Considering the evolving role and tools of HR - with Eric Hutchinson

Eric Hutchinson is a senior HR advisor, consultant & coach educated in psychology with a specific interest in cognition.

For this episode of the Gathering Podcast we talk about systems design for HR, remote work and new complexities which HR staff need to consider to manage working teams.

Read the interview transcript

HR role, responsibilities, and challenges in a distributed work environment.

Eric Hutchinson 0:03 The responsibility of HR is to create inclusive and effective workplaces, really making sure that we're bringing a human focused lens to business problems. Qasim Virjee 0:15 HR is at odds with the CFOs. Office. HR is at odds with the CEOs office HR is at odds with everyone's office. Eric Hutchinson 0:23 It also comes down to a lot of politics and power dynamics with inside of organizations, because HR touches on every aspect of the business. I can be seen, I think as an intrusion, to those aspects of the business, HR being at odds, I think, is the old school mentality around what human resources is. It's like, oh, my gosh, it's a buzzkill. We're here to tell people that they're not allowed to dance on top of the meeting tables or something like that, by the way, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you're not allowed to run an workplace. You can't run you can't run. No, Martin Hauck 0:54 I violated that. If I ever catch him running. Eric Hutchinson 0:57 I'll tackle you. Unknown Speaker 0:59 Listen to the People. Oh, people in culture. Oh, yeah. It's time for the gathering. It's time for the gathering thoughts. Qasim Virjee 1:15 All right. Eric conscious. Yeah. Hutchison, Hutchinson, Eric Hutchinson 1:18 Hutchinson, Hutchinson. My people are not that hard or hot, and then chin and then some like I am Hutchinson. Qasim Virjee 1:24 He's in the podcast. studio with us. Yes, right. Better than AI. Eric, welcome to the circle podcast studio for the gathering podcast. We're now at episode four of season two of season two. And I'll add up the math on what that means including season one later. It's like 20 something. But we're here. And I'm excited to have a conversation. Martin, Martin Hauck 1:58 it's a pleasure as always, as always. Good to see you. Qasim Virjee 2:01 Thank you. Good to see you, too. So yeah, let's, let's talk HR a little bit. And I'm going to let you lead this conversation, my friend. See, Martin Hauck 2:11 that's the problem, right? Because everybody thinks I'm HR. But talent. I'm a recruiter. That being said, I'm happy to happy to lead the conversation. So Eric and I were just talking before the podcast about how long we've known each other and whatnot. And it's been about six years, six years at this point. Yeah. And this is sort of a an apology podcast. Because my he was one of the first people that agreed to do a podcast with me. Four, five years ago. Well, Eric Hutchinson 2:49 I mean, we were talking in around 2020. Yes, I would have been like height or the just the beginning of the pandemic, and everyone just going distributed and trying to figure out how to navigate that. Because everyone was losing their minds, because no one could possibly work remote, right? No, Martin Hauck 3:03 not not a possibility. Now, Qasim Virjee 3:05 I sent some sarcasm there. So So let's dig into it, I guess. Role? How do you define what you what you do? And where are you working? You work with your consultant?

HR career path, from traditional manufacturing to tech industry. (3:22)

Eric Hutchinson 3:17 Yes, I'm a consultant. So I work primarily with small medium businesses, helping with scaling. So what I've traditionally done is worked in everything from large manufacturing and consumer packaged goods through to start up in the tech world, which is where I really got into the nitty gritty of helping businesses scale. So I've done this successfully a number of times, and I like to just bring that experience to folks who are trying to scale their own businesses. And also from a mentoring and coaching standpoint, as well, for anyone who's a little bit more junior inside of their HR career. I always love mentoring, for those who are in a higher level executive role and want to make sure that they're being effective in their employee relations, or how it is that they're implementing HR strategies. That's an area I love to get into having conversations about. Okay, Qasim Virjee 4:02 so Wait, how did At what point did you nail this identity piece of being someone who, you know, helps teams scale, SMB, early stage teams scale, and that being part of your interest set and your talent capabilities? Eric Hutchinson 4:19 I think it just came from doing it. Okay. Qasim Virjee 4:20 A bunch of like, oh, man, this is all I do. Doing this over and over. Eric Hutchinson 4:25 It's a matter of really enjoying building right? Yeah. So having worked with inside of large, larger organizations, where ultimately you are trying to keep the like the train on the rails, the rails are very well established. And you know exactly what it is from a business school standpoint. We want to increase it by x number of points, you know, of our, you know, market share or whatever have you each year trying to build things from scratch for product lines or businesses that haven't existed before. So require very unique approach. It's very interesting, that that's the core of it. It's very interesting and it's rewarding. Qasim Virjee 5:01 So people, how did people become your way into that, you know, type of work, the idea of growth and building. Eric Hutchinson 5:11 I mean, it's all, like buy in for people at the end of the day, right. And my background is in psychology and neuroscience. That's why I did my degree and prior to going on to getting my postgraduate certification in HR management and all that jazz. So I've always had a keen interest in like human psychology and how we set people up to thrive. And that's something that you get to do inside of the HR profession in a way that no other role really gets to do. So even when you're inside of an organization, if there's things that need to be improved, or ways of helping make it a better place to work, I like to think I make great places to work with and work in them, or at least help to make them great places to work. It's never just one person, obviously. Qasim Virjee 5:52 Yeah. Martin Hauck 5:53 Can we double click on how you identified it? Like the was there a moment? Was there a period of time where there are a series of experiences, Qasim Virjee 6:05 maybe we can be pretty dry about it and just start from the beginning? Like so you said you did a postdoc that then yeah, focused on HR. That was kind of like, okay, scholastically now, I got some goods. Eric Hutchinson 6:17 Yeah, post postgraduate certification, so not a post doctorate as we want to emphasize that. Qasim Virjee 6:22 Okay, doctor? Eric Hutchinson 6:25 Yeah, it was actually I have to tip the hat to my uncle, Mark Shannon, who was high up in Western University at the time. And I was coming out of my degree in neuroscience and everything like that, and was like, okay, so how do I job? What do I do? Well, I went to him naturally, just asking him like you're an HR, you understand job markets and the like. And he was kind enough to point me in the direction of human resources as a really viable career path because it is becoming a great deal more strategic. It's not just about being administrative, and making sure that you're in the back office and managing the benefits and stuff like that. Increasingly, these systems are self managing and self serve and don't actually require that level of admin input. So the more I got into wanting to alleviate old school HR practices coming from manufacturing HR, you can imagine, like very old school, very, like reams and reams of paper, huge amounts of folders, really manual everything. Martin Hauck 7:24 Literally, like actual filing cabinets, huge filing Eric Hutchinson 7:28 cabinets, massive. Like entire offices of filing cabinets, right? Citrix printers, just spewing things out every I gotcha. And at that point, I was like, Oh, my gosh, this is gonna be so much better and just continually wanted to alleviate this. So I think there's a classic adage that HR is almost always trying to automate itself out of a job. I kind of enjoy that I really, really do. First Qasim Virjee 7:54 job, you did this certification. Eric Hutchinson 7:56 Yep. First job was, well, I worked at a auto parts manufacturer called Linamar. Really large inside of the wealth area. Following that was just my internship, but fortunately, got to take on a full role. Following that I went on to being the HR generalist, and again, a department of one which historically I have always been, which creates a great deal of self reliance. And I was running it for metal and manufacturing, which again, is doing the meta lumen. Oh, yeah. They do the manufacturing of lighting. Okay, if you're listening Martin or something like that, hi. Another Martin. Maybe you're listening to this? Right here. Qasim Virjee 8:41 On behalf of all, Martin, yes, hi. Martin Hauck 8:43 Hello. Oh, Martin's. Eric Hutchinson 8:46 But yeah, and then from there, I went on to move to Toronto and met this fantastic Martin over here. And started breaking my way into the Toronto tech scene, because I knew that I really wanted to be much more involved in progressive workplaces and progressive HR solutions. Qasim Virjee 9:02 Awesome. And so software. Okay. Eric Hutchinson 9:06 Yep. From there, I was working at a company called net people. And it people provides payroll and accounting software, as well as an HR software. And so if anyone's looking for a fairly cost effective HRMS and payroll system, they're your folks to go have a conversation with tell Eliot, I say, I'm gonna give names be so happy. And I'm gonna give name dropping. And then from there, I worked in different places, like green tank Green Tech was when I started stepping into more of the hard tech side of things, which brings my love of technology as well as my understanding of manufacturing to what I was doing green tech makes vaporizers for the cannabis industry. Okay. Qasim Virjee 9:48 Green tank. Yep, green ecologically, you know, sustainable vaping No, Eric Hutchinson 9:56 or some. I think just green being for the cannabis as But tank being for a tank that is full of green cannabis. Yeah, the cannabis industry was very hot still is. Yeah. But it was an interesting industry to be hopping into. Qasim Virjee 10:11 It was just at the time of legalization. Rush the green rush. Yep. Exactly. Martin Hauck 10:16 Green rush. Right. Okay. And Eric Hutchinson 10:18 what was referred to as like legalization 2.0, which is when vaporizer technology was able to go onto the shelves, which happen post flower legalization. Yeah, so that was that was big. Yeah, and a really good experience, still have good contacts there green tank

Improving digital employee experience and reducing friction in HR tools. (10:31)

Qasim Virjee 10:34 that. I mean, at this point is a few years out of the gate, you know, what growth at each of these stages were you seeing were responsible for, they Eric Hutchinson 10:46 would oftentimes be at the stage of we now need HR properly, like we've been doing something fractional. Or we've been just trying to have someone who's the office manager and a lot of these things. But a lot of sophisticated systems have to be set up like even having a well functioning hrs. So an HR is will exist, perhaps, but it's being completely underutilized. Communication systems are fractured. We're not using something like say, for example, really getting the most that you can out of a tool like Slack. So I'm always taking things from a tech HR kind of standpoint, looking at how are people communicating, collaborating? What's the employee digital experience? Like? Because, ultimately, and this is especially true as teams become more distributed? That is the Office experience, and how frustrated are people when they flip up on their laptop, and they can't find the files they're looking for something like that? Because Qasim Virjee 11:40 no one knows how to do that. In this day and age, no one knows what a folder is no smile. It's crazy. If you can't somatically search something, they'll never find it. They'll their computer will be broken. Anyone need to be replaced? Martin Hauck 11:56 Is there a way to not know like, I'd like to get the experience of being Gen Z younger than millennial. Qasim Virjee 12:03 I don't know that math. Martin Hauck 12:06 So like, Yeah, I kind of want to go through the experience of like, what's, what is it to not know what a folder is? Because then I could understand a little bit better. Qasim Virjee 12:17 So let's bring that back to what you were saying and say, like, how do you plan for the digital experience digital employee experience in such a way that it is like sensitive to people's knowledge gaps? And how do you bridge that gap between, you know, procurement of tools to enable teams to kind of like collaborate and communicate like you were saying, whilst also keeping in mind this education piece, right? Because you've got to keep teaching people how to use the tools, and maybe even offer them a path to input where they can bring to the table like, hey, we use this in our previous job, or this is a really cool thing. Can we look at using this? Yeah, Eric Hutchinson 12:55 I think it always comes down to reducing friction. And this is something that I got to have a good opportunity to be a part of when I was working at nit people. And I was working with the design team on a tool that was an HR tech tool, working inside of tech and working on HR tech tools. It was a bit of like a backwards loop. But it really got me thinking from a design standpoint, that when people open up their interface, is it very obvious where things should be and how things are found. So it's usually not about adding more tools to the stack and increasing that complexity. It's about lowering friction with the tools that you're implementing between her person and the information they need or the work that they need to do or the communication that they're trying to enact. In general, when it comes to strategically approaching HR, it really is about lowering frictions for behaviors and things that we want to be encouraging folks to do an increasing friction on the things that we are trying to dissuade people from doing. So looking at it from more of a systems standpoint than an element standpoint is I think important. Yeah. But like, Okay, how does that translate into tools? Well, Qasim Virjee 14:09 nicely phrased, but yeah, like, maybe there's an example of a company that you've worked with that you can kind of play out in this, like tool selection and education piece. Yeah. Eric Hutchinson 14:19 So I will use green tank as the example. Only because a lot of the work that I was doing there really helped especially when the pandemic hit and everyone had to go distributed. Green tank had and still has to this day, a very strong in house culture and working together very directly. And how many people were there other company at the time? At the time green tank depends on whether or not you're talking about the Chinese operations or the offshore operations, just the Toronto office itself. Sorry, I can't off the top of my head, remember, but I think 40 Plus, okay, between 40 and 50 like 4050 people were coming

HR tools and strategies for remote work. (14:57)

Qasim Virjee 14:55 into a one office to hang out together every day. Yeah. And Eric Hutchinson 14:59 then suddenly can happen. We all clap sets you in two weeks. And of course that didn't occur, right? Qasim Virjee 15:05 It was two weeks in the beginning two weeks, it'll Martin Hauck 15:07 be gone to three weeks. Yeah, Eric Hutchinson 15:08 I'll be gone. We're so naive. But yeah, fortunately, with a lot of the work I've been doing around getting a robust HRIS setup, getting folks into us utilizing slack as a primary communication tool, making sure that a lot of our tools, were feeding information back into the slack platform where people already working, encouraging people at even the point of onboarding, to be like, Hey, have you used these kinds of tools before, we're gonna give you a walkthrough and a q&a session on making sure that you understand the very basics that you need to be able to be successful utilizing these and making sure that everyone can see the benefit of that as well. Because no amount of extrinsically telling people to use a tool is going to get them to use it, they have to see the intrinsic benefit. And it's true, in and of itself, right. It's Qasim Virjee 15:57 very true. Yeah. So Martin Hauck 15:58 I write, yeah, you got another why. Eric Hutchinson 16:02 That's the difference between meaningful and busy work. You know what I mean? We're just doing it because you've been told that you need to do it. So that means creating a good deal of transparency. I would even do things like I don't know, if you've looked into like Slack analytics. And you can see where people are doing their reading kind of idea and where people are sending their messages. And you can look and go, Okay, look what we've done. We've now taken what was otherwise a large spread of disjointed communication, you can watch it harmonizing. I Qasim Virjee 16:28 didn't even know slack had and it does. Yeah. This is the thing between the desktop and mobile app versus the web interface, you know, as an admin, I don't log into the web interface, and I'm using the tool. Yeah. It's interesting. But then again, yeah, with all the software in our stack to operate, even an Agile team with hardly any employees. There's just too much data. That's another point that we can speak about, yes. Eric Hutchinson 16:55 There's so much people data, in general, if we're keeping it to the HR side of things, yeah. But being able to know where communication is occurring, being able to incentivize and encourage folks to be like, Hey, you should be using not these direct messages. You should be using these public channels, or you should be using these private channels for these things. And just leading Qasim Virjee 17:18 Yes. And maybe it isn't example, when someone used a public channel to say something you should have said in private that you can draw out from your mind. Oh, right now? No, I was just joking. I mean, Eric Hutchinson 17:28 there's been a few, there's Martin Hauck 17:29 been a few. That's That's all. Part of the course par for the course, when it comes to HR is there's always one, at least one Slack message that has been made publicly that you have to sort of like, can you come here digitally for a second? And just be like, can we just talk about what happened there? And why that wasn't the thing to do? Eric Hutchinson 17:52 Yeah, just doing a bit of a call in as opposed was to a call out as they say, yeah, yeah, yeah, definitely been there, done that. But it really does come down to as I say, lowering friction, always, how do we lower friction for say, for example, if you want to make sure people are doing courses for the professional development, things of that nature, okay. You can't just tell people that as a professional development budget, you have to be working to lower the friction towards these kinds of professional development opportunities. As a as an organization. And I can go more into like learning and development and how to situate that. But I'd love to Qasim Virjee 18:30 let's bring you to date, though, on your career history. So from the green tank, business, pandemic hits. Yeah. And you've got 4050 People now online and collaborating with a remote manufacturing facility. I'm guessing Correct. Yep. You mentioned China. Yeah, what happened from there? Eric Hutchinson 18:50 Fortunately, not too much. Okay. I know that sounds very boring. But considering who you work with knows the question. I guess I know, I do not work with green tank these days. But yeah, fortunately, I'm not too much happened because we have the right habits and tools and things in place so that folks were already comfortable working outside of a remote fashion, but doing it in house. So this was just something that I was doing to increase employee flexibility, and increase clarity of communication and all of those good things. It just so happened to really have a payoff that was completely unexpected. Qasim Virjee 19:31 And it was that uptake was great. And everyone was like, Yeah, Eric Hutchinson 19:33 productivity was good. We still had good insight on the data that was happening from say, even the sales department, things of that nature. All of that kind of dashboarding and reporting was already coming in. So management and feel completely blind because they weren't seeing butts and seats. Qasim Virjee 19:49 Okay, so that was cool. Yeah. And then Eric Hutchinson 19:52 after that, I moved on to a company called City Olympics. City lakes. Does predictive analytics for infrastructure. Oh, Need. So is used as a prospecting tool, it's doing a great deal of scraping of government records, everything along those lines, even something from like, say, the Environmental Protection Agency or something like that putting out a report on a certain company that's maybe putting stuff into the wastewater that it shouldn't be. They're paying fines, and they're happy to absorb those fines, but might be better if someone who sells those filtration systems knew that a company was failing these, like reports or something like that in advance, and then helps to direct them towards well, better environmental outcomes and social outcomes by virtue of increased marketplace visibility. Okay, Qasim Virjee 20:42 so team wise, again, you join that was that like zero to hero? Eric Hutchinson 20:45 No, city, Linux, had been around as water hub for quite some time, I believe, when I came on board had been around for about eight years, but they're going through a very large period of growth, okay. And I still actually, from a client standpoint, work with the city Linux folks, to this day, they're going through a lot of like, hyper growth at this point in time, there's a lot of really good information needed inside of the infrastructure space, there's a lot of funding going into the infrastructure space, even from this is years ago now. But some of the moves have been happening from the Biden administration, because the US being the primary market. Okay. Qasim Virjee 21:22 Interesting.

HR's role in managing technology implementation and improving employee experience. (21:23)

Martin Hauck 21:23 Can we zoom out from the career history for a second? Yeah. You mentioned something that's interesting to me that I'm noticing in this economy, which is, by virtue of being an HR person, there's this aspect of, you're going to build the home, or you're going to add an extension to the home, and you're a contractor of sorts, not a contractor by, you know, you might be full time, whatever. But in, in circumstances where you're there full time, eventually what you've built, become sort of status quo, you've proved things to the software Qasim Virjee 22:02 infrastructure that the whole thing is running on and growing. And yeah, Martin Hauck 22:06 the the implementation has been done you if you've made things better, you, hey, we need an HR person, you make things better. But then there gets to be this point, I find typically, like you never, even with software, right? The same, you know, it gets into maintenance mode, but there's always new products to be built. So there's novel things and you can always improve. But with HR, it's it's the runway is less infinite, so to speak, where you still have a relationship with city politics, which is cool. But the relationship is very different from what it was at the beginning in the same sense, not building anymore, you're not building the house anymore, we built you the house, you can live in it. And if you need me to come back and fix something because the furnace broke, or you know, a window broke, I can come back. We're seeing a lot more of that right now. By nature of budgets, strictly budgets, like we've had HR for a while we've got a clamp down, a lot of people are impacted. And many of them are flipping to this fractional piece. I've gone fractional myself. Yeah, you're doing fractional in yourself. And it's sort of this new model of working, I guess, for those people who are in it right now and trying to figure it out. Or for people who are just like, Hmm, I'm, there's not much for me left for me to do here. I'm in maintenance mode. How do I evolve? Like, what's what's your perspective? Or what sort of angles would you take from the HR side? Yeah, Eric Hutchinson 23:38 and I think we've been emphasizing the technology aspect and the implementation of technology, from an HR standpoint, a good deal in this conversation. But all of that is to get that kind of work out of the way. Right? That isn't the main work of HR. It's a matter of, if that doesn't exist, then it's one of the first things that needs to be tackled. I think, not being tech savvy, and being an HR these days is. Yeah, it's it's a limiter. But from that point in time forward, then HR has ideally freed up amount of resources to be able to tackle things from like, you know, an internal coaching or really improving learning and development plans or making sure that you're doing perhaps some increased headhunting or something of that nature, and building up those relationships, going to different conferences, conducting conversations like this. Everything under the sun that HR is able to touch now has more of an opportunity, because you're not bogged down in so much administration and technical challenges. But there's also the monitoring of the communications and the analytics and the constant feedback from folks so that you can continue to give them that digital employee experience that everyone really demands these days. And I think that's kind of has to be at this Those, it's that we're so used now to having such robust technology inside of our pocket with so much thought behind it. And you're like, if someone's not engaging with an app in the first 20 seconds, like, That's it, they'll install it, or they'll just leave it to rot on their phone. Right. Right, like, so we have, like the workforce in general has such a low tolerance for inefficient, ineffective digital interfaces, that why would they be looking for anything else inside of the workplace?

HR's role in modern workplaces, including people operations and workforce analytics. (25:28)

Qasim Virjee 25:27 It's interesting. So okay, I'd like to, I'd like to ask this, from your perspective. Because I don't know what the tool set out there is for HR managers, HR as a business unit, or whatever, to kind of have a people operating system for an organization. And whether I assume that there's a lot of these kind of like, enterprise, large enterprise focused institutional, old school 1980 software companies that have kind of like, stayed alive. Yeah, building redundant crap for that segment, because of integration points with like manufacturing systems, or like big data systems, or like Lotus Notes somehow tied to it from a legacy perspective, exactly. But then who's like killing it that, you know, have to create like a people operation system? So you've got all these disparate tools, like you mentioned, you know, you might have like a, I don't know, I assume it's something like an Asana for task assignment. And then you've got slack. And then you've got notifications coming into Slack from different things, and you've got G Suite, or teams or whatever it is, yeah. So you can stitch your people together to allow them to kind of like exchange messages and files. But like, especially in a digital first environment, what are your thoughts? Or what's your lens on seeing tools that enable people to kind of like, open it as their homescreen every single day? Is the Google search, or it's their operating system? Literally, like we don't run on Macs we run on? Yeah, PeopleSoft that might be a real thing, people. Martin Hauck 27:02 Tag them in the post? Yeah. Well, it Eric Hutchinson 27:04 depends on like, what information you're looking for. Right? I know, the team, let's Qasim Virjee 27:10 let the people log on. And I see my team. And I can like, do stuff with them. The replacement for the like, office reception area? I don't know. Martin Hauck 27:23 You will get the same answer from a software developer. And I mean, throwing on your behalf to to an extent sorry, but it's, I want not to take the question away from you. Because I want to hear it. It's It's as though it's a very particular question in terms of you ask a golfer what their favorite clubs are, what their favorite courses are, what they're, you know, there's all these unique preferences, or what are you going to use on this shot? Yeah, that you're taking. Right? You, to your point, it truly does depend, right. So if you're speaking on like, What's the best thing for start? Well, it's gonna be different for every other organization for all these reasons. Eric Hutchinson 28:08 It depends on the audience at the end of the day, so you'll have like, ideally, if you have a robust HR is where what is an HR? Yes, HR is Hey, Josiah, yeah. Human Resources Information System, ego, okay, maybe that's the starting point, what is that? HR is is basically where the entire employee database is contained. So that is all pertinent employee information, everything comes in numbers, to birthdays, to who their emergency contacts are, with inside of hrs is, you can ideally be utilizing that as a data platform for what your workforce analytics are looking like. So, you know, what is our demographic breakdown, you know, what's happening from a pay equity standpoint, what's happening from an, you know, tenure of our organization? What is our turnover, right, like, any HR is worth its salt should be giving that information readily up to whoever it is, it's wanting to know that information on the fly. But Qasim Virjee 29:09 then what about see, okay, that's great. But that's still just like replacing Judy's you know, filing cabinet. Right. So like, what about living data, live data, and specifically, not necessarily about, you know, KPIs and performance metrics, but more about that, like, the EI take on, you know, how people interrelate teamwork, happiness, productivity from the kind of like, emotional fortitude and like, you know, effectiveness and fulfillment of work point. That's where I kind of like don't know if there's stuff to do let people feel like, cool together in doing their work and keep track of that, like, HR. How does HR This is? Again, I'm loading this because I have this question from the first 20 Odd episodes that we did in season one of the series, where I kept hearing from guests that HR is at odds with the CFOs. Office. HR is at odds with the CEOs office. HR is at odds with everyone's office. And they're basically responsible for just managing churn, making sure people are paid sort of enough that they can stick around and feel like they're productive. And maybe a little bit of encouragement here along the way. But yet, like you started with, companies are people right? And customers are people and people are really, the HR should be so much more. So anyway, I say that and I leave it with you. Yeah. Eric Hutchinson 30:38 HR, being at odds, I think is a bit of the old school mentality around what human resources is. It's like, oh, my gosh, it's a buzzkill. They're here to tell people that they're not allowed to dance on top of the, you know, meeting tables or something like that. Terrible rule. Yeah, terrible rule. By the way, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you're not allowed to run in a workplace that is against the occupational can't run, can't run? No, No, Runner, I've violated that. If I ever catch him running, I'll tackle you. That will solve the problem. Yeah, it's I really don't see HR as at odds with any, any part of the business. Qasim Virjee 31:20 It shouldn't be like that should that's what I'm getting at. Right? Is that like? Well, Eric Hutchinson 31:24 it depends on the business, whether or not is at odds at all. And also the stance of the HR person and what it is that they're bringing to the table on a regular basis. Right? Martin Hauck 31:31 Is it fair to say that, in those environments, where they feel at odds with HR, it's because of the perception from the executives have it, it's you are here to operate as a function. And we're not concerned with the more modern side of things in terms of People Operations and whatnot, Eric Hutchinson 32:00 I think it also comes down to a lot of politics and power dynamics with inside of organizations. There's the idea of that power being something that's a limited pie, you know what I mean, and in this way, a lot of folks have executive levels, which tend to come with egos to match, the reason that they're there in the first place. will kind of your power and the organization is a zero sum game. Because HR touches on every aspect of the business. It can be seen, I think, as an intrusion, to those aspects of the business or an attempt to undermine what is otherwise this is an operations thing. You know, what I mean? Like this is actually this is something that's happening at the executive level. This is these are marketing decisions, sales decisions, all of these things.

HR's role in creating inclusive workplaces, using psychological techniques to improve relationships and productivity. (32:44)

Qasim Virjee 32:44 Well, I guess this is part of the thing that I've been hearing from people in the industry, is that managing people outside of there, or I should say, Look, I don't I mean, how do you distill? The I know, HR has many things. And like you're saying, especially in SMBs, where you're like the team of one, yeah, you're doing lots of stuff. But that kind of like, how would you describe if, if you could, in one sentence, this team have one ownership of responsibility? What is that responsibility in a sentence, the Eric Hutchinson 33:16 responsibility of HR is to create inclusive and effective workplaces. Qasim Virjee 33:23 I see. So that's, that's what I'm getting at, which is very big, loaded, and ideally, fully integrated in all aspects of the business. Right? So you need to know what drives people to enable them to do their best job and at the same time, understand what their means of communication are to best stitch them together. Right? And so on and so forth. And, like, okay, especially in SMBs, where there's a lot of opportunity for people to collaborate because they need the business survival relies on it. Yeah. More perhaps, than enterprise. You know, yes. IPO funded, Let's float for a few decades. So. Yeah. I think these things are very important. Right? So you said that I might be hearing the old world kind of perspective on HR or politic around that, yeah. Paint the picture of the new company, the new mindset, the companies that you see HR, fulfilling a larger mandate or feeling more empowered in Eric Hutchinson 34:29 organizations, and almost every department by its nature is outside of HR, very externally focused on the business ie what is the business what actions is the business taking externally and of course that then turns back from an external standpoint back to an internal focus of like, okay, that we need to do these things that we can do this, you know what I mean? But HR other than obviously, looking at talent markets looking at it like you know, trends with inside of these and things is the opposite, always looking internally, and then seeing how that like translates into external performance, as opposed to looking at external performance back end. And I think that's inside of a modern organization, the support and lens that is valued and needed is that HR is always looking at these things and a level of granularity that no one inside of other areas of the business has the time to do. Really making sure that we're bringing a human focused lens to business problems, as opposed to like, I got the other way around. It's like, oh, man, like the human problems are like over here. And those aren't as important as these business problems that we're trying to solve. But it's there one in the same. And it just depends on your focus, and HR, fortunately, has that opportunity to be much more internally than externally focused. Martin Hauck 35:57 If we zoom back in Yep. To your career, I'm curious how your psychology experience in school. And it's to a degree, it's obvious from the like, humans in psychology courses. However, not everybody gets that experience, right? A lot of people just go to school, they realize they want to work with people, they go into the HR courses, don't necessarily get that information in advance. I'm curious how you've used it to your advantage, like throughout your career, Qasim Virjee 36:33 do you have a very comfortable long couch in your office? Martin Hauck 36:37 That's the antithesis of what HR needs to be? Yeah. Eric Hutchinson 36:42 Well, I mean, like, even I used to do volunteering, stress line and things like that. There's different techniques like emotional reflection, which we can use all the time. And it's just really good for helping to build those relationships, right. helping folks to feel heard, these are techniques that you're learning through a psychological practice kind of idea, but are readily applicable, and sort of lots of different circumstances, different things that I have, like connection before correction, right, remembering that you can't help to turn around someone's behavior or anything of that nature. If that connection, isn't there. Yeah, a lot of people have a kind of like workplace trauma, because you're getting correction without connection. Yeah, right, that just naturally leads to people just huddling into a corner. They're not feeling that sense of safety. So psychological safety, and a focus on psychological safety inside of a workplace immense, because once you're able to create psychological safety, or continue to reinforce the kinds of behaviors that reinforce psychological safety and understand it, productivity goes up, people's attendance goes up, like, like multitude of factors, innovation, is absolutely dependent on how psychologically safe folks are feeling because, like odds of failure are always present. So if people don't feel safe to fail, well, then good luck innovating. It's not going to happen.

HR strategies for distributed companies, including managing performance, incentives, and communication. (38:12)

Martin Hauck 38:09 Yeah, innovation is mistakes, until it's not. But Eric Hutchinson 38:12 then it can like I'm really interested in things like cognitive errors, cognitive Illusions kind of idea. There's something that our brains will typically do called the substitution err, which is where if you feed your brain a very computationally heavy question, it will do a substitution with an easier to compute question and then give you that answer as though it were answering the question that you asked IE does so and so does someone so does deserve a promotion. Right? If you're trying to take in all the different factors that would go into whether or not that is something that they deserve, your brain can't handle it. So it will substitute with, do I like this person? And then feed you that answer. But because it's a cognitive illusion, which, again, with optical illusions, you can we've all experienced these right? You're able to go I can't unsee it, even though I know it's not real, cognitive illusions are all that more insidious, because it's an illusion of thought. And because you're just on the receiving end of that people aren't, like regularly aware of it. But being aware that this is an illusion that will occur, you can take steps to alleviate it through your performance management systems, things of that nature, making sure that when these decisions are being made, the appropriate data points are in front of folks, so that they aren't just falling prey to cognitive illusions inside of key decision making. Qasim Virjee 39:29 Yeah, man. Yeah, a lot of that is, I think, to do with this kind of idea of the open company, right. And like if people are privy to all the information, and they're thinking more multilaterally, their cerebrum is activated across the whole thing. Then they're, they're living and breathing the company, not just their job. So solutions do get found that a bit deeper, and the means of articulating with each other is also more productive, perhaps in a less KPI base, but like If you can level everyone up, and Eric Hutchinson 40:02 even when it comes to like KPI, OKRs, things of that nature, I always emphasize Do not tie someone's like bonus payout whether or not you should be doing that either instead of a compensation standpoint, but don't tie these things their KPIs don't do it. And why not because the KP, OPR KPI system is communication system. It's so that the dragon boat is the person on the job and just hitting the drum at the front, right. And it should be giving us the measurement of whether or not our focus on process improvement and our focus on like, you know, alleviating friction for folks and finding those better market fits whatever have you is being effective. It is not, hey, everyone run at that number, and try and achieve that. Because oftentimes, that can turn into something called a perverse incentive. But we could talk more on that, but I'm diverging, Qasim Virjee 40:49 it's like sugar and candy for kids, right? Want the candy, you want the candy? Be good, be good. And I'll give you the bad thing that will make you in a horrible monster. Well, Eric Hutchinson 40:59 because like and then you can't change your KPI. What if like your organizational, especially in small medium businesses where pivots are occurring? What if you're, you need to change your KPI KPIs, what if your some of your OKRs are changing midflight kind of idea. If you have an appropriate okay RK system in place, that's fine. People just look at it and go, Okay, that's where I'm like, you know, bending towards now. And making sure that my work output is like, you know, meeting these different goals and these metrics. Whereas if you've been tying people's performance bonuses to that they're going to be entrenched, like, but I've already put so much work into achieving this number. Now you want me to look at this one kind of idea, I don't have the time to do that. Or they're going to try and just make the number look better, but through means that are maybe not as credible as what you want. So what's the largest Qasim Virjee 41:42 team that you've worked with in HR at any organization that you've been at so far? Eric Hutchinson 41:48 Well, when I was working at a company called Sun products, I was the only HR for all Canada. Some products being a $2 billion business that sells sunlight detergent. Oh, yeah. They were at the time owned by private equity firm, which I can't recall the name of. But then were sold to Henkel. And it's just like, you know, slinging soap. So that would be Eric Hutchinson 42:18 like hundreds, hundreds of folks with inside of that organization, and also then into the United States. Nobody. I mean, man. So you said Qasim Virjee 42:25 your HR one, at that organization? Yeah. Well, Eric Hutchinson 42:29 in terms of like the Canadian office, because it was just kind of seeing almost like a satellite state, you know what I mean? But Qasim Virjee 42:35 that was that was an example of big company. Yep. Small HRT. Yeah. But otherwise, the HR Eric Hutchinson 42:41 team, the largest HR team, oh, that would also have been there in that, like, Yes, I was HR for Canada, but I was part of the larger HR team. So that would have been like, like a few dozen people. Qasim Virjee 42:53 That's interesting. Yeah. Did you feel part of the larger team? Not Eric Hutchinson 42:57 particularly, no, especially being inside of the Canadian office? It'd be like, Okay, now we're doing this. Now Canadian eyes it as though Canada were not its own country, and requiring a different take on a lot of different programs. Qasim Virjee 43:11 It's interesting, right? Like, I wonder, and have you been working with any companies and less of the while that are globally dispersed by nature of digital first or hybrid work? Strategies, hiring strategy? Eric Hutchinson 43:24 Yes, the distributed companies are very quickly, I think becoming the norm. Only just because of the availability of talent, it's just it's opened up so broadly, Qasim Virjee 43:36 absolutely. Hire someone amazing to do something wherever they are, and you can communicate with them. Eric Hutchinson 43:41 Well, and this is why I say that like the timezone is the new commute. And that if, like, you know, if we're all inside of the Americas, and it's all one big vertical timezone, it's like fairly well, the same experience working with that individual as if they were, you know, inside of the room next to you. Going Martin Hauck 44:00 going back to the operation side. It's interesting because timezone feels lazy. Because, in theory, a synchronous communicate communication using loom for example, or video messages if you need a visual or just writing out an email instead of having a meeting, because you can't because you can't meet a person as the pandemic hit as I worked at more larger global organizations. I found new skills that I'm like, I can't believe we weren't using this or I wasn't even using these types of things. So the timezone piece the way you said like the commute is the new timezone that's sticking with me I'm probably gonna steal it, but I'll steal away reference you. Yeah, that's fascinating because it still feels lazy. And going back to your point like in HR, you have to make people provide the opportunity for people will work more effectively and being more inclusive. And so one timezone is not very inclusive.

Work-life balance, digital communication, and collaboration tools. (45:24)

Eric Hutchinson 45:07 Yeah, it's not. But typically speaking, you'll see folks having to bend, right, if you're outside of the main office timezone, like, Okay, well, we have to have this meeting are you able to be up at 4am, just just for this one just for this one. And this is almost an inevitability, which Qasim Virjee 45:24 I missed that I miss working on more globally. And having people in the UK that I talked to, in the morning, and people, you know, on the west coast and I talked to in the evening, Eric Hutchinson 45:32 especially when you have like HR distributed across like multiple different locations, then suddenly, you've got like HR service over a massive window. And just like some overlap time between, like the different professionals, so Qasim Virjee 45:44 it was always nice to choose when you're going to talk to the most awoken, refreshed person. You know, if you're in the same time zone, yeah, everyone's excited in the morning, then they're stressed, they're getting stuffed out in the middle of the day, or whatever. And then they're like, the afternoon, that little bit of park before the end of the day, I could get sucked out, I get out of the door. And then it's like I need to get out of here. And then that was of course pre pandemic. Now people answer emails out for in the morning. But like, that's a whole nother thing. And Eric Hutchinson 46:17 there's also the right to disconnect. Qasim Virjee 46:20 Things of that nature, the capital are even like some legal stuff. Yeah. Eric Hutchinson 46:23 But it's not even really a right to disconnect to just that the company has to be transparent. You also can't run though. You can't run. Yeah, Martin Hauck 46:30 can't run in the workplace. Yeah, that's not a lot. But you have the right to disconnect. Eric Hutchinson 46:35 Yeah, it's more or less like, organizations have to be very overt about what our expectations are around Communication and Digital Communication. Qasim Virjee 46:43 totally mad people can't feel like slaves at the same time. And again, I don't want to extend the road, because it'll be a long one. But yeah, the idea of incenting people to take ownership in their position. And, you know, the efficacy in their role should be almost like absolute right? Like I entrust you to do whatever to get this done. You call that? Yes. I'm cool with that. Okay, be cool that you sent me an email in the middle of the night. I choose to be asleep or not. Yeah. So driving people to work into the wee hours? Yes, you know, I think, but, but stopping it from happening is also a big question. Well, Eric Hutchinson 47:27 I agree with you that like different people work better in different ways, and finding what's most effective for them, like some folks are like, hey, between, like, you know, eight to 12 is like I'm actually most productive there or something like that, in the evening. And so, all well and good, please do work in that way. But realize that if you need to have a synchronous conversation with someone, they can't be expected to be working alongside your specific way of working. So if you're comfortable doing your head down, work through that time period, great, but you can't have the expectation that others are going to suddenly be able to accommodate you with sending such and such file over or something like that, around that time, simply because that's how you like to work, right. So all the power to folks sending the emails and the messages and like, you know, 12 o'clock at night, you know, the middle of night, but the others on the other side shouldn't be expected to receive those, Qasim Virjee 48:18 let's come back to the cause I'm interested, I feel like there's still more material here in this like digital operating system for companies, or at least the tools that you would build into a stack to support a company in terms of people collaborating, if not that records aspect of things. But like people collaborating and being able to communicate, what are the things when you're putting those tools together and builder mode that you're looking for, to avoid the sort of issue of immediacy, and like notifications in people's face that are forced. Eric Hutchinson 48:57 By teaching empowering people to know how to turn the notifications off. That's just part and parcel of it building up those habits of where people are putting their statuses into Slack, or whatever, have you

Digital workplace tools and employee expectations. (49:26)

Qasim Virjee 49:10 ever update those statuses Eric Hutchinson 49:14 are making ideally, you're automating that. So it's like if something's inside of their calendar, it's automatically going to push an update their status, or these are the kinds of things that you're trying to lower friction about, right? Honestly, Qasim Virjee 49:26 I would just say taking a poop taking Eric Hutchinson 49:30 emojis that yeah, it should, ideally, taking the action inside of the workplace, ie completing the certain work, or having a meeting booked inside of this way or so on and so forth. That communication that that action has been completed with the communication of what it is in where you are and what you're doing should be automatic. Ideally, Qasim Virjee 49:51 have you found that adding to anxiety that workplace this kind of like digital overload of needing to constantly like I set preferences, Hmm. Eric Hutchinson 50:04 Well, I think different people are gonna want different things from the tools that they're using. Not everyone's going to set all of those preferences and tweak it and put it into dark mode, and so on and so forth. I mean, I love doing that, because it's fun for me. But you should be giving everyone at least a baseline quality of digital, like, you know, workflow, and so on and so forth, that they're then able to prove on to if they wish, but they don't have to, but that's not really their responsibility, the organization should be providing that. And how Qasim Virjee 50:37 do you find people's digital realities as employees meshing with their digital employees, or their digital realities as employees today, say that twice? How did you match up? Right, because we're in this digital first kind of weird reality, especially with people, you know, working remotely socializations become somewhat remote on or maybe more disparate these days, as well. But like, if everyone's always on their phone all the time, or some device, they're messaging, all their friends and family with WhatsApp and whatever else. And as well as getting information for entertainment, or whatever, from social networks and so on. But then they also have digital tools for work. Are you finding people being able to switch between them, I think that's part of this whole, like, turn your notifications off thing. scariness, almost as an employer is to say, well, a lot of the employees might be particularly like, looking for a dopamine. So they're going into all the apps, the work app, the home map, whatever app, they're just looking for some connection. They're like hopped up, and they can't sleep. But like, you know, talk about that divide between day and night, if you can, on the digital experience, and how is someone responsible for teams, how you can ensure or promote a better kind of hygiene around the use of digital engagement? Eric Hutchinson 51:59 Yeah. To our point earlier, about employee expectations about what their digital experience is going to be like that's carrying through from their digital experience and their personal life, right. This is how the fidelity is of what I've come to expect. So in that way, there is no separation, people's expectations are going to be built off of what they're interfacing with on a regular basis. When it comes to the delineation of that from work to their personal life. I also prefer to think of things in terms of like work life integration, as opposed to like work life balance, because it's not like you show up to work, flip a light switch and stop living, right. That's absurd. But we'd like to think, in some ways that you can create such a clear divide, I don't think emphasizing that divide is necessarily the best way to go about things. Digital well being is something that everyone's being challenged with on a day to day basis, regardless of whether or not they're working digitally. So it's encouraging healthy digital wellbeing with inside of the workplace in general as a way of helping folks both to interact well with these tools that we're using in house as well as improving their overall lives. By giving those opportunities for disconnection, really making sure that you're providing when you are doing in house spaces when you're using books, in places like start well, as an example for you know, having those really engaging in person conversations. So that digital, rather than telling people what not to do, showing them again, lowering friction towards these kinds of behaviors that you want them to be doing and giving them great opportunities and those engaging experiences. I did hear recently that all managers, essentially are event planners at this point. I like that idea. All managers are event planners, every meeting that you're holding your home, you're hosting an event. Yeah,

HR scaffolding, digital wellness, and company alignment in the modern workplace. (54:03)

Qasim Virjee 54:01 it's an experience. That's why I look at it as experience design, right? And then you kind of like, like, look, there's a facilitation piece that I think is a responsibility on unlike managers these days, right, like any team leads of any kind need to understand how to enable people. And there's that coaching role as opposed to, you know, the 1950s sort of idea of like cracking the whip and kicking butts, right? Yep, taking names and kicking butts, or something. But like, I liked that I liked the idea of kind of, you know, organizations as they grow, having people rather than managing hierarchy, instead taking ownership of the encouragement of groups of people. Yeah. And, you know, whether that's, again, a manager within a business unit or HR is structured in such a way that it's maybe got this domain expertise of different types of operator additional progress in the organization. So not being in office in the back with Judy, in the filing cabinet, instead of being like 20 people that are embedded in a working teams event, and that they come together and collaborate and share information. There's probably a lot of interesting work being done in looking at models for HR scaffolding in different types of organizations. But yeah, a big part of that is this, I think it's a big part of that is this, like, idea that working with people is becoming a more amorphous thing, because people themselves are experiencing a lot, perhaps more with many screens and their phases. Compared to decades before us, Eric Hutchinson 55:43 right, the amount of information that we all have now is incredible. The Library of Alexandria in your pocket, right? This is old school things to be talking about, but it's still just as pertinent today as ever. So, yeah, when you are trying to get people to have healthy boundaries around digital tools, it is about encouraging healthy habits. More so and like pointing towards that and creating opportunities for it, facilitating it, then trying to tell people like don't do this. People don't respond well, to that, in general, to hand slapping Yeah, exactly. Nor Martin Hauck 56:24 do we see the same line being drawn with physical well being. Right. And pre pandemic, it was, there are wellness programs that are larger organizations, because we want to provide our employee base with tools to promote things, because of all the beneficial side effects of that there's a selfish, they have a reason to do it, not just for the good of good of the people. But there's if everybody's feeling a little bit better, you're gonna have a more productive workforce. The same same applies for digit Qasim Virjee 57:05 freerange employees men. Eric Hutchinson 57:08 Well, and this is a happy coincidence, it really, really is that people who feel supported and engaged and all of these wonderful things in the workplace are just the better teams that are doing the Better Work. Capitalism was a way of warping these things. But I always just like to say it's a happy coincidence that I'm not gonna look the gift horse in the mouth, man, it's so Qasim Virjee 57:30 interesting. And I know this is kind of another big, big thing that maybe is a rabbit hole. But like, you pair that right, all this great stuff. Yeah, we got to like, make people happy. Give them all these great tools, stay out of their face, but support them. Definitely check, check, check, check, check. And then you look at some massive technology companies that not just because of the pandemic and over hiring are doing correction and curve. We're also now openly announcing like, there were a couple in the last couple weeks, Google was one just a couple days ago, say okay, we're gonna start letting teams go. Some of y'all, some of y'all might be our best people. But I'm sorry, you're gonna go the way that like, you know, wait, was it was it that or Microsoft, Google, I think it might have been bikers, I don't know who was one of these big tech companies. And of course, part of it was justification of, you know, triaging in the organization anyway, being replaced by AI, and productivity tools being implemented to make the organization more productive than the people that represent the organization. But I guess what I'm getting out is, there's this new era of no matter how good you are at what you do, and how effective the team is, there's always going to be looming questions about whether the company itself is aligned with its best opportunity because of requiring people.

AI replacing human labor in the workplace. (58:55)

Eric Hutchinson 58:55 Well, and like this is kind of a change in the Human Resources landscape. In that, like, there's three factors of production, right? You have land, labor, and capital. Right, right. I need these three things. This is what makes it all go round, according to any kind of way of looking at these kinds Uncle Jim. Yeah, exactly. So what we're having now is a situation where suddenly capital is becoming labor. Yep. Which is very interesting. So when human resources now, which has been sort of the stewards of labor, to this point, was inside of an organization, that component of that three legged stool that keeps it all standing up? Well, now capital is starting to do the labor that otherwise would require human beings right. So even Is it human resources anymore? Is it starting to become just like intelligence resources? Or is it labor resources to try and broadly more bring in these kinds of AI tools to the conversation because They are very swiftly going to become members of the organization. And especially with a lot of things that we've been hearing from an AI standpoint of using things like edge AI, these kind of terms are starting to get thrown around, which is where you have like an LLM, running locally. So that it keeps all of your data secured. And even locally on your phone or locally on a local server takes a great deal of computational power to train these models, but not a lot to run them comparatively. So you can do this locally. So in this way, the confidentiality problems that come along with AI are falling away, we have this is this is for the application Qasim Virjee 1:00:33 of a knowledge base. And it's at the beginning, like input all the data into this thing. Yeah, so that the organization has a knowledge base that can be referenced. And I Eric Hutchinson 1:00:44 mean, there's there's companies working on this right now, I think that's going to be one of the biggest changes from an HR standpoint, or the way that we'll look at employee data. Now you can have an LM that's looking at all of that information. And then, as you were saying earlier, what's a file folder, you don't need to know what a file folder is, you'll be able to talk to a language model that's able to collect information and pull it right up for you immediately, right. There's also there's a new company called rabbit that's releasing the AR one, this is where I encountered the first term large action model. So as opposed to an LLM, it's an L A M. that is able to as they would say, learn any app interface. And then you can give it a command and it will like book you your Uber kind of idea that will say please confirm the thing that I've booked when you go confirm. So when it comes to human beings being displaced inside of workplaces and these large layoffs occurring, you won't be replaced by AI, humans won't be replaced inside of the workplace by they will be replaced by someone using it. The individual that is able to essentially be like the human intelligent hub with an AI rapper is going to be the one who's able to accomplish so much more and so much less. Yeah, and that's that's the change that's coming dramatically. It's like being able to interface with these tools will become the new Excel on our resume, I think, what Martin Hauck 1:02:07 level of x is this individual? And being able to test that against? Here's a task, how fast did you get it done? How creatively Did you get it done? What what is your AI stack as an individual becomes the the measuring stick? And Qasim Virjee 1:02:29 even that it's interesting, you bring up that example? Because in the Microsoft suite, and they're the way that they've rolled out copilot right. And the idea here, co pilots, you know, supposedly going to be baked into all the productive tivity tools that they already sell and then people use. It's a great, I think the kind of semantics are cool. But also conceptually, it's interesting to think of the AI being baked into what you already do and how you do it to level you up. So everyone's got a little buddy, a little digital buddy. And Clippy is smarter now. That was the whole thing, right? Yeah. And so like Clippy is helping you. And you can rely on Clippy Qasim Virjee 1:03:06 that should be snapped back. CLIPPY is copilot. Okay, v2, Matt, Qasim Virjee 1:03:11 all right. Judgment Day. Excuse me, do Eric Hutchinson 1:03:15 you just pull off the mask of copilot like haha, I was your the whole time? Yeah, yeah.

Automation, AI, and work efficiency in the workplace. (1:03:12)

Qasim Virjee 1:03:22 I liked that, though. I liked that idea that like the technology can support people's workflows, and enable them to like, lever up and do more things. And yep, it's Eric Hutchinson 1:03:32 the speed. I don't think we're necessarily becoming more effective through the implementation of AI but much more efficient. So it's the sheer speed that someone can do things that now and mock up this that the other, like, you don't have to make that PowerPoint presentation anymore. Don't you can guide the NAI and through the process of making it for you. So the ability to do these things is very quickly falling to the backdrop as a valuable skill set. If you want you can have someone else do it better. It's good to know this kind of stuff. Like say, for example, I was playing around with GPS and I tried to make one that had every single Employment Standards Act essentially, for every single province. I just downloaded every single one uploaded into a GPT and then utilized it to do cross comparisons across different like jurisdictions and so on and so forth. Just for fun. It was a fun way of building this little bot to help me out with employment law. Because I know employment law I'm able to spot when the bots going awry. Yeah. And it will write it well. Sometimes like I can't, I can't not because Martin Hauck 1:04:41 like crazy Qasim Virjee 1:04:42 making making logical leaps. Martin Hauck 1:04:44 So I'm in the office. Eric Hutchinson 1:04:45 That's okay. Yeah. So it's like, if suddenly and this is one of the things I am worried about. If suddenly we do start undervaluing these core skill sets, the things that AI is able to do inside of the workplace. We're gonna very quickly have For individuals who are utilizing these tools without any ability to have like a sense of smell as to whether or not they're off, and then that will start grinding that efficiency back down again. Because the there isn't that expertise to be able to Qasim Virjee 1:05:17 fact check. Yeah, well, you Eric Hutchinson 1:05:19 have a gut check about like, wait a minute, you're being weird. You know what I like, know when to ask the system to like, look back on its own work, and I prove it, but this is as bad as I'll ever be. And they're like getting better. Qasim Virjee 1:05:29 I just, I just have this image. It's really funny. I have this image of all these like Wendy's, you know, at the beach, chillin with their GPT is running, communicating with Slack, there must be people that have figured out automating their job enough that no one knows. Eric Hutchinson 1:05:46 I once saw this really funny comedy sketch. And it wasn't AI, but it was like outsourcing. It's like, this one guy's like an account. He's like, Oh, yeah, just like, you know, I outsource my work to this, like one guy, Steve over here. And he just like, you know, does all my work. Sometimes I check it, but most of the time, I just hand it in. And eventually he realized that like, every single day, he's like, Yeah, and like for the couple, like for the cost of like, a few cups of coffee a day, like I've got that it's great. Then you realize that everyone in the organization has done the same thing. Until eventually, where it's like a bunch of like computers just sitting around a conference table with every single executive having outsource their work to somebody else. And they're all arguing on behalf of the executive team. It's that's a painful lesson. Yeah, it's really usually it's really funny. But it's also a little bit true to your point. Like, it's like how much if you now have AI and you have like human outsourcing? How much could you just spoof doing your job? Qasim Virjee 1:06:36 Well, especially because I look, I mean, if we look at it, how much work is make work work. And if you look at corporate Canada, and you look at these like big, slow, bulky, institutional enterprises, there's a lot there's a huge end of government, like what does government have to do, man? Eric Hutchinson 1:06:56 The government's supposed to be the monopoly to stop them. Ah, please. But unfortunately, Qasim Virjee 1:07:00 Rogers Shaw, there's too many. There's that's a whole nother thing. crisis that's looming for the government of all levels in Canada. What is it 450,000 people or more are employed by collectively by our governments across the country. That's a lot of people. And they also have a lot of lock in and they can ever be fired. Yeah. And so there's this whole thing of like, well, they're totally redundant. But like, they can't be fired, you know, but Eric Hutchinson 1:07:27 also, you have to go to the CRA. That's the idea of the monopoly. You can't file your taxes anywhere else. Yeah. So because they have a monopoly, there's no reason for them to ever change. Yeah. Or get more efficient. There's no competition. Qasim Virjee 1:07:40 And that's the thing. It's a sad thing. privatized taxes, Eric Hutchinson 1:07:43 don't do we shouldn't do this. There's a lot of things that we should accept inefficiency of a government body over privacy, but Qasim Virjee 1:07:50 I'm just thinking of 450,000 Maybe that includes 150,000 People that don't do that much every day, you know, or they do make work stuff is like paper shuffling, how cool would it be if those people could actually find you know, joy in their life by like, doing meaningful work of things? Yeah. Eric Hutchinson 1:08:09 But we have this, like Puritan kind of thought process that if you want to eat, you got to work. There's no such thing as a free lunch, not all of these different things that reinforce these ideas of that it is a moral ill to not be working. And so long as we're attached to that will continue the way that we are, and will continue to make a lot of bullshit work like in to what I was talking about earlier. And, you know, executives, having egos, and so on and so forth. It's like, well, everyone wants to have a larger team reporting to them, that makes them more important. So everyone inside of that system is incentivized to allow bullshit work to continue be at the executive who knows that the they're not really doing a whole lot, but they make them look good. And they know they're not doing a whole lot, but they're not going to tell anyone up top that they're not doing a whole lot. But then it's just a lot of emotional labor and trying to look busy on a regular basis. And that's draining as heck for people and it's not meaningful, and it's literally trading time for money at that point. Which not a good way to run a society as you say, it doesn't make people happy. And we're like Squandering a huge amount of human potential. Yeah. Around this idea that you must work to eat, like you must work to live basic necessities if you're not working good luck. So people don't have that safety net. They don't have the ability to feel like they can be entrepreneurial. Like we don't have a universal basic income or something of that sort. Which by the way, would eliminate a lot of government jobs. You don't have all those complicated social services with just one UBI payment so yeah, there's there's a huge amount of opportunity there and a huge amount of human potential that can be unlocked if we weren't so stuck. In this this mentality, I would say Martin Hauck 1:09:58 stuck on the wheel spinning too scary to jump off? Well,

Cultural recycling in technology and simplicity. (1:10:24)

Eric Hutchinson 1:10:03 I mean, weren't they always saying that like our drudgery was to be alleviated with increased automation and increased? Yeah, yeah. 1970s like, man, like, we're gonna be barely working in the future. That was the 80s are going to be great. They've always said that right? Yeah. But now we're working more than ever. And with digital technologies. Now, we just don't have the ability to disconnect like we used to. Qasim Virjee 1:10:24 I mean, we do we do. It's just, everyone's addicted. So addicted. People get so mad at me. They get so mad at me all the time. I sent you a message. How did you send it? What channel did it come by? Does that matter? My message and I'm like, Well, I haven't checked that app or? Yeah, I've been busy. What do you mean, you've been busy? I've been in meetings, meetings. So you could have seen the notification like no, I'm actually talking to him is in front of me. Yeah, my phone. I don't know where my phone is right now. And that was great. Yeah, it is. But how many people are like how many people are not Martin Hauck 1:11:04 alone? You're not alone? No, no, no. And growing, growing. Eric Hutchinson 1:11:10 dumb phone is coming and a lot of ways. Sales are better calling out. Yeah. Oh, the Qasim Virjee 1:11:15 punk phone. I have the punk phone. Yeah, no. I got it for my mother in law. When she fell she fell ill and she unfortunately passed on but before that, she didn't have a phone and we needed a way of contacting her and I was looking for what's the simplest phone you can buy. And in monocle magazine, which is you know, my Bible. I saw Yeah, punk. They were advertising. This is I don't know how many years ago eight years ago they were advertising ad being advocated for. And so I have it in this original box in my like, drawer. But yeah, what's funny, though, is that like when I did the competitive analysis, I couldn't buy shit old cell phone. No. And there are there are not many of those simple Nokia and 90 Not even an iPhone, whatever the First Gen II 61 There's not many of those kicking around, or the Motorola Degray back Oh, man, the Eric Hutchinson 1:12:08 razor razor Martin Hauck 1:12:10 even Yeah, razors like not even early gen two Gen 234. Qasim Virjee 1:12:16 But But anyway, the idea that there is this kind of like return to like every youth culture movement and every generation is trying to get back a generation to generation right. Used to be better. Oh, vinyl. Oh, now it's like I'm gonna We're richer. 1992 Varney sweatshirt. Let's do it man. Really? Mom jeans? Man mullets? Wow. Well, it's fanny packs are Martin Hauck 1:12:41 coming back, Eric Hutchinson 1:12:42 Kate, why can't we bring back the cloak. I'm just saying like, fashion keeps coming around. I'm really waiting to cool your bloke to come back around again. And just run around with like the hood. And it's like protecting you from the rain. It sounds fantastic. Like people just Qasim Virjee 1:13:00 Yeah, so I think I think it's cool that we're seeing this cultural recycling. Because what I think it will happen with technologies, it's going to bring back simpler technology. And this is something that not many people are talking about. But I think it's very interesting. And especially if you look at Tech stacks for operating companies, looking at tools that work despite their newness, I think is going to be a big thing. We're going to see it with software, I think this is the frontier that people don't realize, because hardware is the easy thing to date, you look at a piece of hardware, and you say especially if it's hardware, it's programmed to do that thing in that locked in way. But even with software like I, I talk about this a lot with with digital artists, and how when I was making music in the 90s, you know, our tool set was you'd have a wave editor, and you'd have a kind of a sequencer and maybe a sampler to recorded into the way better, at least a software tool set for making music. And I had all of that software on this one particular laptop. And that laptop was awesome for making music. I had that computer to make music not to do 500 things. And as soon as I upgraded my, you know my skill set, and I was doing Ableton Live and all this stuff, the responsibilities of that new software's creative potential stopped me from feeling excited because I didn't own the tool anymore. The tool was too demanding of me. And this is something that I think is happening with business productivity tools, and especially the open terroir of AI where people may feel a little bit, you know, overburdened even though they do have Clippy they're helping them. You Martin Hauck 1:14:38 we've seen this already, though, to know that we're safe in the sense that you can buy plates and cups and forks anywhere. But you still have pottery shops. You still have bespoke custom Hey, and made things and to your point, right? There's Yes, the efficiency of being having all this, you know, Alexandria in your pocket. I'm optimistic because there's still this small subsection of people or smaller of like, I just want, I want to listen to records. Great. Go to that. There's Spotify, and they're still vinyl. That's awesome. There's people that are like into CDs. That's interesting. I'm learning about that. Now. They're they're making their heyday. Right. And there's always going to be to your point that have something to go back to the source. Yeah. Of the thing. Eric Hutchinson 1:15:38 And antique markets exist for a reason. Yeah. And a huge people are antiquing like crazy, Martin Hauck 1:15:44 big business when the inventory is growing larger, because you want to cloak Yeah, cool. Yeah, that's not from this deck that we have to go. To go back centuries, right to say, when will it come back around, I think it's a good idea of like, what I'm so like, the inventory of like an antique store is growing, you know, there's, there's, I want to, I want, like, what was in the 90s, or the 80s, or the 70s. Like, we've got all these things, Eric Hutchinson 1:16:13 there is one issue. And the issue is, and this is like, say, for example, when they're trying to do Video Game Preservation, or something like that as an art form. It's like that game unless it's played on the exact same console. And on the exact same television screen, despite you having the software is not the same game, preserving the game isn't the software. It's the total experience of it. And then silicon has an expiry date, and chips just wear down and they stop working. So you can go to an antique market and find yourself a gas lamp that works fantastic. Go to the market and try to find the lamp that was run by a old chip and it won't turn on. Yeah, because that has just degraded. It's just the nature of the beast, sweat Martin Hauck 1:16:52 COBOL is still a thing for banks and why if you're a COBOL developer, you're you didn't get it knowing the old language is beneficial to the individual. Eric Hutchinson 1:17:07 So I don't know where we're going. No, the Martin Hauck 1:17:10 old way. The old way, just developers with cloaks. Yes. Eric Hutchinson 1:17:17 That I just think that unfortunately, the antique market isn't growing in that way. As the modern era of products has an expiry date baked into it in the form of any kind of digital technology. I like talking futurist like Yeah, right. And just like what's happening with modern work. We didn't even get into the topic. I think hybrid being the worst of both worlds. You know, Qasim Virjee 1:17:43 let's do that. As I know, I will say this in every episode. But let's do that save that as a panel discussion or a roundtable in front of a live audience. Eric Hutchinson 1:17:52 That would be a good topic, actually. Hybrid, let's do that. It's a it's a good topic, only because it impacts almost everybody at this point, because everyone is going hybrid. And I don't think it's being done well, in Qasim Virjee 1:18:04 some facet, every organization is working hybrid, right? They've been forced into it, or they've chosen it. But it hasn't been designed for most people. And trust me, I've been selling it. Since when I founded this company. And it's very, very interesting. We're seeing a lot more uptake in you know, physical space being used for temporary usage. And when that's purposeful, it works really well because the purpose typically we're seeing with successful teams, tends towards socialization and keeping people giving them happy space. So when they come together to like, hang, yeah, then they love it. And they go back to their computers at home with love energy, you know? Exactly. So that's, that's a good way of doing it. 100% of there's so many bad ways, Eric Hutchinson 1:18:49 but just when people showing up to the office to sit on Zoom calls. Oh, yeah, Qasim Virjee 1:18:53 that's pretty weird. Pretty this utopia, but that's like Eric Hutchinson 1:18:57 so much of what's nobody's figured out. Well, they haven't figured it out. Well, but we can talk more on that later. Qasim Virjee 1:19:03 Awesome. Thanks for coming by. It was a wicked, wicked chat. And yes, cool. Thank you. Awesome. Let's do a little I gotta run hands on the table. Go Team boom. All right. That's an episode

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