Nov. 29, 2021

Making Hybrid Work

Making Hybrid Work

Is hybrid work really the worst of both worlds? This week, Ryan and Heather discuss the state of hybrid and overcoming common challenges like meetings and forming relationships.


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Ryan Purvis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works Podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In the series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines. The problems they're facing, how they solve them. The areas they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, that'll help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings.

Heather Bicknell 0:30
I guess we should just get started with some news. So you have some exciting news to share. You want to make your big announcement? Yeah, so

Ryan Purvis 0:38
So officially, this will this will come into play in February next year. But I have joined Lakeside Software, after customer solutions, or we're just calling solutions internally. Obviously, the moment I'm just consulting to Lakeside until I get back to the UK. So finally going over to the vendor, they've spent so much time working with

Heather Bicknell 1:01
congratulation. Yeah.

Ryan Purvis 1:06
Show you the art show the irony of your news.

Heather Bicknell 1:09
Yeah, so I still like I can't I can't believe that things worked out this way. So Ryan, and I were co workers for about a whole week. Because I have moved on from Lakeside Software, after five really, really good years. And now I'm just a statistic in the great, you know, in a wave of the great resignation. Even though virtualization is not really in my realm anymore, I'll still be falling along with that space and Lakeside and excited to still watch things evolve.

Ryan Purvis 1:50
Yeah, it's you say, you know, it's up to you what you currently do, but I find, you know, doing other industries is not as interesting as this industry. I don't know what it is about. It's almost addictive.

Yeah, I think, you know, it's interesting that, you know, that was my start in tech. So it's kind of it is my frame of reference for everything. I think the thing I really like about that base is the kind of the network of partners, like the community element of it is very strong. So there's just kind of a, you know, everyone's there's a feeling that kind of everyone knows each other. And I really liked that about it. Or there was just, I think, a lot of support between these different organizations, and community about it. So that, you know, I'm not, it's not like I went, I swung way, far in another direction. So right now I'm focusing on product marketing for a company that does communications software, so employee communications, as well as some guests communication. And I think a lot of those, you know, a lot of what's happening right now, in the communication space isn't so far off from the digital experience space. But yeah, we're all stuck in this kind of hybrid world now. And try to figure out how to make work, work and kind of navigate the new normal as it were. So but, but anyway, you want to talk about that new normal?

Heather Bicknell 3:34
Yeah. So you said, Could you send that link, the Zoom link? And what was it called? Cite the article, The

New York Times article, the worst of both worlds, zooming from the office.

Ryan Purvis 3:50
Yeah. And when I was when I first saw this, I, I linked it to my experience of working in corporates where you spend your your life going into the office and Monday to Friday, whatever the hours were, and you'd be on the phone meeting with everyone and you'd be meeting with people that are in the building, but it was too much effort to meet face to face. So you just call each other and talk this to disk, that's where that's what I initially thought when I when I saw this title.

Yeah, so so like everyone being so on site, but just calling each other anywhere?

Yeah, exactly. You know, you'd have you'd have six people in the building different floors, and instead of meet each other in a meeting room, because that was like too much effort or to arrange, or you didn't have time or so because you're so back to back in calls that you very rarely meet meet together. So you would go and just set up a call and just talk to each other on Skype, because in those days, it was Skype for Business.

Heather Bicknell 4:54
Yeah, I think kind of the main thread here is that it's easier to Things work if everyone is remote, and in that kind of scenario that you're describing, it almost is like everyone's remote, or at least everyone's doing it the same way. Right? Everyone's at their laptop dialing in to the shared call, or if everyone's in the office and everyone's meeting in person, then, you know, you can just do it that way. But I think a lot of the awkwardness with hybrid comes into meetings that are split between a group conference call where some people are sitting around a table, and then, you know, others are dialing in from zoom or, you know, whatever they're using. And then you have those like two audiences. And the article describes a few companies who have kind of cracked down on that setup because of some of the problems that can cause of people talking over each other or it's hard to hear one another. So I think it was Zillow, who has a one zoom, all zoom policy, so what employee is dialing in? Or using Zoom? Everyone has to kind of in my like, in the scenario you described, then just call in, rather than using a conference?

Ryan Purvis 6:20
Yeah, I think so. Right? I mean, I did a call with with guys the other day, and I was the only one that was dialed in. And, and even that was difficult. Because, like, I wasn't I level with everyone. So I was sort of looking from the top down. And they were looking, they were obviously looking at me on the script on the laptop screens. And, and that look really weird, because they, they videoed the camera, do it on the laptop. So I wasn't looking at people's faces while I was talking. But I was watching the reactions of those talking. And I kept getting so confused as to who was I talking to? And, you know, all that kind of stuff. Obviously, I couldn't be there in person for that meeting. But you know, I'd ideally want everyone to be remote. Or if we can do it in person do or in person, I think that's the smartest thing that's come out of all this for me as well.

That's a good, interesting point about kind of not being able to see people or like pick out who's talking, I think that is in terms of like the benefit of using, you know, video call software, having everyone's name, you know, in the corner of the screen and associating that with a face. It's very handy.

Yeah, no, it's, it's, you know, I've gotten so used to because often when you meet people for the first time you call me with their names or having them join a meeting. And you've got the name of the photo on the screen. That also helps you to connect things. But I find it strange. I mean, one of these, I picked up the article, and this is picked up with this vendor the other day, you know, vendors or people that join a meeting with the cameras or still surprises me. Because I think that is like the most fundamental thing to build trust is to have a face to face. Unless you know that people really well, like you're not, you know, we noticed that fairly well. So I don't see your face when you're talking was such a big deal. But if you don't know anybody, you should be showing your face so they can see who you are and the rest of it, but also helps with stopping people talking over each other, which can happen software at a conference call.

Heather Bicknell 8:21
Yeah, I can almost feel like a scam. Right? Like, why won't you show me your face there? You? You know, is it like a cat fishing situation? But yeah, I think you're totally right. There is just an etiquette now around it. I think it does vary organization to org can't be approached. But, you know, if you have assuming you have a camera, you know, on your laptop, or if you have an external one. People, you know, when you're getting to know each other, it's very helpful to turn that on. I think that's one of the things that makes remote work kind of, you know, just just work better, just still being able to see faces. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Are you so I know, you've kind of you've worked at large banks where, you know, I feel like you're not fresh to remote or hybrid as kind of navigating those challenges. Are you surprised that organizations are still struggling with navigating how to make it work kind of culturally and productivity wise? Yeah,

Ryan Purvis 9:32
I think it's, it's not such a technology problem. I think it's a human problem. And it's definitely coming down to what the what the message is from the top down. So I'm very surprised when someone's going to be in the office five days a week. And the job can a job as a knowledge worker job. I mean, even, you know, five sets of surgery, so even the surgeon, you know, he does some of his consults via zoom, because there's no need to drive all the way to go and see him So I think if you're willing to find a way you'll find a way. I think there's, it's sometimes it's an excuse because of, you know, some sort of need for control or, or some commercial commitment that they're forcing people to go back to offices, which, which I just think it's so impractical often, and especially when you consider people with with kids, or people they need to care for, you know, forcing them to travel just makes no sense.

Yeah, I think it's one of those things that looking back, it's almost hard to, you know, it's like, how did we How did we do things that way for so long? Because it does, when you're, you know, going to an office every day, and you have other commitments, or, you know, if you're spending all your day on a computer anyway, as a knowledge worker, it just doesn't really, it's not needed. I mean, I think about I just changed jobs. In the old world, I would, that would have involved me doing a big move, I'm fully remote, my company isn't based in my state. And, you know, until all of this happened, it would have been very unlikely that I wouldn't have had to kind of uproot and move. And that was just normal.

Yeah, well, that's it. You know, side by side work, as you said, both, I mean, I work for small companies here in Africa and medium sized as well, in the UK, I work for mostly large corporates. And obviously, about the repo role, like to go and work for a bank, there's so much stuff you have to do in person and security checks. And you can't just take a device. And even though, with what I do, now, there's a device that's waiting for me in the UK, I can still do some of what I need to do, remotely. And if I need to do something in the environment, then there's a VDI or terminal session that I can log into, that's been secured and set up and all the rest of it. So they all you know, it's a case of making adjustments and logical practical adjustments as opposed to, and some of the, you know, people that I've spoken to, that are unwilling to do this, they almost want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. So, so So bringing your own device is completely unacceptable. So they won't even entertain it. But then if you start talking and say, Well, you know, what, if I just need access to email, which I put on my phone, or my, my tablet, that's okay. But to put it on a laptop that they haven't secured, that's not okay. But you sort of say malati compare that do you think they're almost exactly the same? Because they still did. They're still competing devices? And and there's no, you're like, you're, you're controlling my mobile device. In most cases, anyway, you're just giving me the, the the signing credentials, we'll put the second factor token. So once you sort of have those conversations, you find that there's a there's actually a middle ground. And I think people confuse hybrid. Between to be, you know, am I working in the office? Or am I working from home, but Harvard is actually just finding a middle ground to how do I get you to work in the most efficient, effective way, securing the business as well. And I think that point around, you know, calls should either be or what meetings either always be in person or always remote is not really hybrid, that's just, you know, the right doing the right thing at the right time. for the right reasons.

Yeah, that's an interesting point. I think hybrid can mean a lot of different things, right, there's no one way to hybrid.

Yeah, and I think, you know, the thing that I've always worried about is you get, and this happened to be that I used to work at the bank, so they got to be in the office five days a week, you're in there, spend the whole day on the phone, you've wasted, you know, two, three hours a day commuting, you're not getting any any more productivity by going out and in fact, you're you're getting less productive because you can meet it all the way and you're getting tired you're getting stressed you know your train runs late, whatever it is. Whereas working from home for the most part has given you back some productivity and some balance in your life. But the thing that worries me is that you've got to have a balance of both you've got to you've got to get to know people and so I liked the idea from that article where they said they all go in the office one day a week I think they call to work from the office Wednesdays or something. But that only works you know, for the people in that geographic location. So if you still are like you're in your case your company is nowhere near you. Useful you need to almost work twice as hard to have a social interactions you know, and have a good get to know people On a personal level,

totally, I think the hardest thing about onboarding remotely is forming relationships. I don't know, I'm sure you're experiencing this as well, although, obviously, you knew some folks from before. So maybe that's lessened it a little bit. But I think there's something about even just so I'm, I joined a large organization, it's a little over three times as big as lakeside. And just, I think, if I was in person, right, and everyone was in person, just be sitting somewhere, right, and you're seeing people walk by, and your, and your brain is like, okay, that's this person. And I think you kind of learn who everyone is easier, especially people who you might not ever really need to interact with too much for your job role, right, but you'll still see them and so you learn who they are, but fully remote. There's none of those casual interactions. So it's harder to form relationships. And it essentially involves, you know, meetings, and then like finding reasons to reach out and have conversations with people, which are, is a very kind of efficient and thoughtful way to do relationship building, right, because you have to be very intentional of, you know, figure out who you do want to form those bonds with or collaborate with, and reach out and, you know, set an agenda and make it worth their time as well. But it is just a lot harder to have any sort of casual or spontaneous, even short interaction that you'd have in physical office.

Yeah, I mean, I had that when I, when I joined our tour, I was a Canadian, it was also US based company. And, you know, I was interviewed completely online, and this is long before COVID, I knew one person in the company before I joined them. My entire team was outside of the outside of the UK. So you know, literally with my job started, my laptop arrived via courier sort of the Friday before my day, my first day. And, you know, when I, when I logged on, there was a whole flurry of meetings already booked in my diary to meet people, or at least to introduce me to people. And then I had a list of people that had to me. And it took probably three months before I met another person from the company. So everything was done. In those days, it was done over Skype for Business. And it was completely surreal. Because the only time you saw other people was when you went to a meeting, or we'd have every so often develop people in the business. By the time I left, we'd meet in the city for a workshop or just a meet and greet, we'd all sit and work around a table, do our own thing. But at least we were in the same building.

That's I mean, that's, that's my experience. Today, I got my my tech ships, and had some meetings booked them and off to the races. But I am looking forward to, to travel to those office sites. And I do have some other remote workers who are, funnily enough also in this city I am so we, you know, can get together and we you described get get together at a coffee shop or wherever and even if we're not collaborating, because we don't need to, we could still, you know, meet up and maybe do some work around each other and kind of get that experience because even though I obviously chose to work fully remotely, and I there's so much that is a huge benefit of that. And I think I can you know, I can make that work. I think the prospect of like, never seeing your team in person. Like I don't know if I'm ready for that world yet, where you were just fully robot with never like that prospect of eventually meeting people face to face.

Yeah, I don't think that'll be the case. I mean, we were talking today about a whole bunch of new parents coming out. And, you know, will they start locking things down again? And I don't think they will, I think that says they said the government's and whoever makes the decisions. I don't think you can, I think it's, you know, the only way to solve this problem is to guess to get vaccinated and to you know, follow the basic hygiene things wearing a mask washing your hands, keeping your distance and I know that sounds anti social, but you know that there's no other simple solution, because the vaccines will only get better. And and the other thing is just about keeping yourself protected. Yeah, this is not a this is a COVID show and you should be be told what to do. But it's just common sense, I

think. Yeah, I think you know, everyone just wants to go back to a more normal life right without are putting themselves or their loved ones at risk. So

sorry, just I mean, on that point, that's exactly the thing is we all want to go back to town freedom. And, and I think this, we will go to blase before this, we'll have for dinner, sort of, if you were sick, you'd go to work. And you'd be the hero be a hero for being in the office with your flu, you know, you know, tougher toughing it out. And what you really were doing was giving everyone that you came into contact with flu, or whatever it was. And that's not just the people you work with. But it's the, you know, Mike in the UK to the tube, it's the the the, the passengers on the bus, the passengers on the train, and making the problem worse, now that they're going back into normal, inverted commas, the flutamide have made a comeback again. So I think there's a level of hopefully people maturing to realize that you, if you're sick, you should stay at home. And we all know that technology works, because we've used it for so long, like that now, and be more responsible.

Yeah, I think that is a better, you know, something good that's come out of all of this is just the kind of behavior around sickness in general. And, you know, the courtesy of that, and not, yeah, not treating it as a good for you. You're like, you know, you can barely stand up and you're feverish, and you're coughing, but you made it into the office. You're dedicated.

Yeah, yeah, that's always killed me, you know. And I remember when I tore my calf muscle playing squash. And my boss at the time sort of gave me this bar, I'm sure you can make it on your crutches and stuff into the office. I'm like, Do you know how complicated My route is to the office? And he just, you could almost hear the disbelief that I wanted to work from home for a week. In fact, that was six weeks. And I should have, I should have tried to get to the office because they valued that more than mere recovering.

It's so short sighted, you know, if you if you're not taking care of yourself, you know, what if you because your commute was so complicated, you know, aggravated your injury because you're like, kind of trying to run after something. Or if you're, you know, if you have a virus and you're not resting, just the illness dragging on longer because you're not addressing it properly.

Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Alright, suppose I should go prepare my Thanksgiving feast. I'm sorry, the texts are rolling in for me now.

Good. Well enjoy that and have a happy Thanksgiving. And we'll talk next week. Thank you for listening today's episode. Hey, the big news app producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. For your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW W podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on our website, www dot digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.

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