saying is I tend to keep everything either in our weekly team meeting or in our… “You didn’t do your time sheet.” I don’t make that a private message. I do that in our department team Slack channel because I think it’s important. I think that when feedback happens or things that are shared that shouldn’t be known by the entire team, it’s usually the staff member reaching out to me one-to-one as opposed to me initiating a one-to-one conversation. I actually try to keep my one-to-ones pretty minimal.

Shawn Anderson:

My scheduled one-on-ones are really short. So they tend to last 15 to 30 minutes. I offer very often, “Hey, if you have nothing and I have nothing, we can skip it.”

Lauren Ruffin:

Oh yeah, no. I’m like, “This is your time. If you don’t need it, I’m happy to give it back. I am good to go.”

Shawn Anderson:

As far as the critical feedback out in the open or private, I think this might be a place where we differ. I tend to subscribe to the idea that you celebrate accomplishments in public and then you provide critical feedback mostly in private. Sometimes however, let’s say I was seeing something in a couple team members, let’s go back to those stand-ups. Not posting the stand-ups or the quality of the stand-ups diminishing. That is something that I might address in a team meeting or in our engineering Slack channel or say, “Hey everyone, stand-ups, mandatory enough detail so that anybody could read this and understand what you’re doing.” And then I would follow up with the individuals to say, “Yeah, that was you and I hope you knew it.” And if they didn’t know it, that leads to a whole other set of conversations.

Tim Cynova:

Well, I think the defaulting as much as possible to open in a channel even if it might not involve everyone. Let’s just talk about work in general. If you’re posting about this thing we’re working on, the annual appeal and you’re posting with what could be a one-on-one conversation, but in the channel the team has more context for what’s going on, who’s working on what, and it can be done one-on-one, but probably more useful, especially because everyone’s remote from each other to have this all in one place. I also would say, I think we also all differ or I differ from the two of you on check-ins. If you don’t have anything to talk about, I still want to talk to you. It doesn’t have to be as long, but this is also one of the opportunities to do the social check-in. The general question, how’s it going? And just let someone go from there often yields things that… It didn’t rise to the level of agenda item perhaps, but actually should be an agenda item to talk about whatever it is that sort of comes from that.

Lauren Ruffin:

Tim, does your team do daily stand-ups?

Tim Cynova:

We don’t do daily stand-ups.

Lauren Ruffin:

Yeah. A lot of my social stuff happens during stand-up. I do check-ins on Mondays, but my check-ins yesterday were totally social. So I get that, but I wonder what my team would look like without a daily stand-up. Now that’s an interesting thought. I think they hold me accountable. I need stand-ups. I don’t know if the team does, but I need them.

Andrew Hanson:

If you’re in an office, you have that natural… You’re going to see people. You get a sense of where things are. I think in the remote working environment, some kind of stand-up is pretty much required. You need these reminders, stay connected, stay connected to your team. As a manager keep on top of the way people are feeling and operating. I’m sure there’s other ways, but stand-ups of all kinds are just a really simple way to make sure that you’re staying connected.

Lauren Ruffin:

I also, in my sort of paranoid brain, you got to know people are alive. If you’re working with people who live by themselves, who work remote, if they just start showing up the stand-up, it’s like, “Are you dead in your apartment?”

Tim Cynova:

Not dead in apartments. But we have had instances where we’ve had to call emergency contacts because we haven’t heard from someone. We’ve texted them, we’ve Slacked them and yeah, it does become posting a message in the morning or so when you start working, so everyone knows you’re online and sometimes things happen and that’s the way you find out about them. God, though to go straight to someone’s dead in their apartment, Lauren that’s like-

Lauren Ruffin:

well, I guess I think about it like… I had a cold a couple of weeks ago and I had this really bad coughing episode on my oatmeal, like an old person, and the first thing I thought was like, “I’m going to choke to death here in my house and nobody’s going to find me until four o’clock. It’s like nine o’clock in the morning. There’s nobody who would think twice about it. Just me and my house till pour little Enzo gets home.”

Tim Cynova:

Oh my God.

Lauren Ruffin:

I think a question that I would have for Shawn is, do you need a dedicated sort of tech specialists, for lack of a better word, to be able to implement remote policies?

Shawn Anderson:

Oh, that is a good question.

Lauren Ruffin:

Or can the relative lay person figure it out?

Shawn Anderson:

I would like to think that the lay person could figure it out, but I think the path to really effectively implementing a remote work policy, all of the remote work procedures, you are much better off having someone with knowledge of all of these tools to get you going. Otherwise, you’re going to bump into things that you’d be better off avoiding and you’re going to quickly sour, I think on both sides of the equation. On the management side as well as on the employees side. We’re going to feel like, “Oh, this isn’t for us. I guess we’re just going to have to all get infected with COVID-19 and deal with it.” If you want to get to the end in a shortcut fashion, I think you need to work with someone who’s the tech on their side.

Lauren Ruffin:

I mean to be clear, I think what we’re all saying is either you do the remote thing or you don’t do it, but-

Shawn Anderson:

Correct.

Lauren Ruffin:

The worst thing you could do is kind of that. If you want to work from home, you can for a long period of time. We either do it or don’t.

Shawn Anderson:

Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s like Mr. Miyagi said, “Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, think. Walk middle of the road sooner or later, squish like a grape.”

Lauren Ruffin:

You said Mr. Miyagi and I was like, “Mr. Miyagi didn’t say shit will get off the pot. It’s like, he didn’t say. That’s what I was thinking.

Shawn Anderson:

I know. I mean I have a love for the karate kid. I don’t know why. I think it’s because I grew up with it, but I always think of him saying that because it’s totally true. Whenever you do something in that halfway state, you’re taking on the risks from both sides. So you’re better off fully committing to a strategy that works than doing half measures.

Tim Cynova:

Shawn, before we say goodbye to you in this episode, what are your closing thoughts on the topic?

Shawn Anderson:

I think remote work is work. I don’t actually think it differs all that much from what people are generally used to. I think there’s a ton of benefits to the people who have families, to the people who are looking to not get sick, to the people who are trying to find a way to stay engaged if they potentially feel sick. I just don’t think it’s something to be feared. I think this is something to be embraced. I think what we’re going through right now as a country and a world is just a reminder that there are ways to stay connected that don’t require us all to spend an hour in the car, in a train and then eight hours a day in an office.

Tim Cynova:

Shawn, thanks so much for spending some of your time with us this morning. I always end our video meetings by saying something like, “See you online.” Of course, we already are online. So we’ll see you online in different ways.

Shawn Anderson:

Thanks Tim. Thanks Lauren.

Tim Cynova:

So Lauren, we’re talking remote work. We work in the cultural sector for the most part, a sector largely built on bringing people together in community to engage in experiences. One of those experiences is the annual South by Southwest Conference or convention in Austin that was announced late last week that it was going to be canceled. You wearing your Crux hat and your Fractured Atlas hat. We were on several panels. You had several events that you were producing. What’s the update on that? What’s going on?

Lauren Ruffin:

Well, I’m still going to Austin. Austin’s a fun city. Whether there’s something happening or not, it’s like this year it’s the not. But what is happening is so for South by, I partnered with an organization called Zebras Unite. Zebras unite is becoming pretty well known really around finding alternative capital vehicles for underrepresented entrepreneurs. So we were going to participate in a round-table and a series of discussions with them. That’s all going to happen online now. So we’ll all be in a venue together. Having these conversations, bringing people in from around the country, around the world, we just won’t be all in the same place as planned. The reality is between Fractured Atlas and Crux and time and pulling people together.

Lauren Ruffin:

This is sort of at the nexus of about not as much money as some people, but still five or six grand, which had they canceled the festival a day earlier from everything I’ve seen in people I’ve called to beg to plead to get this money back, if they had done it a day earlier, I would have been able to recoup a fair amount of all of those funds at the seven day policy. But it’s sort of the way they chose to cancel it means that I’m out of that money. But I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of how do you ethically cancel a large event? What are the ethics involved and how do you bring partners into the conversation?

Lauren Ruffin:

It’s clear that the city of Austin and the festival that South by did not come to an agreement. And so what ended up happening is the people who were attending are suffering. I think figuring out ethical cancellations isn’t just about a pandemic in the `Rona. It’s really about how the world is shifting. Climate change is real. We’re going to see more and more events happening, especially on coast that are going to be canceled. So how do you do that in a way that doesn’t… How do you have virtual opportunities anyway for everything you’re doing? So it’s easy to shift people into virtual spaces. How do you have those contingency plans? Hurricanes are real earthquake surreal. If you’re doing something in Phoenix in the summer, being 115 degrees is real. So I just keep thinking about what do the ethical practices look like in event management and I think that the conversation has to advance beyond where we are today. The only upside to this is I think it’s forcing a lot of conversations that we need to have anyway.

Tim Cynova:

Yeah, a lot of things that were not possible or “weren’t possible” are all of a sudden possible because of this. I enjoy the pre-mortem exercise when you’re starting something. I find it sort of a really fun and fascinating exercise to go through for those who might not be familiar. A pre-mortem is after you’ve come up with your plans for something and they’re going to be wildly successful and everyone’s going to love it and it’s going to make a lot of money, you do a pre-mortem about what happens when that thing that you’re so excited about is going to end in tears and ashes and then you list all of those things and he’d go one by one to, if that thing happens, we will put them in order, what’s most likely to happen… But then you go one by one and say, if that thing happens, this is how we’re going to respond. And then you essentially put it in your back pocket.

Tim Cynova:

If that thing does happen, you’re much more prepared with what happens if an earthquake hits this area during our conference, a day before our conference, whatever it might be. And so I think yeah, ethical responsibility around convening people is something that needs to be at the top of that list.

Lauren Ruffin:

It really isn’t. Planning a convening at the end of September at Albuquerque, well outside of Albuquerque, and I’m thinking top of mind wildfires and what follows is normally a beautiful time, in New Mexico. It will be around the river, gorgeous resort. But I’m like, “What if there’s a wildfire?” Or, “What if there’s a wildfire and it’s windy, which happens here.” So it’s going to be like, it was during SOCAP a couple of years ago with the fires in Northern California where there was just ash blowing over, blowing across the bay into where SOCAP’s held. And then just heat. It’s normally beautiful in September here. But what if this year it ends up being super hot and the space that we have on the resort is an eight to 10 minute walk. Can I ask everybody from the conference to do that walk? They do have shuttle buses, but again how do you prepare for those things and how do you start just thinking about them way ahead of time?

Tim Cynova:

Yeah. Thinking about everyone who wants to be a part of that convening and is it truly open and available to everyone and what might be prohibitive and how can we remove some of those barriers so that it’s as inclusive as possible? No, just I would say inclusive period not as possible. Because I think a lot of people were like, “It’s inclusive as possible, right now.”

Lauren Ruffin:

But I think that just raises a larger conversation about physical spaces. We and I mean we, people writ large and I think the arts sector is one of those sectors that is particularly beholden to physical spaces on either coast. I had a conversation with someone a couple of years ago who was raising a ton of money for a physical space in a very vulnerable city. I kept thinking those hundreds of millions dollars could be repurposed and I said this because I’m crass. I was like, “Do you ever worry raising all this money for this thing that like could be gone with a couple of hard shakes of the earth?” And they were like, “Yeah, I do think about that, but this is what we’re going to do.”

Lauren Ruffin:

I kept thinking like if he were to spend that money doing a really, really great virtual version of the thing that you want to do, it can be accessed by so many more people and really pushed technology and really you could build something that could last forever. But our continued reliance on physical spaces and the work that it takes to maintain a large physical plant for performances, for art shows as museums and everything else, to me it’s wasteful. I mean for lack of a better… I mean, it’s legit wasteful.

Tim Cynova:

With your Crux hat on the virtual reality, augmented reality as it applies to convenings, you mentioned the Zebras Unite partnership that you have is going virtual. Who’s doing this really well? Who might be pairing these new technologies with virtual convenings to use as a case study for how might one do something that’s not “old-school conference, old-school convention.”

Lauren Ruffin:

Everything about my life is spent between sort of industries and organizations that I really love that I have a lot of work to do, structurally. The VR/AR space is no different. So AltspaceVR is a convening space online that people often use to have meetings, put on a headset. I love everything about immersive storytelling and I have a hard time spending more than 10 or 12 minutes at a time in a headset. So the hardware has to improve. But I mean, I think some of those are great, but I also… We’ve done lots of cool things just with Zoom. You can do breakout rooms, you can do small… You can bring people together, you can sort of sort folks into different rooms. That’s not super hard to do once you figure it out. So there are a couple of conferences that I understand.

Lauren Ruffin:

So I believe E3 is being canceled today, which is huge. GDC is on the bubble. Actually GDC might canceled. Actually, I’m not sure. So both of these are huge gaming and online entertainment conferences. My understanding is that E3 is doing something online. I haven’t checked Twitter yet this morning, but when I went to bed last night, the rumor was that E3 was being canceled today. So I think we’re going to have to figure this out really quickly. And the good thing is you have people who are really sophisticated technologists who are now in this conversation. I think that what today seems like a, “How are we going to do this situation?” Is in three months going to be, “This is how you do it.” I think we have people who are quickly blazing the trails on that.

Tim Cynova:

You brought up how long you could wear a VR headset and it reminded me of the Zoom meeting coefficient of the two to one. For those who have spent any time in Zoom, it’s twice as tiring as a meeting that’s done in person. It just takes a different attention. So if you have a two hour meeting in person that’s going to feel like a four hour meeting and you need to be cognizant of that, to build on breaks and ways to let people just decompress.

Lauren Ruffin:

You’re spot on. And I say this as someone who is difficult to meet with.

Tim Cynova:

I’ve worked with you for a number of years, Lauren.

Lauren Ruffin:

I think the last time we were together I was like, “Where else am I going to work where I can essentially spend hours walking in circles around the room and nobody thinks I’m a total nerd?” But the other thing I was thinking about is, how much easier it is to do everything with people. You’ve met in person or you spent a lot of time with. I was thinking, what if Zoom went down and the four of us had to do tacticals by phone? I could do a tactical with you. We could probably do a tactical on the phone. But there are… Look I’ve lost the skill of phone conferencing. Remember when you used to… I remember being a lobbyist and it would be like a weekly call with X client and there’d be 30 consultants on the call, which seems like a nightmare now.

Tim Cynova:

So yeah, still do that with law firms. That’s like the last remaining convening that is almost always on audio only and then it becomes, even with three people, you’re stepping on each other and half the meeting is just crosstalk.

Lauren Ruffin:

When I was in high school, I used to frequently do a three way call and then the connecting chain, there would be a whole bunch of us on the phone and we could do it. And I’m like, “How have I lost the skill?”

Tim Cynova:

You’ve developed other skills, [crosstalk 01:21:00].

Lauren Ruffin:

We hope that I’ve developed other skills since then.

Tim Cynova:

I totally forgot about the chain calls like that.

Lauren Ruffin:

But now being on the phone with any more than one person is a real challenge and so I say that to say, it takes a while to get accustomed to being on video. It’s always easier being on video. People you really know that I think holds true for anything. It’s hard having dinner with somebody you barely know. It’s not like video is immediately easy. You have to get good at it and you have to get to know the person on the other end. It’s interesting times. I’m such a fan of… I’m a total convert, I’m such a fan of remote work now.

Tim Cynova:

I was not.

Lauren Ruffin:

I know, I remember those conversations. You and Pallavi were the holdouts. Shawn and I were like, “Do it now.”

Tim Cynova:

There’s clearly a lot of benefit to it. My holdout was, I feel like we’re losing something as human beings in not being in a physical space together. And we are, but you also gain other things.

Lauren Ruffin:

Germs.

Tim Cynova:

Yes, exactly. We’re losing-

Lauren Ruffin:

Losing out on germs.

Tim Cynova:

Germ transmission. Yes. We lost on that one.

Lauren Ruffin:

Office gossip. I think that’s the culture.

Tim Cynova:

We’re losing positives and negatives, but we also gain in other things that I think you don’t, in having that. Having seen what those things are and how people can change the way they want to live and work. I’ve increasingly been a convert to, this is how you can work, even if it’s not the entire organization needs to go vertical, but having an intentional plan that’s set up or intentional structure that’s set up to be able to work this way and for everyone to be able to work that way and understand what that’s like. This is a skill that almost everyone in the 21st century needs to have in order to be effective or productive as just a coworker.

Lauren Ruffin:

Yeah, I think you’re so right and I’m really excited in the summer months… Well, one, I love working from home in the summer. It’s fantastic. You can sit outside, you can sort of be in your best self. But in the winter time, one of the things I always hated about working in an office was I would get to the office when it was dark and I would leave when it was dark. And so if I wanted to run outside, if I wanted… I was walking the dog and the dogs are dark. I felt like I never saw the sunlight. And just being able to step outside or spend in Albuquerque, it warms up so much the middle of the day.

Lauren Ruffin:

If I was in an office all winter long when I knew it was going to be dark, but there was gonna be this beautiful 90 minutes where it was 55 or 60 degrees in November or December. But being able to just see that and get outside and experience it and work out there and breathe some fresh air is transformational. I’m so excited for you because once your foot heals-

Tim Cynova:

That’s all right.

Lauren Ruffin:

I don’t know if we’ve told our listeners that you snapped your ankle.

Tim Cynova:

Yeah, I came back with some really cool Canadian souvenirs in the form of a handful of surgical screws. Yeah.

Lauren Ruffin:

But once that’s over, you’re going to be able to ride your bike in the middle of day.

Tim Cynova:

Yeah, you’re right. And that will be the subject for a future episode conversation where we talk about guilt that comes from taking time during the day to do something possibly even when you’re working.

Lauren Ruffin:

No, that guilt. I shut that Catholicism I was raised in. I no longer experience guilt.

Tim Cynova:

I mean, I think that’s though… We talked about this earlier in the podcast with Andrew and Nicola. When people work from home, they tend to work longer hours than they would if they went into the office because they don’t have an easier or clear delineation of start, stop. And then if you are working say eight or nine hours that you typically would, but you start earlier and later you might initially feel guilty to say, I’m taking two hours to go work out at the gym, walk around, stare at the sun, breathe fresh air, and then I’m going to come back. And there’s a hurdle that a lot of people need to address.

Lauren Ruffin:

I feel it in particular living with children. They get home from school and I’m still working and then it’s like, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “Working.” “Well, you were working when we left.” I was like, “Yeah, I was working when you left.” And then it’s like, “We’re going to bed. What are you doing?” “I got my laptop, I’m working.” But what I’ve been trying to do is… It wasn’t my own idea. I can’t take credit for it, was putting the laptop away at six o’clock.

Tim Cynova:

I love that Nicola puts her work laptop and materials into a physical box and then puts them someplace else so that in a small apartment she doesn’t just sit down for a quick email, but it’s physically in a different place.

Lauren Ruffin:

But in particular working on East Coast Time, there are days where I start working at 6:00 AM by time and you all have gone home, but it’s still, my brain’s still on my work hours, so I look up and it’s the only thing that stops me is that I have to fix dinner for somebody.

Tim Cynova:

I think that’s one of the challenges in that, when you do work with people across time zones, for instance, I do my best work in the morning if we’re accommodating an 8:00 AM Eastern time meeting, because we have people, our colleague Pallavi lives in India, and so there’s only a couple points during the day where we can have a meeting. I start my day in a different way, and then it rolls right into just the regular workday and meetings. And then some people work until 7:00 or 8:00 PM Eastern time. And you could stretch your day from 8:00 to 8:00 and not still have that personal time that you typically would because it becomes the other type of work, not the solo thinking ideating, if that’s still a word part of your day. It shouldn’t be a word if it still is.

Lauren Ruffin:

And Pallavi usually hops back on. I go to bed pretty early, so I’m climbing into my bed at 8:30, and Pallavi is hopping on at 8:30 PM, so it’s 10:30 PM your time. So it’s like, “Well, let me start Pallavi’s day by responding to these things and end my day by responding to these things.” On the whole I’ll take that as opposed to the alternative, which is working in an office from 9:00 to 5:00 and then still bringing work home with me, which is really terrible.

Tim Cynova:

Well Lauren, we have covered a lot of ground and a lot of different topics related to the overarching remote work conversation. What are your closing thoughts on the topic for this episode?

Lauren Ruffin:

I think there are just so many benefits to doing it and I think it’s something that allows you to future proof your organization. One of the things I’ve been thinking about in the last week is as I get emails from various cities, state governments, organizations, everyone else, we haven’t really had to send an email out to our staff at all. This has not impacted our work. It’s not… I mean, I’m sure our staff are feeling it, but what we’ve done is we’ve liberated our staff to figure out what to they want to make in their lives and the one thing they don’t have to figure out is how they’re going to work, which I think is just so I feel really fortunate as a manager to not have to be navigating these things on the fly.

Lauren Ruffin:

The only thing we know to be true is this isn’t the last time we’re going to have to figure this stuff out. So I would encourage every organization who’s really feeling it in a pinch right now to figure it out now. Commit to figuring it out, so that if we’re talking about months of this conversation or if we’re just talking about this becoming an annual conversation, which is what’s most likely is that this is going to be like a really, really bad freaking flu every year. You got to figure this stuff out,

Tim Cynova:

Lauren, it’s always a pleasure starting my day chatting with you. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the day and a great week.

Lauren Ruffin:

You too, Tim.

Tim Cynova:

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Tim Cynova focuses on people-centric organizational design. He is a certified Senior Professional in HR, trained mediator, principal at Work. Shouldn’t. Suck., teaches on faculty at New York’s The New School and Canada’s Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and is currently the Co-CEO & Chief Operating Officer of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit organization that helps artists with the business aspects of their work.

I’m a Co-CEO of Fractured Atlas https://www.fracturedatlas.org; Principal https://www.workshouldntsuck.co