In this episode of A New Normal, the three cofounders of Toronto-based firm Yenza3 join us by video-link for a conversation that touches on a few topics – including how the pandemic has accelerated the need for companies to develop remote working plans and promote a new corporate culture that understands how people come together to work online.Podcast Transcript
Qasim Virjee 0:18
Welcome back to another installment of a new normal start wells content series focusing on voices from entrepreneurial and innovative minds working through the pandemic. Today, I’m joined remotely. And in studio, I guess I’m in studio and everyone else’s remote. You Know From Our Uplay care in start well, on King Street West by Enza three, you’ll see three faces other than mine on camera. And they are Martin Byrne, Schweitzer Mahan and a new Russ Sogi, the three Mary bandits that comprise the ends. And, yeah, it’s a pleasure to be joined by you guys. You know, essentially, I won’t go into it too much. I’ll let you explain kind of what ends at three does in a second. But from what I understand, it’s primarily a knowledge that your knowledge that your company has focused on you help companies with knowledge transfer, education, and learning. And I think you could do a little bit more justice to explain what Enza three does. And then we can talk a little bit about how this current context has, maybe reframe things or Accelerated things for you. Sure.
Anuj Rastogi 1:32
So I’m a major Sogi, one of the three co founders of the NS three. And we are a firm focused on the areas of learning business enablement, and learning and knowledge strategy as it relates to Operations Business Technology. And we have definitely found that COVID has, I don’t know if it’s changed everything as much as it’s accelerated it, you know, five or 10 fold, really. Martin Shweta Q Shredder,
Shveta Malhan 2:06
I am sure that I’m the one of the other co founders of Enza tree. My background is primarily in learning and development space. I started my career in this space in early 2000, when everybody in the industry was trying to move towards digital learning so to speak. And, yeah, that’s, that’s my background and my expertise.
Martin Byrne 2:33
I’m Martin, I am three in the hands of three. And my role here is I’ve been in the digital space, building websites, running websites, running web businesses for about 25 years now. And so I focus on the technology and digital ecosystems behind learning and knowledge management for our clients.
Qasim Virjee 2:56
So let’s talk a little bit about going into this period. So February and March. And tell me a little bit about the landscape for your clients, the work that you were doing for your clients and how globally dispersed there may have been. And then maybe through that lens, we can, we can take a look at what you’ve learned from the client experience.
Anuj Rastogi 3:20
Yeah, so we we do have a, you know, somewhat global client base, we’ve got clients in Canada, in the US and Australia. And by the time COVID effects really hit and you started to see things shut down. What we’ve seen with many organizations is some had been slightly better prepared than others, some really weren’t prepared at all. And while we’ve seen I think the writing on the wall in terms of the need to be able to scale up to be more virtual more remotes, empower your people and infrastructure with technology that will allow them to collaborate remotely. A lot of organizations had really put that type of thinking on the backburner for a long time, it was a thing to get to where other more pressing priorities seem to have taken hold. And the organizations that weren’t as ready are really feeling it now. Because there’s been impacts in productivity, there’s been a lot of challenges and trying to keep people engaged collaborating. And I think that the the tech industry has done a decent job of being able to step up to meet some of those gaps. I mean, many people were already familiar with teams and zoom and whatnot to begin with. They may not have been as well versed in it, but they’ve been able to scale up and adopt some of those things quickly. But where we’re seeing struggles with organizations is that they haven’t got the cultural makeup and the process makeup to be able to really get people working together in this new way, even though the technology exists. And a big part of that is just they hadn’t thought far enough ahead about how do we really treat our knowledge with the level of sophistication and value that we treat our other assets.
Qasim Virjee 5:08
You guys, anyone else from the team have anything to add to, to that idea of kind of preparedness for the embrace of digital in your landscape? And what you guys focus on?
Martin Byrne 5:18
Yeah, I mean, the the overhead shredder? Yeah, I mean, I’m working across a few different clients right now in a few different categories. And what’s interesting is the, the spotlight has been put on actual readiness of versus, you know, the conversations of readiness that a lot of organizations have had over the last years. And the conversation of remote work, obviously, has transformed dramatically. And what it’s really brought to the surface is how poorly prepared a lot of organizations were to change anything that their people do, whether it’s work from home, do different processes, collaborate in different ways, be shifted to different teams, refocus, you know, shift from being an operations person to marketing support, and things of that, like the conversation, the bigger conversation of agility, readiness, has really hit home. And, you know, a lot of organizations and what’s interesting is, we now see this, in the last few weeks, we’ve seen this really big divide organizations that have confidently declared, oh, yeah, we’re going to work from home forever, or we’re going to work from home. For the next year, 80% of our people will be working in blended office at home scenarios for the next few years. And companies who are can’t, they just can’t they’re not there, they don’t have the hardware, they don’t have the culture, they don’t have the leadership ecosystem. They’re just not ready. And so you know, I think what is going to be really interesting is what we see next in that, and what that that rift looks like 1218 months out, where those companies who are confident and capable of changing their pivoting, how they operate, do, and those who can’t Don’t,
Qasim Virjee 7:05
let’s pause there for a second and take a or add some color if you can, to the profile of your customer base. So in terms of global dispersion of their own teams, in terms of the size of, you know, staff, and so on any other kind of like, you know, call it like, let’s do a little cohort analysis of Yen’s as customer base, just so that we know who we’re talking about in terms of their ability to be agile, and what their the hindrances to those things might have been.
Anuj Rastogi 7:45
So on on that front, we have, we have some Canadian clients who are, who have offices and operations across the country. So they tend to be clustered in large office locations with some degree of remote work, right. So there’s been some level of comfort there. We’ve done a tremendous amount of work with Los Angeles world airports as well, who operate la x and the Vanoise. Airport. In that particular example, almost everybody is located there on site or, you know, on campus, if you will, at the airport. And in that particular case, because there’s such a dependency on actually being on the premises, there’s, you know, obviously an interesting impact when a number of people have to be working virtually. We’ve worked with associations that have large office presences, you know, across the province, as well as associations that are almost entirely virtual, scattered across the globe, with key leadership teams in, in Europe, in the US and Canada. And depending on what their specific pedigree may be, in terms of how they’ve worked and evolved together, this specific point in time is more or significantly more disruptive. So that’s what we’ve really found to be a change. There’s no real one size fits all and every organization seems to have its own quirks and rationale. But we’ve definitely seen a gamut of different scenarios.
Shveta Malhan 9:12
And I’d say I mean, building on to your point, I would say in my opinion, there are typically three categories of organizations in the industry overall that we we can look at from specifically from digital knowledge, digital learning ecosystem perspective, there are organizations in the market who were already heavily investing in the whole digital learning ecosystem to enable their employees with COVID happening, things for them look very different because they were it was easy for them to adapt into this whole new space where the workforce is remote, and they can support the workforce appropriately because they had the underlying infrastructure. And on the other hand, they were organizations that had a learning and knowledge ecosystem, but that ecosystem was Not very technologically enabled the ecosystem. So they are now struggling to kind of figure out how to best deliver and connect knowledge and learning experiences for their employees. And yet there was this third category who did not even have a formalized learning or knowledge ecosystem in place. And, in my opinion, the first of the the two categories where they either don’t have an infrastructure or an ecosystem in place, and organizations that have somewhat non technology enabled learning ecosystem are actually in it. I mean, if they get the buy in, and the back end, they are in a good place to not just catch up with the industry leaders, but even LeapFrog. And think about doing things differently and building on and learning from these more mature organizations to say, hey, let’s test out the role of data, let’s test out how learning and knowledge can seamlessly integrate together to support their employee base in real time work environment, rather than, again, thinking about learning as a piece of artifact that has to be created and shoved in a, in a virtual bookcase on the learning management system somewhere.
Qasim Virjee 11:17
So I think Martin kind of like touched on a point, which was a kind of possibility for this context to drive a new want for cultural evolution that maybe is adoptive of learning to learn, you know, and driving organizations to wake up to say, we need to be agile, we need to grow. And that’s going to take a little bit of a mental shift.
Martin Byrne 11:45
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when you think about it, the desk is an art archaeological artifact, like we cling to desk, but you know, Western 20th century business culture clings to the desk leftover from the in the 1900s. Right, like we don’t, and it’s it’s been the sacred cow. It’s the, you know, 900 pound desk in the room. No one has wanted to kind of, there’s discussion some organizations kind of dabble with, like, Yeah, let’s try some work from home, you know, just like the paperless office. But now they’re actually being forced into a decision space. Right. And, and when it’s being truly challenged, like, as they look at individuals to go, why do you need to be in a room in a tower in downtown Calgary or downtown Vancouver or downtown Toronto? There’s, there’s not a good answer, like, and especially given the cost of maintaining that room. So now that
Qasim Virjee 12:43
Calgary sorry to interrupt you, but Calgary doesn’t counter that example? Because the answer to the question is that it’s free.
Martin Byrne 12:52
That’s true. Yeah. It’s people from the rest of the country should just start living in Vancouver office spaces or in Calgary office spaces. But yeah, I mean, like that. So I think that quite now that organizations are pushing through and pass that kind of the mindset that, you know, desks and offices set, as they look at it, the question is, well, why do we need to go back? And I think that question is really being raised. But to show this point, if you can’t support those people, and there’s two aspects to it, I mean, there’s the cultural support for it. And then include the knowledge support the leadership support, the education support, and then there’s the actual operational support, right, which is also and they’re tied at the hip. Because if you don’t have the cultural and leadership and knowledge management support, even if you tried to change operations to enable people to do that stuff, you can’t, right, because the problem is, you know, LET IT organizations are shackled by legacy processes and operations that are with enough bound to physical spaces still, in the 21st century, might people know that, oh, if you want to submit your benefits, you got to take this form down, and you can print it, sign it, but then take it down to this office or drop this thing off over or you got to go and see Jean on the third floor,
Anuj Rastogi 14:11
who will then fax it for you.
Martin Byrne 14:13
Exactly. I know some people are in the teaching space. And you know, it’s really surfaced some super archaic systems, because they have, you know, as all these education systems, which emergency learning, and that’s just one layer, the public sector, and I’m sure across the public sector, you’ve got even worse legacy systems. So you got to you, as an organization might start addressing this stuff, they do have to address both these kind of pillars at the same time, the yin and yang of the people side, and then the mechanics side, too, if they want to really dressed this change.
Anuj Rastogi 14:49
I want to tie both those things together. Because I mean, there’s the technology side that Shweta spoken of in terms of the level of sophistication and foresight there. Then there’s the cultural evolution. around, you know, being tied to the 900 pound gorilla, a desk motif, where this really has manifested, I think in COVID is as people have been furloughed, and as people have been laid off, either on a temporary or permanent basis, and just workforces are scaling back. What it’s really exposes these massive knowledge gaps that exist in the organization, because now you let go of, for cost reasons or any number of reasons you let go of 10, or 15 people in a small company, or 10, or 15%, or 30% of your workforce. And you did that in very short order without realizing what those people actually do in completeness, on what they know who they work with, and all those pieces. So what happens now is, let’s just take Bob, who’s been at the company for five years, no one really understood what he did, they just let him go because they need to cut costs. And it turns out, Bob was the only one that knew what cron jobs were scheduled on that particular system, how to actually service that particular network. And he’s the only one that actually had access to the vendors, tech team on a regular basis. So now you’re trying to backfill the things that Bob was actually solving for, without realizing what Bob actually did. Now, that left you in the middle of a pandemic, trying to pick up that knowledge, rebuild those connections, documents, all of that. So there hasn’t been a a clear concerted effort over the long run to think about how do we actually treat the knowledge that our people have with due regard, so we know who is actually bringing value, and that we can find a way to, in an agile manner, be able to actually sustain ourselves, if someone leaves because of a pandemic, they win the lottery, they get hit by the bus, whatever the reason might be. And so COVID is really exposed that in a big way now, because you’ve got organizations that yes, had cut costs, but might have increased inefficiency and frustration, because they just don’t know who used to do that thing.
Qasim Virjee 17:09
Yeah, no, it is interesting to think of the kind of knowledge basing of a really of a team and, and how typically, that’s a lot of the knowledge does not get recorded. And the nature of it being shared is very ad hoc, conversational, and spur of the moment as well. So you know, the kind of like cultural exchange that happens when people come together to do a concerted, you know, a project and work together. I’m seeing it on campus here at start well, where we do have people still coming into work. And you’ll have like, one or two people coming in for meetings from a team of 10. And with the eight people being remote, and this is something that we’re actually quite adept at now, I’ve been playing with it with, with audio stuff, and now we’re doing more video on campus. And we have more hardware installed in the meeting rooms, to allow people to videoconference from here, but the hybrid meeting, or hybrid experiences, virtual and physical, you know, will become more commonplace. And I’m doing them just like this, you know, today, everyday really here on campus. But what I’m seeing when those couple people are in a meeting room together, and they’ve got the eight people dialing in either one by one, or as it suits their schedule, because the kids, the kids, the kids, you know, the effect is that I’m watching in physical space in meatspace, these two people in this room, and they’re vibing, even more than they might have with the eight other people being in the room, like they’re really appreciating subconsciously, the proximity, and how they shares a lot through body language, right and, and the little like, they’ll take a break to go get a coffee across the road, the other people dialing in, don’t have that experience. So there’s just so much two people working together in person that doesn’t get captured in these in these kind of virtual settings.
Anuj Rastogi 19:07
And that’s exactly what COVID is taken from us as each other, right? Like we are we didn’t, biologically we did not evolve for this type of isolation, right? We need to work in groups with each other and, you know, as much of a blessing as the technology is that we have and I think you can approximate it to a certain degree. But I think we do miss that. And we’re, I think the genius of organizations and teams actually happens is often in those informal moments, right? Like going to grab a coffee, people stepping out, like, you know, to take a walk or you know, just kind of just just chatting in between things and then all of a sudden, because our brains just connect things laterally in all sorts of obscure ways. You know, one thing leads to the next thing an idea or a business requirements or an inspiration just kind of hits and that’s, that’s difficult to approximate with these types of setups. I think we’re getting much better at it and we have to really make it sort of effort to do it. But that’s been a challenge for organizations no question.
Qasim Virjee 20:05
Well, it’s crazy, because you think of this like point of failure question like, as people communicate in any format, physical or virtual, there’s always going to be ways that communication breaks down. And if you look at the means of communicating as being complicated with the medium through which you communicate, when you’re in front of someone, you’re you’re maybe outside of, you know, your mental process being clouded. And, you know, lack of caffeination, or whatever is inhibiting your means of articulation. That’s pretty much all you have to worry about, if you’re face to face with someone with, you know, variable bit rates, and, you know, bandwidth cutting in and out and throttling on the networks and, you know, internet connections being a point of failure, network hardware being a point of failure, cameras being audio being everything being a point of failure. Yes. You know, like, I agree with Martin’s point about the desk being the 800 pound, or 1200 pound or whatever weight gorilla in the room. But yeah, I think we’ve come back together in this discussion of like proximity being very important to the nature of work. And I think possibly, at least from our angle, what we’re seeing is a more a greater willingness, as people return to work. And as they will continue through the summer and fall, a greater willingness to think of workspace as something that’s flexible to allow that agility with which they’ve started learning about, you know, through this process to be part of their daily routine, whether they’re virtual or not.
Martin Byrne 21:41
Yeah, that’s really interesting. I’m actually the other day, someone kind of talked to because we were talking about, we’re having a conversation about virtual desktop infrastructures. And what was really interesting was, he also kind of prayed that, you know, maybe the future is more of a visitation based ecosystem that we don’t have, you know, this Hotelli model, we have this, you know, Dave visit model, where the new office is more like a large coffee shop, or like, like, like, start well, it’s a place where you’re going to meet up with people, or you hours, right, but you don’t need to live there. You don’t need to be shackled to nine to five, because it’s not effective. So you will do the human part for maybe one or two days, a week, you pop in, you’ll come up, you’ll you’ll your vibe, your spitball ideas, you do the whiteboard, stuff that just doesn’t work on Zoom. And then you’ll break and you’ll go to your corners, and you’ll do your thing for a day or two, and then you’ll regroup in a comfortable, smaller, intimate space, and then you break again, that, you know, that it seems that I’m kind of getting you know whims of, from people of like, that’s what they’d also like to do, that they, they don’t want to have this kind of house arrest model of employment, where they show up for, you know, nine to five, five days a week, regardless of whether it’s contribute to the productivity or not, just because that’s this legacy, you know, post industrial model exploitation. Whereas this one, I was, like, I’ll meet with you guys for three hours, we’ll have great three hours, then I’m going to go and just, you know, be in my head and work on my stuff. And then I’m going to be outcomes based as opposed to a punch card based.
Anuj Rastogi 23:33
Yeah, I actually love the way you you said that, Martin, because if you think about what we would even want in our lives, imagine people being able to figure out when they’re going to get in for meetings and collaborate, and not packing roads, and subways and trains at the same exact times for the same rush hour. Like it’s one of those it’s a it’s a small change in a way that can have such big sweeping consequences in terms of how individuals manage their time, but even just how cities and and communities kind of function overall too great, we can kind of spread the load. And it just makes for a better, more productive day, as long as we all kind of get on side with it.
Shveta Malhan 24:12
Yeah, and I agree with you both because I, in my opinion, I feel like the trend is going to be more around giving people the choice to make their own decisions based on what works for them. I mean, we don’t have to have that either or conversation anymore. Like for the longest time it was no you have to be in the office so that I can look at what you’re doing and monitor what you’re doing. Or swinging the pendulum to the other end saying now you go work from home and you don’t need an office space. But there has to be a more balanced approach where we can you know, the organizations can personalize the experience or let people personalize their own experience in terms of how what when and where they want to work.
Anuj Rastogi 24:55
Right. I think I think on that note you’re we see this The Ivory Tower complex that so many organizations have just had, for, you know, 150 years that we need to have these grand head offices in these really important cities that are a statement to the world on how how great we are and how big we are and whatnot. And to a degree, that’s also a recruitment and attractive offering to a lot of people who are interested in working in that type of an environment because of what it stands for. But increasingly, as companies see the the, the drawbacks of having 10s of 1000s of your people in one location, I think we’re going to see, a number of companies kind of scaled back the amount of real estate that they hold, or that they leased in some of these big cities, they’re gonna use it for flagship reasons, whether it’s their, you know, their their biggest client meetings, or for really important workshops, or that sort of thing, you’re going to see it, but they’re probably going to start to divest from some of those types of holdings or leases, and move to more clustered, multi site type work arrangements, where you might have smaller satellite offices in cities where the rents or leases are not quite as high. And it’s easier for people in that region to commute. And you might even have more cross functional teams there. Because right now we see a lot of organizations, the call center is here it is over there, sales and marketing operates out of this. And so if any one of those offices is affected, an entire sort of line of business is potentially impacted, where you actually could have an opportunity to cluster people that are multi skilled in in different ways, in smaller sites, and then create more of that type of environment that successful that you’re talking about at start well. So it’s in many ways, this is an exciting time, because there’s going to be a lot of different trial and error type approaches here. And we’re gonna see what works and what doesn’t.
Martin Byrne 26:53
Yeah, cuz for the longest time, and I think those of us in the digital culture are not as hung up on this, but it is still out there. That there is, I mean, there’s two things that still really glue organizations to Office one, there’s spaces a status symbol, and then there’s still organizational cultures out there, where, you know, they have the the mahogany row offices and the executive corner offices and those models. So there’s, there’s that legacy of, you know, office as a status symbol, which I think our generation has started to give it like, not care about, but that’s up there. And then secondly, that the comfort factor to your point in news, the, the weird desire that it is our belief that it is easier to manage a huge group of people if they’re all in the same campus, or in the same physical district or in the same tower. And the truth is, you know, most people’s management domains, even a fairly large manager, to the only directly humanly interact with actually a fairly small number of people. And even, you know, the most overstaffed command and control structures, right. So, you know, when we can get big, mainstream organizations over those two humps? Yeah, I think you’re right, then you’re gonna see all sorts of conversation piping of light. Well, you know, let’s experiment, let’s try some, you know, pilots of different organizational models of different spaces of different ways that teams can interact with each other.
Anuj Rastogi 28:18
And perhaps it also flattens the cultural dynamic to a degree to because if you’re used to going to upper floors to talk to upper management, and if those floors are fancier, and the corridors are longer, and the boardroom tables are shiny here, and there’s power suits, and there’s all of that sort of dynamic, it can be intimidating to kind of operate within that hierarchy. But the moment people are working in a more distributed virtual setting, like if you just look at us, we have, you know, four completely different backgrounds in terms of the what’s behind us whether it’s virtual or real. But in that there’s something almost more human like is bringing people, you know, to a more level playing field in some ways, like we’ve had meetings and interviews and conversations with CEOs and with, you know, first level managers and if you look at the backdrop in their room, for the most part, they’re, you know, they’re, they’re something that you can identify with. And so perhaps just in that, there’s a way that we can start to flatten some of this cultural noise that we see in these, you know, these old ways of thinking in organizations to those are other, it’s just another opportunity to get people more comfortable with work. And I think when people are comfortable, then they’re comfortable sharing and then knowledge starts to flow, just by exchange, and then you can start to enable it and empower it with technology and all of these other mechanisms. But if people just really don’t feel comfortable, being themselves sharing, asking a question, raising a hand and saying, How do I do this? If they don’t feel doing comfortable doing any of those things, all the technology in the world is not going to solve that problem.
Qasim Virjee 29:55
So have some of these learnings that we’ve discussed in this conversation? and anything else that you’ve been kind of collectively ruminating on in the last few weeks affected the practice with which, you know, Enza three is out there in the world working on client projects with
Anuj Rastogi 30:15
what Schrader’s Actually, she’s actually set up a number of really interesting meetings with, you know, potential potential partners and clients and whatnot along the way. And I think that I know, you’ve done a really good job, I think of being able to actually make space for us for those conversations.
Shveta Malhan 30:34
Yeah, and I would say that the conversation varies depends on who you’re talking to, like if we’re talking to, we had conversations with people in academic space, for example, hire at space. And the conversation there more is that, oh, we don’t know what to do next, or we want to digitally transform our product offering. But they’re thinking about digitizing their product offering the way corporates used to think 20 years ago. So they have to play catch up, because most of their offering was more in person face to face. And if you speak to corporate people, the conversation there, at least from what we’ve heard, in our circle is more around. We’ve been there done that we’ve done elearning. And we know it doesn’t work, how can we kind of shift and make it more effective? So the conversation is more around? How can we leverage newer technologies data, to kind of create more personalized ecosystem to serve the needs of our corporate employees, so to speak, and not bring them into, let’s say, a training room or a learning environment, but help them with the learning environment in their work context itself, so that the boundaries between learning and work, are becoming even more thinner. So this conversation around bringing learning into the flow of work started happening two decades ago, but we didn’t have the right technology, infrastructure or even mindset for people to define or expand the sandbox of learning beyond a box. But now the conversation have, I mean, we can have those exploratory conversations with people now. COVID has created an environment for people to explore those kinds of conversations in a more meaningful way.
Anuj Rastogi 32:22
Yeah, I would, I would just add to that, that one thing COVID has done is it’s this undeniable fact of life, right? If before when someone would come in and talk to you about the virtualization of work, or you know, using technology to create new experiences around work or learning or knowledge, that seemed like an ethereal theoretical far off in the future type thing to really think about. And it didn’t seem, for some people that almost didn’t even feel necessary or practical right now, with COVID in the mix, and everybody sitting at home for the last several weeks, this is undeniable at this point now. And as a result, I think that for the people who have already considered the future, they’re in a better position to be able to say, like, although we didn’t know this was coming, what we’ve been saying all along, is what still needs to happen, right? It’s just accelerated the need. And for the people that have been, you know, sort of head in the sand, if you will, for a number of years, you can’t afford to keep that head in the sand anymore, right? Because the reality is now here, and companies are either struggling to even stay solvent, they’re struggling to keep their workforce, they’re struggling to keep customers, they don’t have a good game plan to open back up. And even once they open back up, if they’ve shed 30% of their workforce, they don’t really know how to do that. Right? So this is forced that conversation is result we’re finding people are even more receptive to hear and express, you know, some of these concepts when we’re talking to them.
Martin Byrne 33:54
You know, as they say, Never waste a good crisis.
Qasim Virjee 33:57
Yeah, I’ve heard that one quite a bit last week. We know it’s absolutely true and poignant to reflect on the timeout that people have had away from the office forced or otherwise, to rethink how they engage their staff and colleagues on a daily basis. And I think the you’re right, like we spend a good amount of this conversation even considering technology, but And of course, we’re using it right now the one that the platform that everyone’s using, which is zoom, to communicate, but I think in coming weeks and months, people will get past the kind of means of communication to look at now. digitally. How do we do our business? If we’re not a bricks and mortar waiting for people to come through our door business, then yeah, absolutely. I think the wealth of tools available to people, thanks to software and cloud architectures should be something that that organizations are now accelerate accelerated. In trying to procure and learn and use. It’s funny because it’s something obviously, like we’re all digital natives, in a way, I would think on this call in the sense that, you know, we’ve we’ve all worked with the web and stuff for a long time. I work it into our company, like, you know, I’m constantly building web apps that accelerate different functions for my team, and for the way that we work with our cohort of, you know, typically up to 500 people on campus every day. And and I think that that’s also something that hopefully will be adopted by more companies, at an increasing pace and coming months is this need to develop internal capacities to not only procure third party software’s, but develop software solutions internally, that can help business process?
Anuj Rastogi 35:51
Yeah, I think we’re, where we’ve spent a lot of our time over the last couple of years is, the technology is, you know, it’s a, it’s a critical component. And in many cases, it’s just table stakes. But the technology in and of itself doesn’t solve anything, unless you’re really thinking about solving for the experience you’re trying to create. And experience really should be central to whatever is being thought through. So for example, if the four of us happened to be at start Well, right now as we had been in the past, but if we happen to be there, just having this conversation, and one of us want to actually just explain a concept, we might just jump up on the whiteboard, start sketching something out. And for the most part, in, you know, as robust as zoom has been in, in handling a capacity of the world’s conversations in the last several weeks, and it’s got a whiteboard function, we haven’t really found elegant ways of mimicking that type of thing where Oh, wait, I’ve got a thought, I’m going to go sketch something out, without trying to be too much of a distraction to the rest of the room, then I’m going to walk people through that, or, you know, just a lot of the things that happened in the physical realm in terms of collaborating and sharing this idea that I don’t know how to actually use this feature in MS project, or I don’t know how to do that thing in JIRA, or slack. And then you kind of just stand up and you tap your neighbor on the shoulder and asked, Hey, can you show me that thing? Again? Right. That’s performance support. That’s knowledge transfer. That’s learning. That’s all of the above. But that happened, because you tap somebody on the shoulder. So is there a virtual digital surrogate for that? Is there a way that we can do that? Do that without making it, you know, feel like an intrusion? Is there a way that we can make it fluid like Could I just easily, you know, swipe something on my tablet, or on my laptop and get into that type of mode, I think thinking about experiences in that way is going to help because if the experience is seamless, then people will use it. And then you know, the collaboration and knowledge transfer will grow. But as long as we’re trying to figure out, how do I get on Zoom? How do I activate this whiteboard? Are we in a Google Sheet? Did you check out my email? Um, you know, I can’t get my internet working all of those sorts of things. And we’re kind of kind of be stuck in this period.
Qasim Virjee 38:08
Yeah, I totally agree. I think it comes back to that idea of like companies needing a cultural manifesto, an instruction set for what their tech stack is that enables remote work, you know, and that’s not something anymore, that I think it’s about hybrid work. So it’s also you’ve got those three people in a meeting room, how do they communicate with three people who are individually in their own room somewhere else. So it takes a lot of work, it’s something we’re going to be helping people with here at start well, as a complimentary consulting arm kind of thing of membership. And really, I think it’s, it’s about relating all of the insights from, you know, our work in last three years, and my work personally for probably 20 years or more of working with remote teams, on digital projects, and there’s a lot of knowledge transfer, that should happen. But because of I think, cultural gaps and bias, you don’t have a lot of, let’s call it, you know, Flash space companies, learning from digital teams, coding teams, software architecture, teams, because a lot of that, you know, digital first company, culture is driven by collaboration tools that are software based. So I think we’re gonna try and bring a lot of that knowledge out and from the open source community as well, to look at, you know, how do you work collaboratively in a digital space and still find time to see each other and hear each other? It’s not necessarily like we all need to be stuck in front of a camera to work together. And, you know, figuring out what the value sets for the nature of communication is and and also how to facilitate productivity through it Harley software is going to be a big question for me.
Anuj Rastogi 40:04
I like that you kind of put it as a manifest. So because there’s so many meetings, I can think of where there might have been two or three or four people in a room live. And then there’s a handful of people that are, you know, dialed in over over video. I can’t believe I just said dialed in over video, that is terrible. Anyhow, you’ll see people in video and people in the room and the dynamic in the room is is gelling, people are able to kind of sketch out something or, you know, make off the cuff remarks on it, and you can follow it. But the people who are on video and collaborating remotely, they’re missing some of that piece. And so then I think it’s incumbent on everyone involved to figure out how do we best make this the best possible experience for everyone, right? I mean, to some degree, if you’re not there live, some amount of information in that Analog Experience is going to be left out. I don’t think there’s any two ways about it. But how do we close that gap? As much as possible? Is there a code of conduct that we can have that like, we can’t just run off on a whole bunch of inside jokes when we’re in the room? When we’re trying to actually solve for this thing while people are remote? So I think Little things like that, again, they change the experience, the technology is the same, but the experience of actually interacting with it changes as a result.
Qasim Virjee 41:23
Absolutely. So in in closing, are there any notes from you individually or as a team on kind of the ends of three approached, that you recommend in terms of remote working tools, tips, how you guys are staying in touch with each other and engage with each other and at the same time, continuing to learn? Straight up.
Shveta Malhan 41:54
I would say before I get into that I really miss feeding on analogies and Martin’s energies, I missed that part of our interaction together. Because information knowledge, all this, you still have a way to kind of exchange through digital format. But there’s something to be said about the aura and the energy level to get you to that headspace where you’re innovating together. You’re brainstorming together that I really miss. So that’ll be hard to replicate. But otherwise, yeah, we use a multi channel approach. We, we use Google Hangout, zoom, we we use our messaging format, we have G chat. So and I think it’s like an unsaid room between the three of us where we try to be as responsive to each other’s requests as much as we can be.
Qasim Virjee 42:50
Yeah, aren’t anything. Oh, no, sorry.
Anuj Rastogi 42:53
No, go ahead. Yeah, no, I think in the
Martin Byrne 42:57
this is this is just the foothills of the change. I think for the next few years, we’re going to be seeing a lot of things going in a lot of directions. And so I think our focus is as we were out of necessity, we were born as an agile little company. And so we’re going to continue to focus on our little company. Because that being being small, and agile is going to be the best way to be for everyone and survive for the next little while and thrive. I don’t want to make it seem bleak. Like there’s going to be lots of opportunity as much as there’s going to be challenges. And so the best way to that to be lined up for that stuff is just pay attention, stay friendly, be positive, and, and go with this flow as it happens. So but the key to that is keep learning keep moving and being agile.
Anuj Rastogi 43:49
Yeah, and I would echo what both Martin and Shweta said, I think that we we do our level best to be agile, we’re living in a beautiful time where the technology is democratized enough that it allows that. And we also have, I think, a mutual respect for each other’s time and schedules and whatnot. Like, you know, we, especially now, I mean, young kids, older kids, you know, like, all of the different responsibilities and whatnot. So I don’t think any one of the three of us has a nine to five type scenario at all right? Like we’re working it at odd hours when we can fit it into the day, given all the other challenges and things happening in life right now. But we find a way to use the channels that we have to communicate. And I think that that just having that mutual respect is really important. I also agree like there’s, we can exchange words and, and bits and bytes and whatnot, but it’s really hard to replicate that vibe and that aura, and if we really want to jam out an idea, you know, we can’t leave fingerprints all over each other’s monitors or like, you know, wipe stuff off a whiteboard and whatnot in quite the same way. So there is something there’s something lost there. On the flip side, it’s been great to be able to connect with you know, clients and and colleagues and potential partners that scheduling hadn’t quite allowed. And now people have, I think, a little bit less of an excuse and are also more. They’re more well practiced and comfortable with doing it this way. And so we’ve had a number of conversations and meetings that perhaps we might not have had at this point in time, just as a result of this. And so I think that the challenge will be moving forward, how do we take the best of this and the and the best of the analog world that we just kind of left, bring those two together, you know, in a meaningful way, and still have build rapport still be able to share that vibe? I I’m optimistic, I think we’re very optimistic about this. This was coming anyways, it’s just coming faster. So it was cheap. Just take it on now.
Qasim Virjee 45:45
Excellent. Well, it was a pleasure taking some time to hear Yen’s as threezero kind of experience through the last few weeks and catching up with you guys. I think I think we’re now at an interesting point here in at the cost of June 2020. To enter into the second start of the year, hopefully, and, and with it being summer. I’m quite certain that in coming weeks into the next really it by personally, I believe that by July, or mid July, we’ll see a greater shall we say embrace of proximity in in pedestrian reality, unfortunately, and this is a lot of the topic matter. I’ve been covering on the series through March and April, we did see, you know, the closure of many retail level businesses, and small and medium sized businesses in Canada, whose stories have not been shown or told to the media as yet, those realities are going to start unveiling themselves in coming months, going well into 2021. So I think it will be an interesting time this summer for people to be out, trying to relearn how to get together and and bring some of the knowledge and the experience and want for change that that we’ve been experiencing, you know, this spring into our work. And then by winter when we’re all huddled together again, trying to stay warm, and Canada. You know, there will certainly be a new reality that I think everyone can can obviously recognize. And then yeah, it’s interesting times and I’m glad that we had the opportunity to
Martin Byrne 47:30
speak. Well, thank
Anuj Rastogi 47:31
you for having us on costume. This is a much appreciated and humbling and keep doing what you’re doing. Totally. Thank you. Pleasure.