The History of Work and Its Influence on The Future of Work w/ Adam Nathan @Almanac

History repeats itself. Pieces of the last few versions of work will influence how we all work in the future.



5/8/202363 min read

Here's the recap...Well, we've likely arrived at the close of Leading from Afar. Over the past 4 seasons, we've spoken with outstanding leaders about what and how the future of work will look like. In today's episode, I talked to Adam Nathan, the CEO of Almanac about the history of work. From the industrial revolution up through the CoVid remote revolution and beyond. We dove into what defined each period or version of work. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The similarities and differences in the following period/version of work. And what influences we'll see in the future of work. Things like how to measure productivity, employee engagement, mission-driven work, and so much more. Unlike previous episodes where each was topic focused with takeaways, this is more a thinking-out-loud conversation.

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Almanac's Future of Work Manifesto

Scott - [01:46 - 01:51]

Hey, Adam, thank you so much for joining. How's everything going today?

Adam - [01:51 - 01:54]

It's going great. Thanks. Having me, Scott.

Scott - [01:54 - 02:23]

Oh, I appreciate, you joining and from our conversation before we started hitting record, you, you noted that you're in Lisbon for, for running remote, which is, quite a quite exciting. We would love to hear a little bit about that. but usually the way we start each episode is telling us a little bit more about yourself. Would love to hear a little bit more about the origin story of Almanac, and I think based on the topic we're gonna speak today, maybe just kind of a brief history of your remote work experience when it started, how it started, and all those good pieces. And we'll, we'll dive right in.

Adam - [02:23 - 02:28]

Sure. So do you want me to just head into that story?

Scott - [02:28 - 02:30]

Yeah, like go for it.

Adam - [02:30 - 03:59]

Cool. so yeah, my name's Adam. I'm the CEO and and co-founder of a company called Almanac, which is a structured collaboration platform for remote teams. my background's in systems engineering, and before I got into tech, I worked at a lot of, complex organizations starting, in the Obama White House to, the, to the nonprofit sector, to running strategy at, Hawaiian Airlines. but for the past 10 years before and the reason Mr. Involvement is because I was spending a lot of my time at those companies doing work that didn't feel like work, wasn't work that was on my job description, certainly wasn't work. I woke up in the morning to do. it was things like sitting in back to back meetings all day long, trying to stay on top of the never ending deluge of notifications from Slack and email. you know, all the while, late at night after, the chaos finally subsided, you know, having to do my real job in, into the, the late hours of the night or wee hours of the morning. And again, that just didn't seem like the, the work that I was hired to do or the work that I wanted to do. And I had this contrast with the engineers I worked with because I was a product manager who collaborated, not in meetings and emails or Slack messages, but in GitHub, which is a structured collaboration platform for developing code. and the engineers I worked with, were both way more productive than I I was in terms of actual output and also seemingly happier. And so I started thinking like, what, what's going on with software development, that makes them, so much better at their jobs than, than we are? Adam - [03:59 - 04:09]

And also so much more satisfied and how might we extrapolate some of those concepts over to knowledge work or, or, or the business functions. And so that was the origin of Almanac.

Scott - [04:09 - 04:23]

Yeah, that's, that's, it's a great story and, and great to hear. So when did you start, when did you go remote for the first time? Was it with Almanac or were you able to work remotely, with some of the previous companies as well?

Adam - [04:23 - 05:28]

ironically it was with Almanac. even think we thought about ourselves at first as a remote organization. one of my initial co-founders was based in the United Kingdom. and, and so we were remote from the start cuz he didn't move to San Francisco where I live. and as we expanded the team, you know, we, we, like a lot of employers were faced with this choice of spending an exorbitant amount of money to hire, maybe a, a mediocre person in our, in, in my local home market of the Bay Area, or, expanding our search to the world and finding, higher quality talent, often for cheaper prices, that were, you know, even more excited to work at at our fledgling startup than someone say who has been at Google or Facebook for their career. So it was a pretty obvious choice from the start that as we expanded the team, especially on the technical side, that we should be looking, to find the best folks wherever they lived. it, it made business sense, in, in many ways. And so we, we, that's how we started and grew the team. I think before we even knew it was called remote or distributed, and, we've stayed that way ever since.

Scott - [05:28 - 05:32]

Amazing. What year was this?

Adam - [05:32 - 05:34]


Scott - [05:34 - 05:54]

Okay. So in the, like seemingly right before the pandemic, got, got going, but yeah, it's very interesting. That was cer Okay. Yeah, I think we have a little bit of a delay, but that, is fine. yeah, I mean that's in essence the, the, Sorry, just Yeah, it's quite all right.

Adam - [05:54 - 05:58]

Didn't have Anything else open, but, go for it, No problem.

Scott - [05:58 - 07:18]

So, I mean, that, that's seemingly the origin story of envisioned. So I've been remote for 11 plus years. That was the first hire at Envision. I think we were probably the third or fourth all remote company back then. And I mean, that was the idea of getting the best talent anywhere, right? And, that was an issue faced up, I think, up to, and including, right, or at least the beginning of the pandemic. It's, if you were in whatever market you were and you were a startup, unless you were curing cancer or getting people to Mars, you couldn't compete against Facebook at Google and Apple because right. You just, you couldn't compete, I think nowadays, right? The, I think the tables have turned, especially on companies like that, who are re refusing to do remote work, which we'll, we'll, we'll get into. But a lot of these companies, especially pre pandemic that I had, I had met, many of them are coming out of Paris in Berlin, and they all kind of said the same thing, Hey, no, we're we're trying to build a startup from the ground up. We, we can't access the talent in Paris or, or Berlin. again, they're all at these big companies. So we understand we have to be remote first to be able to hire the best talent anywhere. and it's a very kind of consistent story. And I think one of the themes we'll get into in our conversation today is that idea. And what I like to argue about is in the hybrid model, right? If you had any companies starting today or right back to potentially the 2019, I'm, I'm assuming very much on the confidence side that almost 0% of those companies would say, Hey, we wanna build a hybrid company, right? Scott - [07:18 - 08:38]

We wanna have some people in an office and some people over here and then doing, like, who would be stupid enough to do that? It's almost impossible to build a great office culture. It's even more difficult to build a remote culture and like hybrid culture. Forget it. So who the hell would do that? But it's all these companies who are being and established now who are obviously, again, we'll get in conversation, pivoted to remote work during the pandemic, are now kind of stepping back. And it's not because, hey, they believe this is the optimal model. It's, this is kind of a, a middle ground. But I think we'll, we'll dive more into that topic. And so I think the foundation of this topic is, you know, number maybe a month and a half ago or something, you, you, you reached out to me and I, I thank you for that opportunity to, you know, be a collaborator on, I guess what I'm gonna call it, a manifesto for the future of work, the future of how work will look like and what work will be. And I, great greatly opp appreciate the opportunity. And what it did was kinda raise questions, for me to think about, especially as we move forward and all the kind of ups and downs we've had of what I see, and I think we spoke about this, before we started recording, it's, I think 50 50% of, of us getting to the real future work will be bits of like the manifesto that you're, that will be out by the time this episode comes out of this is exactly how to do the future of work. This is exactly how to do asynchronous communication.

Scott - [08:38 - 10:06]

This is exactly how to hire globally. This is exactly how to do it. Playbooks that every company can kind of you pick up and run with, and be able to successfully transition over. I think what a conversation I wanna focus on today is the background of the history of work, how work has changed to the various evolutions, right? Kind of the future, future of work, I would say is maybe like a version four. what differences came with each change, good, bad, why they change, and how all those bits and pieces impact what the future of work will look like, whether it's good, whether it's bad, and, and what those pieces will. And really just have a, I think a deep conversation. Just I think thinking out loud, I think more than anything else, right? None of us are profits, so none of us in essence really know what the future, future of work will look like, but I think we both have good senses of what we believe it should look like and why it should look like that way. So if that's cool, we'll, we'll go, in that direction. Sure. Let's do it. Awesome. So, right, let, let's start back with the biggest probably evolution to the way people work in, in the industrial revolution. I think new industrial revolution will, will put the timeframe from right mid 18 hundreds up to I think an including World War II and kind of, you know, digging into different pieces of how work change and what that those changes look like and how that impacted what we've been seeing afterwards and what we're gonna see in the future. So I think let's start off with, right, the need for a central place to work i e an office or a factory, right?

Scott - [10:06 - 11:31]

Everyone previously was an agrarian society, lived out in the fields, farmed industrial revolution came along, and you built widgets or what you were building, and that required big, heavy machinery and, and whatever was in those factories. But you couldn't have those bits and pieces, those machinery all over the place. You had to in one central factory, right? So the idea of urbanization, right? People left the, whatever fields came to the cities because that's where the job was. All the work had to be done in the specific environment, in the, in the specific factory. And now that was the first introduction of the centrality of getting work done right, which I think impacted post World War II and now is kind of coming back of moving away from that with which, what you said of the internet of work, and not needing an, an episode or not needing a requirement for a place like that. so just maybe wanted to dig into that of, right. So you had horrible conditions, right? People had left the field, they moved to these urban areas, terrible conditions, terrible living conditions, tbo working conditions. It was a, a bad experience, but that's what you needed to do. And we'll love to kind just, again, we're thinking out loud here of how that change has impacted work post and what, again, the thoughts of moving away from that. And now again, that we don't need a central factory, how that impacts how we're, where we're going to be working from in the future.

Adam - [11:31 - 13:05]

Yeah, I mean, I'm, I'm no economic historian, so I, I, I don't, profess to be an expert on, on the history of work. but certainly the, the world that most people alive today, ha have started work in is an office environment, which yes, as you say is, you know, a pretty close evolution to the way that we used to produce factory goods in World War ii. and managers, even, you know, 10 years ago, five years ago, were managing white collar professionals as if they were, parts on a factory line, which is to say that, they managed work that only happened, in real time work that only happened in person. and the management style required, a lot of control and minimal transparency. You know, you only need to know the information to do your part of the process. There was someone, you know, like literally above the factory floor, who is watching the whole thing, making sure it's working together, but you didn't need to, you had that broader context to do your job. And Lima, it certainly works fine in a, in a factory setting where, every person or step in a process is only doing one thing. it doesn't really work as well, for creative work or for knowledge work where, you do need more information, and more collaboration cross-functionally. But at the same time, you know, we didn't see people quitting their jobs in mass like we did in the last couple years. And so I, I think while work wasn't perfect before, it was manageable, and, and, you know, to some degree sustainable, if you look at the data.

Adam - [13:05 - 13:58]

and so, you know, what, what we see happening recently is, it's not sustainable. It's, it's not normal, but it is pretty new. when you look at, you know, employee engagement and sustainability and retention data, the, you know, the post pandemic period of 20 21, 20 22 into 23, shows like a bunch of indicators around work blinking red And that's what's particularly fascinating to me, because, as I, as I mentioned, we, we do see now, you know, immense levels of disengagement and burnout and, quiet quitting and real quitting from work, on the employee side and on the management side, a ton of, confusion and, and dissatisfaction as well. You know, no one's, there's, there's a huge mismatch right now between the way that we're working now, which is where, where we're working, which is on the internet and, and how we're working, which is as if we're all still back in that office from 95.

Scott - [13:58 - 15:33]

Yeah. And I think the, that concept of the factory and the office there was, right, and that transferred into post World War II office work and moved towards white collar, as you mentioned, because the access to do your job where the tools that you needed to do your job were essentially located, and, and you couldn't get around that. And I think obviously with the, the invention of the cloud, that's kind of moved away, I think. But we're kind of, you know, dig into that as we get more towards that evolution. But so the idea of having a specific office right now, people still talk about, oh, people more productive and more collaborative in the office, right? I think both of us know that that's not true. I've probably at least three times more productive not in the office than they ever was ever in an office, right? But they're kind of stuck on that methodology of, right, the work had to be done in the office because historically had to, again, really just more of a physical requirement versus a, a knowledge requirement. but now it's shifting away to that of, right, we just need a device and an internet connection and the right then we're not connecting to a a, an internet. We're not, no needing computers or things that are in the office, and we can now move away from that centrality of this is the location because this is the only place where you can do the work. Kind of transitioning to like the next point of what the red po the Industrial Revolution kind of brought on was, and again, what we're seeing today is productivity based on output versus presence, right? Industrial revolution there was, I'm, I'm a huge, geek when it comes to World War ii, very fascinated by everything.

Scott - [15:33 - 16:54]

World War ii, there was a great program, I think on PBS number maybe about six months ago, about Ford building something like three mile long factory in like nowhere Michigan to push out bomber planes. And it was just mind-blowing to me that they were able to put out a entire bomber plane with some like 3 million parts once an hour. And like, that's just mind blowing. But at the end of the day, right up into World War ii, including World War ii, you were judged, your productivity was judged on how many cards you got off the line, how many bomber planes you got off the line, how many widgets you created. So, right. That's how you measured productivity by an actual physical, something that came out at the end of the day, at the end of the week, whenever that time bear. And I think that is Pushed Kind of a, to me, I think has skipped most of the office work, and I think, we'll, we'll dive into that, but it's still something very much present today of the idea of presence versus output and even a remote environment like when the pandemic happened and all these companies were doing Zoom check-ins in the morning and zoom check-ins in the evening and Slack statuses, and like all these different things of seeing presence. and again, it made sense back then. Output will be very much of the future. But how that presence has kind of no mixed in and still mixes in today when Right. Realistically, it really doesn't need to be there.

Adam - [16:54 - 18:17]

Yeah. Well, I think the, the shift from output to presence, you know, in the, in, in office culture happened because managers all of a sudden, you know, we're we're managing knowledge workers that weren't doing the same exact, task every single, hour of every single day. And so, but they still need something to do cuz like what our manager's supposed to do if, the whole point of a manager is to track and to manage work. And so I think that, that, that was, I think, the historical explanation for the rise of managing presence, which is, okay, well, I may not know what you're typing in that document, but, I, I can see if you're sitting in your chair from nine to five or attending meetings or responding to messages. And so present presence became a, you know, reason for managers to exist. And, and yes, I think that that then detached what managers were tracking from, from actual output because they weren't at all looking to see, is that work valuable? is that work, productive? Is it moving the needle for, for the team or for the company? and that led to, I think that experience I talked about earlier of doing a lot of work that didn't really feel like work, just, you know, like pushing a ball through model or, paddling water underneath you. And, and I think a lot of people, there's obviously a lot of pop culture TV shows and movies that, empathize with, with that perspective of just the, the mindlessness of office culture.

Scott - [18:17 - 19:46]

Yeah. And I, I would even say that, I mean that, we'll go post-shift, post World War II shift from, from output to presence was a necessity, right? We'd gone, went from completely blue work, blue collar work to now white collar work and an office. If you were an accountant, right? You were probably not putting out some financial statement on a day-to-day basis or an every week basis, right? Mm-hmm. you may do take a whole quarter to put together a financial statement. the jobs were output wasn't a very strict and easily accessible understanding. So I, I, I definitely think that there was a necessity to move towards presence because right, you couldn't really judge output when we shifted post World War II into the white wo white, white collar work. And now, I think even today, I believe that's part of an issue, and maybe we would love to get your sense on this, that, and I've, I've had this conversation with a couple people, on this, on this show about how we see that even in the future, right? I've been arguing with founders for the last God knows how long, right. Developers since the end of the day push, push code to GitHub, as you kind of mentioned the beginning of that show, right? And in the old days, like you push new designs to envision if you're a customer support person, you asked, you answered 20 tickets in Zendesk, right? If for an output, if I needed to see if you're actually productive, I just need to log into some cloud-based system and say, Hey, did you answer tickets? Did you push code? Did you push new designs? Very clearly defined deliverables on a definable timeline, which makes sense as part of the future of work of, again, shifting back towards the original output.

Scott - [19:46 - 20:52]

But there's still roles that are very kind of like the back office ops, finance, and I, I wouldn't even say product management on the, on the sense that it's much more difficult to put a clear deliverable and a clear timeline. So I think that's part of the question of as we move in the future, like how do we, how do we do that when you have some jobs that are right, super simple, code, code changes, design changes, support tickets, sales calls. But if you're like an an people ops person, how do you, how do you validate, you know, what you've done output? Do you do it totally not an output or contribution? Is it maybe focused on the idea of impact? Which again, there is less of a timeline, but more of you just focus on, did this new policy change have the impact, desire or greater? And we don't look at timelines. So I think that for me, part of the challenge of getting companies over towards that output versus presence, it's even today, it's, it's very difficult within some positions with remote and async and everything that some companies have today to really measure on a, on a, on a easily kind of, on an easy way.

Adam - [20:52 - 22:21]

I'm not, I'm not sure I agree with you, that, you know, engineering and design, and even customer service are positions where you're just doing, you're just like pushing changes to code or to a, a design file. In my experience, even something like customer service, or support the work is, is varied every day. you know, some, as an engineer, for example, some days you are, building a feature. Some days you're, fixing bugs. Some days you're making, enhancements. Some days you're reviewing people's prs mainly. So, and I think the same thing is true with a lot of, with I guess all professions and knowledge work where, every day may be a little bit different. even if the, you know, the core responsibilities of your job, you might be able to bullet them out in a list of five to 10 things. I think, the work that you do is pretty dynamic. And so when we but it, so I think your question is relevant for everybody, you know, how do you measure output in a world where every day looks a little bit different? And for us at Almanac, we think a lot about this cuz we think about work as a game, and I think people are playing games in every part of their lives. And, it's, the question is always just what game are you playing in, in, in a, in a world where the game of work is around presence, the game is, you know, how many meetings can you have on your calendar? How late do you stay in the office? How many, emails do you answer a day? And if you think back to 2005, that's, that, those are the kind of things people would brag about at a, you know, happy hour after work or dinner with their friends.

Adam - [22:21 - 23:40]

Like, oh my God, I was so busy today. and, and that's because that's the, that's the way that you win the old game of work when in, in the world of office culture. I think in the new world, around internet work, the, the base, the base level of output as a task, it's, it's a to-do on your to-do list or on someone else's to-do list. And I think the, what we've started to measure in Almanac is, of the tasks that you put down, how many did you complete per week of tasks that other people asked you to do? How many did you complete? Because I think there's a base correlation between, you know, output and outcomes. you know, just, just cuz you're completing a lot of tasks doesn't necessarily mean you're doing great work. But I think the inverse is, is true. If you're not completing work that you said that you wanna do this week or that other people have asked you to do, there's probably a pretty, there's a pretty good chance that you are not producing, good work at all because you're just, you're just not putting in the time. And the same thing, applies to software development. there's a strong correlation between the number of pull requests, which are basically reviews that an engineer asks of another engineer to do, and, and their, the overall quality and, and, their overall output and the quality of that output. and that's, that's been proven out over time across many companies. And I think the same thing is true, if we think about tasks as like the basic unit of collaboration for, for knowledge workers. And so I think that the first level of the game is, are you doing the work that you said you were gonna do? Adam - [23:40 - 24:55]

Are you completing work that other people ask you to do? and, and that's a, a good place to start with instrumenting. you know, are you, are you producing, are you good at your job? I think there's a second level, which is, is the work that you're producing high quality? So are you not just putting out a lot of work, but is that work actually moving the needle? And that, and that's a more qualitative assessment. And the way that we look at that in all monocular that we, we've instrumented the tool to help, managers understand that is, we have this, a core workflow around reviews where you can ask for approvals on, documents, ask for feedback, which is less binding, share a document with red receipts and, and all those cases, the person you're asking for, say, approval has the option to either approve your document, send it back to you, or leave kind of a meta comment. So like red, yellow, green, and so we can actually look over time to see, what percent of your documents did people approve? What percent of your documents did people send back? And, you know, I think it's, you probably wouldn't want a world where, every document was approved green. I mean, maybe that person's just really extraordinary. I think it's normal that sometimes you get work sent back, sometimes you get work approved, but in the same way there's pub there's a strong negative correlation that people are always sending back your work and getting, and being able to analyze that metadata on, not just did you complete the task, but how did people think about your work? Was, did people think it was good?

Adam - [24:55 - 25:57]

Did people think it was bad? that starts to provide some instrumentation around that next level of the game where you're measuring not just outputs, but outcomes. You know, did Scott, push the ball forward with his, with his step in the process? And I, I, what's exciting about this is, we, we have analytics built into the tool that you can see on your own of how many, just on a, on a weekly basis, how many things did you do? And, and we hear from a lot of customers that they get addicted to the scores, like that, that they wanna see that every week that they're improving the number of tasks and reviews that they do. I certainly look at it all the time as kind of a measure of my own productivity, you know, to see, to see where I, I rank against myself. and we haven't even yet, released, showing people how they rank against other people in their company, which I think would make the game even more addictive. But I, I think that being able to, you know, clearly understand as a, as a professional, like what are the rules of the game I'm playing, and how do I rank is, is core to the human psyche, and to, to feeling, that, that we did great work at the end of a week. And, and ultimately I think that's what people want and need from their jobs.

Scott - [25:57 - 27:28]

Wow, there, there's so much here to unpack what you just said. I gotta try to keep it very, very clean and moving forward. I think the first point that you made as someone a retort to mine, I definitely agree on a day-to-day basis, right? Everyone has does different things. But when I, I, again, try to think it from the big picture, I think it's a little bit easier, a developer side or, or a support person, even if you look at like a week, right? If you look at developer a sprint, right? Did the designer, did they get the design handed over by the time of that sprint, did they get the, the feature rolled out or the bug fixed, rolled out by the time it was expected? Did the person get an average of 20 tickets a day within, within the week versus other things? So, but I do love the point of your next point of every really moving, like the idea of output towards tasks. So even, let's say again, the example that I brought, like a people ops person, right? They wanted to implement a new employee recognition tool, right? That was a new project that came on the line. So breaking down each step, right? One week of researching employee recognition tools, second one note signing up and doing internal testing, step three, no pilot testing. So in essence, right, you can still on a week to week or on a shorter term period mark productivity by yes, did they do the research check? Did they sign up for said tool check? Did they roll out the pilot tool versus, hey, it's going to be a three, what's called a three month or two month project to roll out this new employee engagement tool. Scott - [27:28 - 28:01]

Where I think the only way people really could have understood more on the impact side was right, doing pulse surveys. What does the employee engagement, employee recognition look like? Now it's X. Okay, now that we've rolled out some tool during the process, what does it look like now three months later? What did, what does it look like then? And if there's an increase, okay, yes, right? That project was successful, you made the impact, fantastic. High five. But even bringing it down on the level of even just right, everything is tasks, right? Again, doing this and then being able to combine those two go for it.

Adam - [28:01 - 29:25]

Yeah. You know, implicit on what you're saying is, is also an expectation of, the, the time period you're measuring tasks on. And I think you're right, that, the, the, the faster, like the, the shorter cycle time or the shorter period that you're measuring task completion in, I think, the, the more feedback that you get both for yourself as the person doing the work and, and also, for your manager who's looking at you. And I think one mistake, people make regardless of, whether they're in an office or, or distributed is, is looking, is, is getting feedback over too long a period. You know, we, I think the ideal period to measure productivity as a week. So, you know, what did you say you're gonna do on Monday, on Friday? Did you do it? you know, if I, if I have a project where I'm only looking to see, did I do stuff over like a quarter or even worse, like a half a year or a year, you know, I'm, I'm not getting feedback as the person doing the work on, like how's my rate of progress? I'm probably also not then shipping work. and let's take your example of someone in HR or people ops, like, you know, if my job is to, write job descriptions, you know, if I'm not getting feedback on them frequently, then I don't actually know, if my work is good and that's the outcome side, but I also probably am, I might be slow in terms of, in terms of my output. And so I think a week is the right period to look at, like task-based productivity. it's how we all, you know, evaluate our kind of work in general.

Adam - [29:25 - 30:21]

But one mistake, we, we have a core belief based on research we've done with the highest performing teams, that the more you ask for feedback, the, the better your eventual work product will be. Said another way, there's a extremely strong correlation between, the, the rate of feedback and iteration on a work product and it's eventual end quality. So we like to say, the more you ask for feedback, the better the, the result will be. And, and so, helping people measure their, their productivity in shorter time periods, incentivizes people to ask for feedback quicker, get drafts out there, and, and then that, that just implicitly improves the end quality of the work versus having, you know, work, measuring work over longer periods of time, having it take longer, having, the, the feedback cycle, extend and, and, and overall not really getting any, any input on like, is this on the right track? Is this good? until, as, as you said, maybe months after you started the task.

Scott - [30:21 - 31:52]

Yeah. So I think that, I mean, perfectly lines me up for, for the next stage and what we're talking about pre, during industrial revolution. But I, I believe the future of future of work, step one will be output, right? All work will be based on output, because that'll be the simplest thing in most cases for people to measure. And I think beyond that, version two will be the impact even in sales, right? If you're a CEO of Almanac, would, would you rather have a salesperson making one sale for a million dollars? Or, you know, 10 sales for half a million dollars, right? Impact, yeah. Becomes the end, end of the day and the ultimate goal. But when we look back and again, in the factories, right? When everything was based on simply output in the factory days, there was no such thing as company culture and engagement and happiness, right? Your job, you come there at nine o'clock in the morning, you did your job on the assembly line, putting together whatever, maybe you had like a an hour lunch break. There were no breaks, there was no happiness, there was no focus on literally anything of that. Just come in, yeah, check in, do your job, check out, move away. Like that shifted, which we'll get to in, in a moment in the office. But I think with your, with your point of feedback, like that culture piece, to me that's very much of a culture piece that like I, if you don't have that great culture of transparency, honest feedback and relationships within the team, does that lend to, Hey, I'm not comfortable in giving someone honest feedback and kind of a no, a yellow face or a, or a or a red face, because I don't want that person to be vengeful and then give me a yellow face and red face.

Scott - [31:52 - 32:54]

So I'm gonna just give, you know, green faces across the board. Everything was, yeah, everything was wonderful and happy. And so I think let's talk about that evolution of, of culture and engagement where again, there was nothing in the factory when you went to the office where again, it wasn't based on specific output and it was more in presence, right? That opened the door towards coffee breaks, which came no in into World War ii, but relationships and smoke breaks and coffee breaks and, and all those things that were building culture there, because right at the end of the day, you knew that you weren't responsible for one plane or, or 50 witches that day, right? You weren't responsible for some output, but now you could spend your time building relationships and having conversations and all those different pieces. And again, I would love to kind of hear your take of it and how it potentially looks in the future. Cause I know this is a very big point on like that async methodology where I, I personally believe some people are, are gonna go way too far with the idea of, of async, but just kind of love your sense of how it goes, where it's going and, and Where we're going with it.

Adam - [32:54 - 34:36]

Y yeah, I mean, I, you know, I, I think with, with Covid and co Covid was a one-way door into remote work. And, and with the pandemic, we lost I think the best part of the office, which is that, as I mentioned, you know, even before remote work, there was meeting message overload in offices. There was chaos when it came, when it came, when it comes to basic collaboration, but at least you could turn to the person next to you and laugh about the dysfunction, as friends and, get lunch with people and go out after work for, some drinks. And I think the social aspect of the office, the ability to build relationships was a, its biggest benefit. And what Covid did was that it exposed the naked truth about work itself, which is that, it's a complete mess. while taking away the only thing that made it bearable, which is that you could, you got to do with other people and person that you really liked. And so I think that's led to a crisis of connection and trust. And we can see that in the data about half remote remote managers feel like they have less visibility into the work that their team is doing, about the same number, feel, a lack of trust around the quality of work that their team is producing. And there's been a corresponding increase in micromanagement where 40% of people say that they feel micromanaged at least once a week. 20% of people say they feel micromanaged once a day. and so we, we certainly, the role of relationships at, at work, in work is, is incredibly important to people's happiness and, and I would say their productivity. And I think it's a, a huge, prerogative for remote managers and leaders to figure out how do we create the kinds of relationships that people need to be happy and to do great work, even if they're not in the same place.

Adam - [34:36 - 36:01]

And I think that's why you've seen the rise of, retreats for, remote tributed teams. there's been an explosion, I think, of, different models of how to do retreats, companies of course. And so a whole mini economy has sprouted up around this. and I think it's like any new market, just, you know, there's been an avalanche of experimentation around, different ways that you can bring people together, in person to replicate some of the best parts of the office. I also think there's been a ton of experimentation about how you can help people form relationships when they're not together because it's just, you know, financially unfeasible to fly people around the world all the time. and so it's a, it's a big management opportunity to figure out, well, how, how do we replicate the kinds of deep relationships that people got in the office, even if they're online. One of the things that we, we've done at Almanac that's been very successful is a program called Almanac Community Dialogues, where, we, we group cohorts of employees together. It's, it's an opt-in voluntary program. and they spend, two hours a week together for 10 weeks, talking about, big life questions, questions about relationships and work and purpose and meaning and family. and when they're there, it's a, it's a strict note technology in environment except for the Zoom. the team is protected so that they're not bothered by things happening at work. And the whole idea is for people to really get to know each other at a deeper level, not just at the, like what would happen in a, you know, work happy hour after one drink, but maybe you go out, you spend all night with someone at work and you really get into it, or you have a really great lunch with somebody.

Adam - [36:01 - 37:18]

What we're trying to do with the community dialogues is help people understand who they're working with at a, at a more, a deeper and human level. And, not just have we heard, you know, amazing satisfaction scores in the program, but if, if when we look at the retention data, I don't think we've lost a single, well, in general we have very high retention. I think it's like 97%. But, you know, we haven't, voluntarily lost a single person who's participated in a community dialogue, you know, in, in our four years of, of running these programs. And so, and, and we hear from people all the time that because they know, you know, for example, who Scott is at a deeper more human level, they can collaborate a lot better. the work feels a lot more fun and satisfying. And, you know, the community, Alex is just one of many ideas I think that are out there around how you can replicate some of the relationships that people have in the office online. And I'm not really worried about this because if you look at the consumer side of the house, like people clearly can create magic on the internet through, if you look at Reddit or Facebook or Instagram, like, there's, there's all sorts of tools and apps and experiences that, equal, if not exceed the kind of magic you get from, consumer social interaction in person. I just think we are 15 years behind consumer in figuring out how that should happen in a professional context. But I'm not worried we're gonna get there.

Scott - [37:18 - 38:47]

That, that's interesting. And maybe I would love if you can give a few more examples of things that you do with no team relationship and, and building. Cuz I, I think when I think of the future of work and all the amazing opportunities it's going to open, the one fear that I have is in this specific area is the relationship building. Cause again, we take a historically output widgets, you didn't talk to anyone, you sat in front of your machine, you did whatever end of the day you went home with your family. That was it. As we push this async first messaging as kind of the way we're going to work in the future, which I absolutely agree with, right? The whole concept comes on deep work, right? I can achieve so much more and what I need to do by deep work and not being bothered and like, let me do my things. And it's even, I had Chase Warrington on the, the podcast a number of, probably a couple months ago talking about ILS and we spoke about virtual relationship building, virtual engagement in the middle, and they talked about some of the things that they did, but it even seemed like even doit what I think know maybe like the, the creme of the crop of, you know, remote cultures and different things. Again, we didn't dive specifically deep into the topic, but it seemed like their virtual engagement was maybe like once or twice a month. and like what people do. So that, I think, to me, that's my biggest fear is especially many companies will probably get it wrong upfront right here, okay, we're doing async, we're doing deep work, okay, now, now I'm gonna be crazy priorities and getting things done faster.

Scott - [38:47 - 40:20]

And when people, companies are kind of doing wrong and the employees themselves are also, hey, deep work, I can just focus on what I'm doing. Does that relationship building and yes, it's all voluntary, but now does it become like, Hey, it's distraction, right? I'm supposed to be working for all my day, I don't have any meetings, so now like, you want me to have a coffee thing with somebody, you want me to do a conversation with somebody, like, this is taking me away from my deep work. So for me, I think that that's, that's what what scares me the most, where people kind of get lost. And I think even like the last point I wanted to bring for like the, the industrial revolution more World War II was what we really got from World War II was the idea of mission-based work, purpose-based work, right? You were working the factory to help win the war, to get your husband, father, son, whatever it is, home faster, right? Very big idea of mission-based work. Someone carried along. And this is something to argue with many founders. I I've consulted with God knows how many founders, and even on this point of some founders have the idea of, I mean including them, the job description, that's, I mean, their job application. That's one of my most unfavorite pieces. Like, oh, why do you wanna join the company? In most cases, cuz people need a job, right? Unless you're doing something super sexy or super whatever, if you're building an accounting software, like do people really care about accounting? Like no, they just need a job. so as again, potentially we move in this direction, do we move away from mission-driven work, right? Maybe people are hiring asynchronously, they're not spending as much time building relationships, so it kind of moves away from the mission, right?

Scott - [40:20 - 40:45]

It's just, hey, this is my job, right? I kind of come in nine o'clock, I do whatever, I gotta do deep work until five o'clock I check out. I don't really care. I'm not connected to anyone else. I just come in, come out that that's my biggest fear. And like you said, like you're not as, you're not as worried. but yeah, I'd love again, maybe some more thoughts on like the mission piece and again, maybe a little bit more of what Almanac is doing to connect employees and build those relationships to hopefully prevent that. My greatest fear in the, in the future of work.

Adam - [40:45 - 42:32]

Yeah, I mean I, I think that the, that that prospect that you just explained sounds thoroughly depressing. And, and I think we, and for that reason I think it won't happen because that's not what people, that's not what humans need. I I do think that there's an overall trend around the internet of, you know, increasing loneliness and stratification and, and it's not just about work. I think this is happening in all aspects of life. you know, we, and I I think it's correlated with, a broader decline in institutions, whether it's religion or, trust in government or trust in media. you know, there's a, a recent, startling poll from the Wall Street Journal that showed that, Americans, trust in, in a bunch of institutions and that went, went through all the ones I just mentioned, religion, government, media, military has, has declined precipitously since, 1980. The only, institution or, or, or, or value that increased was money, which is, makes sense cuz it's pretty quantable And, and I think that's, that, that worries me a little bit to see that, you know, the things, these, these broader projects that give us meaning and purpose, where we we're contributing to something beyond ourselves, that have broadly declined. there's, there's been polls though that show that one, one, the only other area, the only other institution that hasn't declined is, is business. And, you know, these days, corporate leaders, CEOs are, are, are are the, the, the highest, the highest value than most trusted type of leader we have more than faith leaders or government leaders. And, you know, we could about, we could, we could discuss if we think that's right, but it, but is the reality that, and, and you can see it in the news every day with CEOs being asked to, to comment on questions of morality or questions in culture.

Adam - [42:32 - 43:55]

And there's been a debate about how much companies I think should participate in that. But I think the reason that we're even having this debate in the first place is that, companies and teams, have become, for a lot of people like the last, one of, when the last places where community is possible, we're contributing to something bigger than yourself is, is, is possible. And, and I think we can't lose that and I think we won't lose that so, and so I think that, you know, we, you can, we, we can discuss whether, it's, whether every company should have a mission, but I I think that, you know, in the same way that producing bolts to build airplanes in World War ii, was meaningful, even if building a bolt itself was kind of boring work, like building accounting software to help power other people's work, I think is a meaningful project. and I I think it's not on, you know, if it's the only person that it matters to is the person who's doing the work. And so it's not on me to say, you know, someone may look up at Almanac, and say like, Hey, I think that's stupid. Why would anyone build collaboration software? That doesn't seem like a good use of time. But what matters is that I think it's a good use of time as, as does our team. and that, that, that, that we feel like it's, we are doing something every day that's, beyond just satisfying our basic needs, or, satisfying our basic egos. And I think that's what makes work meaningful for people is that you're contributing to something bigger than yourself, with other people you trust and respect.

Adam - [43:55 - 45:20]

And, and I think that's, essential, to feeling like you've had, a great week and a great life. You know, I know on your point on deep work, I used to think that, a great week was that you had time for focus and flow and, and when we've talked to people and we've, we've interviewed over 5,000 people, we always ask, how do you define, a great week? And the answer is rarely that they had time to do deep work. I'd say 85, 90% of people I've talked to say that, a great week is one where they, where they got their stuff done, where they got stuff done. and that often means, getting stuff done with other people. And so, you know, whether that stuff is, is having a creative brainstorm or whether it's getting through a list of tasks or whether it's launching something and getting it out the door, you know, people define great weeks by the, by the work that they do, how productive they feel. and you know, whether it's, it was a smooth experience with the people that they were, they were working with. And that was a surprise to me. But it makes a lot of sense. And, and so I I think back to this question of like, you know, are we going to end up in a world where people are just like, you know, new, new widgets, in a, in a machine on the internet factory floor? I don't think so. Yeah, because I think people want more than that, from the thousands of people I've talked to and, and, and they're going into jobs, looking for jobs that provide that kind of meeting and purpose, and the ability to feel like their time was well spent.

Scott - [45:20 - 46:56]

Yeah, that brings me to my next question, which is I think the last point in Mara World War II piece, and we'll, we'll shift now into the first internet age, we'll call it, in the nineties and in two thousands. And I think it's very, very, very, like, very focused today. Post World War II work office, no white collar work. Both the company and the employee wanted there to be a 20, 30 year relationship, right? You knew that kind of historic idea of somebody worked there for 20 something years, they retired at whatever, they got a golden watch when they retired. There was very much of, they wanted structure, they wanted to, you know, long-term thing, they wanted dependency. We've seen that obviously shift today. I myself personally blame the whole VC world and investment model on that. I'm very kind of jaded in, in, in this specific area where, again, VCs are very focused, right? It's, it's growth at all costs, right? Burn as much money so long as you get that hockey stick growth and nothing else matters. And really where people go from, you know, a founding team where it's a, it's, it's a team, it's a family, it's a group or whatever the core people. And as soon as that money comes in the door, it just shifts. Now people are now numbers in Excel spreadsheet. So what we've seen, right, the LA unfortunately the last year is right, company investors says, whoa, gotta pull back the breaks, cut half your expenses. And now a person who used to be a person, right, who was there for a long time helped build the company, they're now a digit, an Excel spreadsheet and you do like a little lookup if no, this number is higher than X, turn the row red and fire that person.

Scott - [46:56 - 48:22]

So with, I think for me, VC world money, kind of forcing that shift from people and long-term relationships versus, hey, get growth at all costs and just come in, do your job and if you can't, whatever it is, fire people at, at will. unfortunately, again, which has been very evident, the last year, does that further entrench maybe out of, I don't wanna say outta desire, cause I definitely agree with you. Like people want to go to work, they wanna, I believe they have, they wanna have connection with the people that they work with. I'm very much of that, that sense. But if the, it's not a two-way street, and if the company again is just right, I have no choice. The VC tells me I need to cut expenses and sorry, you gotta go with the idea of deep work and async and again, changing in methodologies and maybe people just coming for project work and whatever. Okay, what does that look like, right? Where it used to be, Hey, I hire you at Almanac, right? I want you to be here your entire career as, as long as the company is going. I don't want everyone you to go where, where somewhere is. Versus other, other companies like, hey, you're is here as long as the VC tells us we can pay you in theory. And then again, what that does to the methodology and the mindset of the employee itself, like again, does it jade them that, hey, if the company's not really gonna care about me and it's not going to really go through tough times, and hey, you know what, if the CEO is not gonna take a 30% pay cut just to save jobs, potentially save my job, why the hell am I gonna know go the extra mile or try to do something for them? Scott - [48:22 - 48:33]

So I'd love to kind of hear your sense of how, you know, we're moving in that sense of seemingly away from the long-term relationship from both sides into what we've been seeing in the last 20 years.

Adam - [48:33 - 50:09]

Yeah, well, I, I think in, in general, what we've seen with the internet, and again, you've seen this, we've seen this trend in lots of other places, is, like the disintermediation of the relationship between, on one side, work on the other side. people, you know, before if you wanted a job you had to go, work for an employer because that employer was the only, vehicle essentially that could gather enough resources to build a factory and buy the land and, buy the parts to, to produce stuff. So if you wanted to, you know, produce value, you had to go to an employer, often at a physical location at a time. and I think the best part about the internet, and, and we've seen this in music, we've seen this in tv, we've seen this in like, in basically, you know, all industries. now the person who creates value can have a much more, direct relationship at the market. So Taylor Swift, can start her own production company because she doesn't actually need a record company. She can distribute on her own. And in the same way, you know, someone who produces work, whether they're, it's obvious to see in the influencer or create a world, but it's true in every world at consultants, you know, they, they can go directly find work in the market without needing a company to back them up. And I think that's why we've seen, you know, an explosion in different models of work and models of employment. you have like solar printers and creators on one end, you have, I think, employers using different forms of employment, like the contractor model has exploded versus just, you know, full-time employment and people now can have more than one job, and I, I think the kind of, it's kind of a rainbow of, of new options for people around, how they wanna work.

Adam - [50:09 - 51:44]

And, and I generally think that's a good thing because now people can work in, in the same way that remote has unlocked, flexibility around when and where you work. I think there's, there's new flexibility and options around, you know, how you work, how you get paid and that that can fit people's preferences and lifestyles. you know, I used to work for a Lyft and, you know, what we heard from drivers all the time is that a lot of them just wanted to be their own boss. And, we, we, there would be working mothers or people who are caregivers, people who could never work in a, in a, in a company who are driving for Lyft because it gave them ownership over their time. And that was a, a key reason that drivers joined the platform. And that's just one example I think of, the, the diversity of new, employment models that have sprouted up because of the internet and cause of what, what the internet can do between, between that relationship between someone who's creating value and somebody who needs it. you know, in, in terms of your, the other part of your question, which is around, maybe like someone's relationship with their employer, you know, I, I believe that I, I roll my eyes when companies talk about, their employees and teams as family, because I don't think that your, team at work is your family. I think they, they're your colleagues. maybe some of them can become your friends over time. certainly trust and respect is an, is a critical ingredient to, to having a productive relationship with these people. but they're not your family because inevitably the relationship ends, unless you're, you know, one of the lucky few people that spend their entire life at, at one company.

Adam - [51:44 - 52:56]

but I think as, as we just talked about in today's world, that's, that's a very, a vanishingly small group of people. and so I think, you know, one of the, one of the important things for employees to develop as a muscle in this, in this world of internet work is having other forms of association besides the people you work with, you know, becoming part of your local community, joining sports teams. You know, there's been interesting data around, things like CrossFit, that I've seen, in the, in the pre remote world, that the most popular classes were like six and 7:00 AM and five and 6:00 PM and now the middle of the day, is, is the most popular time classes around 11 and 12 and one, because people can now go work out whenever they want to. same thing is true when looking at, the, like receipts from coffee shops and restaurants that, you know, people are now, using their entire day to, to engage with the, with their community outside of work, not just the, the periods before nine and after five. And, and so I think that's a, a positive part of remote work is that people are rediscovering all the other associations they can be part of, beyond just, the people they work with, who, as I said, I don't think are in the end a group of people that might be there for the long term.

Scott - [52:56 - 54:36]

I I, I love that point, and it again, I, I appreciate you lining up my next questions. You, you're doing a great job, of that, today. And I think about, you know, the internet age people started again, moving outside of San San Francisco to the suburbs outside of New York, to the suburbs, again, transitioned to white, white collar work. So what we had seen, it's more of your life was in or around work, right? When, when I, before I went remote, I was living in Long Island at the time. I was commuting 70, 80 minutes each way down to downtown Manhattan. I worked, let's say a nine hour day. So 12 hours of my day was work, work related. And I think what that had caused was the big in influe big introduction of employee engagement, right? If an employee's going to have to spend so much time in the office coming to work, leaving work that we need to engage them and make them happy and do all these different things for them to kind of keep them connected. With that said, and I think as you kind of have pointed out, if we, again, as we move more towards remote work, right? Where you can work anywhere, you don't have to come into an office, so that gets rid of the 70, 80 minute commute. We're moving more towards asynchronous, we're moving more towards the idea of output or impact versus presence. So I don't have to work a nine to five schedule. I can live the life that I want to live in. And that's a question I always raise. And when I think about it in the past, it, it fascinates me, right? If you think about when you're in office, can you ever remember at 10 o'clock in the morning or three in the afternoon going to the pharmacy, running an errand, going to the doctor, like heaven, heaven forbid, like, that was, that was what your lunch hour was for, like, you had a lunch hour, whatever errands and things you needed to do.

Scott - [54:36 - 56:06]

That was the time, and the rest of the time was dedicated in the office and doing work. And yes, I think as we're moving towards the future of work, we're seeing that shift to allow better quality of life and people to do all those, those different bits and pieces. So how that impacts again, our day. And I think the, the big piece, it's, and this is, I think one of the questions that maybe fascinates me most, and I would love to hear your, your 2 cents on it, right? The company was always responsible and owned employee engagement, right? But what does that look like in the future now that people have more time? Is you saying they're doing CrossFit, they're doing coffee, they're doing things more in their local community, where where does the trade off come? Do companies say, Hey, you know what, we'll support you being in your local community, right? We'll pay for a co-working space. We'll pay for coffee, whatever it is, we're not going to spend the time effort in company and employee engagement. We'll give that to you in your local community and maybe take those experience real life experiences and bring them into the virtual and try to build relationships that way. Maybe outside of I rls, but I, I would love to kinda know, hear your thoughts on that because again, I, I see this transition as, as we future work and as these things, the office and connectivity potentially within the company becomes somewhat less relevant and maybe engagement more in the local community can comes inve more important. But how does that, obviously, that translate into like, the big emphasis of employee engagement equals productivity and happiness and all these different things that we've seen such an effort for the last, you know, 20, 20 something years?

Adam - [56:06 - 57:37]

Yeah. Well, I mean, I think the first level is, as we talked about before, it's employee engagement is like a, a, a priority based on presence, right? It's like engage people in the office. And I think as we move to a world where, outputs are important, the, the, the, the critical ingredient to, an output based culture is that, managers trust that their work, that their employees are getting work done, even if they're not working from nine to five in a specific location. And the way to breed trust is transparency. And so we need, better tracking and metrics so that managers, feel like they have some grip on whether their team is producing work. And I think that's totally reasonable because I think, as a manager myself, it's, it's important to know that, you know, even if the game has changed and how it's played, that, you know, people are still succeeding at it. And, and that means that, we're not measuring anymore if someone's in their seat at 9:00 AM but instead, as we talked about before, whether the completing work that they said that they were gonna do during the week and that that work is good and helping us, create business value. And so a assuming that there's a, a system in place for managers to transparently understand that people are getting stuff done and that that work is good, and that therefore there's trust, between, you know, on teams, you know, I think that then unlocks, flexibility for, for the team around how it wants to build this culture. And, you know, I'm a big fan of markets, and, and as you can probably tell experimentation, I don't think that there's one way to do culture, even in a remote context.

Adam - [57:37 - 59:21]

I think one way to think about this is that companies before spend a certain amount of money on, office rent and furniture and free coffee and, social hours, and you know that then the question is, okay, how much, what should we do with that money now that the context of work has shifted to, to, to distributed or remote settings? So some companies might decide, Hey, we're not gonna give any of that back to employees. we're gonna, that'll that'll turn into profits in our p and l. And because employees own equity, or even if they don't like, we're gonna either, you know, give that value back to, to the shareholders. some, some companies may say, Hey, we're gonna give that money as stipends, back to employees and say, Hey, like, you can spend it on a co-working space in your local community, or, we're gonna, every day we'll let you subsidize, you know, reimburse your lunch up to $20. Some companies may pour it all into, remote retreats. Some companies may pour it into, executive coaching or, mental health services. And, and again, I don't think there's one right answer here. I think, different companies will, will create online cultures in different ways, and I think employees will find, a set of, experiences and benefits and, you know, pay rates that match their preferences. And, and I think it's, there will be more options because there's more ways to spend that money than before in an office setting where there's like almost a relatively constrained set of things that you can do, in an office or in a city like you were saying. And so I think there'll be, a greater diversity of, experiences that employees or workers can opt into, that, that are better aligned with their individual preferences leading to overall higher satisfaction.

Adam - [59:21 - 01:00:45]

But I don't think there's one, there's not one right answer here, in my opinion. and, as you can tell, I'm probably pretty optimistic about this because I, I feel like work has improved for me, since I've started working remotely. you know, as someone who leads a company, I've been able to design Almanac in a way that fits my preferences. and, and I think find a group of people, who share those preferences. And so overall, I think our employee satisfaction is really high. Our employee retention is really high, our team productivity is really high. And that, I think that comes from the fact that, like, as a manager, as a leader, I have so many more variables I can play with in designing the way our company works. one thing I'll note though is that I, I still think there's kind of, there's going to be a distribution of, of quality when it comes to management and leadership. There's gonna be some companies, like I think Almanac that are really in really intentional, about, how they run the company, are aware about all these choices they can make, care about the quality of life and work for their team. There's gonna be some companies on the other end that, you know, despite having all these options, just are terrible at running their businesses and terrible at managing people and don't care, there's gonna be a bunch of companies in the middle and, and, and that's because I think if, if you think about the internet as a form of technology that has changed how work has happened, most form most technologies make people more productive. It's like, you know, moving from a, steam engine to an airplane. Adam - [01:00:45 - 01:01:09]

You know, we can, we can go places further and faster, but that doesn't, so, so, so the, our overall productivity increases, but it doesn't change the distribution of the curve. Some people take advantage of that, that technology more than others. And so I, I think that, you know, while remote work makes the world better on average for everybody, there's still going to be better and worse employers, better and worse employees, who are able to leverage the technology of internet work.

Scott - [01:01:09 - 01:02:41]

Yeah, I c I couldn't agree more that as we move forward, especially around culture and engagement, it is that requirement for intentionality as is the central word of, of remote work. And I think, you know, brings me to another thought that I had that even though now I'll kind of shift more towards the end of internet age one to the remote OGs, right? Historically in the offices culture happened a lot in itself, right? You had lunches together and beers after work together and ping pong tables and all the other, whatever stuff they were doing, even many of the original OG remote companies, and I'll throw envision in, in that, group as well, weren't intentional Yeah. With the culture that was created, right? Because it wasn't easy. You just couldn't pop up and go to lunch with somebody. You couldn't go do beers after work, and again, required that intentionality. And I think that's probably the biggest issue. All these companies who are saying, oh, the office is, we need the office for culture. Again, they haven't been intentional in redesigning these experiences, but I think per the conversation of where we said maybe more engagement in the local community and bringing those experiences back, I definitely believe that the future of engagement is, is is what you said of interest based, right? Because historically, as a company, remote company, if we're doing things the right way, right, we're doing team events and fun things, but it's here, kind of take it or leave it, right? The entire team, we're doing a online Pictionary game on a whiteboard, right? If you like drawing you like games not like this, this is what we have. And again, I think that's probably the best of what we were able to do for, for many years in a, in remote experience.

Scott - [01:02:41 - 01:03:55]

But I think as we move forward, I think the connectivity and the culture piece will move much more towards, hey, right, everyone doesn't need to be friends. Everyone doesn't need to be connected. Connect with those people who are into hiking and outdoors and whitewater rafting and talk about groups like that, or who maybe are local. They all live in San Francisco and they wanna get together and work together for a short amount of time. Would love to kinda get your your sense of like how that shift becomes much more into that interest based and what companies can do. And again, what the intentionality will come into, right? Because how will a company create and will that move back more towards like, the grassroots movement? Like, can a company say, oh, we're gonna do a hiking trip for this group and like a San Francisco mito for that group. Like, will it even be possible? Or, Hey, the powers in the hands and the employees, like you guys organize the way you want, we'll give you money to, or to spend the, to do the things that you wanna do. And again, what does that shift, like, the shift, like the ownership of culture still remain on like the HR people ops. Where do we kind of go back someone to like the grassroots of, Hey, you guys organize yourself, you do your things yourself we'll support financially. I I think that's one of the things that also fascinates me very much.

Adam - [01:03:55 - 01:05:24]

Yeah. I mean, I, is that I, I don't know if there'll be kind of one way that this end ends up happening. I think, some companies, I think will, will take the money that they're spending before on, on culture, which I would also include office rent in and say, we're going to give this all back to you in the form of higher salaries. We will have nothing to do with culture. and you know, it's, it's your choice how you wanna spend that money you could, you could spend your salary on a co-working space. You could spend your, money, put it in savings. And I think there's a group of people that, that would absolutely love that and say like, I never wanted my employer to be spending any money on this. I thought it was a waste of time and resources. And like, I wanna work somewhere where my employer trusts me to spend money the way that I want. I think there are some people on the opposite end that say like, I want my employer to, I want work to be an experience and I want, be constantly stimulated with programming. assuming that a company can make money while doing that I think some employers will, will choose that path and, you know, have constant retreats and tons of interest groups that are centrally managed, and facilitated. And there's gonna be some people that like absolutely love that model and, and want that. And I think, so, so I don't know if there's gonna be one answer when it comes to how culture is done or even an answer to whether it's gonna be central centrally managed or distributed. I tend to think that, you know, at, at early stage companies, a lot of the stuff is organic based on the people who are there.

Adam - [01:05:24 - 01:06:19]

and that's why they best practices that pay really close attention to the first five to 10 or 20 people you hire because they're gonna set the culture for the rest of the company. you know, at our company we have a, a Slack channel called Cute Feed and it's somebody created and, it's a hugely popular channel where people post pictures of their kids and dogs and funny stuff from the internet. you know, I, I wouldn't have created a Slack channel called Cute Feed, but now it's an important part of our culture because by an accident of, of history or random events somebody did, and so, and so I think culture is often organic in that way where yeah, the, what the CEO or the management team wants has some role, but also, who you hire and, and their personalities and their interests, often create a path dependency from the early days around what a company's culture ends up being. And, that is totally outta the control of the, of the founder or the of the management team in the first place.

I know cognizant of time, I want to keep it to two more questions, if that's, if that's okay with you.

Scott - [01:06:29 - 01:08:01]

All right. So first one is we saw kind of in the internet age the shift towards right, global hiring, which then would focus very much on hubs, right? We hired a hub in India, we hired a hub in London, we hired a hub in whatever place it was, and salaries were always localized. So in, in London you paid x in India you paid y. So a lot of it was very focused on let's find talent that we couldn't find before. And let's find probably for cheaper, the remote shift towards remote work for most remote OG companies for the same, Hey, we wanna get the best talent anywhere was even still regional only. And this is still an issue today, which I get very frustrated with, Hey, we're hiring US only or central, you know, central European time only. And historically at least going back a member to the early days of Envision, when I was running the HR and ops for this was right yet two reasons. Number one was legal compliance, right? It would cost a hell of a lot of money to create some subsidiary in some whatever country to hire one person, right? That issue is now solved by great companies like Deal and Oyster and Remote and others. And the other piece was on synchronous time. Like you wanted that synchronous overlap everyone to be on meetings and whatever jazz that you have now, as we shift right in the future of work, asynchronous by default, hire the best talent anywhere, do companies and what does that push the companies have? We're gonna truly hire anywhere, anywhere, anywhere, cuz we don't necessarily need, right? We don't have synchronous meetings. We, we have oyster and deal and companies that hire and pay people the the way we need to.

Scott - [01:08:01 - 01:08:47]

What do you see is that shift and secondary around salaries? Right? That's always been a frustrating thing for me. I I personally believe in the idea of global compensation, right? You should, somebody should get paid on the contribution or impact they make to the company and not where the hell they live, right? If two people are doing the same job, make the same contribution to the company, why in the hell are they being paid two different salaries? You know, for me, culturally, that's a, a terrible thing. but I'd love to kind of hear your, your sense of when, where is, is there that shift to moving away from us only in central, pure Europe and hey, we're gonna truly hire wherever the hell they are, right? Because we don't need to care about the legal compliance anymore. That's taken care of. We're moving towards async, so we don't need to care about synchronous meetings anymore. What does salary look like? And we'll, we'll go from there on the first question.

Adam - [01:08:47 - 01:10:16]

Yeah. you know, we, we've had periods at Almanac where we've had, employees, or team members in, you know, every inhabitable time zone that existed. And it was an interesting stress test, to, for our operations. you know, I think we're, we're, we self software that helps people collaborate without meetings, and certainly reduce their meetings. But I still think even in a company like ours where there's two days a week that people work totally asynchronously, we still need meetings, for a lot of things. and, and it, it can be a scheduling challenge, I think to have people all over the place. You know, it cer certainly takes work. sometimes it's even impossible if you have, say a teen that has, has folks, in Europe, the United States and Asia, there's very few wind periods of time where someone isn't sleeping. and so I, you know, I I think that's maybe the last, that's on the extreme end of, can a company operate if it's in every time zone? you either have to be really asynchronous and, and never have to meet or, or just get really good at scheduling an operation so that you can, you can make it work. so, so I understand companies that limit things a little bit, to, you know, say we only want to be in, you know, Europe and the United States cuz that's manageable or we wanna be in Europe and in Asia or Asia in the United States. But I think trying to be, to cover, you know, 24 hours of time, with, with some level of meetings required can be really difficult. So, you know, we, we, that that doesn't though mean that you only have to be in the United States.

Adam - [01:10:16 - 01:11:45]

we, we see lots, we have a, a big team in South America, for example, and we see lots of benefits of having employees down there. we see lots of benefits of having, a big team in Europe, which we do. you know, we personally at Almanac have, I think had trouble with, as I said, running a 24 hour operation that that requires meetings. That's the, the honest truth. but I, I think it is possible, if you, if you plan enough and you, you really work hard to move async. I think on your question on, on comp, just to lay out the scale on one side, one theory is, or one option is we pay everybody the same amount no matter where they live. On the other side, is, you know, we pay people according to localized pay scales. I, you know, I'm, I'm not in the business of saying what a company should do. My, my, my personal opinion on this is, and, and the approach that we've taken at Almanac is to split the difference. So, you know, for, for employees who are, if you think about kind of the, the top tier markets being San Francisco and New York and London, for, for comp rates, you know, people in those, people in those markets need to be paid at those rates because the cost of living in those markets is high enough that, that their salaries are, are, are, are such, for people that live in less expensive markets. what we do at Almanac is we, give, their salary, we split the difference with the employee. And so, between the price of living in, say, Denver versus San Francisco, we set their salary in a way that half of that, half of that difference goes to them in the form of higher salary.

Adam - [01:11:45 - 01:13:16]

And half of that comes back to us. that we think that, it's, it's obviously more financially efficient for us as a business, but it also helps with employees who move, to different places. you know, if you move from San Francisco to Denver, it, it sucks as an employer to say, Hey, we're gonna, like, we have to cut your salary and it also gives people less of an incentive to leave a place that they might live in, like living for other reasons, theirs, where their family is, they, you know, enjoy the, the culture or the geography to a city like San Francisco just to get paid more because, you know, if you wanted to live in Jakarta and work at Almanac, you know, splitting, even if you're getting paid less in San Francisco, you're actually having a much higher quality of light, because you're getting paid at, you know, some, some factor of the local, the local pay scale. So, you know, I, again, that's, that's the answer that works for us at Almanac and that I think is a nice balance between the two options. Cause I see, I see drawbacks to, to both of the extremes. but I, I really respect companies that have set a global pay scale, regardless of where people live. that makes a lot of logical sense to me. I also understand companies often very large companies that need to pay locally cuz it's, cause cause it's just more, you know, easier to figure out and, and financially in feasible to do otherwise. So, you know, I respect all of the, the, the reasons people pick wherever they decide to be on the scale, but, to me, kind, kind of splitting the difference with the employee creates the right incentives for the employee and, and also good outcomes for the business.

Scott - [01:13:16 - 01:14:45]

No, here, I I, I, I appreciate, the, the transparency from my, my point of global comp, I, I put it more as a, I understand right? I'm just simply not going to be able to hire people in San Francisco and New York right? So I lose maybe that, that 5% or 10% of the globe, but I have the rest of the 90, 95% of the globe and hey, if there's probably just as talented or more talented people in, in those places than there are in those specific cities. but the last question that I have Yeah. And cause I know on time, right? I think I, the idea with asynchronous and, and all the things we're moving forward will get us away from this whole Monday through Friday nine to five schedule, which historically has been the way, again, much more on, hey, do a specific task by certain timeframe and what you do between now and then I could care less. Just get, get done what you need to get done. That makes sense again, for that, let's say certain group of employees, but those, let's say customer facing employees, like a customer support team, a sales team, yeah. That will be potentially much more difficult to do. So I think even in that, like how does that potentially look? And even just culturally, right? You have 70% of your employees that are working whenever they wanna work and they don't have the schedule and any of these other group of people who potentially may have to work a set nine to five or what have you, or can we even, will there be even the opportunity to more async even these type of roles, whereas support, it's okay, you don't need to be nine to five people will hire people all over and it's like a, a, a bounty system, right?

Scott - [01:14:45 - 01:15:15]

You need to kind of jump in in the queue and out of the queue and whatever, but you need to answer 20 tickets a day whenever those 20 tickets are right? So long as they're coming in, do whatever you need to do. Yeah. So I wonder even how, like within the company, will companies completely be able to go towards right task timeline, go for it, whatever is in the middle totally relevant or will only be certain companies, and if it is, I mean, certain teams and if is certain teams, like, again, is that any potential culture clash for, for companies?

Adam - [01:15:15 - 01:16:51]

Yeah, it's a great question. and I'm, and I'm excited to see companies that experiment on this front to see if there's a more variable model. You know, one of the fascinating things about being a, an internet company is that you're serving people across the internet all over the world in different times and, and geographies. And so, for things like customer service or sales, you actually need 24 7 coverage because, you know, even a Sunday, in the United States is Monday in Australia, or customers have bugs or issues with your product, on Friday night or on Saturday morning. And so you operationally need coverage, across, all hours of the day and week. and so, you know, nine to five, even if you had a shift, wouldn't, wouldn't be what many companies need these days. Certainly, you know, at Almanac we need, on-call coverage for customer service and support all the time. So we need people, or at least someone around the world needs to be out their computer in case our, our customers have issues at, you know, at anything less is, below what people expect. And so, you know, I think already, you know, in the fields you mentioned, we're moving away from the idea of just like a, a nine to five and many businesses have created shift schedules that, yeah, reflect and always on, cadence. I think it's a, it's a, it's interesting to think, okay, well, can you move beyond just, like 24 7 shift model to 24 7, 24 7 q there's probably some operational, mechanics to figure out there around like volume of when the volume of calls or work is actually getting done and making sure you have coverage during those periods.

Adam - [01:16:51 - 01:18:14]

So, I'm not an operational expert, but it seems like you still may need certain people to be around at certain times, otherwise you, you know, you might have too much demand in terms of like in customer service inbound calls or tickets for the number of people you have to resolve. So your SLAs in that period go down because, you just, you have, you don't have enough, of your team online. So it feels like having some control over the amount of, you know, people who are online is, seems to me to be logically important. But it's, it's an exciting thought to imagine a world where, we, we can devise an operational scheme that doesn't require people to just, you know, be at their desks for the fine period of time. Even in those, even in more, more operational roles. and, and, you know, when it comes to customer service and, and to sales, to our, our our earlier point on establishing new rules of the game, you know, tho those are roles that are, I think where a lot of managers are actually using output and outcomes data. So they are looking at, in many cases, the number of tickets you close and, and, you know, customer NPS on the support side to see like, did this person actually do a good job versus like, just were they in their seat for a given number of hours? And so I think it's, it's, it's good to see, and sales is another example of like, you know, you can make one call, you can make a thousand calls, but ultimately what matters is the amount of revenue that you bring in, in a given quarter and whether you meet your quota.

so, you know, there's, I think there's already a shift in, in many areas towards this more output and outcomes based model. Yeah, I guess that the, the question is can we continue to detach those out, those outputs from presence?

Scott - [01:18:28 - 01:19:44]

we'll see what some teams, Yeah, I think it's very exciting. My, my previous role, I shifted my support and success teams to a four day work week, know, which was definitely interesting and it worked out well. The support team, we had somewhat of a, one person would work a full day on Friday, and then as a comp, they got off the following Monday, you know, to ensure they still got a three day work, a three day weekend. And right next week they got a three day work week. I think Jason Lempkin, I think had a tweet maybe yesterday, the day before, which was quite interesting of the idea of, you know, on the sales side, and if you walk into a store or you walk into a cafe, right, you get service, right? Hey, I need a coffee, I need to question about buying something. There's always a salesperson there. And I think the software side, we've moved towards scheduling and putting in the calendar and all that versus, hey, somebody comes to your website and has a question, they wanna buy something. Like, shouldn't there always be somebody there to service that person? which I think is fascinating how we move that. But, people who are listening to this episode who are fascinated and wanna get in touch with you, they wanna learn more about Almanac signed up for Almanac. what's the best way to get ahold of you? Get a hold of Al Almanac, obviously, once the, that manifesto is posted, that will be included in the show notes, so I'm no, we'll, we'll definitely include that, but what's the best way that people get in touch with you, get in touch with Almanac?

Adam - [01:19:44 - 01:20:00]

Yeah. well, come check out if you're interested in, a better way to collaborate as a remote distributed team. And you can find me on Twitter @Adampnathan. and excited to hear from your community, Scott.