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Laurel Farrer and the rigor mortis Zoom call

Laurel Farrer on Remote work + Covid


Justin  0:35  

All right, and we're doing this again. It's another Friday. So it's another episode of remote voices. We have Jordan and hunter here as usual and we have an amazing guest in our wonderful friend Laurel, who I asked to introduce herself to me so that I would know what to say. And she named like 40 things that she did. So I'm going to go ahead and let her start. She has to introduce herself say what she does and then also tell us about this time she did a zoom call with a dead body. That's how we started the stream. We're all very confused. We know nothing about this.

Jordan  1:06  

Here we go!

Laurel Farrer  1:09  

I brought out my big guns too early. Okay, so I'm the CEO of distributed consulting. We are a consulting management firm that specializes exclusively in remote work. And so we advise fortune 500 companies as well as international governments on how to start and strengthen and leverage remote workforces. I'm also the founder of the remote work Association, which is a community of remote work advocates, and dead bodies. Sorry. So I've been a remote worker for 13 years. Yeah, so I have seen I don't want to say that I've seen it all. But I've never met anybody that has topped this story, which I'll give you the short version. It was just a standing appointment with an old client of mine and I noticed that his background was different than usual. Like in remote land. We all know that we're we become very familiar with our backgrounds and I was like, hey, you're not in your usual spot, where are you? And he's like, Oh, no, my mother in law's house and they said, Oh, how she doing now? He was quite a bit older. So I knew that his mother in law was not in the best health. And yeah, you can see where this is going already...

Justin  2:18  


Laurel Farrer  2:19  

Oh, yeah. And and and that was it. It's exactly what you think. And he said, Well, not so well she passed away last night. Like oh, I said, Oh, I'm so psyched, like, you did not need to be on this call, like, Oh my word. And then he's like, Oh, no, it's okay. We're just we're just here with her. And we're just waiting. And I said, Wait, what? And I'm just trying to process all this information. And before I know it, he turns the webcam. And there she is. And I was just like...I mean, what people don't understand is like in remote land, video calls. It's your office like it's a very real space.

For us, right? So I honestly felt like somebody had just wheeled a corpse into my office. I was totally derailed for the rest of the day. It was. It was bizarre. So there's my story about you guys about that was so important that he felt like he still had to show up for the call.

Jordan  3:17  

That's insane

Laurel Farrer  3:18  

Well, that's the thing. Like it was the most bizarre thing he had scheduled the the call the night before. Like he was already there. He already knew that she, I mean, she may have already passed by that point. Like I never I didn't ask, let's be honest. But it was just like a catchup call. It was nothing.

Jordan  3:33  

That is wild!

Laurel Farrer  3:37  

Everything about it was just bizarre.

Justin  3:39  

Maybe. Like, maybe he didn't like that.

Laurel Farrer  3:43  

On that note, let's get started.

All right. Yeah. Who knows? Who knows?

Justin  3:50  

Yeah, that's our first one. I didn't pick any of these. I don't know what these are about. Let's see. Can you really build tools for remote teams? If your team doesn't work remotely, and I knew that's for sure, I've heard many times that people like just gave a lot of shit to slack, because they were not they like were adamant against remote work, like they were like, We will not let our engineers work remote get they, you know, build a tool that they tout as a remote work tool. So, Laurel, like what, what's your immediate reaction to this?

Laurel Farrer  4:23  

My immediate reaction is this is funny because I actually commented on this thread. So I do have a very real reaction to this, which is, of course it's possible, right? Like anybody can identify a gap in any industry. It doesn't have to be your specialty, anybody can think of an idea. However, I think the advantage is in the long term. If you are a remote team, obviously your research and development processes are going to be real time you're going to be continually developing product, product research and development ideas. And so I think long term your your not going to be as strong as your competitors. If your entire experience is based on an idea as opposed to ongoing research.

Justin  5:07  

I just Yeah, I've always thought that dogfooding was just so important in product like you have to be using it. I know somebody the other day tweeted, does figma design use figma design to design for figma? And I think the answer is definitely yes. And then they have to, that's the only way they're going to find gaps in their own product is by using it for its own intended purpose. I've always felt it was weird that slack was so adamantly against remote, because it signaled a problem that they weren't able to solve the problem themselves. I don't know that that's, that's where I see it is like they it's like a weird, lazy approach to product. If you can't fix your own problem, then your products not ready yet. You know, you need to be able to fix it

Laurel Farrer  5:18  

And not not understanding your consumer profile. If you can't adapt to the needs and really understand the mindsets of your consumers then like you're shooting yourself in your foot.

Justin  5:59  

Yeah, there's so much stuff in Yac that like Jordan and I will go back and forth and be like this isn't working, because we're using it. And we realized that this is not working. So we have to fix it or we have to change it. We have to add a feature, remove a feature, whatever it is, because we like see it in real time as we're using it. I don't know Hunter, like, what are your thoughts?

Hunter  6:17  

I'm sort of torn on this one. Because I know that I heard a story when I was in LA that the Facebook team, they were having trouble working with teams that were in other countries. So like users in India, for example, don't have as great of internet connection as they do, let's say the United States or in Europe. And so what they did was they took the entire like IP addressing the entire building in this one Facebook office and brought them all the way down to the same internet type. I don't know how it all works, but basically they forced their engineers to see the problems and they said that they ended up solving all those problems. So that's sort of like an anecdote, but that's what I see here is like, I feel like you need to at least experience remote work even one day a week to know what the problems are.

Justin  6:58  

I 100% agree with that, I think that's a great idea of throttling the internet connection just so you can get a feel for what it's like in a third world country and how they access your product. I think that's crazy important. Jordan, what do you think?

Jordan  7:10  

Yeah, I mean, I think I agree with you, Laurel here, like, I think you can build a product. I mean, really, you can do anything, right. But I think you don't get the magic until like, Hunter, you said, you experience it for yourself. I think it's one of the things you have to kind of go through to know the real problems and how to really solve it. So

Justin  7:28  

So maybe the answer is you can build tools, but at some point, you will hit a wall, if you're not dogfooding. You have to like experience what your users are experiencing. to, you know, truly do it. But I mean, this comes back to what I say to a lot of VCs, it's like, they continually ask us a lot of times, like, well, what is you know, what's the difference between Yac and a lot of other products and like one of the main things that I always talk about is that I've always seen other products in the space treat remote as a problem, because they think that it's like an issue that everybody's not in the same office and like Dude, no, it's a superpower to like, you able to focus and be on your own and like be heads down. And all these other products are trying to approach it from like a, we're gonna fix the remote problem. And it's really just like you need tools that understand remote and are built for remote not to like, slap a virtual office on top of it or like make everybody feel like they're in the same location because it's actually helpful to not be in the same location. I don't know, Laurel like have you? What's your stance on that the like, remote is a problem we need to fix type of thing.

Laurel Farrer  8:29  

Oh, this has been my messaging for the past decade is everybody is not seeing the wood for the trees, right. They're so focused on like you said that it's a problem, it's a hindrance, or that it's just a convenience that it's all about employees being able to wear sweatpants and sleep in late. And my entire career exists because my messaging is no no, this is a business strategy to leverage there is so much profitability to be accessed if we leverage this as a model. So yeah, there's productivity cost savings, and there's employee retention benefits and recruiting costs. And like all of these things just go on and on and on. And so businesses if they could for once, if they would focus more on the bottom line, that's where they would see the most satisfaction.

Justin  9:18  

Yeah, definitely. I think it's a managerial thing. Like, I've seen so many product leads and managers that they don't want to like release the reins like they're afraid of what would happen if their team went remote? And I feel like if you're building a tool for remote you have to have this thing in mind of like, being able to change that behavior. What does your product do to get somebody to have the mindset that remote is not this scary experience? It's actually this liberating experience that allows people to work better work in their environment. But yeah, I don't know I I'm bullish on this. I think like you have to be working remote to build a remote tool because I I see too many tools, building it from the perspective of like, Oh no, we work in an office.

So that we can start to make remote remote work more like an office because that's the environment we want to build for remote team versus us is like, we will purposefully like we did this when we were building Yac is we went a whole day using only voice communication, just to see how complicated it would be to like not use slack or email at all. And then same thing like we will go work remote like hunter will just like go to a coffee shop, just to like see what it's like to work from a coffee shop all day long. Without like your own equipment without your quiet space. Oh, it turns out like I need headphones on all the time because I need to focus. Maybe we could build things around like, you know, hands free mode on headphones, like you start to like, find things once you experience it for the first time, but Alright, let's go to the next one.

Playing a little bit of Roulette here. I don't even know what I'm bringing up. Oh, I love this one. This was mine that I got to put in. Um, I don't know if you guys saw this. And it's Google so who knows if it will like even exist, it could just like be vaporware that never gets made or they'll make it and tear it down in like three weeks. But essentially, Google's working on this thing that will basically replace audio that is lost. So like if if there's packet loss in like a video conferencing call or like what we're doing right now, they're going to use AI to essentially like mask that break and replace it with like AI audio so that you can't even tell that you had a poor connection because it could figure out kind of what you were saying and improve the actual vocals at a network level instead of worrying about what you actually said having to transfer over. And this gets us into some creepy dystopian future thing too. We're already talking about like deep fakes where you see President Trump or Biden saying something that like they didn't actually say, and now it's being done in real time over a video call.

Jordan  11:53  

That's what I was. I started this I mean, Justin, I know you and I all the time and we do calls, we like to document things and also for evidence but what else to say this gets like really weird especially you know if somebody is like filling in the gaps for you and you make you want that documentation on the recorded call, but it's not even actually what you said or like what you met so this get this can get super weird in my opinion I, I'm feel really.

Justin  12:16  

It solves the problem that hunter brings up a lot which is that something like Yak is one of the only tools that works cross culture cross company, cross internet provider, or zoom a lot of times can struggle to stay afloat, like we talked to Charles last week, and he was just going over the data on like, what countries even bother to turn on video. And most of that has to do with like, just network bandwidth limitations. So imagine if there was zero barrier to real time synchronous communication because an AI is going to take over Laurel thoughts.

Laurel Farrer  12:50  

I just feel like this is misdirected attention. I mean, it's it's a good idea like we we've all been in this scenario where this has been a pain point. So we we all get it, we all relate to it. But I wonder if there is a deeper root to the problem that we should be focusing on. Instead, instead of investing our time and energy and money into this solution, should we be focusing on just getting better bandwidth to more people? Yeah, or being able to have a higher, you know, operational power of the systems with less bandwidth or something like that. I mean, you guys know, I'm not a techie. I don't I'm clearly out of my element here. But as a non techie, I'm looking at this and thinking, I feel like we're solving the wrong problem.

Justin  13:36  

It is an interesting approach to go at the like, the middle of the problem and still like the instead of like the beginning of the problem hunter

Hunter  13:44  

Attacking this, it's like attacking the set. I like what she said and think of that attacking the symptoms rather than the the root of the problem. But Laurel actually want to ask you a question about this, because to me, this Google isn't solving the infrastructure problems. So even if they are masking the symptoms, which really interesting for me is that my team and let's say India, I often don't get on zoom calls with them because the audio breaks up so much. I mean, forget video, that's impossible, but the audio breaks up too. So I'm wondering what you think about the inclusivity of being able to say, Okay, everyone basically has the same playing field when it comes to audio.

Laurel Farrer  14:20  

You know, this really is speaking of going to the root of the problem like this is beyond software. This is beyond culture. This is beyond anything like this get gets down to equal accessibility to broadband internet. And so until we solve that problem on a sociological level and on a public sector, in a government affairs level, we really can't do much again, like we can strategize and we can focus on how do we make, use better use of what we have, and make that stretch as far as possible, but we really as as a government consultant on the topic of remote work, this is a major pain point. And the people they're asking us to bring virtual jobs to people in rural counties. And I'm in order to save the economic development. And we're like, they can't have a job unless they have internet. So like we really this has been happening since the 80s and 90s, of trying to get internet to more people. And until we solve that problem, we can do much more.

Justin  15:17  

We talked about this two weeks ago, actually, it was one of the tweets that we brought up was now that school is like required to be online, and you can't not go to school. Right? So does that make internet now a public right, that all K through 12 have to do online school currently, at least. Now, is it something that you'd be mandated to have? Is there a government stipend for providing some basic level of internet to everybody at a reduced or free cost? I think it's interesting that you went there because we struggled to have this conversation two weeks ago. But now that you see masking the symptoms, you just went right back to well, Internet's basic right.

So why don't we solve that before we slap some AI on the problem?

Laurel Farrer  16:04  

Exactly. And there's a lot of funding, especially from Google that could really help with this. Right. But um, yeah, I mean, it's frustrating that we're in this position that now we had an emergency situation that required the use of this for millions of people, billions of people all over the world. And we hadn't been listening to the message for so many decades. We could have been doing this for decades, and preparing for this and building the infrastructures. And we didn't and we missed the boat. But hopefully this will be the wake up call that we need to make the right decisions in the future.

Justin  16:38  

We live in a bubble because I would have never thought that like I've heard of Netflix and Amazon throttling the quality of their content to save bandwidth so that everybody has like equal access to the internet. I I thought in 20, like bandwidth on the internet was not an issue like I maybe I just still, you know,

The Internet series of tubes, all that shit that they talk about, maybe I'm still in the dark on how the internet works. Like, where's the clog? Like, I didn't think in 2020, we still had the ability to like clogged the pipes up.

Laurel Farrer  17:12  

Or just accessibility. I live in Connecticut. And like, I mean, this is I'm not. I'm in right in between Boston and New York, two of the major metro areas of the world. And I, just a few months ago, had to dig a trench a half a mile long to get internet to my house. Like this is absolutely it was something that I took for granted. Just thinking, Oh, of course, if I buy a house and I move into and I'm going to have internet Yeah, like I didn't even think about it. We're in between two new construction neighborhoods, like didn't think about it. My house is 30 years old. And yeah, and so yeah, that lit a fire and amazing if I can't access it in the location that I'm in then we really have a problem in very rural areas. Not only our country, but of our world. That's crazy. I yeah,

Justin  17:59  

I guess I just don't have that perspective. And sometimes, you know, just like we talked about on the last slide, maybe you have to step into the shoes of a different person or a different, you know, culture or, you know, situation to understand that things aren't always as easy for everybody else.

Laurel Farrer  18:17  

And we can't have a savior complex either and think, oh, because I have AI, like, I'm going to save the world. Like, no, we see this with like taking virtual jobs to refugees, right? We're like, Oh, I'm going to save your life. And it's like, no, this puts them in more danger in this world that they live in. We have to come from a place of empathy in order to solve problems.

Justin  18:38  

Wow. That's a that's some super deep insights on the on that I love that. All right.

I don't know what this is. Hunter. You want to grab this one?

Hunter  18:48  

Yeah, I'll take I'll take. Yeah, I'll take this one. So this was Monday calm. They released their state of remote work, Laura, I'm sure you've probably seen this as well. Just some of the bullet points. I just wanted to highlight was that, due to COVID, a lot of people got the try out working remote. And it's 69% of people, or maybe it's 60%. But 69% of people enjoy working from home more than they expected to. So I just kind of want to like open up the floor because I think a lot of people weren't trying remote because they expected that they wouldn't like it. I just this was mind blowing to me that people are actually liking it, especially given the circumstances.

Laurel Farrer  19:26  

Yeah, so I have a lot of thoughts on that is we're in a very tricky situation right now. Because allowing remote work and truly adopting remote work for the long term are two very different things. And so people are saying, Yeah, this is fantastic. And I want to do this and then we're just like we were talking about before it's stuck at the mid level management for final approval. So again, if we zoom out go to the root of the problem, then it is more of a situation of have we updated the infrastructure of the company for this to be

a viable business continuity plan. We can't just say that something's fun and easy and expect for this to become the new normal. We need to be willing to make the correct changes in order to allow for this to be sustainable. So yes, of course, it's it's great to be like it. Who wouldn't like working from home? However, is this sustainable doing this for a couple of months, as opposed to a couple of years are two very different things. And we need to make sure that people are making their decisions wisely and with the correct information as opposed to just a knee jerk reaction.

Justin  20:38  

I mean, I'm surprised by this figure, because the the response that I've seen Well, I mean, I've talked about this a lot is I think we're going to see two things, right. You'll see companies that never go back, and they just, they're remote. This was amazing. And then you see a lot of companies that were like, this was horrible, we hated remote work, it didn't work at all remote sucks, and you know,

We're never going back to it again. And my immediate reaction to that is always well, like, Yeah, dude was born out of a crisis. Like you weren't prepared. You didn't have the tools you didn't have the processes in place. No one told you how to do this. Of course, it was a terrible experience for you. So I'm actually surprised

Laurel Farrer  21:12  

This isn't my remote work right now. Like what we're doing right now. This is not remote work. This is exactly this is learning from home working from home shopping from home worshiping, for what like ever, like no, even us as remote expert yet, like even as experts and veteran work remote workers. I've been a remote worker for 13 years. And I'm stressed and overwhelmed right now. Like, this is this is not we're about

Justin  21:36  

100%. So that's what I'm saying. I'm so surprised by the 69% figure, because you would think that people like for me, my my wife, and I just started fostering classes. And so every Monday we were supposed to actually go and like sit with 20 other people and learn how to foster children. And I was excited for that because I'm a social butterfly, like I was gonna get in there and meet people and talk to them and I work from home take that opportunity to get out of the house and like, you know, shake some hands and stuff is super exciting. And now it's all on zoom. So I spend, you know, eight hours a day attached to my laptop, and then three more hours on Mondays doing a zoom call listening to some dude talk, and I hate it so much. And so like, for me, as someone who's like born out of this era, I'm hating it. I'm surprised that 69% of people are enjoying it, which is good. I mean, that that says good things about where we'll be in the future. But I'm surprised that people you know, didn't do it. I think it's funny that we've got 70% basically that enjoy doing it and then you've got roughly like 20% that work with a pet or a child on their lap. I bet there's a large overlap with the 30% who said they didn't enjoy remote work, and 17% that have a child on their lap the entire time. That That sounds like a very different working environment for probably most people. Nobody here has kids. Do you have kids Laurel

Laurel Farrer  23:00  

I do, I have two kids? It was not easy. No, they are not allowed into my office but I have laxed up my rules a lot. And previously, it's like, hey, it's the doors closed, I'm working the end. And they're very well trained. I mean, they were both raised with me working from home so they get it. However, right now, no way like my husband, I can't both lock ourselves in this office and not never see them throughout the day. And this is stressful and a tricky time for them as well. So we need to be more accessible as parents. So previously, my kids were never seen in a video call ever, like, very strict because, you know, as a working woman, you can't be seen as a remote worker just because you can be home with your kids, you need to maintain credibility in your profession and not just be seen as a working mom. And so I was always very strict about those rules because of that, but now I'm like, come on over like this. This is life right now is that it's not work life balance and not work life integration. It's not all of these stupid terms. Now, it's just a blur. Everything is a blur all the time and we need to be very, very, very accommodating to people as they make the adjustment.

Hunter  24:13  

Let me let me ask you, Laurel, last time I talked to you is about a year ago. And one thing that that really stuck with me but from our conversation was you mentioned that you were finding at that time at least I don't know what it is now. I'm curious what it is now that folks who work from home their kids did better in school. What is it? Have you seen any changes in that any update on that due to the circumstances?

Laurel Farrer  24:34  

Yeah, yeah, there are so many reciprocal effects of remote work that are so fascinating to see. Because Yeah, there's just more accessibility of family dynamics. This is what part of what we research at the World Economic Forum's what are the ripple effects? Yes, this is good for business output. We know that yes, this is good for work life balance. We know that but what is happening outside and yeah, we're finding lower rates of childhood obesity, of environmental sustainability of just you know latchkey kids can maybe be a term that is left in the past. Like all these sociological impacts are something that are really really fascinating to watch.

Hunter  25:19  

That's awesome.

Justin  25:20  

I love these facts. I'm just reading through the center. Like 28% eat meals that are healthier. I think that's super interesting because I've noticed myself

Jordan  25:31  


Justin  25:31  

I'm eating healthier. But Jordan you don't even cook so are you eating healthier Are you know,

Jordan  25:37  

I've been I've been I've been sending you snaps i've i've been cooking. I've been a cooking theme lately, but jokes aside, I have been eating a lot healthier because you know, you're not getting home. super late. It's easier to like make dinner versus sometimes. The Office late. It's like 9pm right but I am eating a lot healthier.

Justin  25:57  

I found that I feel much better. Because I'm at home all the time, I'm not tempted to grab something on the way home. I'm I'm actually snacking more, which I'm not a snackers like I just never do and I think that's actually helped me stave off a little bit more weight because I'm not eating these gigantic meals really late at night because I got home late and like, had to make this big meal because I was starving because I didn't eat all day. I'm grabbing stuff like carrot sticks throughout the day or whatever. And then when it comes to dinnertime, I'm like not loading up like I have like one piece of chicken and not like chicken and bread and pasta and all this other stuff. So it's interesting how staying at home has forced me to actually eat healthier real food. Whereas when I had basically the world is my cornucopia anywhere I still relegated to just like eating Wendy's instead because I was tired and I just wanted to like grab something to the drive thru. Yeah, you're a mom Laurel. So are you cooking and working?

Laurel Farrer  26:53  

Oh, yeah. I love but I love cooking. It's part of my how I turn my brain off from work at the end of the day.

Justin  26:59  

Same! Exactly Yeah.

Laurel Farrer  27:01  

But I will also say that they're often I'm asked the question like what is your favorite remote work tool right? And I have two one is my my Fitbit that I wear to make sure that I'm not sedentary and but then my second always raises an eyebrow because I'm like it's a crock pot. I love my craft because I can like that's how I get into my mentality for the days like I prep dinner, get it ready, and then have this HomeMade Healthy delicious meal that's cooking all day because remote work is still work so yes, I'm only a few steps away from my kitchen but I'm tired at the end of the day and I'm still like okay, what am I going to cook like it's still hard for me even though I'm in the same space. So to have that dinner that is just there and healthy and hot and waiting for my family. If I if my if I'm not able to cook or waiting for me if I don't have the energy to cook like it's the best plus you get to smell it cooking all day and you get excited for dinner. It's great. My sushi

Justin  28:00  

I have a jewel souvid and so I'll throw a bunch of chicken in there and have that cooking all day at the very beginning of the kind of pandemic I cooked like a whole thing of like eight chicken breasts all at once in my feed and then I just had really really good juicy chicken for like a week which was amazing and I just cooked it all at the very beginning it's so funny how you classify non remote work things as remote work tools because you're right like I know Jordan and me hunters gonna laugh but like we have we have our aura ring which is helping us sleep hunter doesn't believe that our wings help asleep but they do but yeah, I mean it tells me like my body temperature how ready I am for the day if I should take a nap based off of like how I slept last night gives me kind of like a trend for the week and like I you could totally see the impact on my life for last week's crazy well

Jordan  28:53  

what's what's really interesting about all this to like sum it up. I don't know about you guys, but one thing I have noticed is that a lot more structure is in. my day because I like working remotely, it's like I know at this time, I'm gonna do this, this time, I'm gonna do this. And then at the end of the day, I know I'm like Dustin, I'm done working. And it just, it's really interesting. There's no way in RP of like, oh man, the office, this may happen, this may happen just like boom, boom, boom boom lots of structure. So that's really cool to see too.

Laurel Farrer  29:18  

And well and that's just a representation of what's happening in general is that as a remote worker, you are a self manager, both of your professional life but also your personal life, which now are all one thing. So you have to be in control of that of, Hey, I'm not doing well at work, I need to sleep better, or, hey, I'm burning out because I'm not eating a good dinner at the end of the day, or whatever, like all of our professional decisions merge very closely with our personal decisions and we have to be responsible for all aspects of our self management. So I'm not going to start working until this time and then I'm going to take a break for lunch so that I am eating healthy and stabilizing my metabolism.

Then I'm gonna go for a run at three o'clock because I noticed that I have a big mental block at that time. And then I'm gonna come but you know, like

Justin  30:06  

I've been doing walkds every day.

Laurel Farrer  30:08  

Yeah, and it helps so much professionally. definitely agree. All right, what do we got next?

Justin  30:15  

This is actually really the same thing. If you think about it, this was basically this, this concept of a CEO of a 400 plus employee businesses working from home is working well, so well that he says he might not renew his San Francisco lease to say 10 million a year, which is just like, an insane number. I can't even imagine throwing that into our runway for Yac. Like, if we had to tell somebody we spent 10 million just to like, exist in a building that blows my mind.

And then just doing off sites, which is what you know, the base camp guys always talk about is that they do like an off site once a year like this huge blowout one week off site, and that is what their team morale and like seeing everybody and get together they do like group projects and stuff. It's just so exciting.

That someone who is so clearly baked into the deep, deep real estate side of non remote work is just like, Oh, this worked great. Like, we could save 10 million a year. So, you know, Laurel, I'm curious, do you think that's real? Like, do you think that's gonna be a thing that you see a couple companies do?

Laurel Farrer  31:20  

Oh, absolutely. There was a study conducted by Gartner just last week that talked exclusively, not necessarily about real estate, but just that CFOs in general are seeing the savings so much that they're saying, Oh, well, this, we cannot ignore this anymore. And so they're keeping their workforces permanent from this point forward, not going back to the offices and then going back home, but from this point forward, they are now permanently remote workers. And it's staggering numbers like 20 to 40% of enterprises like insane. It was as remote work consultants and you know, industry thought leaders It was kind of this one two punch of when the big

wave of remote work conversations and media attention came that was the first punch. But then that report was the second punch saying, not only is this speeding up the industry in general, it is happening right now. So yes, we see this on a massive level, with our real estate consulting that we do distribute, it's more about the conversation about how do you leverage, like, what is the right decision? Because obviously, if we have every single company, all of a sudden, just ditching all of their offices, we're going to have a real estate crisis. So if there's, you know, economically, we're not doing great already. And so we need to make sure that we're stabilizing. So we're helping companies make sense of their ROI calculations and identifying what is the best way to leverage your real estate in the long term. So is it going fully distributed and just never going back to the office or is it some type of hybrid model in which you have have offices in certain locations where you have a high concentration of employees? Or is it turning your office into a co working space or doing a shared desk option or blank, blank blank? Like what makes the most sense for your company? And I think that's the big takeaway with remote work is that it's not one size fits all. It is it should, it can and should be leveraged and customized for each individual company.

Hunter  33:22  

Interesting Hunter, do you think certain companies are going to do you think you're gonna see a trend with certain companies that do this and other industries that maybe don't?

I don't know. I do know, though, that I think everybody's going to at least the big guys, I think they're going to turn their offices more into like what we saw at Google, you know, their Boston office, you walk out of the elevator, and it's an experience. It's not a it's not a I mean, they do work there that don't get me wrong. But I mean, it's from getting lunch to all the way to like standing desks, they have treadmills attached to them. Right and I talked about this all the time, there was a

Full on, like aircraft in one of the rooms with like napping pods. This was like a resort. I don't see a whole lot of work getting done there. But I could definitely see like what Laurel saying is that these spaces turned from like, actually sitting physically, next to one another to somewhere that you actually like, just come to like be together. So I do notice that online, a lot of people are talking about how they're just switching completely from office spaces to off sites. And so I can see offices just turning into like we work, I can just see them exploding from something like this.

Justin  34:32  

Yeah, that's, that's interesting. I guess my thing is, how do you justify the real estate investment? If it's something you don't go to every day? Like, as an intervention, right, like, you know, Jordan and I are running numbers all the time and it's if something's essential or not essential, if it became what you just said, which I think is cool. Like I think you always talk about this. Hunter just like an office is so important to just like what your employees think of coming to work every day. Like just is there good art on the walls that bright? Is it welcoming? Is there good food in the kitchen? Like, it has to be someplace that's like, I guess inviting, like Jordan, what do you think if we put, you know, office on our runway and it wasn't essential, what do you think investors are even going to say?

Jordan  35:19  

Yeah, I think it's subjective to you know, kind of your circumstances. I think if you have a billion person, Army, I think countryside, you'll need some sort of office just to respond, say to employers attention, because not everybody works the same way. And I think in that case, it's justified. But I think if you're small, super small team, and you might not this isn't a necessity for you in costing you more in the long run. Then, you know, I don't think it makes sense for you to have an office I think it's going to be a thing that's going to be case by case in the countryside. It'll just be more spots. To be together. Not necessarily like an office with a desk in your office, sit there in front of a computer all day or just be my morning spot. You can go to.

Justin  35:59  

Maybe there's a startup opportunity here for instead of CO working spaces, co lounging spaces and you share you know that real estate cost with five other startups and it's just like, a chill place with beanbags and kombucha

Jordan  36:18  

you know what I think is like a I know it's kind of a thing already, but a bunch of startups are like even some gaming teams that have like houses for example, like I don't like that my house, I can see stuff like that. Like I have first startup or something like that.

Justin  36:33  

That's interesting. All right. What do we got next? I think is the last one. Okay, the Y Combinator change. Laurel, did you see this news that they they changed their, their pro rata stake?

Laurel Farrer  36:46  

No, no, I this is definitely your world. So explain this to me.

Justin  36:50  

Yeah. So from a startup perspective. yc is like you get in and you're guaranteed investment and they have like these very strict pro rata rights were basically like, that's the whole concept of yc is like you get in, you're made for life, right? Like, you get the press out of it, you get the investment out of it. But also, like you just get in you do the program, you get money, like there's no question.

So it's interesting, they changed their policy. So that investment is now case by case and their pro rata stake is not as high. So, you know, I don't know if this is a signal of fear in the marketplace of we don't know what VC is going to look like moving forward, is there going to be money to invest? You know, what's the economy doing? Or is this the reverse? Let's look at a little bit more positively. We want more people to have access to yc resources without investment being this because obviously, they would have to be so much more strict about who they let into yc if investment is this guarantee, but if it's not and you just want to think you view yc is like a resource, maybe now you can open it up to more people and you know, they did their Demo Day remotely. And I think Hunter, you showed me that they were now even talking about not even requiring people to go to SF, it was just like, you could just I don't know, do it online or something like that maybe.

Hunter  38:12  

So just to sort of zoom out, I think this is like one anecdote. So I think is might be happening nationwide. So Laurel, I'd actually pitch the the conversation over to you, like, are you seeing I know you're involved with like governments and obviously real estate investors. So you're working with people that are doing a lot of investment? Like, what's our is anybody changing? And obviously they are but what does that look like? As far as like, sort of, generally,

Justin  38:38  

Is money available? Are people investing? Are they shutting it down? Are they just tightening the purse strings?

Laurel Farrer  38:43  

Yes. So it's just right now especially it's just a matter of locking things down and everybody's mind is on resiliency and continuity to wait out the storm.

Because you know, this is not a three week problem and

It may not necessarily be a three month problem either. And so I think that people, I think that this is a very micro example of a macro mentality of, we don't necessarily want to give up our unique value proposition and, and sacrifice the culture of our brand. However, we also have a responsibility to our employees and to our community to be responsible. And this is what that looks like it and it probably is going to get more and more drastic over time, but I think, yeah, I mean, there's just nothing certain about the future right now.

Justin  39:39  

Jordan, what do you think about the yc badge, maybe not being quite as much of a badge, you know, if this change happens,

Jordan  39:48  

yeah, I mean, I mean, I think we didn't seem like a lot of companies was like, oh, like yc just doesn't seem as excited anymore. of lost its alert. So I I think doing this to be honest like cutting the pro rata state. I think it furthers that to be honest. It's like, Okay, well, now more funds are gonna get avoided and more companies, which more people will not have the yc badge again, less than what it's worth. And also, I mean, just, you know, as we've seen, as we've raised over a gazillion companies out there, whether it comes from yc was insanely successful now doing it super well.

And I think also as we move to a more remote world, you know, I think yc will kind of lose its alerting as part of it. You know, initially it was gonna move there, you got to go to San Cisco, you got to be on site, but that's just not realistic anymore. So yeah, I mean, I obviously hope the best for them. But I think this move out, and then also requiring on site as well. So it'll be interesting to see what happens.

Justin  40:45  

I think you're right, though.

Laurel Farrer  40:46  


Justin  40:46  

We're moving into a world where it's almost ridiculous to think you have to show up at a physical location for a fixed amount of time to be, you know, successful like there's no way that you guys can run your company without flying here and living here for three months. I think that we know it world but that's not expected anymore.

Jordan  41:06  

You know what's is crazy. Even since we did our first initial race the very first time like almost a year and a half ago till now even the conversation or like how people approach us is different at first it was Oh, my tiger. I know Florida now just kinda like, okay, you live in Orlando, Florida. That's kind of it, you move on. So I mean, it's super crazy. You just like a year, just over a year, how much things have changed?

Laurel Farrer  41:29  

Well, just a mentality of risk. In general, we're coming out of an economy where everything was really strong, like we could have a gig economy, we could have the highest entrepreneurship rates and small business rates because there was just more flexibility for risk. And that was a luxury and we're not headed into a strong economy anymore. And so that means that we don't get to play as much we don't get to have access to as many once we now need to focus more on needs. And it's, you know, it's a high low cycle and we'll be back in the high again eventually, but right now it's playtime is over and we got to get serious.

Yeah, Agreed. Agreed. Justin What are we Oh, is that it anymore?

Justin  42:08  

I think that's it. I want to know if Laurel has any more dead bodies stories like just what?

Have you ever had a company that just rejected remote work all together? And like what was their reasoning?

Laurel Farrer  42:21  

Oh, that's my job.

Justin  42:25  

What was it? That was like, we'll never do it. You can't convince us.

Hunter  42:30  

And now they are!

Laurel Farrer  42:30  

it's actually Yeah. Oh, that we can. Let's not get into that hahaha

Now everybody's an expert, right? Like literally,

Justin  42:39  

Oh yeah,

Laurel Farrer  42:39  

six weeks ago, I was begging companies like, please be more transparent. Like, I know that you offer some Remote Jobs. Would you be willing to speak at this conference? Or would you be willing to like, list this job is remote friendly? Absolutely not. So I can't even list how many hundreds of companies that applies to but it's not the executives that dragged their feet, it's the mid level managers, the executives are all on board because they're like, Well, yeah, like this is what I do. I'm always traveling to class center and to conferences. They're like, Oh yeah, like I'm a remote worker and they love it. The mid level managers those are the ones that are responsible for the results and they're so engrained into that that sensory management I can see productivity happening and so it's the most threatening for them and their their perceived job security and so yeah, the they're the ones that that kickback the most so not really interesting story there other than like, all of the self proclaimed experts now that everybody is a work from home expert that was that was super frustrating to see but um, yeah, I the other side just to circle back where we came from the other funny stories that I have also relate to video calls. And I'm a very big proponent right now of like zoom backgrounds. If you don't have a clean, simple background, put on zoom background because the number of disasters that I've seen behind people I don't ever want to see again but I also do a video called from bed like I so many calls that like they're like lounging like or they're

Justin  43:06  

Or they're laying like in the laptop is like on their chest so like the bottom of their neck

Laurel Farrer  44:24  

This is wildly inappropriate

Justin  44:28  

And it's like not any one thing that you want to stare at for like 30 minutes to an hour is like the undersell

Laurel Farrer  44:33  

and feel like you're in bed with them like this is super cool for a professional meeting.

Justin  44:41  

You got to get in bed with them

Laurel Farrer  44:43  

Literally hahahaha

Justin  44:46  

wow, no, that's so true. We should do like a series on just like video etiquette. Just like on like how to not look like

Jordan  44:56  

We actually joke jokes aside, we should because I mean even hanna for example, She liked some of her coworkers, you know, they're all going remote for the first time. And it's just like, oh my god, it's a wild west with him trying to figure it out.

Laurel Farrer  45:09  

Well there's a lot of culture to navigate. Because you don't have like, power shake, you know, handshakes, you don't have power ties you like you can't really make eye contact, like this is all very new territory. So people don't understand what professionalism looks like in a virtual world

Justin  45:25  

Well I like your background, so I was noticing the other day that like just a general tip is to do it against a blank wall, because you don't have that BBC reporter problem where it's against an open door where the door could open and like stuff could happen because like even if your scenario if the door opened in your office, you could take care of it. You know, before it comes into view. Like my wife just yeah, I'm looking at my door. Exactly. My wife tapped in and needed me to unlock the car door. And I could just like look here, give her a thumbs up and she didn't come into the view. It wasn't distracting for everybody. I mean, Hunter apparently is in front of one of the like, paintings from the White House of like,

Hunter  46:06  

I'm a golfer. So this is a

Laurel Farrer  46:15  

Counterintuitive. Yeah. What so I started my, my career way back when, as an interior designer. And so when you look at that in a room, it feels very weird, right? Because it's like this table that's floating in the middle of the room or like close to a wall and then you know, so in a room, it doesn't make sense. So most people don't think about it because they're trained that your furniture goes against the edges of the wall. And so they don't think about it, but I totally agree with you like in a pinch, worst case scenario, just turn around like scoot your table, two feet away from the wall, sit in between your table in the wall, and you're good.

Justin  46:55  

Yeah, exactly. Just Just for the sake of having a good background. I mean, Hunter doesn't have a plant today. It looks like Jordan has two!

Hunter  47:03  

He made up for me

Jordan  47:05  

a little baby plant, Yeah, there you go. Cheers to you, buddy.

Hunter  47:11  

It's amazing. how much better it looks at behind Jordan with just two plants. Yeah, otherwise it was.

Justin  47:16  

He's in like a clean room where Dexter like removes the people.

Jordan  47:24  

I gotta make my setup a little better.

Laurel Farrer  47:29  

I project that to be a trend we're gonna see majorly pimped out home offices over the next year. That's become like

Jordan  47:36  

sponsored in the background, right?

Justin  47:38  

Yes, yes. Well, yeah, I have a thing like the MTV Cribs back in the day. You'd like Well, yeah, cribs, I've seen actual like Instagram lives, who it's like just checking out the office today. Let's go ahead and see what my setup looks like. And it's like touting monitors and like your desk and like your mic setup and like that's become the new clout flex

Flex so hard. Oh, yeah, yeah, you gotta flex about your office now because it's the only thing you got going for you we can't see Jordans fancy shoes for all I know he's not even wearing pants. No.

Hunter  48:11  

Did you guys see someone actually, someone commented because we had a laurel, you'd appreciate this. We had a we had a challenge out there was like the clean desk challenge. Just something really fun that we keep doing every like two months because what else are you going to do as a remote worker? Right? It's either, right? Like, right. And so I just did that someone had this long thing that said you're now desk shaming. And this is like, what's wrong with the industry? Oh my god. Oh my

I was like, I'm not shaming anybody. Yeah.

Justin  48:45  

I have to take like really  strategic photos just so you don't see all the crap on my desk.

Jordan  48:54  

Yeah, from like here over is all my mess

Hunter  49:00  

All his furniture out of frames you can't see

Jordan  49:05  

Everything to the left of me is so messy.

It is it just

Justin  49:13  

Laurel just like you said there could be a dead body to your left. You know,

Laurel Farrer  49:17  

Nobody would ever know. So as long as you don't move your webcam and show us then we're none the wiser. So it's okay.

Justin  49:23  

I've been very busy and quarantine.

So, we're gonna have you back. Thank you. I'm gonna do like a Tips and Tricks video with you because I think that would be really tight. Where it

Laurel Farrer  49:38  

That would be so fun.

Justin  49:39  

Where can people find you online? How can they get in touch with you? How can they tell you apart from all the remote work experts that are floating around?

Laurel Farrer  49:49  

Well, let's see.

If How do you tell the difference? If you asked me a hard question, I can answer it once say that and most other people can't. And honestly that's how I screen my own consultants is I just have a video call with them, and I just take it to a really deep level really fast and if they can match my speed then I'm I know that they've been at this long enough to think deeply. And if somebody says that remote work is not ideal, that's a winner, because they understand the pros and cons, right? Like everybody else is just such an evangelist. They're like, yeah, this is the best and they're just capitalizing on SEO. And it's like, No, you can't really understand what it's like to facilitate a change management process unless you know, the bitter and the sweet, not a one size fits all. Yeah, exactly. Awesome. So yeah, distribute consulting comm remote work Association comm I'm the only Laurel far on social media. So it's pretty easy to find me just look for me on Twitter and LinkedIn

Justin  50:47  

We'll drop some links in the show notes when this goes up on YouTube. So we'll make sure that we plug in and get some people that contact you. So thanks so much for your time. Awesome. Thanks for having me.

This was super cool. And yeah, let's go ahead and queue it out.

Jordan  51:04  


Laurel Farrer  51:05  

Thanks, guys.

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