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The Remote Show

Show Notes:

"The Remote Show" is brought to you by WeWorkRemotely.com

Nola Simon's Links:




Tyler Sellhorn
My name is Tyler Sellhorn and welcome to another episode of the remote show where we discuss everything to do with remote work with the people who know it. Best. Thanks so much for listening. Remote show is brought to you by weworkremotely the largest community of remote workers in the world with 220000 unique users per month we work remotely is the most effective way to hire Today. We are blessed to be learning out loud with Nola Simon Nola is an international hybrid remote consultant for the last. 10 years Nola has been advising corporations and small businesses on remote work efficiency nola is also the host of the Janice Oasis Podcast Nola believes the secret to hybrid work is intention and that communication matters. It requires listening asking great questions establishing trust and psychological safety. Flexibility and a willingness to experiment and a just course is Nola's way to build effective culture and process so tell us nola what problems are you trying to solve for hybrid remote workplaces. 
Nola Simon 
Ah, thank you for having me tyler. Um, the problem that I think really needs to be fine tuned is really the intention so when executives and and management teams are looking to bring people back to the office or. Figure out how they want this to work going forward after you know, hopefully the pandemic is finally over. Um, there needs to be a lot of intention about how they want to actually function and what they want that work to look like. So if you are proposing a hybrid solution where you're bringing people back into the office. Maybe. 1 or 2 days a week. What work. Do you want them to do there like what's in it for them to actually have to get up at like five o'clock in the morning put on you know, fancy clothes or fancier than track bands and you know then commute for like an hour or two hour hour or two hours right are you coming into an office where you just going to sit on zoom calls and do your regular work. Or is it an opportunity during that week to do work in a different way and to engage with your your coworkers that you haven't seen forever in a much different way and that really all comes down to what. The mission of the company is how you tie that work and the type of work into the values of the company and what you're really trying to achieve long term. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Super interesting. Let let me say some things back to you there right? you you mentioned that we want to be intentional about what it is that we're doing when we are are bringing folks back to the office right. 
Nola Simon 
Tyler Sellhorn
You know, yeah, know, let's let's get into the minds space of that executive who is saying okay we are going to have some things happen here and when you think of what do we do here when we think about the office. What are those things that that we want to encourage people to be thinking of prioritizing when we are in person when we are. In a co-located environment considering that we are not always there. 
Nola Simon 
Right? exactly and so what I always found is you know there are obviously things that you want to achieve every day that you work right? So in my experience I would actually get up early and make sure that I achieved the individual tasks that needed to be achieved that I could do by Myself. Before I would even leave for the office and then when I was at the office I would take the opportunity to really meet with the people that I hadn't seen that I really needed to speak to in person I mean I am a proponent of doing the work that needs to be done in person that you can't. Necessarily get as much traction for remotely. Um and I mean there's obviously a debate about that because it really comes down to communication and skill level right? But um I I'm always believed that there. There has to be a purpose right? So if I need to. Advance a cause and I know that the person that I need to help me advance that cause works better in person I'm going to go out of my way to book a meeting with them in person and and really be intentional about what I try to achieve with that right? So in terms of the executives are they looking at. The work that needs to be done by each team in each individual and personalizing that customizing that and really giving a guideline about what really should be Asynchronous. What is deep work and what really needs to be done in a collaborative method to really get as much traction as they possibly can. 
Tyler Sellhorn
That's that's really helpful to think about being purposeful and being intentional. You mentioned when you were thinking about in-person interactions right.  
And and you and you mentioned executives right? and you mentioned advancing a cause and and prioritizing that in-person communication and then also on the other end you you also talked about things that you were doing on your own that that didn't involve other people talk talk to us about that spectrum. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Right? Because there's there's there's you know team communication can happen in a co-located in-person environment um team communication can happen. You know in an asynchronous like completely remote in the cloud sort of space. Give us the lay of the land of how you think about all of those different ways that we can work together. Be it. Asynchronous ah you know, not at the same time or synchronous that is at the same time things that are in person versus not in person. And we've got that that kind of 2 by 2 matrix of like which things are at the same time and not and which things are in person and which one things are not I mean these are all these different inputs that we're trying to manage how do you help executives think through being intentional and purposeful with all of those different ways of of. 

Nola Simon 
Right? Well it really comes down to the work that the the people are doing right? So if you're in sales if you're in customer service. A lot of the work that you're doing is really with external clients and maybe even vendors so that. 
Is work that you're usually doing by yourself with those people you don't necessarily need team engagement to actually achieve that. So What does the majority of your day look like I mean you're in customer service too. Um, you do that remotely most of my clients I never actually met I did meet some of them but not the majority of them. So if the majority of my day is really engaging with clients that are external from the office to begin with I have a real case to be able to do the majority of that work remote. Um, and then if you want to bring me into the office. The benefit that I get is is the stuff that I don't necessarily do every single day. So if we have large meetings where we're trying to demo a new way of processing something that people are going to learn better just because they have the ability to actually kind of like. Bitball and bancher and really kind of test it out and that works better in person for the people involved then schedule those meetings so that those happen in person right? The majority of the work can be done asynchronously apart from the team. Um. And that that can be something that you know you look at individually per team right? So it. It really comes down to personalizing it according to job function and again that comes back to the intention of what everybody's trying to achieve to advance the cause of the the company and. You know make everybody successful. 
Tyler Sellhorn
A theme that I'm hearing you kind of say is is is paralleling an idea that that so shout out to to satal neely. Um, who is someone that I respect a lot and you know her book is fantastic I'll I'll include a link to to her book. But she has an idea that I'd be curious to learn your thoughts about of of using the office or using in-person moments as an opportunity to kick off a new set of work you you mentioned you know there's there's there's this kind of like way of of. 
Resetting or or you know you use the phrases of of spitballing and bantering about a new process that we're going to be using to to manage some part of our work.. What do you think about that that idea of of kickoffs and restarts and and beginning again together. Yeah and and then saying okay. Now, you're now Sales Team. We've got this new way of doing things but you're going to be doing this with external partners with vendors with you know, prospects go and and do this you know thing on your own. But after we've kind of had our reset help us think through that idea. 
Nola Simon 
Yeah, yeah, exactly So I mean when you're when you've got something new or something that you want to kind of renovate. It's helpful to kind of really give it to the team and get feedback. Well I did actually a podcast episode about this and it's just you know. How do you respond to change and how do you make sure that your change is actually going to work for everyone. You could actually um, employ like a red team and the purpose of that particular team is really to get constructive feedback in a way that is safe. Right? That's where it goes back to that psychologically safe psychological safety and you bring the team in and basically say you know this is what we're looking at it tell us everything that's wrong, right? And there's no repercussion for telling us what we've missed what blind Spot. We've got. We want to do best and it's best if we know before it goes live in public because that way we can tweak it we can make sure that it's the best It's going to be right? So bring people in let them tear it apart so that you can build it back better right? and that can go for something that's brand new and also something that needs to be reimagined. And I think people feel safer to do that kind of work when they can actually do that in person and they can read body language and again it depends on the person depends on the team depends on the culture I'm not saying it can't be done remotely but sometimes it's. Faster and more efficient to do that type of stuff in person just because you've got a bellwether of of how you can trust people and you and you're leveraging human behavior. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Interesting. Okay, so you're you're saying that hybrid environments that that include the centering of of in-person communication for those red teams. Um, you use the phrase that I think would you know? ah. Bear us linking back to that that podcast. But maybe you can give us the cliff notes there of what what you mean when when we're doing that change management process of you know, asking the question or inviting. Ah those those people that have raised their hand to say yeah I do want to tell you. Ah, everything that's wrong with the new process. Um, give us an example of how we can you know improve our change management in in a company when we you know, bring in Personson as a part of that process. 
Nola Simon 
Yeah, so I mean change management really is helping people imagine what the future is going to be like and nobody knows how something is going to be implemented like the people who are actually going to be working with the policy. The procedure or the product right? so. In terms of the change management. You have to have the initial stakeholders which tend to be the executives of the management team supporting the new initiative and then you have to bring in and get everybody on board to actually implement it and use it. So. The red team essentially is sort of like almost like a pilot team. You're playing the devil's advocate right? So you're you're creating a scenario you're telling them what to expect? What the new process is or project is going to be. And then you're asking them for their initial gut reactions of how this is going to go over. So again, you're playing Devil's advocate tell me what possibly could go wrong and that way we can assess it to ensure that we can look for those blind spots and. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Really cool. Thank you Thank you for going deep on the red team and did you have something else to say there. 
Nola Simon 
Make it better right? Oh no I was just going to say and then in in terms of why that could be in person again. It really comes down to how you've managed to establish trust within your culture. Um. And I've come from traditional financial services and so it's always been honestly for 100 years a really in-person culture. It depends on the company that you're working for right? So in my experience because it's being so bred into the corporation. That type of thing has been better done in person. But if you're looking at like a startup which is not exactly something that I've ever actually worked with it. It definitely could be done remotely it again. It comes down to. That feeling of trust and belonging and psychological safety to really step up and speak up and say hey I've got a different perspective I think you're missing something. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Thank you for bringing that alternative perspective because we do talk to a lot of young companies here at Wework remotely and you know just to hear you rhyming with so many of the phrases that we have been saying together right? to say you know you know. Emphasizing trust and belonging. You know, emphasizing you know the psychological safety you know, using the red team and inviting them to to be um, you know critics of the new process and to say hey, um. This entire set of end users right? You know you know obviously the executive support needs to be there to be able to implement the change but you know who is going to have the the most insight right? It's It's always going to be the person that is actually doing the process right? We can guess and we can theorize as executives. But. 
Nola Simon 
Tyler Sellhorn
You know we we need to invite as leaders. The feedback that is necessary to make the process as best as it can, um, go ahead. 
Nola Simon 
And I was going to say and sometimes you don't actually have that executive level support. So there was a change that I worked on that I pushed for as an end user because it was really just inefficient and without that executive level support management support. It took me 10 years and so that's the difference really between like working with like established companies and startups. Um in in young companies like you say I mean 10 years in in a young company that sounds like forever right? If you're working with a company that's been around for 100 years 10 years is a drop in the bucket. All right. But that's a different level of persistence and resilience and patience to work the systems to know how to get things changed and honestly what made the difference in that whole process was really the development of artificial intelligence right? So that we I had to wait for the technology. To catch up with a vision. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Interesting. Um, when you think about what's next for hybrid teams and hybrid remote teams. What do you think are that you mentioned you know artificial intelligence as a thing. 
Nola Simon 
Tyler Sellhorn
Um, if you were to say Okay, here's somebody else. That's that's ah, that's a ah mini nola out there trying to you know, help implement some changes that are needed. Um, what? What are the technologies that you're seeing or or what is the the you know modes of working that are going to be on on the horizon. As we think about? Okay, hey we need to be ready for these ideas to come and influence the ways that we're working. 
Nola Simon 
So I'm I'm really fascinated with the possibilities of asynchronous communication and thank you for helping me get set up on Yak Yak was something I was looking at doing for a while but that sort of technology where you can really kind of um. Work individually but then share after the fact and really schedule it in a way that makes sense for the recipient and the the sender I think that that's honestly something that's got to be incorporated more and more people cannot keep up with the demands of. Um, immediate like ongoing meetings and immediate responses I mean I used to work in an environment where we had to actually respond within 24 hours to all of the emails and transactions had to be done that day because it was all based on the stock market and I realized that that is not an ideal way of working for me. Because I need sometimes more time to really process and think and to be able to have space and time to step away from that and that's part of why I've chosen to to reject how I work is really to have the ability to have space and as synchronous really kind of allows people to do that. But all of those processes really have to be rethought and redone so that you know people have an expectation of when their work is due and when a response is required. So I think asynchronous is is a huge part of the future. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Asynchronous, being a part of the future. Of course you know you know my day Job. You know I'm I'm a podcast hostast here at Wework remotely but my day job of course. Thank you for mentioning yak. But um. Think think more broadly way past you know a specific product but when you're thinking about asynchronous as a category of ideas right? You said the the thing where you mentioned setting up the the communication norms right? to not be expecting an immediate response. 
Nola Simon 
Tyler Sellhorn
Or or or providing the time to think right and thinking about the time to process ideas right? You're you're saying providing the space for those things to you mentioned for your own self that that you did not necessarily. Work Best in that instant messaging kind of ah space right? or or in that you know meetings constantly to sort of Workflow. Um, when you imagine an ideal future State. For our workplaces. What does that look like for asynchronous work. 
Nola Simon 
Ah, well I think a lot of it comes down to flexibility in terms of time. So I managed to carve out that time to really have that space but I had to do it outside of my regular work hours right? So my day a lot of times looked at like I got up at five o'clock and then I worked until my kids got up and and. Until at 7 am and then I had to get them to school and then I would have to leave to go to the office to get there for 10 am and a lot of times I was late because I lived I live an hour north of the city boat with traffic sometimes that would take me 2 hours right and then when I got to work then it was. Constantly go go go go go so I didn't have that space and time to really dedicate to thought and individual deep work. So what I think really matters. Especially for anybody that's got caregiving responsibilities is the flexibility to do the work. That you prioritize and you know is going to be the best for you and to to schedule your day in a way that's going to make sense for you to do that right? I never got credit for any of that work that I did before 7 am that was all free work that I always did right? but it was. Essential and crucial to how I actually advanced my career and how I change jobs and how I've developed the the company that I'm developing right now right? that that was a huge commitment that I made right? but it wasn't sponsored by the company. It wasn't allowed by the company. It wasn't something I ever got thanked for doing. Um, so I think that developing policies where you're personalizing and working with the individual to really prioritize how they work best in a way that allows them to complete their job but still actually prioritize the needs of the company. I think that's really where companies really can really make a difference in terms of attracting and retaining employees. 
Tyler Sellhorn
What I'm hearing you say is that the reason why asynchronous work and and asynchronous workflows is what's next is because we've we've already reached the point where location flexibility. Is a given for knowledge workers especially right? but now but now the next step is to enable and empower people to have that time flexibility in addition to the location flexibility. In fact, some of those. 
Nola Simon 
Yes, definitely yep. 
Tyler Sellhorn
The the knock on effects of having location flexibility is that the time in flexibility that we've had is incompatible with that that location flexibility and am I hearing you correctly. 
Nola Simon 
Yep, yeah, no and and that's a great summary of it. No exactly right. 
Tyler Sellhorn
Okay, um, okay, so what I want to do right now is kind of transition to one of my very favorite questions. That's that's been on our minds here. Um of late is when you think about the remote work movement. How do you imagine it. In the twenty nineteen and before state of things like let's let's think of the before and then let's also kind of like compare and contrast that to um, the the current state. You know we're we're you know, still dealing with um the effects of of a global pandemic. 
Nola Simon 
Tyler Sellhorn 
Right? And then let's think of of you know, what's what's coming in the near future right? and and saying okay you know here here's what happened in 2019 here's what happened during the pandemic and here's what's happening in 2022 and beyond. Ah, how do you think about those those 3 time periods. 
Nola Simon 
Okay, so the 2019 and before it was a nice to have it was a ah feeling that the companies gave you you know we're allowing you to do this but we can pull it at any time and you should be grateful that you're allowed to do it at all right. It was a. I think Darren Murf called it a Bolton to an existing in-person office-centric culture and um, you know we had all kinds of guidelines about noise for example, like if somebody started crying in the middle of a call or your dog started barking in the middle of a call and a client commented on it. That could actually be grounds for losing your remote work and so it was very much ah like a carro in a stick mentality. You know we're allowing you to do it but we can pull it at any time once the pandemic came it was we have to do this. Because we've got no choice and you know people could actually die if we allowed you to keep working in person right? So it was all of a sudden we can make this work. Um and it became a way for people who had always refused to actually work in person who who had always said that in. Remote work would never work to really understand the functionality of what everybody who' been doing it for years already knew that it was entirely possible to do things remotely with in person as required when it made sense right. And during the pandemic of course it didn't make sense. Um, but you're fighting the status quo so throughout since 2020 people have been working remotely but there's always been a sense for most people that I've ever talked to you that as soon as it was safe to do so. Everybody would try to be forced back to the office we're going to get back to normal. We want to get back to normal and the office is a huge part of what normal actually was um I'm even hearing from companies that had allowed people to work remotely since like like for the last five ten years they're actually taking this opportunity to actually move those people back to inperson more often than they were before right because they feel that they've got to build up that office centric mentality. Um. Do I think that that's the future. No I absolutely don't think that that's the future I really do feel that virtual first is going to be the future and that really means you know you're going to work the majority of the work remotely and then add in person as it makes sense. 
Nola Simon 
So Does that look like a retreat like Salesforce has actually talked about doing where they're bringing people together for you know at these fancy retreats. Maybe once or twice a year or does that look like you know one day a week in the office that you get to choose right. Or is it more like you know you work remotely. Um, the majority of the time. But then if you feel that you've got to achieve something like I did a lot of work with employee resource groups and you know women's groups and parenting things. A lot of times I. Didn't necessarily want to go to the work to to the office to achieve anything to do with my day job but it was more about the volunteer work that I would do and again it was you know I needed to get to know the people who were actually running that that I'd never met before and I needed to get to know them Better. So in-person was a way to actually get them get to know them better. And achieve more of what I wanted to achieve and so that I think is where the future is it lies in flexibility. It lies in autonomy and it lies in choice. 
Tyler Sellhorn 
Awesome I'm gonna say some things back to you you you said that in 2019 remote work was a nice to have and it was being allowed you and you you quoted ah the the og head of remote ah Darren Murph right 
Tyler Sellhorn 
Ah, you know that that remote work is a Bolton right? There was guidelines around noise. You know there was almost a carrot and stick kind of mentality from executives about remote work and then during the pandemic. We we have to do this right? And then we're gonna have to make this work right? and that we found out that. You know, based upon what happened that that this is entirely possible and that we would you know even invite the idea that like okay, let's just do in-person when it makes sense and that there's also some folks that are you know here in 2022 you know back to normal. Right is it has kind of been defined in lots of different ways. You know you're you're seeing some organizations choosing to remain remote first you're seeing seeing some organizations choosing to you know purchase retreat centers right? and saying we're we're gonna you know, be. You know you know. Provide lots and lots of choices um including you know coming together in person in retreats. But that you're saying that the the organizations that are going to win are going to be the ones that provide autonomy and flexibility is there anything that I miss there that you want to make sure we emphasize. 
Nola Simon 
No I think you you great at summarizing. 
Tyler Sellhorn 
Ah, fantastic nola it was awesome. Speaking to you today. Really appreciate you sharing your experiences your knowledge and expertise in this space. Um, just want to say? Thank you so much for for that and blessings. 
Nola Simon 
Get no worries anytime. Thanks for having me. 

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