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The Future State Of Work Podcast

This week Nick and I discussed the future state of work, obviously, this is very topical with the return to the office and the chatter around how Basecamp has changed their policy and saw backlash, how Google are not giving clear communication to their employees and how the likes of Twitter, IBM and Slack are suggesting you can work from wherever you like vs having to be in one HQ or a satellite office.

With so much of this discussion being relevant to Focus, I wanted to share this specific episode for you to read and share with your executive team.

On the podcast we discuss:

  • The hybrid office and why it is the future
  • The relationship with Company culture and why hybrid is going to be a gift and a challenge for so many HR teams and poor managers
  • How company performance is going to thrive or drop depending on how good your management skills are
  • Why company strategy, is essential to making work work, and hybrid being a driver for positive change in strategy

The future can be hard to predict, however, Nick and I have broken down what and how as much as possible for businesses of all sizes.

This podcast helps you understand how you can overcome some challenges, how to be smarter with hybrid, what your options might be and how to learn from big companies like Salesforces approach to feedback loops and maybe on the other side, Coinbase and their move to close their HQ.

If podcasts are not your thing, happily read the full transcript below.

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The Future State Of Work Transcript 

Danny Denhard: [00:00:00] Nick, how’s it going this week? 

Nick Walter: [00:00:02] Yes. All good. Being a bit sick, but recovering from that. But I’m excited about today’s topic future of the workplace. 

Danny Denhard: [00:00:10] Should we dive straight in this week? 

Nick Walter: [00:00:12] I’m up for it. I’m not forgetting go. 

Danny Denhard: [00:00:14] So to give some context, what we mean by work is where the future of, is it a nine to five or does as the world of work really changed from the last sort of 12 to 15 to 18 months.

Work’s been changing for many years. The pandemic’s really been an accelerator of it. So a lot of it was like an essential factor to be forced working from home environment. So many companies really found out it could be done and it can work. And it goes against everything that they fought and they were conditioned to believe many experience managers or what I prefer to call them as micro managers.

Have been shown up by people that have been able to do their job remotely. Obviously some jobs can’t be done from home or from a remote location. Your office has been seen as an expense really over the last 12 months. So Google’s reportedly saved over a billion dollars in 2020 into 2021. So is this now, is it now really a financial decision?

And work’s been accessible for so many for disabled people, it has been hard to commute, but have stood expected to come and see our office. And then a lot of the time, a harder hearing was struggling with with people going off video and speaking and so if we came to a place where actually it’s become more accessible for everyone, or is it going to, are we going to continue to be challenged?

And then there’s other factors like proximity factor. So is out of sight and out of mind been a problem or will it be a problem? And is it going to reduce your mind share? And then just another couple of things is. Internal net-worth is your own internal network, what your network is. And that’s something that a lot of people have been wrangling with and going to have to struggle to compete with.

And then just one of the other things is commutes. Are there, is the commute really a blessing in disguise or is it something that we’ll happily miss out and drop out? So as a head of it, for us to dive into this week, so Nick, why do you want to start?

Nick Walter: [00:02:07] Lots of like you said, lots to dive into, I think that the, for me, that, that start with the obvious point that the workplace has been in need of evolution. For some time, it was a classic stuck in mindset, we’re set up we’re conditioned, like you said to believe that physical was the only way with a slight caveat in that, because since.

Digital came in and technology came in so heavily. We have seen such a contradiction in people’s attitudes towards remote working, for a lot of businesses and a lot of company owners or company managers, C level execs. It has been really acceptable for a developer team to be remote due to the cost savings and everything else that goes with that.

But when it comes to an ops team, they saw it totally differently. And I understand the argument as to why people need to be in those locations, need to have meetings five minute chats. You can get a lot more done collaboratively. Obviously there was a big trust issue, which I think underlied everything, do senior people in business organizations really trust their teams to be at home.

And be productive. And I think that was the, one of the big things that stood out for me was that trust issue. And actually, I think it’s such a ridiculous point because if you recruit well and you build a team that you believe can take a business forwards, then that trust issue should be null and void because it just reflects badly on you and your hiring.

If you can’t get it right when you’re hiring people, they’re obviously the wrong culture for your business and the wrong hires. So it really annoys me that kind of lack of trust of people. And I think it’s actually a disservice to most people who are very conscientious, don’t get me wrong.

I’m sure like. I’m lucky to have worked in digital businesses that are quite exciting to do doing interesting things and not, your bog standard kind of nine to five that people, and I’ve been in the past, my early career stuck in those jobs where you just can’t wait for the clock, tip five and run out the door and you generally just live for the weekend and pretty much hate your job.

Like I’ve been lucky not to have done that for the last few years. So I do appreciate it as a different sides of this coin. But I certainly think that readdressing the balance to make it fair for everyone that there’s no real difference between remote workers and in office workers. And that doesn’t matter what department you’re in, I think needs to happen.

And I think what needs to happen is businesses need to adapt around those changing conditions and changing needs of the modern worker. The workplace wasn’t designed for. Deliveries to your home at any time of day or get tradesmen, having to come in to fix your house. Always became this.

I’ve got to take half a day, I’ve got to do this, or I’ve got to do that, or I’d like to work from home, but then you’re not set up to work from home. Whether that’s internet connectivity, whether that’s ability to access internal tools and systems intranet some with dickless things like I know in.

And certain certain sectors are a bit more difficult. So financial services, for example, and I’m really, every business now has a level of data sensitivity about what they’re dealing with. But especially financial services where they protection is so big. And, you can have offices with, windows that are frosted out and things like that.

So you cannot see what people are working on. People’s personal details, that sensitive. So I think there is a little bit of working out to be done that probably still is, or isn’t there like even practicalities around. Okay. Two of you, you’re working from home, you’re working with sensitive data.

The other person’s should not be allowed in your room while you’re working with that data, probably from a business perspective, but a perhaps County is if you’re working in the kitchen, working in the front room and they need to come get a drink or they need to walk through and. Do something where go to the toilet and they’ve got to walk through your room or whatever it is.

I think there’s some things like that needs to be figured out. But overall, I think, this is a real chance for everybody to say, yeah, we’ve been forced into this. It’s now proven productivity. Didn’t drop in the majority of cases, the majority of staff surveys have come back from HR directors.

I’ve spoken with across different industries, retail and others, have come back and said, the workforce are happier. No, one’s craving that work returned to the office. I think there are some that are, don’t get me wrong. If you hate your house or home life, and you’re not set up properly.

Yes. There’s always going to be the need or the want to come back. So I can see that, but I think the overall majority of people have been working better from home. And then. Enjoying that more. I think there were probably after the latest locked down, I’d be more interested to see the data because I think last lockdown was like a holiday.

We had the weather, you could get outside, go sit in the garden, go on, walks, everything supported, outdoor living. Even if restricted but you could get out and you could spend time outside and that gave you another space to exist in. And I think now the, what we’re seeing is probably after a dark long winter that they’re all going to be slight changes and that shoots there.

But I think where we’re going to, what we’re going to settle on is a nice blend and a sensible blend between, working from home and coming into the office. And it’s really about those two environments and how they evolve. How does work from home evolve on an equipment basis, on a concentration basis, on a company culture basis.

Let’s think about when you’re going into the office, things like your commute times, what the office then becomes. And I think there’s some interesting things to pick up on there. And yeah. What are your thoughts?

Danny Denhard: [00:07:58] I’ve got like this, isn’t like an area I obsessed around and I’ve wanted to change for a long time and something that I work in day in and day out.

So it’s, there’s loads of topics. You fascinating topics you brought up. So I fit in a blended environment is something that is going to have to evolve. I think talking to, and listening to a lot of different things and talking to different people. Salesforce is approach was that’s pulse survey, everyone.

And, once the first one was only 23% of ones returned to the office and then more recent, it jumped up to 72% of people did, but only one in a two to three days per week. And then I think there’s a demand between eight and 9%. They want it to be distributed at least two days per week.

And I think in that sort of talent that actually there’s going to be people that want to be in your office. So there’s a stat that gets framed around that one in three people meet their mate so that that partner at work.  That’s of a number of HR departments. That’s an issue that’s actually just part of life.

And it’s one of the, in one of the things I think many of us have been lucky to be able to do or when it goes positive. Obviously I think one of the other things that you brought up, that’s going to be really interesting is the delivery side of it is how do companies rolling this out and how do they think about being future forward and be future seers and enable this to happen for three to five years.

Google have gone back on himself numerous times. And they’re now saying up to 20% of the people will return and then it be phased through. And they think that majority of roles will be hybrid over time, but that’s changed. So there’s so many different companies doing so many things. If I was a company at the moment and some of the things I’ve recommended is you really need to get people booking in the booking out.

So people need to know where they are, what are, what they’re doing. And this isn’t just from a management perspective, it’s just from a health perspective. So that’s really important.  One of the other things to consider as, as a business leader and talking to you as a CEO of a company, is when it comes down to culture and it comes down to performance, they should be completely linked.

And what a lot of people don’t realize is once one tips, the other it’s really hard to realign them. So now people have been working from home. For over a year, some people have slowly returned back to the office is it is very tiring when you meet people in person and you realize how different the different relationships are and the different social cues that you get.

 It’s going to be like this retrained in and re on boarding and that needs to happen. So many people haven’t fought for about re-onboarding people into the office and so office environment, and it really frustrates me. One thing I’ve said numerous different times to different businesses is think about shift patterns.

Now don’t think about a nine to five. Think about how people can work to their. optimum to get the most out of their teams, get the best performance possible because people have been working earlier. They’ve been working later and also they’ve been taken, a couple of hours at lunchtime to get different things done or whatever, to pop out and get things.

And that’s not going to change it’s 

Nick Walter: [00:11:07] kids. 

Danny Denhard: [00:11:08] Kids exactly . 

Nick Walter: [00:11:09] That’s my life speaking 

Danny Denhard: [00:11:10] that the thing parents have a completely different life schedule and unfortunately, something be flexible enough for those either. So I think it’s that it sorts of areas. I think people need to think around their shift patterns, I think is such an important factor for businesses to be more successful in that I’m a morning person.

I get my best work done in the morning. If you put me in to meeting after two o’clock I’m, I really have to concentrate. I really have to dig deep into really concentrating in hyper-focus and that’s happens for a lot of people, but managers don’t know their teams and their people well enough to know that you can change a nine to five.

You can change the setup to make it more applicable to individuals or to teams and i think, that sort of core areas for people to think around question I’d have for you is, as a CEO sort of what’s your sort of stance. For the future are you going to want everyone back in, are you going to try and get people in day to day days or, two to three days a week in the office or what’s your sort of stance?

Nick Walter: [00:12:13] It’s a really good question. And actually something the super topical for me and  my business in the industry. So there’s a couple of things going on right now. Like I mentioned to you before we were looking at new office space, the new office, that we’re looking at is a big office. You can probably get, say 30 people in there.

The reason we’re looking at something quite big is because we have an immersive lab set up where we capture people in 3d and, we need a larger equipment space as well as a space for people to work out. And so crazily, we’re looking at that space now it’s very expensive and I’m like, We’ve had it good up til now, we’ve done, we’ve been in, we work currently in, in a similar serviced office in Camden and that’s been working quite nicely for us, obviously getting an amazing rate for the amount of desks.

It’s like insanely good compared to what it was on the pad that spaces before. And we I’ve had that on a rolling contract, so that’s been fine. It’s been flexible. We will like the kind of senior members of the team will live in good proximity to that location. So we can all get there easily.

And it was really for us. Especially during like times where it was, we couldn’t expect people to travel as much. It worked for us there. I th I think that the other interesting thing about where I come from on this is the industry I work with. In, not the technology side, but the high end commercial art side is all built around physical.

They were slow to adopt digital before the pandemic. They’ve tried to adopt during the pandemic, and they’re not quite sure what to do because they don’t have the infrastructure to support wide scale digital implementation and everything revolved around this art fair scene. People moving around the world, meeting at art fairs, LA New York Basel, Hong Kong, Miami London.

And it was very much this kind of social in-person scene. And it was all built around that. It’s very like old school from that perspective in terms of an industry. I’m. Part of my business comes from an extreme end of the spectrum. That was all based around physical. Anyway, almost like retailers, and where tech comes into that is the opposite end of the spectrum, where we’re so used to working remotely, setting up digital businesses. Like it doesn’t really matter. There’s a lot more flexibility and where we’re going to end up is somewhere in the middle. And I think the hybrid, it’s literally the buzzword of the moment.

Everything is becoming hybrid from my client’s business models, because they’re now having to take on a digital element, which they didn’t have before to how we exist in office or physical locations. And I think that, the mentality of. My co-founder who is more on the art side of things, he’s, from a family that’s been involved in the art world for a long time, everything, and I’ll CFO who, a group CFO, he’s of this mentality as well before the pandemic, the mentality was, if you’re not at your desk, you’re not working like it was so old school.

And that clash totally against myself, that’s been working in startups and digital businesses and consulting and doing digital transformation stuff for the last 10, 12 years. And it’s totally foreign to me, that kind of mindset. So that was a bit of internal friction that we had there.

And I think the, we will meet in the middle. I think there’s no reason now that I think, business owners have nowhere to hide anymore. It used to be the typical why I’ve asked to work from home, but the old excuse of we’re not set up to do that. With worried about productivity, drop him.

We’ve never done it before, so we’re not going to try it now. So don’t get me wrong. It’s not the same across the board, but a lot of legacy businesses that have had success, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it mentality and there’s nowhere to hide anymore. You can reference I’ll do, did my productivity drop when I was working at home through the pandemic.

And if the answer to that question is no, then you know what can be said about that? But you can’t really have a good reason as to why people cannot work from home. And I think, business owners or senior execs, who’ve got to really shift their mentality to doing it. And I think senior exec execs have seen some of the benefits of that.

And I think everyone, there’s always these outliers, these people that want to live in the office, they’re consumed by work that live to work. They work to live. And I’m fortunate. I enjoy my work and I don’t really see it like. Work as a big chore, but the role, lots and lots of people that do.

And we’re only here once we’ve only got a short life, we need to make the most of it. And I think we need something that fits our new lifestyles and the things that you know, one of the things for me has been, the kids has been great to be able to sit down with six o’clock and have a meal with my kids, or just to go pick them up from school and see the happiness on their face, that I can pick them up from school where ordinarily that wouldn’t be a thing.

So I think there’s a lot to be said for the balance and the hybrid. And it’s really about what, for me, what that hybrid looks like. And that’s really where I think we should dig in, especially around things like company culture company culture is a big one. There’s been this it’s really difficult right now because a lot of people I think are feeling.

A little bit threatened by the light, especially you mentioned it earlier, right? Middle management they’re in trouble. The new way of working has meant that they’re superseded, these kinds of bottlenecks that exist in organizations can get bypassed, maybe senior execs are interacting more with, the people on the ground at the front line.

And that information there is flowing differently. And like to companies need like coaches and facilitators to help maximize that organizational effectiveness. And is it a change? Is it like small changes like that? Where, sometimes there’s so many levels of things, it just feels like you’re wading through the treacle at all times.

And I think actually, the. Certain members of your team, who, at less senior levels are actually empowered to do more and have more impact potentially on the business. And it’s really about that kind of output. Have, are we flipping now to something where like documentation becomes like the unspoken superpower of remote teams, is his actual production of things becoming more important?

The things that people would knock out and never they’d never get any air time, they get caught up somewhere. It never quite gets to a point where it shared. But people’s skillsets are evolving. Like people are becoming better writers, but a written communicators and there’s. We need like obviously a great tool set to support these things and then great ways of sharing these things across the business.

And I think that’s a really interesting area for evolution. What are your thoughts on that? 

Danny Denhard: [00:19:19] I’m a hundred percent behind you with hybrid. I think it is a buzzword and a trend is something that’s emerged. And I think it’s something that’s going to be hugely important for companies to make the right decision where hybrid works.

When hybrid works is when there’s like the right dynamics that are set, sort of principles are set to enable success. So how am I set up to succeed within this business? And that’s the question that no company ever asks or answers a, when you join B, when you ever view C when you do an exit interview.

So there isn’t an ever, it’s never really deliberate from, for a lot of companies to. Tell people how to be successful. And that’s really important from a hybrid world. I think companies that have had perk based culture, it’s not really a culture, but it’s been perk based, say you’re in the office. You get given all your meals for free.

You’ll get, give you’re given the office stock a ping pong table, etc. That isn’t going to be a pull for anyone anymore. Apart from that, if you’re very early in your career or it’s something that you think is really important to make work more fun. I think the politics typically increase in a hybrid scenario because you’re often considered first class, second class citizens.

So outside out of mind is often something that people will complain about. And how do you as a manager, manage people that are in close proximity to you. And those that are away from you on a screen. And like you said asynchronous communication so being deliberate around documentation in document documents, centric.

So I think a lot of companies fail to remember, and it’s something that was prevalent in the early 2000 2010s was used to have templates for everything. Now, most people start with a blank document and that doesn’t really help people that actually hinders people from a successful perspective.

What you said is really interesting around written people have become better writers or will become better writers. I think that will continue, but I do predict that some people will get worse because they’re used to write in text message format, they used to write in an instant. Instant messengers and it’s a chatification of work.

People have started to be very informal and they haven’t really thought out the idea what enough to articulate it. And that’s going to take some management. I actually think it’s for hybrid to work properly. You need two key hires. I think you need a culture community manager, and it’s something I’ve been singing about for years.

It’s someone who sits there and their sole purpose, their sole job is to ensure people are A. Happier, B. Communicating better. C., being the trust factor between HR and senior management or the team, the manager, HR, and then the executive, because that’s the most important factor for most businesses is they don’t actually trust HR.

And that’s going to be, that’s going to increase because you’re not going to get as much time. Typically you don’t speak to HR unless you’ve got a problem. Or you’re getting a promotion. That doesn’t necessarily have to change. But I think that’s where the culture community manager is going to be so important.

I think the second row is going to be essential as a project manager. We got into this habit as businesses to hire product managers, which are great because they can start building things and they can work with engineering and tech and some of the other departments, which don’t necessarily have the same level of communication as marketers or other departments.

But project managers are there to deliver great campaigns, great projects. They’re not there to just roll things out and leave it that are to move things and on they’re to galvanize change. And I think that they’re going to be two core roles two core factors of success for businesses to, to any own hybrid because they’re trained both trained to be great communicators.

And great read in between the lines and actually saying where we are, where we’re truly at. And I think there’s something a lot of people have forgotten is rules that are for most people, rules are there was it that to be made to be broken? Whereas guidelines had to be followed. And I think people need to understand this deliberate break down of those.

So how hard it is, how fast you can break them, how firm they are, etc. They’re going to be real barometers for us to know what is successful. think you have to be one thing that’s really important. It’s been deliberate and having deliberate actions for everything that you do. My sneak preview for the future, and I know we usually leave it to the end, but I think there’s a few things that are gonna come to the forefront.

I think the first thing that will happen and it might be a few years time is, is every company has their own coin. Which is built on the blockchain, which essentially will be like a Bitcoin or whatever, but have been internal coin that people will use. And it would be based on blockchain. And it would be like a currency that you can spend within a business.

I think that companies will have to invest in physical and mental health at the same level, if not readdress it and do more mental health. And I actually predict that there’s going to be mirrors that will connect to whiteboards, and then you’ll be able to have more deliberate communication & brainstorming won’t be separate and people won’t feel segregated, but then also you’ll be able to have commitment, committed conversations with virtual health care people. And then I think there’s going to be bespoke professional health packs. So fruit and veggie packs, I think vitamin boost packages, bespoke, caffeine blends, these all things that are coming. And a lot of people are conscious around. It’s just, the companies are going to have to get into that area. 

 So I actually think there’s going to be, it’s going to have to be a change. I think there’s going to have to be more coaches and mentors, then  managers.

I think that the managers had too many difficult. Is that a client has a really difficult role because you’re also having to deliver alongside manage. And a lot of people haven’t been A. Trained to be managers, but B. Haven’t been trading trained how to do to two roles together. So actually think we’re going to see a split off between some very deliberate management and then there’s going to be coaches and mentors.

One of the things I love to the most around coaching and mentoring is if it’s coaching, you can improve very specific skills. Whereas a manager, you can actually struggle to do that or struggled to bring in the right people to do that. So I think that’s really important. And just the last area of it is going to be at like a sneak peak is the monthly vitals.

I think, interestingly, what happens at the moment is some people have to wait for a quarter to get deliberate performance feedback. I think we’re actually going to see that improve ideally by automation, by different tools. But I actually think it outputs of performance and your vitals would be how much, what your level of burnout is, how many hours you did, what your performance was, sat for score and what your NPS is.

I’ve personally hate NPS as a marketing tool. I really don’t think it’s rigorous enough. It doesn’t give you enough insight, but I think tweaked internally will give you some great insights as an individual, as a manager and as an executive. So there, they’re my sort of that’s my sneak peek of my hot takes.

Nick Walter: [00:27:06] Yeah. It blew my mind with a couple of those, especially the health and wellbeing in the office with some visits and supplements and things like that. But I think you’re right. This is the thing, I think these are all the things that we need to think about, especially like that. There’s so much to unpack in here.

I think from that the shift to mental health, and that has been really rough for some people stuck in doors. Not seeing people not being able to hide from your own mind. It’s been a difficult place for a lot of people that I know personally, and, that used to work for me that have reached out for help or talks.

And, it’s been really tough for a lot of people. So there’s certainly a big push on mental health generally. And I think actually, how do we support people in more effective ways is certainly interested in how do we set people up from an equipment basis at home and that equipment could be nutritional.

It could be how you manage your time, how you put in boundaries between what’s working what’s home the way down to desk, internet, connection chair, screens. Microphones like all of this stuff that people I think in fairness, what’s happened so far is cause people were unsure on how things were going to last.

They ignored these things and thought, look, we’re saving a ton of money on the office. But they haven’t really said here’s two grand a person go through your booze, get yourself a nice desk, nice chair, whatever equipment you need. Which is something that is needed for a lot of people.

People are like sitting with a tray on their lap, on a sofa, or on the floor or, you we’ve got the backgrounds to zoom because people aren’t necessarily happy to share their homes and things. So there’s a lot of things that, that bring in new considerations and new elements.

And I think they’re things that have what happens if you give someone a two grand spending allowance for equipment and they leave the company. Let you take the equipment back. Does then that law, that what used to be the old laptop that gets wiped and transferred to the new employee, does that now become a desk, a chair, screens, a microphone, like how does all that work?

So there’s some practicalities to work out there. And then I think the other thing that’s super interested is what the office will become. Is the office now going to become almost like a resort style location, where when you come into the office is good feels good vibes is for some good productivity, but it’s also for the physical catch up.

Let’s grab a beer after work. These things that you’re just not getting at home, almost like a physical release, a little bit of escapism from your home office. And how do we get to a point where The physical space, doesn’t become what people assume the home space was super unproductive.

How do we keep the physical space has its place? And what happens in that place? And how do you make the most of your time? I know a lot of people that are doing phase like two days back in the office teams, crossover that need to cross crossover, but not everybody crosses over due to social distancing.

And and that’s another very important point is like how comfortable employees feel coming into office environments, commuting them being in their environment. What are the protocols there? But I think, there’s a big evolution of the office space and what it should be, or should become like breakout spaces, meeting rooms, places where people can get one-on-one like, what is the kind of flexibility of that space that is going to be needed to support.

New needs in a physical space. I think the days of everybody just walks in comes in around nine, sits at that desk logs on to their computer. Like it feels like in a lot of industries not, call centers and things like that, but where that will be more of the norm, but they still need to evolve, but there will be an evolution like outdoor space might become more important offices.

Like breakout space becomes more important because actually the point of being in the office is to get face-to-face with people. And that could be in group meetings, but equally one-on-ones. And how will businesses look at this and evolve? How will office space providers look at this and evolve? The, we works of this world luckily that blessed generally with a lot of breakout space, but generally no outdoor space and.

Mostly in built up areas where there’s no nice green space that you can go. And, lot of people now are thinking about, I don’t want to live in a city anymore. I want to live more by the country side and more by the seaside. And I want different things from my home life. And I can do that now, because work allows me to, and therefore you’ve got to come commute into a busy city.

Is there going to be this switch in mentality where actually it’s not good enough to be in the middle of a very busy city. It’s not conducive to productivity, good mental health. It’s something that, you know, that the commute as well as is evolving, it used to be my time for podcasts and a bit of head space and peace and quiet.

If I could get a seat and not be stressed out by like my face being stuck in someone’s armpit. How is that going to evolve? No one really wants to do that. Any more that can be like, it feels to me like that’s one thing people probably haven’t missed is the commute. We might’ve missed the physical concept inside the office, but we haven’t necessarily missed the commute.

And I think a lot of people have swapped what they did on their commute for walks. I think walking and listening to podcasts now is something that I talked to people in him or often, and there’s different ways of doing things now, mainly the better for body of mind. And I think these are the things where there’s I don’t remember one person that was, I love my commute.

I love my hour commute or hour and a half commute. I know one guy who lives out in Essex and he used to work in Hammersmith and the commutes to about two hours each way. I’m like, how’s that good for anyone or like or anything? So yeah I think there’s a lot of evolution to happen there as well. And it’s but the thing is, looking at it from a senior management perspective, it’s a lot to think about it’s a lot to get, right?

I think people like with everything new, you need to be shown the way on how to do things. I think that’s where, at an organizational level, it becomes important to get consultancy and advice, and there needs to be a framework that people can easily follow because otherwise you’re just muddling through.

And I think that can be problematic a lot of the time, it’s like, how does my business become more sustainable? Unless there’s some really obvious things you can do or sign up to almost tick box exercises just to get you started. And then you look at it a bit longer term, how do we actually become more sustainable?

What do we do? People want these things put on a plate because it takes up bandwidth. They don’t know what to do, and it just needs to be a really easy implementation. And I think, like obviously office space providers, the big ones, like the, WeWork’s and others, I think they have a real opportunity here.

Especially someone like WeWork. Who’ve been for a rough time. They have a real opportunity here to start leading in this landscape to start changing the makeup of their offices. Now, whether that works on a business model basis, because, it’s everything is bums on seats. And, but if that is not going to be the way it works anymore, how do these workspaces that really, revolutionized office, what it meant?

You mentioned the perks before the beer taps, the breakout spaces that the nice deck, or WeWork revolutionize this and then we work ended up. Basically building offices for other big brands, like Adidas and others, like people wanted, WeWork to make their office space amazing. And so how do they businesses, like they start to lead the way around this new office space and what it means to be in a physical location now.

And I think that’s, it’s a really interesting area for development and something that if I was WeWork, I’d be thinking, how do I make the most of this? How do we become the thought leaders in this space? How do we reinvent ourselves to go all in on this?

Danny Denhard: [00:35:38] I there’s a lot,  to unpack the, we work opportunities. Huge. I was very bullish on, like I was very against the way you went model they’re soulless places for a lot of people and they’re actually, then they weren’t designed necessarily for the maximum work they were, they were spaces designed for sort of a feel that you were part of something bigger, but you weren’t.

And I know a lot of, younger people, like WeWork, because you get to meet different people. But I think WeWork. Yeah. They do have an opportunity, but I think that if they’re set up to do anything is to onboard businesses that are removing HQs. One of the sort of services I offer, and these are the tips I give out to people to redesign your office is like my environmental hackers, I call it is a lot of people have my desk.

This is my desk, this and my people. You’re still gonna need that, but you’re probably gonna need less of them. So it’s booking book out. There’s a lot. I always tell people to build a library, so places where people go in as library rules, So you can go and work where it’s completely quiet and you’re not going to get interrupted.

And I think that’s really important a for deep work, but also be for people who are ambiverts or introverts to go away and get their energy and deliver and get a feeling to deliver from there. And then I would say there’s an area for breakout and collaborative spaces, big boards, big space bigger desks, but less desks and more comfortable seats. And that’s where the extroverts can live and breathe in and do a lot of their work.

You’re completely right around the hybrid. I call it an arena. Now, an office as an arena. It’s where you go to due to performance. So you have to ramp up the quality of audio you’re going to have to ramp up the quality of video can have to improve the surroundings and you’re can have to go there to be part of a performance or on one. So pitching’s probably going to be some think big meetings, although there’ll be hybrid, a lot of people want to be in person because they can have that pre chat & after in a post meet, in chat. And I think that’s going to be essential for a lot of it. 

It’s going to be performance based. So that means performing to an audience or say increasing performance, which are there when you said around businesses business owners have nowhere to hide, especially senior execs,completely agree that they’re going to want to be in your office because they’re say that, eight out of 10 C-suite people are going to be in the office because that’s how they operate.

That’s where they get their props. That’s how they’re seen physically seen by people and the teams and the people get bought into their vision because they’re unobtainable and then they’re visible and that’s not really going to, that’s not really going to change. I think we’re going to see people who naturally flock to the office.

Because that’s, they’re savvy political players. They know that they have to be in-person to have conversations. They’re going to be in the office a little bit more than others. Whereas I think there’s going to be people who are, who do definitely choose to work from home more often because it’s their life and their life set up for that. And I think you can make it successful. 

One of the interesting things around commute is some people do miss them, but I think they missed their alone time and they missed their 30 minutes or an hour where it’s just them and their podcast or their music or their mix or their radio show. 

So I think there’s so much there that people need to to consider and think, I think this is a good place to, to have hot takes and our future state of work.

One thing I think where we’d have to just quickly mention is basecamp who are fully distributed, have had a hell of a two week period. I’ve lost 30% of senior staff. And they’ve taken buyouts because of they’ve enforced a no policy, no political policy. So you can’t actually talk around politics. And they’ve been very top down. 

 I think we’re going to see companies that are going to move towards that. And I think that’s something that we will put in the show notes and then the detailed space on the future of the current UK. But I think it’s really important that people understand that because you’re going into a new environment doesn’t mean things will necessarily change.

We just have to take examples of Coinbase and Basecamp as these examples where people are making deliberate choices to change the way people work to get the most, the biggest performance indicators and the biggest “ship” of product as possible. So I think they’re really important things for people to research themselves.

So I guess here’s a good time for you to tell your future state of work.

Nick Walter: [00:40:16] So the future state for me, no surprise to begin with the hybrid, working, striking that balance between work from home and office time, but also having some guidelines around what those spaces mean. 

What does work from home mean for me? Do I have the right equipment? Where are my boundaries? And same with office what does the office become for me? What does that commute mean? What happens when I’m in the office? How can the office space facilitate & meet my needs? Whether that’s around, deep work with something I would love to have got into, but we didn’t have time, but things like deep work is it even possible now to do deep work in the office?

Or are your deep work days, your two hour blocks of deep work? Or if you’re doing something like the Pomodoro technique or something like that, is that happening only at home because it’s just not possible in the office. 

Figuring out what that hybrid looks like and how it can meet the needs of the business. And the employee is going to be so crucial and so key, but I cannot see us going back to pure physical and I think any business owner that is thinking about a pure physical return and not, something that isn’t minimum two days a week, work from home needs to take a look at themselves and check themselves and ask why they are still thinking like that.

I think that emphasis on the home set up for work is key. I can see, we’ve already seen a a bit of growth in like back garden, eco pods or rooms or glorified sheds. Are there more opportunities for me to go and work outside of the actual home space. So it feels different more flexible live work solutions.

Maybe even community hubs where people can just drop in and out of unused or coffee shops or those kinds of remote work or digital nomad style locations where people could actually not have to commute an hour into the office, but still have the ability to escape home if they just need to switch it up locally in their areas, forming stronger communities and stronger local networks and supporting local business.

I think that would be very interesting and would work then give you an allowance to spend in the coffee shop or, do these type things. So new ways of businesses looking at supporting home working environments especially in equipment investment 

The evolution of company culture, I think is key finding ways to make a cultural preserver culture, whether you’re at home or in an office.

Like I can see an up spike in what’s worked really well. I think it was an example with Digitas in Chicago and they had a head of company culture and they just did some amazing clubs for their staff and really fostered the kind of company culture of community. And I think I can see more remote style activities like this walk meetings where everyone’s on a on a walk whilst they’re doing the meeting and it’s not about PowerPoints. It’s just general catch-ups, but it’s, promoting the ability to go outside of your home space, getting the outside physical world good for body and mind and, a nice way to do your meetings, 

exercise clubs can we do like a running club, a cycling club, like different things from home where people can maybe, capture their output on their smartwatch or a smartphone and there’s little leaks in the office and things to bring people together in different ways, virtual group, meditation, yoga, things like this that people can easily get involved with and still feel part of a community and still have something to talk to colleagues about that isn’t work-related.

In terms of the actual work that they’re doing. So to make that culture run throughout whether you’re at home or in the office and it’s super, super important. I think staff health and wellbeing, which fits into this but there’s an element of who feels safe coming to the office. Who’s vaccinated. Who’s not, we obviously, hopefully there will come a point where everybody is, but people also have choices to make it just because you can be vaccinated. Doesn’t mean you’re going to be vaccinated. So we need to figure out, what staff attitudes are towards it, who feels comfortable, who doesn’t.

We can’t expect people to come back in. And I think I’m senior execs C level need to be open to the fact that might be the case. And obviously providing the best platform for physical, mental wellbeing, and actually focusing more on this as part of overall staff health. 

And then the last one for me that we didn’t actually touch on when we spoke, but recruitment. And I think, recruitment, the world of recruitment is totally different now because you don’t have to go to an office. There was a really, I was speaking to an old businessmen. So who consults with an organization, they were looking for a sales person in London, very high salary. Couldn’t find the right candidate. We’re able to find the right candidate in Manchester. Had to change their way of thinking that they don’t actually need to be physical. They can be remote. And they were able to hire someone with great experience, great skillset, they were asking for a lower salary because of the differences in salary between London and the rest of the world.

And I can see that continuing and I think one of the benefits is going to be is finding better people that fit your organization, a bigger pool of people to select from, but also the distribution of wealth across the country, upping salary levels across the country. And therefore, it’s better for everyone that this is not just London centric.

So I can see that change happening as well when people being more open to a wider recruitment pool and the benefits that can bring. So they’re mine. And we could go for more, but I’ll let you do yours. 

Danny Denhard: [00:45:58] I think we’re very aligned on those , recruitments really interesting one, actually, I think we’ll see what happens. What’s happened in the U S where certain pods build up, I think actually interesting. I think we will probably see better hubs that build up and I know, Manchester was one that was heavily invested in the UK, like Austin, Miami, etc, trying to do everything they can to bring people to it and get more money.

So we might, you see that? I think Birmingham Edinburgh, Glasgow, all candidates for that, I think mine broken down into a few different areas. 

So I think we’ll see environments change, business environments change. I think what that means is I think we’re going to get businesses deliberately top-down and are going to stay that way and probably double down & enforce that even harder.

So I would call that a top-down. So look at what Basecamp camp and Coinbase have done. I think Google is one that’s and really big companies that understood that parks are really important for some and not others. I think they’re going to be top down, but then they’re going to apply perks that make people feel like they are getting benefit.

But also the value exchange is on the CV or the resume is that you get to work at this big company. Therefore you’re going to get an interview somewhere that doesn’t understand that they’re not always the greatest candidates. 

The second thing is I think it’s hybrid. I think we’re going to see that will come in and out. And that will shift. I think after six weeks people were realize whether it worked for them or doesn’t and whether they’re employees want to do that. And staff wants to do that. 

I think a lot of people have worked in a colleagues have worked out, whether they’re a friend, a work friend, an actual just a colleague or just an acquaintance.

And I think that will continue with hybrid. And that’s why I suggest that we need many people need a community manager, and probably a project manager as well. I think the third one is we’re going to see a load of freelance armies. And I think that’s something that people just haven’t thought of enough is you could probably hire 10 full-timers and then pack it full of great freelancers. We’re in a world of the best freelance talent we’ve ever had or talent pool we’ve ever had. 

And then I think there’s going to be a shift where people choose to try and work part-time, but have side hustles. And I think that’s for lifestyle first career, not career first lifestyle. I think you can do a pick and mix of the above, but I don’t think it will work that way.

I think we’re going to have to be flexible for the next nine to 12 months. I think we’re going to see some people rush back to your first others just won’t. And I think it’s going to be a real management crisis between a lot of people & HR teams, because no one’s ever had to face this before and some are gonna have to work really hard to try and convince them.

We’ve also seen a huge drop in sick and less people take sickness and sick leave. So we’ll probably see that change with more working from home. I think companies are going to have to move away from the central HQ and have more satellite offices. That’s something I’ve been advocate for a long time.

& Something touched upon as well. Nick, I think it’s high burnout and high levels of people struggling in mass situations. I think that it has to change. I’m not sure whether businesses are set up for that yet, but that’s going to have to happen. We’re past the 88 days of complex habit forming.

So it’s going to be really difficult for some people to attend to an office. And they’re actually going to have really high anxiety in and not going to want to. And they’re probably some people are going to leave companies because of it. I think that I have to change and I think I’ve lent towards this guideline over rules.

So how hard people go, how deliberate they are. What the barometer of happiness really is. So I do completely agree. Hybrid’s going to be the future & I think we might see a new dynamic emerge really quickly where it might have to be some live out of the office and some live in the office. If someone’s gonna work loads of hours at home or remotely and others going to work a lot of hours internally, and it’s going to be a struggle for people to manage, I think it’s going to be a more demand on tools, which is really important.

I’ll share a list of tools that will help people in the show notes. I think it’s going to go asynchronous. So it would be open thoughtful deliberate and it removed the demand for loads of meetings. So if you’re in a meeting for more than five people, you’re doing it wrong. 

And then just every touch upon how to dive into it, I think is going to have to be your local currency. Your company, current center fitness is going to be rolled out. 

I do think mental health is going to have to be invested in as is physical health. 

I can see some companies investing into pallets on getting pelotons delivered they’re huge investment, but they’re going to be things that people want to get involved with because of the community aspect, because of the buy-in etc..

I do think there’s going to be a bespoke health that has to be rolled into business. And I think that it’s going to be a perk that people want. 

And then just to wrap up, I think there’s going to have to be more coaches and more mentors and managers are going to have to be the ones that push that forward.

Not necessarily C-suite because they the C-suite will always see the benefit of it. But I think if you’re a middle manager or your someone in the middle of your career, go push as hard as you can for a coach or a mentor, because they’ll give you so much more than you’re going to a conference or you going to sit on a half a day workshop.

So that’s my future state of right.

I think that’s a be a, good place to push how you think about the future of work and how you decide definitely hit. If you’re not subscribed, definitely subscribe. But everything that we do when we shared a detailed notes on thefuturestate.co.uk.

Thanks for listening. 

Nick Walter: [00:51:19] Yeah, it was, yeah. Thanks for listening. Great show today. And yeah. Any questions or anything, please feel free to send them in the links in the show notes. See you next time.


What Is The Podcast? The Future State – Modern business & future trends explored by Nick Walter & Danny Denhard.