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Office Culture vs. Remote Work: The Great Debate

44 minutes 14 seconds

Speaker 1

00:00:00 - 00:00:24

Hi, I'm Kyle Racki and this is the Rackian Sims podcast. As COVID starts to become a distant memory, many companies are forcing employees back to the office. What seemed like a watershed moment for remote work is starting to become a regression to the mean. On today's episode, Matt and I engage in a healthy debate about whether or not remote is here to stay. And while I'm passionately on the side of remote, Matt has a more nuanced point of view.

Speaker 1

00:00:25 - 00:00:49

Let's listen in. But before you do, I just wanted to let you know that I put out a free course on my personal website, kylerackey.com, and the course is called SAS Metrics Uncovered. In it, I share what I call the bottom-up funnel and walk through how to measure each stage of the customer journey and where you should start focusing your effort and in what order. I also give away a free SAS Metrics dashboard template that you can use. And again, the course is free.

Speaker 1

00:00:49 - 00:01:03

And if you're new to SAS or you're trying to get your first 10K in monthly revenue, this free one-hour course could be helpful. You can sign up for it for free at kylerackey.com and just click on the link that says SAS metrics uncovered. Now back to the podcast.

Speaker 2

00:01:06 - 00:01:28

Welcome to the Racky and Sims podcast featuring Kyle Racky and Matt Sims. Only 6% of companies make it to $1 million in revenue. Of those, only 10% get to 5 million. This podcast helps founders and executives see where the next growth bottleneck lies and the personal work they need to do to keep their businesses from getting stuck. Let's listen in.

Speaker 3

00:01:34 - 00:02:19

I don't know where I stand anymore. I was quite a ways in the camp of remote and not there anymore at all. No, I'm seeing my team absolutely thirst for community and relatedness and When work doesn't provide that they need to find it somewhere else which gives them less Less social connection less social commitment to the place where they apply their trade, which I'm not sure is, not sure it's actually healthy in the aggregate for a lot of people. I think they may want it. I think they think they want it.

Speaker 3

00:02:19 - 00:02:43

I think that a lot of people enjoy the flexibility of it. But I think building things together, I'm not sure if we've evolved yet to be able to contend mentally with the things that remote work does to us from a society, from a social links requirement, etc.

Speaker 1

00:02:43 - 00:02:56

All right, so this is fun. Let's just do the episode about this. And then we can we can kind of transition to podcast later. This might be more valuable. OK, so you're in the camp of you.

Speaker 1

00:02:56 - 00:03:09

You liked it at the start remote. You believed in it. Now you're you're kind of seeing the other side. I think I think I'm becoming more of a believer as time goes on.

Speaker 3

00:03:10 - 00:03:12

This is going to be a fun conversation.

Speaker 1

00:03:13 - 00:03:52

Yeah. So every So let's start with social connection. Here's where I'll agree with you is that I feel a lot of compassion for people new to the workforce, people fresh out of college. Because if they start at a remote company, there is, especially when you're young, there's a lot of relationship building early in your career that pays dividends 20, 30 years into your future. That first job, all the people you met, the people they introduced you to, the going out for lunches and coffees and finding mentors and all that kind of stuff.

Speaker 1

00:03:53 - 00:04:02

So I feel that that is still there to some degree, but it definitely lacks. And asking a 22 year old fresh out of college to basically work from their

Speaker 3

00:04:04 - 00:04:07

1 bedroom apartment. Or their parents' basement.

Speaker 1

00:04:08 - 00:04:42

Or their parents' basement is not the most engaging way to start your career. On the flip side, When you get more established in your career and you have a family and kids, for the most part, it's just more convenient and more fits your lifestyle to be able to do your job, but spend those coffee breaks with your spouse or Take your kids out to the park the work-life balance bit or the work-life integration Is there so a lot of this depends on who you are and where you're at in your career.

Speaker 3

00:04:42 - 00:05:09

I totally agree I but I think that that's the wrong way to put it. I am very leery of the immediate benefits at the expense of deep human needs that are going unmet. Things we don't see. But we're

Speaker 1

00:05:09 - 00:05:13

starting from the premise that there are deep human needs that are met with remote work?

Speaker 3

00:05:14 - 00:05:40

I think you have to find some of the needs that you used to get automatically from work elsewhere. So I'm not saying that you can't have them with remote work. I'm saying that you have to find a way to bring them into your life. And I'm an introvert. Being around people really takes energy away from me and it's but I know I need it.

Speaker 3

00:05:41 - 00:06:36

So it's this very like personally I absolutely love remote work but I don't love the compounding impact of remote work on what you just talked about, the ability to create a network, and the ability to find meaningful relationships at work and around work, because those are where your interests lie for most of us to some degree. So you have other people whose interests lie there so you naturally find a number of people where you find intellectually stimulating conversation, you get water cooler talk, you know, and there's the downsides of all that too. So it's, it's a long winded way of saying that work used to provide a default for a bunch of the needs that we have. There were downsides. Don't get me wrong, like the commute is not fantastic.

Speaker 3

00:06:37 - 00:06:51

The travel, you know, there's a lot of things that I think we've learned that we can do remotely. I'm gonna be very interested to see how we build meaningful company cultures remotely.

Speaker 1

00:06:53 - 00:07:07

I believe that a lot of us romanticize in-office culture. I think a lot of us look at the past through rose-colored glasses and pretend that things were amazing when we had we're all in office.

Speaker 3

00:07:07 - 00:07:26

Yeah I don't so I'm not making that argument I don't buy into nostalgia and I don't I don't have rose-colored glasses on. I'm not saying that in-office was panacea. I am saying that in-office provided a default that we don't have now. Especially it

Speaker 1

00:07:26 - 00:07:46

was it required less work. Less work to build connections, community, network, that kind of thing. Well let me tell you something about kind of the Proposify office culture. So we had a very big office, 4 floors in downtown Halifax. Space, you've been in it.

Speaker 1

00:07:48 - 00:09:11

We had, I think at the time, somewhere around 100 people. And we were known, at least locally for in office culture, people would, there was a lot of people locally who wanted to work at Proposify because they heard about how amazing the culture was and how awesome the team was and it's got this great office and it's blah, blah, blah. So we were kind of That was how we built, I think, a lot of our first 5 years local reputation. Now, as we were getting to that 100 person mark, what I had started to observe in the office, this was shortly before COVID hit, was that we were starting to form, even at a hundred people starting to form sub community or sub cultures. So people were, you know, engineering was way up here and marketing was down there and sales is over here and nobody really spoke to each other and they just stuck in their little clicks and they did their own thing and then eventually sales wanted their own fridge so they didn't have to go into the go upstairs so that they wouldn't run into anybody in engineering and we would have you know Friday afternoon little late in that afternoon we had a beer keg and you know people would hang out and a lot of times stay until late at night.

Speaker 1

00:09:11 - 00:09:53

But the engineers all went home, you know, as soon as as soon as that all started happening. And we were like, Oh, why don't you stay and like be part of that. So we were starting to form like, all these little pockets of people. And then that also bled into the work as well, because less communication, less relationships, we were talking funny, it's funny to even talk about it but pre-COVID we had we were talking about putting screens up to show dashboards and to show like numbers because people were like people are disconnected from the goals and and what's important and it was almost like we had to find some way to like put the important information in their face because people weren't connected.

Speaker 3

00:09:53 - 00:10:57

Yep, totally. Listen, no matter how you do this, there are critiques to it and there are consequences or at least opportunities or I don't even know how to describe it but there are things you have to be intentional about no matter how you decide to run your workplace Whether it's in office, whether it's hybrid, whether it's remote. You have to be intentional about the policy and why. And there are certain jobs that naturally lend themselves to remote work better than others, etc. The dilemma that I am grappling with right now is How do you do for people and how do you help people contend with things they won't necessarily do on their own but need?

Speaker 3

00:10:59 - 00:11:10

Have deep needs as humans, right? To do. So how do you do... The workplace used to provide that. Was it, was it fantastic?

Speaker 3

00:11:10 - 00:11:29

No, but, you know, I'm talking about, you know, what are the things in life where you can make 1 decision that basically makes a thousand other decisions for you. Right, so what's the 1 decision you can make that makes other decisions automatic? So you don't have to think about them, they're just default.

Speaker 1

00:11:30 - 00:11:30

It's an example.

Speaker 3

00:11:31 - 00:11:48

So I'll give you an example of my personal life, right? So in August of last year, we moved in with my father. We did that because we wanted to visit a fair amount. We lived 2 roads over from him. For those who don't know on this podcast, my father's facing a terminal illness.

Speaker 3

00:11:49 - 00:12:16

And, you know, done a great job, basically, driving a quality of life that we wouldn't have thought possible. We thought he had a year, 3 and a half years ago. So awesome. But in August, things as they do with terminal, this has regressed a bit. And we found that the only way, the only way to get over there consistently was actually to move in.

Speaker 3

00:12:17 - 00:12:27

Because it created the default state that that's where we ate supper, that's where the girls wound down, that's where we woke up. And my dad, and you know what?

Speaker 1

00:12:27 - 00:12:30

You're talking about like, essentially a forcing function, right?

Speaker 3

00:12:30 - 00:12:46

Like, yeah, it's a forcing function. But it's also the guy who writes the 1 thing writes about the Tim Ferriss asked this question all the time to what is the 1 decision you can make that makes it so you don't have to make a thousand decisions

Speaker 1

00:12:46 - 00:12:56

Right yeah not buying the junk food or putting your gym shoes gym clothes you know by your bed. Like setting up your environment so that it makes all the other decisions kind of automatic.

Speaker 3

00:12:57 - 00:13:55

Yeah and I I think that if you're an introvert and you naturally stay away from social contact to some degree, you have to be especially careful in the remote work culture because you can find yourself not curating the things that you actually deeply need as a human, whether you like them or not, that used to be given to you by your work. And I also think on the other side, as employers, you have to be very careful about the long-term health of our colleagues. Not just the visible stuff, not just the flashy stuff, the long-term mental and physical health of our colleagues. And I know that that's not our burden to take on but I do believe that smart organizations contend with this in the way they set up their work environments.

Speaker 1

00:13:56 - 00:14:06

Okay. So when you talk about long-term health are you talking physical or mental? Yes. Okay. Because they're different.

Speaker 3

00:14:06 - 00:15:02

To some degree, but they're much more interconnected than any of us care to admit. The deeper that I dive into the study of health and the deeper that I work in the health field, the more you realize that the 2 are almost inseparable. But regardless of that, I think we have to be careful or I do believe we have to contend with How are we creating a healthy environment for our people to grow, for our people to get the relatedness, the connection that is 1 quarter of the motivation component. Right, how are we ensuring that? And I'm not sure that a screen, most of the time for your work, can do that yet.

Speaker 3

00:15:03 - 00:15:04

Don't know.

Speaker 1

00:15:04 - 00:15:31

My counter argument to this is that you, if you go into an office, what do you see most of the time? Everybody's on their computers. Everybody's doing Zoom calls anyway, especially if you have a sales team, most of the prospects don't live here. And so you're renting out an office space and making people drive downtown and find parking for them to all sit on Zoom calls anyway.

Speaker 3

00:15:33 - 00:15:54

There's no question that there are very practical reasons not to do this. Very practical reasons, both from a time commitment and from a financial commitment, no question. The question that I have is, is it to what degree? And I don't care what you work at. I truly don't.

Speaker 3

00:15:55 - 00:16:20

You can work at anything in this world. You can work at becoming the best swimmer in the world if you want. But Whatever you decide to work at, you're going to require a team, you're going to require a network, and you're going to require some sort of connection if you want to make it meaningful and healthy. And the question that hasn't been solved yet is whether you can curate that in a remote setting.

Speaker 1

00:16:21 - 00:16:37

So we're kind of taking the angle, because remote's a big topic, but we're taking the angle mainly of the sort of the health and the social culture aspect, not so much the is it effective from getting work done perspective or for hitting targets and goals?

Speaker 3

00:16:37 - 00:16:41

No, no, I think you can hit tactical targets and goals from anywhere.

Speaker 1

00:16:42 - 00:16:42

Yeah.

Speaker 3

00:16:42 - 00:17:10

Right, I don't, you don't, to do the discrete work most of it can probably be done remotely. Though there's a pretty good argument for team-based collaborative work, not working nearly as well online. Pretty good argument for that. And you know, that's why you see most exec sessions and stuff like that. They'll fly into a place and LinkedIn will pop up with a whole bunch.

Speaker 3

00:17:10 - 00:17:27

Oh my God, it's so good to see people in person, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You know, You see that constantly when people finally get together. I don't know what the run rate is. I truly don't. But I think we've laid out here some cautions.

Speaker 3

00:17:27 - 00:17:45

Listen, from a productivity standpoint, from a dollars and cents perspective, Driving to bring your own device or whatever it happens to be and work from anywhere, but get your stuff done? I think it can serve a team in some ways.

Speaker 1

00:17:48 - 00:18:24

Maybe what I'll do, because I'm taking some notes here, so I'm not going to pretend to have all the answers and I'm not also not going to say that I've invented any of these things, but I will say that it's been over 3 years now that Proposify has been remote. I think it was different when we had to start, when basically we're forced into it, right? There was a transition period. People went into a kicking and screaming. But I think we've leveled out now and I think people who are still at the company genuinely enjoy remote work and wouldn't have it any other way.

Speaker 1

00:18:24 - 00:19:06

And I would say that we have been able to maintain a culture or I would say even change or improve the culture in some ways by being remote. And what I can maybe share is a couple of things that we do that aren't revolutionary that a lot of other companies do to to combat these types of problems. Yeah, I'm not gonna say they're silver bullets, but they're things that we do. From a social perspective I would say there's probably 3 things that we do to help build connection, community and the types of things that you're talking about. So first of all leveraging in- person events and off sites throughout the year.

Speaker 1

00:19:06 - 00:19:46

So I think we can all agree that not 100% of work needs to be in-person and not 100% needs to be behind a computer remotely. But if you can, but I would say that probably the majority of it can't be remote. But finding opportunities to be in person can often carry you through another 3 to 6 months and can sort of build enough bonds that people do feel that close connection, even when they're still behind a computer. The things we do for that are summer party and Christmas party. So those are like the 2 big events where we like fly people in and we, you know, rent a space and we all get together.

Speaker 1

00:19:46 - 00:20:28

We usually pair that with off sites or with some sort of other thing or like teams get together for those events. Exec team definitely does off sites, but also other teams will do occasional throughout the year off sites for planning, for team building. Sales team has their SKO, their sales kickoff event, usually at the beginning of the year where they go in person they do you know moosehead games they do dinners all that kind of stuff so I still think that in person there is a component of it that needs to be there for those all those reasons. And usually what we find is like so Nadia my VP of marketing lives in Toronto. I very rarely see her a couple times a year.

Speaker 1

00:20:28 - 00:20:53

We went to a conference in New York, Franchise trade show. We she was going I was going we got to hang out in New York for you know, 2 or 3 days together Had an amazing time did the event did the dinners hung out Like I feel just as connected to Nadia as if we worked in the office every day, like at least to me, there's no difference. So I would say that's the first 1 in person. I'll pause there in case there's anything you wanted to add.

Speaker 3

00:20:54 - 00:21:41

No, we do the same thing. I mean, listen, I say this from a standpoint of we have a hybrid office where most of our people are working remotely. Now we're almost all in Atlanta, Canada, and we do work together on client sites or in client sites on a regular basis. And we get together quarterly, the 2 you mentioned, and then we have 2 other times where we get together for a smaller period of time. But I, you know, I I love the certainty of the statement and I love the certainty of the statement and I love the certainty of the culture you're building.

Speaker 3

00:21:46 - 00:22:16

I am still concerned with the unseen. Okay. Right, so I am, and listen, you have access to talent now across the world, which is amazing. And if you can get intentional with this, it could be absolutely amazing. The real key is, and don't get me wrong, when you're in person all the time, you actually see each other's quirks and quarks more.

Speaker 3

00:22:17 - 00:22:36

And there can be more of a rub that is negative than positive. Yeah. Right? But generally, it's when we benefit from each other's quirks and quirks that a team starts really hyper-performing. Not when a team can walk around or deal with them.

Speaker 3

00:22:37 - 00:22:50

It's when they benefit from each other's. So I'm worried on 2 fronts. I'm worried, do teams fully get built remotely? Or mostly remotely? I don't know.

Speaker 3

00:22:53 - 00:23:25

And I'm starting to watch some of the leading companies in the world subtly and not so subtly change their position on remote work. You know, they're doing hybrid models out of Office 2 and Office 3, but they want to create a weekly cadence together. So. I think, yeah, I

Speaker 1

00:23:25 - 00:24:02

don't know. I don't buy into it. And I don't buy into that. Like The tech companies that are doing this, I have a really tough time believing that it's due to, you know, the inability to work together, to collaborate, to, you know, challenge each other, to build connections, et cetera. And more of this holding onto the past that, oh, remember in 2017 when the market was like insane or 2019 and everybody was in San Francisco.

Speaker 1

00:24:03 - 00:24:24

And to me, it's romanticizing. And to a certain degree, this perception, this mirage of control that you have when they're in the office. Well, we know that they're in there, they're getting shit done when they're in the office. I believe that's a lot of managers think that, well, how do I know that the person isn't slacking off and they don't have a second job? People have been slacking off in offices for years.

Speaker 3

00:24:25 - 00:25:16

Yeah, no, I'm not. I, you notice that I haven't even brought that subject up and it's purposely, purposeful, because I don't, wherever you decide to sit down, you can either work or not work so I'm there's that's a totally different conversation on how you how you how you bring teams together to drive performance, then the underlying social bonds that I am deeply concerned you can't build in a remote environment. And listen, as passionate as you are that you can, I am almost equally passionate, in spite of the fact that we run mostly a remote firm?

Speaker 1

00:25:16 - 00:25:21

Here's my challenge to you, Matt. How many times have you and I been in person together?

Speaker 3

00:25:23 - 00:25:24

2 or 3 times.

Speaker 1

00:25:25 - 00:25:32

A bit more than that, right? But probably 2 or 3 times a year. Maybe now a little bit more frequent, maybe 6.

Speaker 3

00:25:32 - 00:25:33

Yeah.

Speaker 1

00:25:34 - 00:25:41

We spend most of our time engaging over text, this podcast, which is zoom.

Speaker 3

00:25:41 - 00:25:41

Yeah.

Speaker 1

00:25:42 - 00:25:55

I feel pretty close connection to you. I Think we challenge each other. I think we've had you know tough conversations Yeah, we have bonds we talk about our kids and our families and our mission and our values

Speaker 3

00:25:56 - 00:25:57

Yeah

Speaker 1

00:25:58 - 00:26:02

We couldn't do that if we weren't in person together every week

Speaker 3

00:26:02 - 00:26:52

it's a It's a good argument for cadence It's a personalized argument for cadence being able to replace it for sure. I'll be interested in I'll be interested in the Netflix new mantra and I'll be interested in the Apple new mantra and I'll be interested in following a couple of other companies to see if they gain an edge as they start to define their culture as a mostly or completely in-office culture and to see if that drives them to new levels of performance or not.

Speaker 1

00:26:52 - 00:27:03

I'll be. But again, you know, you're talking about performance now. And I think, I mean, do we agree that performance is sort of negligible, whether it's in an office or remote or...

Speaker 3

00:27:03 - 00:27:04

So in the short

Speaker 1

00:27:04 - 00:27:08

term, yeah. GitHub built a huge company being fully remote from day 1.

Speaker 3

00:27:08 - 00:27:26

Yeah, and listen, disproving stuff is a shitload harder than proving stuff. Right, so you can go on a mantra here on why remote work is good, and I can lob grenades, anecdotal grenades, on why it doesn't work. And so, you know, like I think...

Speaker 1

00:27:26 - 00:27:33

The burden of proof lies on the 1 making the assertion. That's why nobody can disprove God exists, right? Oh, that's controversial.

Speaker 3

00:27:37 - 00:28:10

Well, I appreciate 2 things. I appreciate you lightening it up, number 1, but I also I also appreciate the fact that, you know, the way in which you come to these conclusions, they're still highly subjective on both sides. We don't have a degree of intentional data yet to help us understand. We do know you can win either way. What I don't know is if it satisfies basic human needs to the degree we need them.

Speaker 3

00:28:10 - 00:28:35

Okay. That's what I don't know. And I don't know if over the long term, you can build sustainable team cultures. Don't really know what that means though, because there are people that come in and out of teams all the time. Listen, I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Speaker 3

00:28:37 - 00:28:45

I am less excited about the potential of fully remote work than I was 18 months ago.

Speaker 1

00:28:46 - 00:29:15

Yeah, fair enough. Maybe 1 thing that I'll do is I'll finish with some of the things that we're doing. You can critique those as needed, but people aren't doing these things, maybe it's something that they can try so I think you have to be very intentional about how you handle zoom group meetings and in how you handle your slack or whatever you use for your team communication right So

Speaker 3

00:29:15 - 00:29:17

do you do do you do on camera?

Speaker 1

00:29:18 - 00:29:23

Yes, and we Heavily encourage people to turn their cameras on at all times

Speaker 3

00:29:24 - 00:29:25

Yeah, and we said

Speaker 1

00:29:25 - 00:29:33

I'm in all hands meeting with their cameras off We asked people to turn their cameras on because if you were in person you'd have to be in person right like

Speaker 3

00:29:34 - 00:29:34

Yeah,

Speaker 4

00:29:34 - 00:29:34

that's

Speaker 1

00:29:34 - 00:30:12

that's a fair ask for most people. Now we say, of course, if you're, you know, if there's something wrong today, if there's some issue you're having, if you're taking this call from the hospital, I don't know, whatever it is, like sure, but exception rather than the rule. But online events like having frequent all hands is still very important, especially when you're remote, to help build that connection. 1 of the things that we do at Connection, 1 of the things that we do, we have a cadence for 2 All Hands a month, or every 2 weeks, and we have a set agenda that's different. So it's sort of, you know, version A, version B, and it alternates.

Speaker 1

00:30:14 - 00:31:01

Version A, we'll actually do, we have a, we subscribe to Bright Breaks, full disclosure, I'm an investor in Bright Breaks, So, when you sign up to Bright Breaks, you it's they sell to companies with, you know, large employees, large employee base. And when everybody connects to Bright Breaks, basically there's live classes for meditation, exercise, yoga, stretching, that kind of thing. But there's 7 minute breaks. So what you do is you subscribe through your, you connect your Google Calendar, and then Bright Breaks will find a spot in your calendar where there's no meeting, and it will insert a live 7 minute break. So then people can join that, and it encourages them.

Speaker 1

00:31:01 - 00:31:22

So this is the physical part, but it encourages, and mental too, encourages people to take breaks throughout the day. Great service. And it's live as well, which makes it even better. So we actually have Bright attend the first 10 minutes of the all hands to actually do like a group, either meditation or stretch or that kind of thing. So that's a lot of fun.

Speaker 1

00:31:22 - 00:31:56

And that's 1 of those things that can kind of help build a little bit of team culture or just connectedness. But then the version B of it is we do what we call a connection session. So the first 10 minutes of the all hands, we actually divide people into rooms that are 3 or 4 people and we give them a question or a conversation starter like, you know, what is your favorite thing about the place you grew up in, for example. So we will have rotating questions that just get, you know, 3 or 4 people in a room. I actually curate the group.

Speaker 1

00:31:56 - 00:32:33

So I try to put people who don't normally work together from separate departments, yeah, to a room and they spend, you know, 10 minutes more or less having the coffee chat and sort of a nice way to like, kick it off and get people warmed up before we come back into the room and talk about the agenda. Yeah, those are just some things we do. Or a bi-monthly team events like trivia games and things like that where you break up into group and like, you know, Matt on our team is really funny. Like he hosts the trivia and he puts together the questions and then, you know, you work with your group and you come up with the answer and there's winners and prizes and that kind of thing.

Speaker 3

00:32:33 - 00:32:59

Yeah, I mean, it sounds like it sounds like you're getting better and better at being very, very intentional about the consequences of remote work and helping to nudge or encourage some of the counterbalances that can make that existence more healthy. Yeah, Which is good. I mean, that's it. And listen, it doesn't mean that by default in office was healthy. There was gossip, and there was bullshit.

Speaker 3

00:32:59 - 00:33:01

And there was, and you know, there was the actually

Speaker 1

00:33:01 - 00:33:28

a lot of a lot of alcohol use, right? Like, yeah, a lot of people we've we had when we we were probably leaned too heavily into the party culture when we were had an office, had a beer keg, bought lots of alcohol, employees would often stay late on Fridays. There were occasions where people got shit-faced and people embarrassed themselves and they did dumb things and 1 person actually was a catalyst for getting sober.

Speaker 3

00:33:29 - 00:34:19

Yeah. I mean, those are all life things that happen, and now they probably don't happen directly in front of your colleagues, which there are benefits to that as well, don't get me wrong. I just think that, I think, and I love the way that you have been increasingly intentional about what does what should a workplace encompass and how do we create that environment which is really hard work. It is no matter where you are or how you're doing this. And when I wrote about this 18 months ago, wrote an article for the paper on this, talked about remote, hybrid, and in office.

Speaker 3

00:34:19 - 00:34:30

And the most important thing that you have to be is intentional about what you're trying to do. And always looking for ways to improve what you're doing.

Speaker 1

00:34:32 - 00:35:03

Yeah. Yeah, and you can't just throw people, you know, like anything, you can have a really unhealthy, toxic in office culture and the same thing remotely. To your point, I think remote takes a little more work than office. Office, it kind of happens somewhat automatically, but it just takes a little bit more effort with remote. I'm not going to pretend it's perfect or that remote has all the answers, but I've just found that the benefits outweigh the downsides for the most part.

Speaker 1

00:35:04 - 00:35:55

The other thing I mentioned was like in terms of intentionality is the Slack community. How you how you think about the use of Slack or your team chat is very important. 1 of those things from a social perspective is making sure there's an active water cooler channel or whatever you happen to call it. We call it the water cooler channel and that's where people are posting what they're doing on the weekend. You know, Jason on our team recently went to he he bought this essentially tour package where you go to the US and you chase storms and they take you all around through tornado alley and he saw and he was sharing all of his pictures and all of this you know he saw a couple tornadoes and you know and there was like lots of lots of discussion around that and people were really excited to see stuff from his chip.

Speaker 1

00:35:55 - 00:35:58

So we've had that. We have a fitness channel.

Speaker 3

00:35:59 - 00:36:09

Do you measure anything on that? What percent of engagement or what percent of people actually read slash participate in that?

Speaker 1

00:36:10 - 00:36:38

We don't measure it objectively. We measure it, you know, I would say intuitively. Like if it's a ghost town, then it's like, okay, I think you have to, the leaders have to lead by example, right? So Jason's our VP engineering, so he's posting these things. Yeah, I mean, we also have like, some people engage in sport teams.

Speaker 1

00:36:38 - 00:36:56

So we have like 1 group that meets up every Monday and plays basketball in here in Halifax. We have a golf golfers paradise Slack channel. So the people who love golf will play in that in the summer and they'll post their pictures there for those who wanna join. We have a musicians channel. We have a food channel for all the foodies.

Speaker 1

00:36:57 - 00:37:18

Yeah, like we, there's, you know, in the same way that people use Facebook, you know, to connect with their friends and family and share foods and updates. I mean, I think Slack at the end of the day is that yes, it's a work tool to communicate ideas and, and that kind of thing. But I think you also have to think about building it as a social community too.

Speaker 3

00:37:19 - 00:37:34

Yeah, asynchronous communication is something that is relatively new to us as an ability to do in real time. And it is a very difficult thing to get right.

Speaker 1

00:37:36 - 00:38:14

Yeah. I mean, I realize I'm coming at this, you know, as an evangelist here. Yeah, for sure. But I think like, you know, how long or what, how long has social media been a thing right? It's it's been over 15 years now yeah, and You know Zuckerberg's mission was to make the world more connected It's arguable whether or not he did that, but I mean, whether it's Facebook or TikTok or LinkedIn or Instagram, we've all been staying connected with people who we don't see all the time in person.

Speaker 3

00:38:16 - 00:39:07

The interesting thing on that component is, and it's interesting the different ways this 1 has gone this morning, because it's very difficult to find net positives of social media. Yeah. Very difficult to find aggregate net mental positives for it. And so while it certainly has been there, you have to be extremely intentional about how you use it if you want to create a net positive experience for yourself or for your organization. I mean, how many of those asynchronous channels have been taken over by evangelists for 1 cause or another within organizations and have had some, you know, and I'm not saying those are even negative events.

Speaker 3

00:39:07 - 00:39:20

They're just events that have gone viral. Very few of them because people are engaged positively with each other. Yeah. It's more of a doom loop it gets into.

Speaker 1

00:39:21 - 00:39:50

Well, 1 further point I would make is, companies for long before the internet existed have had multiple offices as they've, right? And think of like ad agencies, right? Will often have their New York and their London office and their Tokyo office or what have you. But in a lot of cases, they were kind of like separate businesses. 100% they were,

Speaker 3

00:39:50 - 00:39:51

yeah.

Speaker 1

00:39:51 - 00:40:24

You know, and they created clans. And this is 1 of the biggest dangers to culture, whether you're in office or remote, is for people to form silos and groups and become this department versus that department or this office versus that office. And I would say that that Slack and Zoom have leveled the playing field. Because the people we have a large group at Proposify that live and work out of Toronto or the surrounding area. We have a group that live out of Montreal and then Halifax and then a few spread out between BC and Philippines and India.

Speaker 1

00:40:25 - 00:40:54

And there is no real difference other than you know We see the Halifax folks more often. We might get together in person more often for, you know, dinner or soccer or what have you. But, you know, when I think of day-to-day work culture and communication, in my mind, there's no connection. When if I'm talking to Nadia out of Toronto or Simone out of Montreal, it's 1 team. And I don't think we had that before these tools existed.

Speaker 3

00:40:55 - 00:41:26

It's all in your deployment. And I think increasingly, some of the intentionality that you're leading is admirable. And it's very difficult to do. Whether you're in office or out of office, it doesn't really, it doesn't, whether you're in office or whether you're remote, it doesn't really matter. This stuff is building culture and intentionally building culture is, it is probably 1 of the most challenging aspects of running an organization once you're past like 15 people.

Speaker 1

00:41:28 - 00:42:21

Yeah. And it's, it's easier when you're small. So here's where I will meet you halfway on this, is that if you're starting a new business, a startup, what have you, there's probably no replacement for a 10-person company to sit together in a room for the first couple of years and just work out of the same work next to each other. It's going to be hard to replicate that online. But if you're starting to scale beyond 10 or 15 people and you're in the 20, 30, 50, 100 plus territory, you're gonna be dealing with these issues whether or not you have an office is siloing, you know, clannishness, I don't know if that's a word, but people sort of, this person there versus that group, and we don't know what they're doing, and we don't talk to them.

Speaker 1

00:42:21 - 00:42:40

Those issues just happen regardless. And in an office, I think, I'm not saying you're coming at it from this position, but I think in general, the pro office side is looking at the pastor rose-colored glasses and pretending that those weren't issues and that the office is like, you know, a catch-all quick fix to that.

Speaker 3

00:42:42 - 00:43:08

Well, I 100% agree with you that the in-office was not perfect. I think the best way to put a period on this is to say that no matter what approach you're going to take, you've got to be intentional and explicit in your communication of that approach so that you can attract the talent that aligns with what way they want to go to work.

Speaker 2

00:43:10 - 00:43:28

You've been listening to the Racky and Sims podcast. You can help this podcast grow by sharing it with others or by leaving a review. Have an idea for a future episode? Reach out to Kyle or Matt on LinkedIn. We hope you tune in next time as we further dive into solving common challenges and help you propel your business in the right direction.

Speaker 1

00:43:30 - 00:43:42

♪ ♪ ♪

Speaker 4

00:43:43 - 00:43:46

Don't you say it, don't you ever say it again

Speaker 1

00:43:47 - 00:43:48

Speaker 4

00:43:49 - 00:44:06

Please won't you tell me you would ever say it again Don't you say it, don't you ever say it again Please won't you tell me you won't ever say it again?

Speaker 1

00:44:06 - 00:44:14

♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪