Who is at the workspace and when is the future of hybrid remote w/ Danielle Farage @ CAFE

The version of Hybrid remote that eventually wins makes the workspace a benefit. Use how/when/why you want; not because you have to. Meaning who works there & when will determine usage & occupancy



12/20/202139 min read

people eating inside eatery
people eating inside eatery

Here's the recap...In today's episode, I chatted with Danielle Farage, Director of Growth & Marketing at Café. We spoke about how companies should be thinking about how hybrid remote can possibly work. The success is around flexibility. We spoke about the difference between companies and their employees in wanting a central HQ or the ability for more flexible and local spaces. We spoke about whether the power of tools like Cafe was for companies to understand space utilization (costs), or for insights into when/where their employees will be. Thus using the data to plan those in-person events to further utilize the face time. We discussed, how community will play a crucial role in the future of hybrid remote. Whether that be work community at a central HQ or localize community in a one-off space. If your team is thinking about this central HQ vs localized space, this episode is perfect for you...

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Danielle's Website


Central HQ vs flexible spaces. Who wins in the future of work?

For companies pushing the hybrid remote model, there's already a debate growing amongst companies. Within those companies, the leadership versus employees. On one end you have the central HQ. A space the company already invested in and is likely tied down to for some time. This is one major reason why companies are looking at hybrid to begin with. And thus for the time in an office space, using the pre-existing space. It also may make sense where all employees are in the same location. I don't believe any company will get 100% of the team back into that central HQ even in a 3-2 model. However, for those in the office, it offers that facetime and micro-interactions everyone was so used to (and those companies didn't try to recreate virtually). It's the lower risk move. On the other side, it returns the 45+ minutes commute of years gone by. Though perhaps with people moving out of the cities it offers an even longer commute. That's not fun even once a week. The office remains the place a location.

To combat the final point above about long commutes on the other end of the argument is flexible spaces. This could mean the company offers its employees to work from the closest Regus space (like Standard Chartered in the UK is doing). Potentially reducing the commute from 10s of minutes to a few minutes. It also may mean a cluster of employees work there. Offering some of that comraderie. The farther off option is complete flexible space. Using tools like Kettle & NearU for each employee to book the space they want when they want it. Once again offering spaces walkable from home. However, most likely without much overlap with colleagues. Thus requiring heavy investment in community building. In this case, the office becomes a perk rather than location.

The real value of knowing when & where people are working

One of the value propositions offered by Café and similar apps is helping companies understand the finances of workspaces. Providing insights into the utlization of the spaces they offer. Helping companies decide whether they need as much workspace, which spaces to invest in, and more. This data is gold for CFOs as they are all excited about remote work to reduced company costs. If the company knows only 50% of the space they have is ever filled, they can downsize the empty space or sublease it out. A win for the bottom line.

Where the biggest value may come in is the opportunity to know how and when to engage your employees face to face. For example, if you know that 20 employees plan to work from the space next Wednesday, that's a great opportunity to plan some team building, fun, catered food to build those deeper relationships. A great opportunity for companies who've struggled with team engagement the past two years. As well, it helps employees plan their schedules out. Knowing 20 people will be at the space next Wednesday, may motivate someone to come into the office that day. For the opportunity for coffees, lunches, and more.

It's all about community

As mentioned earlier, companies want hybrid to have their team in the same place at the same time. By default, helping build community. Café will help companies develop that sense of community by helping each employee understand when may be the best time to come to the office and when not (if they offer that flexibility). The community is company focused.

If companies offer flexible spaces, then community may mean something totally different. To a company, community building will need to be almost exclusively focused on virtual. Since there's little overlap of employees in any one space at any one time. So tools like Spontaneousli will be required to help recreate that community without the face to face interactions

For the employee, it means the community engagement they receive and are looking for is not linked to the community. It's who's working from this space when I want to go there? Similar developers, founders, etc. Great opportunities for networking.

It also will requires the spaces themselves to work on community. Running events, workshops, etc to attract people to want to come to the space that day, which then will attract others to come to that space that day.

[Scott] Hey, Danielle, thank you for joining us today. How are you?

I'm pretty good. How are you?

[Scott] I almost, well, no, welcome back. I know we spoke offline. you were in, I think, France, for a couple of weeks. And now back in New York, how was the trip?

[Danielle] It was fantastic. I got to meet my whole team for the first time, which was very exciting and got to spend some time, you know, frolicking around Paris is it's a, it's a fun time.

[Scott] Okay. All right. Very nice. Certainly one of the added benefits of a remote working and I spoke at last trade were to record an episode with Jing and she spoke about you quite a bit. So once that, episode goes live, you'll hear your name quite a few times, and congratulations to becoming an admin in the, the future of work community. And it certainly know how much you speak about the future of work on, on social media. So it's awesome to, to get more involved in spread the goodness of, remote work in the future of work.

[Danielle] Yeah, for sure though. I mean, there's just so many projects going on and brilliant minds jumping into, into this side of things. And I've been in HR, HR tech for about a year and a half, and I've really seen the progression of things happen and it's just a really exciting time to be in the industry. So I'm excited to just bring people together and highlight, you know, those, those awesome projects.

[Scott] Yeah, it's amazing. It's something that we spoke about with the, with Jing, and also I've been talking about it quite a bit on social media of no one thing. The now hopefully as the pandemic's moving along, the tools that are coming out are being built by long-time remote workers for long time. Remote workers know all the tools that got us. I've been working remotely for 10 years, the zooms and slacks and all the tools that were used all these years by remote teams were never designed for remote work. but they just happened to be the only tools that were available at the time. And it's great to see now, a lot of old timers now building tools, no, for the, the future of work to make it the way that it's supposed to be. especially I think on the engagement side, on the HR side. so yeah, it's fantastic to see

And the community led growth as well. So that's exciting. Well, we'll probably talk about that.

[Scott] Yeah, for sure. so they're getting kind of start off question and again, the part of our new format, for this week totally different topic. something that I read, somebody posted on social media, I forgot who it was. It's something that we spoke about on a podcast episode last year. but your thoughts on the idea of taking sick time when working from home. Are people really doing it? your thoughts I'll share my thoughts afterwards.

[Danielle] Yeah. So I think people are doing less. I think I read the same article or something similar to you. so people are taking less, fewer sick days. And I think part of the reason is that there's more of a work-life integration than a work-life balance these days. And so, I mean, just yesterday, I wasn't feeling too great. I tuned into sort of this growth marketing summit. and that was my work day. And I said to my boss, you know, I'm not, I'm not feeling the best today. And he said, take it easy. So I think it's just an, and I didn't take a sick day, but it was more just, it was a learning day for me. So it was great. and I, I super duper encouraged that the same trends and, and, and all that, I think more of a work-life integration is gonna, is going to happen.

[Scott] Yeah. I completely agree that. I think the future is one of the things that really hit me, especially recently with all the, all the different conversations of all of these different areas around the future of work and issues in America with logistics and getting truck drivers and all that, is I think we're really at the cusp of finally moving from the old adage of you living to work and finally moving into the working to live, which I think is obviously probably a hundred plus years overdue. And it's fantastic to see them now, people are changing their lives. they're living their life during the day, doing the things that they want to do, spending time with the people that they want to do. And compassing incorporating work in federal called life schedule versus the other way around up incorporating, trying to find the, the lifetime in between, another work time.

[Scott] So it's fantastic to see, but as the sick thing that I've always felt it's your home. So it's easy enough to work from the bed. Oh, you have access to your tea or medicine or things like that. So the fact that you're not having to go 60 minutes commute into an office out in maybe not pleasant with our, the fact that you may not feel so good as who you are in an uncomfortable environment in the office, the fact that you're home in a more comfortable environment, you have all those things kind of gives you that push to, okay, let me keep working because again, I can do, I can just work for the bed. I, if I need some medicine, I can just go to the captain and I can just make a cup of tea. I can, I can take a nap, right. If I really don't feel good, I just kind of put my head down for two hours and I come back versus, okay, I got to take the entire day off because I'm commuting probably an hour each way. And then the rest of the day are shot.

[Danielle] Right. And it's interesting because I just wrote an article about desk booking versus space booking. And it, it seems very product focused, but it's actually not. It's more of a conversation around if you have the job and the task of booking a desk on a day to day, and you take up up space in the office, then you feel like you're maybe taking away from other people. So when you're sick you're, or you're not feeling that great, you're, you're probably more likely to stay home when in reality, maybe the medicine you actually needed was the comfort of other people. And, you know, I think that we certainly are moving in that direction of, being more space booking focused of let's get you to the office. so you can be in the company of others, but not necessarily be confined to one space. And I think that's the beauty of remote first or flexible working is that you kind of have the ability to move around, and not feel as confined to one place or feel like you're taking away from anyone else.

[Scott] Interestingly, I think that's a great segue. They get the conversation started. So usually each episode starts with just telling a little bit about, more about yourself then a little bit about the origin story of Café.

[Danielle] Yeah, for sure. So I am originally from New York. I grew up in Manhattan. It was very interesting. I went to a Jewish private school in New York. it was called Abraham Joshua Heschel school. So Abraham Joshua Heschel was actually a huge part of the civil rights movement. He, there's, there are multiple photos of him and Martin Luther king Jr. Being, you know, arm in arm marJing. And he was a huge thought leader, and really advocated for painting your life as if it were a work of art and things like radical amazement, just being, you know, just mystified every day by boats, what's around you and practicing gratitude. It was always part of my education, my 15 years there. and the other part was really just asking questions, thinking critically. And so I carry that with me to college, where I went to USC, went out to LA, studied psychology with, this general understanding and insight as, you know, 76% of people who go to college, don't actually study or do what they study.

and so I said to myself, what can I do to apply, and make the most out of my time here? so I attended, you know, hundreds of events on campus. I was always super active in clubs and, political and social and religious. And, I essentially found my way to marketing. I was really interested in the intersection of business and psychology. and I also saw this, this problem in the world that I really wanted to, to help fix, which was that a lot of people in boardrooms making decisions about people weren't necessarily well-versed in the psychological, you know, background, of how people make decisions. And so I, I thought, you know, I want to be the most well-versed in people and, and be able to make the most informed decisions, whether I'm leading a room or I'm, you know, sitting in a room.

And so I studied psychology with, with that understanding that I, that was the problem that I really wanted to solve. And I ended up working in the HR tech space, an AI company fixing hiring. And it was really, really interesting. That's where I got my start with community management. and I had had like some other things in, in college that I did, that were community focused as well and leadership focused, but I had, gotten, I got the chance to essentially, put on these conferences, virtual conferences during the pandemic. So all of, you know, the rest of 20, 20 and 2021, we were throwing conferences, focused on the intersection of automation and human process and essentially with an HR tech focus. So how can we make hiring better? how can we make employee engagement, more personalized, onboarding, more efficient with the help of automation.

And then we also produced a podcast, and that was really where I got my start with community. And so the way that I got to Café was, the company I worked at got acquired, and I thought it was kind of my time to go, and try something new. So Café team reached out to me and actually offered me a job. and yeah, so essentially what I loved about the product and what sold me was it was extremely employee centric. Everything had to do with, you know, we felt this pain, and we want to bring, you know, efficiency and a better experience to other people. and essentially it was Café was founded by two brothers who have a really strong background in mobile consumer applications. they have built several apps that have had like millions of downloads, it's their first accompany together. but they actually just joined the last YC batch in the summer. And, things have been really, really great so far. So I'm excited that the rest of the team is actually in Paris. So that's why I ended up going out there.

[Scott] Very nice, very nice. your opinion, your thoughts on why companies are really going to a hybrid, I'm extremely, extremely opinionated on this. but when I get your 2 cents, especially building a product for this,

[Danielle] So I think there's generally just still a need for in-office life.

Realistically, if we're thinking about the employee centric approach. I think for most organizations, the, the office was where a culture happened. It was where people ran into each other. And, so switJing to full remote would be a huge adjustment, not just for people, but, but also for the leaders. and I think you can't really do that overnight and have it be sustainable. And we're seeing the impact of that from just witnessing the great reshuffling, right. People had problems that they, they couldn't, they, they didn't feel that they could voice their opinions about, and things probably didn't get better from there. so I think that a lot of companies, leaders specifically have sort of maybe have a control problem and don't want to give up full control. there isn't enough established trust in order to go fully remote and for leaders to be comfortable with that.

And there's also not a lot of leaders and managers who have experience, you know, managing a fully remote team. yeah. And, and so that's actually one of the most sought after, you know, skills in, in today's age and then, you know, on the market. but you know, I think generally there's, we have an opportunity. It's, it's a huge opportunity to not only study what people want and totally rethink, right. Our strategies around remote or hybrid or in-office, but use people's insights to craft everyone's favorite blend for hybrid work, which is like what Café really empowers, which I love. And it's all about finding the right balance for employees, with a more informed and constructive approach, coming from leadership. And you really just need the right tools to do that.

[Scott] Yeah. I can probably spend a whole episode arguing about the point of the office creates the culture. I, for me, I completely disagree with that point that it's, it's the people, on the whole idea of the ping pong table and the beers and whatever it is, was great for at least in my opinion, for the young professionals, twenties, who their whole social being, I was certainly there. And I certainly felt this, that their whole social being was, was work. so the option really was at six o'clock. Do I go home to an empty apartment and be by myself, or do I sit around and hang out with people there and drink a beer and play ping pong. but once you get married, you have kids, you move out to the suburbs. Then the lesson you want to do is be in the office.

You have no interest in the beer. You have no interest in the ping pong table. You want to get the hell out of the office as early as possible to get home and spend time with your family and your kids and doing things in your community and so on and so forth. But that's the thing, a whole nother, the bay there. But I think the one point that you brought up, which is, I think for me, one of the three key pieces of why companies are going hybrid, it's that there's no upscaling, most men, all these organizations kind of took what they did in the office and just did the same thing remotely and Nope, across all the episodes of the show. The one word that comes up more than anything else is intentionality for remote organization. You need that intentionality. And I can't blame the companies for not doing that because what did they know?

And this is certainly the basis of how this podcast started earlier this year was I certainly think for the next 18 to 24 months, there's nothing more important than giving this experience. And this knowledge for someone, at least myself, it was worked. It has built in led remote companies and remote teams for 10 years. My previous cohost last year had the same. And just to share our experiences here, when you try to want to give constructive feedback, what's the right way, what's the wrong way. Why had you engaged people? How do you do events, how you do these things, just to be able to share that experience with managers who are now in position and having to lead teams remotely, who have no idea what they're doing. And yeah, I think this is definitely the most crucial part. I think it's also, it was companies looking at that investment.

Do we spend the time and money to upskill our managers to really, which for me, I think we we'll get into it, whether you're hybrid, you're fully remote. Every company moving forward has to run and operate on a remote first basis. So communication engagement, all those pieces has to be with that remote first mentality and the tools, not the tools just weren't implemented. I had a whole thing about the tools for that. Again, as we started the tools for engagement and community conversation and culture, I've never been there. They've been there for work, the envisions, the base camps, the Trello's have been there for years, even allowing people to work kind of remotely when they're sitting next to each other in a conference room or in the office. but sorry for renting on, I don't want to keep going on this rant,

Because going in like a million directions as you're speaking

Yeah. kind of pull out a point that you brought before, about the optimal hybrid setup, where do you really see is that this is the ultimate, the I'm gonna call it the ultimate or the only real opportunity for hybrid to be successful.

[Danielle] Yeah. I think the optimal hybrid setup is one that's super flexible. and, and really one that's based off of not the culture that currently exists, but the culture that you want to create and the culture that you want to attract people to. Right. And, constant, it requires constant iteration and constant reconsideration. and re-evaluation with employer employees, hand-in-hand with, with employers and leaders. so, you know, I, for me, the best hybrid setup, without taking into consideration, my, my current setup, like in a, in a perfect world, if I were at a bigger company, and I would, I would probably want to be, you know, working two days in the office, and have it be, you know, on one week, if I don't feel like going to the office, then I don't. And on another week, if I feel like going to Europe and working from Europe for three months and backpacking, then I can also do that.

so that's for, for me, I do want that in person, communication, I'm also a gen Z or so I, you know, a lot of the things that I go on podcasts to talk about actually are deep bunking and demystifying gen Z in, in the workplace. And essentially what that means is, you know, I've actually never worked in a traditional office setting and I think that's extremely unique, but it's also the experience of many people my age, and, and even a year below me. so I think with that, you know, I'm kind of starving for, or was starving for this, in, in office and in-person interaction. And going back to your point earlier about, you know, the ping pong tables and millennials wanting to hang out after work. Like I never had that. so I do want the, you know, that, that social connection, I don't have, a world of people, you know, in, in my professional social life. And I think that's the same for a lot of people my age. but you know, I, I am filling that void in other ways, going in networking events, kind of like what I did in college, you know, involving myself in a bunch of different worlds, including the future of work, community on upstream and just sort of making the most of being alone, I think.

[Scott] Yeah. It's the interesting point. I think what we'll want to try to dig into a little bit later and pull out some questions first about the idea of, of the future is this is the community and maybe especially for gen Z, or is that the community really going to be, and I know there's quite a few, influencers in the remote feature workspace that said, you know, the future of community is going to be local community. You're working from a local place and you're building relationships with community where you live and you're not really focused and kind of that idea of building the relationships in that community in the office or work is kind of gone. so it's interesting and woke up kind of go into that. but the pullback to your idea of the ultimate idea of hybrid, I think w we're in complete agreement that it's really flexibility for your choice.

You're the one to choose it. The, so this week I want to be in the office two days next week. I don't want to be next week, fall after that. And I want to, I want to go to Europe, it's giving the flexibility for the employee themselves to choose versus the company going okay. The three, two model. And again, we'll probably talk about that as well. but kind of pulling off to another question from the companies who were using Cafés so far, what have you been seeing from the company executive side? or there are companies really looking to get into in regards to hybrid? Is it keeping that central headquarters where people can come into however often they want, are they moving more towards a hub and spoke model? I know a standard chartered bank in England is I think it was very famous for this getting, getting rid of their central headquarters and getting, a relationship with Regis and getting local, coworking spaces so they can work wherever they want. Or it's kind of the third model of some of these companies that, that we have also had on the show, like kettle space, where you can kind of book a space at a hotel lobby or a Café or a restaurant or a bar, kind of these undervalued underused spaces. What are you, what are you seeing so far from the people that you're speaking to of what is their interest? What does that office look like in a hybrid model?

[Danielle] Yeah. so it definitely ranges. but mostly I would say that our clients are very aligned with the remote first idea. I think it is getting a little bit harder to maintain that approach because leader, a lot of leaders just don't understand it yet. they're not comfortable with the idea and a relinquishing control and putting trust in employees, which is like a sad reality, but like, it is a reality that we have to work with and yeah, and, it's, it's a progression, you know, like nothing good ever comes super quick, everything good, like happens with time. and actually I wrote a post today on LinkedIn about sort of this, you know, personally, I, I used to be this special kid. I needed more time to, to really process my thoughts and, and read and comprehend. And, I used to think that that was a really bad thing, but in reality, now that I look back and now here I am today, like a talented writer and like, I love reading and writing.

So it's kind of like, you know, everything good really does happen with time and like slow is okay. and slow actually makes you stronger. So like, you know, when, when we we've talked to our clients about sort of like they have held out and kept the flexibility, and a lot of companies in the states as well have also kept the flexibility and are just attracting talent. they're attracting talent from the companies that are saying, Hey, you have to come back to the office these three days a week. and I'm sure we'll, we'll talk more about the three-two model, but like, I think that the more innovative companies, certainly a lot of our clients, are looking to open hubs, based on employee data. So let's say you're, you know, a Café admin, like you'll find that your remote employees in Chicago have been meeting up at one of their houses or a local coffee shop in the city that HQ is maybe in New York.

but, but these people in Chicago all happened to live within two miles from a coworking space. So we decide to get them all passes to a, we work or, you know, open a hub, near nearby in Chicago or outright outside of it. so I think that a lot of our clients who have maintained maybe the HQ, but have created it into more of a, you know, come as you'd like office as a perk mentality are really seeing the benefits. and then using Café, they can really encourage the sort of spontaneous and, you know, by chance interactions, but also for, I think, depending on like what your priorities are. So like younger employees can really use Café as like a target approach to who do I want to build relationships with in the office, onboarding as well, you know, like making, just making people feel more like they belong, inviting them in on the days where there's a lot of people in the office. There's a lot of different use cases for how we're seeing our, our clients use the product.

[Scott] Interesting. so it sounds like hopefully the companies are slowly moving in the right direction, at least in my, my 2 cents, from the employee side for the people actually in the community of those companies and probably from people that you've spoken to in the outwork, sorry, Upwork, the, my future of work community. And obviously in social media, when you feel is from the individual side, is there interest in a hybrid if the hybrid model to go to a central place is to go to more local, single place, like a single coworking space that everyone's at, or is it just the model of, Hey, I decide where I want to work from in the morning over here and morning in the afternoon over there. what are you seeing?

[Danielle] Yeah. so I think definitely, we do have some data, which I can, can you share with you, on that exact thing? So essentially, this was taken in September, so a couple months ago, but a lot of the companies that we survey are in Europe. So keep in mind that, Europe and specifically like France, Australia, like they've had, the return to office like happening, for the past year. So like a lot of these companies been back to office for like a year and a half even. so like we essentially have this, mindset and like frame of here's like a year into the future. And like, that's, that's why, I think we sort of have this advantage where we can share this data. So essentially it's like, keep in mind, full remote means like less than 10 days in the office, like over two weeks.

So like one, one day in 10 days in the office. and so we have like 18, 16% of people want full in office. 30% want remote first, which is basically one, two to three and a half days out of 10 in the office. and then 36%, one hybrid, which is seven out of 10 days in the office. And then 16% want full in office, which is obviously, office first, which is like more than seven out of 10 days. So based on, on that, we can say that 66% of people want hybrid. And that means that we definitely do need to like cater to the needs of employees. We need that in office space. I, at least most of the companies that we work with, and I think it, it is sort of like a comfort in a way. Like, I I've found that when you don't have an, an office at all, or somewhere where you offer people to gather, there's sort of this lack of, okay, well then how do I find people to hang out with and like, how do I make this really into a part of my life and a part of my social life?

so I think on the part of employees, I would say like Café really helps with helping you understand, like who's around you and what events there are, and, and trying to find sort of this spontaneous approach to creating the life, the hybrid life that you really want for yourself.

[Scott] Interesting. to know, kind of get more into that, the three, two model, and that we kind of hinted at a couple of times. I know that there's lots of debates and there's been lots of back and forth of the three-two model is who's deciding, is the company deciding Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or whatever the is schedule is, is it potentially going to be the individual teams themselves, maybe something like an Amazon is going to look to do, or is it going to be in the flexibility of the employee themselves, giving them decide, Hey, no, you, in theory, you have to come into the office three days a week, but we'll allow you to choose those days. So for the product, no Café, we're trying to give you that insight into who was in the office and when, and things like that, potentially in the case, maybe less likely of the company says, okay, here, everyone in the entire company is working in, in these few days, which to me is, I don't think it's really realistic.

And I think we've seen that from apple and Facebook and Google and all those to try that. And they hadn't revolts on their hand. but in theory, how can companies really engage their team and do the team building when in reality, there's never going to always be everyone on campus on the same day. You may again, try to force a portion of the people, but there's always guaranteed. It's never going to happen. You got to get everyone back on campus in the same day. So potentially how, what do you think about that and how can Café really help companies, with those areas?

[Danielle] Yeah, definitely. So I'll preface this by saying that, you know, Café has been tackling hybrid for a year and a half. And so these same trends that we have seen with our European companies will present themselves in the states. And so one of the major problems that we did have and saw is that the three, two required office model is, you know, people could, could go to the office. Two people could go to the office and never meet each other, which can lead to a second class citizen problem, right? So where you have someone getting more FaceTime than another person with certain leaders and they're promoted faster. And the person at home, you know, or working on different days gets promoted fewer times. and that could potentially be women or, the, the primary caregiver in the family. it's likely to be, so the solution is give employees the power to choose when to go in based on what everyone else is doing, right.

Empower them with the visibility, into what's going on in the office to find their favorite blend or their best blend for hybrid work. allow them to assess their own priorities in their own lives and have more of this work-life integration, right. That we were talking about earlier and enable and empower them with those tools to help them do that and accomplish the goals that they want to accomplish and develop the relationships and go to the events and, and stay home with your kids. right. And I think that's, that's a huge one. the, the other problem that we're seeing, we saw it was a lack of flexibility. So, with this three, two model, like I actually posted a meme the other day about someone saying to their manager, yeah. I can't come in on Friday. Like I have to pick up my kid from school.

and the manager says, oh yeah, that's fine. But not Friday. Can you find a replacement parent? and it just sort of illustrated this, this lack of understanding and the importance of keeping that flexibility of like hybrid is actually flexible, like hybrid means remote first. And, I think that, you know, with Café, the beauty of it is that we didn't even set out to really help for have a, a product that touched remote employees. It was more, you know, you, you only pay for people who go to the office, but we started seeing that the remote employees, because they can see, like on a map, you know, who's working around them, it's all self reporting. they can essentially say, Hey, like I see that you're nearby. Like, do you want to go to a WeWork or do you want to go to this Café? Or do you want to come over? And I think that the beauty of Café, is that it's turned into sort of this remote first product, out of not, you know, it wasn't even, we didn't even mean for it to be, but because we do like more space optimization, we do have this like social flavor that is attached to that, and that we've seen, really can change a culture and can change and perfect in a, in a sense, the employee experience in a hybrid environment. Yeah.

[Scott] Interesting. I like the light, the last point when I'm looking on the Café site was looking at that, opportunity for the, see obviously how much space is being used in space utilization. And for me, again, being very negative on hybrid to begin with in the office to begin with, getting that mental model of, okay, here's executives and finance team was looking okay, here's the power of the product. Let's see how much usage is being used. So for seeing, okay, it's only 50% use then, Hey, let's cut the office down in half. Let's not downgrade and downsize our office. And that's really, the value proposition is really that the data point of how much space should we be using, how much space do we do. But I think that you kind of open that real, the bigger opportunity I would love to hear more of maybe how companies are using it more is really that opportunity for engagement to say, okay, well, we have 30 people that are planning to come on next Wednesday to use the space.

Hey, maybe that's a great opportunity to do some kind of event or a fun thing at the office. Cause we know a whole chunk of people are going to be there, or even trying to play in like the events and build that engagement around that saying, Hey, can on this Friday or whatever it is, we're wanting to try to do this event and see also how much engagement it is. You're thinking, okay, we're going to get a lot of people coming in for this event. but if it doesn't happen that way, then maybe it obviously hopefully crafts the types of events and engagement they do forward. Now what are companies, I guess, mostly are using it for one case versus more, or you even see that engagement piece being really the, the biggest, opportunity for, for Café moving forward. And certainly for teams, that'd be looking to use the Café.

[Danielle] Yeah. I think engagement is, is a huge one. I think even, you know, I think that a lot of companies are seeing the challenge of, if you plan an event on a day, you think they'll come, but in reality it never actually happens. Right. Like I think, yeah. And like, that's the, that's the power of like community. I think as it relates to, to sort of the office, if you create like micro communities, there's a bigger chance that those communities will show up, on, on those days where you have events and, the, the people that they actually care about are going in, all that. They don't care about everyone, but let's like, you know, real talk. people want to come into the office and they want their time to be utilized wisely. They want to know that they're going to get something out of being in the office that something's in it for them.

And I think that that's what companies struggle with the most, is proving that because, you know, in, in 2019, you know, looking back on that you don't really think, oh, there's a huge reason for me to go to the office every day. And I really want to go back to that. Like, no one is really saying that very few people are saying that. So I think that that's, you know, the huge opportunity is, is really to bring people together for, for these events. I think the biggest challenge workplace people face is actually forecasting and optimizing space. So that's really what we do, but, with the social flavor. So I think the bonus, the real benefit for employees is making the office fun. Again, being able to choose when you go to work, depending on what other people are doing, what your priorities are, personal and professional and, and really, that is aligned with the employee centric or personalized approach that gets people in stay.

and everyone is talking about retention right now. So like yesterday in the future of work community on, on upstream, we had William tin cup, and he said that the number one challenge for the next five to 10 years will be retention and guests engagement drives retention. So if you can see where people are gathering, not only can you design the best office, but you can prop the best experience of remote or in-person or hybrid a combination of the two. So we really do, we, we try to help companies build lively and thriving hybrid workplaces by giving their teams new ways to meet with their peers, right? Whether you're in the office or you're outside of it, you'll know there's someone that is willing to meet with me on, you know, for the next 10 days. and we built and we help managers specifically build a space offering that everyone respects because it is shared and it's open. And we basically help people bring, you know, come together and, and we bring people together and make sure that gets a space to spend the day at and a group to spend the day with. And that their time is really utilized wisely.

[Scott] kind of a great segue into the last question I have. We started the conversation earlier with that idea, again, a number of people and influencers in the space, I've spoken about the future of community being local community and not work community. in theory for the ideal picture of hybrid, again, it's very flexible to the individual, which then may mean again, there might not be as much overlap. It may be more difficult to do engagement events and fun events at those spaces because some people come, some people don't come, they RSVP, they, they don't show up. What do you see from a company side of how they may be looking at the future and building community it's, should they really continue putting like all that effort into building that community within the organization and building that relationship with colleagues? Or should they potentially be looking at again, maybe people at, in supporting people, building those connections in the community, wherever they live, not necessarily in the office and are the potentially fearful of that. Now, if we're working in some random coworking space and you're working around other entrepreneurs or people are they're afraid, Hey, he may make good friends over there and all of a sudden you're going to leave. No, because now you're not connected into that. the company, community, what do you think?

[Danielle] I think that's a really real fear of people leaving, but, you know, people will leave at the end of the day. So, you know, you can't, you can't stop that from happening, but you can certainly help them feel more empowered in their everyday and engaged so that they don't leave. And you can hope for that. But I think, really to answer your question, I, I just wrote an article and I'm working on actually a figure one where, the one that I just wrote, it's called cryptos to corporate lessons and community, and I make the case and don't hate me for this, but I'm doing make the case that in order to strengthen and really solidify bonds of community, you have to have the in-person interaction. not to say that everyone has to go to the same place, but fostering those connections in person really does change the game.

it helps people feel more connected. And so essentially as NFT NYC just happened in New York, I was like, you know, why is this happening? Why are people flying out from all over the world to meet these communities? And why are these communities hosting huge, crazy parties? I mean, people were out all night, New York because it's never looked like it has the past week. but you know, I say that to say, I think there's a lot, a lot, a lot that we can learn from different, different industries, specifically the NFT and crypto space, on how they've built their products around community. Most, most projects in the NFT world didn't even launch without establishing a community first. and I think organizations have, have never really been established that way. Like it's always just been, you know, here's a, an idea, and we're going to hire people to, to help solve this problem.

And I actually think at my last job, at Wade and Wendy, they, they did a really good job of tying back the, the, work to the mission of the company. And I think the same thing with Café, like I felt more connected and aligned with work, and that's what gets me motivated at the end of the day and gets me excited to engage in more communities and foster it. Right. so I think really the, the, the two biggest, blocks and, and are for community are level. So the fact that not everyone is on the same level, in, in organizations, I think that's starting to change actually. And, and it, it really is. I think the most innovative organizations no longer sort of think about this hierarchical structure, but they think of it as more skills-based and, you know, needs-based, you know, you, you fill a specific need.

and maybe on a specific project, like, I think agencies have sort of developed this new model of, we just got a new client, what are the skills we can pull from? the people that we already have to bring them onto this project to really accomplish the goal. I think that, you know, fractional hiring, is going to be a huge one. And then, you know, that, that certainly, and then the other, I think the other blocker, is really, I would say space being, being, in, in the same, not the same space necessarily, but like having a central location where all communication happens. and that really just requires communicating. and, and I know several really great companies that do this 10 spot is one that comes to mind specifically where it's like, we all have user manuals on how to use products, how to do everything, right.

How to lift weights, but we don't have a user guide on how to communicate and how each person wants to communicate. so I think developing more, structure and process around that, and then also giving people the right tools to really connect with their communities. One of the features we just dropped, was favorites. And so you can essentially put together a list of like your, your favorite people and everyone can utilize that differently. Right. And you could put your mentors and your favorites, if that's a priority for you, you can put your best friends or whatnot. And then the other one was, open for a drink. So like you can essentially on any given day indicate whether you're open for a drink. And like, I think that's just like a cool feature for, for socializing purposes and, and to make people feel included and like, they actually have people to go get drinks with.

[Scott] Yeah. Interesting. I like that. all right. So we're going to go now into the final section of the five rapid fire questions. so again, just throw out the answer that comes, to the top of your head. Are you ready?

[Danielle] I'm ready.

[Scott] Right. Question number one, who is a remote leader that you look up to and why?

[Danielle] Nellie Hayat is a remote first leader that I really look up to. She is incredible. She incorporates ideas from Judaism and from like the changing of the seasons and nature into really designing workplaces that people thrive in.

[Scott] Very cool. number two, what's your go-to source for tips, tricks and ideas on how to do remote the right way?

[Danielle] Hmm. I like that. I read a lot of Harvard business review and I also go on clubhouse a lot. So Frances Frei, she is at Harvard. They do a weekly Harvard business review sort of session where they unpack an article from the previous week. And that is, it's a, it's a really fun time.

Okay. Interesting. if one of the companies that was previously hybrid comes to you and says, Hey, we want to go all in on being a totally remote first company. what would be the first change that you would suggest that they do to embrace remote work?

I would say developing a more efficient communication plan. so understanding where things are gonna happen, by actually serving employees and understanding like how they communicate best and, and would like to communicate. so really having more of a employee centric mindset as you develop your remote for strategy.

[Scott] Interesting. That's, it's a big question. At least that's come up for me recently of that idea of feedback, no company has spent millions and millions of dollars and for years have desperately tried to get that feedback from employees. they got a crystal clear picture from the past two years that every employee pretty much is expecting flexibility, whether that's full-time remote, whether that's hybrid, whatever it may be. You still see so many of these debates and arguments about, again, whether it's three, two, or pushing people back into the, into, to the office. And I think we certainly saw that from the, the future forum report that came out. I don't know if you've got a chance to read it. but like the grand canyon size gap between how executives are thinking and how the actual employees are thinking. So it's wondering if, if that feedback really makes enough of an impact to get people over, maybe your own personal biases or whatever it may be to say, okay, now people like to talk about talking this way. They don't want to ever be bothered after this, this type of time. It is the opportunity really there to make that impact, or is it just going to be something similar to like the remote where everybody wants that once the flexibility to come, just saying that I don't really want to give you the flexibility.

[Danielle] I think there's certainly an opportunity to involve employees. Like they never have been involved. It's also, I think one of the, one of the stats that I saw was 68% of employers reported involving, their employees in the conversation, or maybe it was not involving them. I can't exactly remember the stat, but it was like something overwhelmingly upsetting to me. I was like, there's a lot of room to grow there in terms of like some companies just aren't even asking their employees what they think. and I just think that's crazy. Like there's, if you, you know, if you see the trends in the news, right, oh, most people want hybrid. Yup. The last thing you should do is take flexibility away from them because that's, that's just going to be counter to everything that everyone else is doing, and you're just going to lose people.

And that's what we're seeing. Like all these fast growing companies are just retaining and attracting talent because they just give flexibility and like that's as simple as it is, from the outside. but, but, you know, I, I think that there's a huge opportunity to just rethink the way that we've, we've built things and build companies. and I think the fast growing companies that we work with specifically are seeing a lot of benefit from just having, you know, in an office as a perk mentality. and they're seeing people really, really be receptive to that. So, so, I'm very bullish on, on the hybrid. I think, I think it's going to be the new normal for sure.

[Scott] Interesting. question number four. What's one thing that lots of people, lots of companies get wrong with the idea of remote work


[Danielle] That people aren't going to do their jobs.

[Scott] Is it still possible these days? I mean, all the data's there. I mean, it's so clear that people are Lu and minimally as productive as they were in the office or in many cases more productive. Is it even possible these days for them to really still think on the people, people can't do the job as well at home or wherever they want to be as in the office?

[Danielle] I think it's possible. I think we're overseeing people that say that

[Scott] That's very sad.

[Scott]so that probably kind of, I guess, answers the last question, is, is the age of having being required to go into the office truly over?

[Danielle] No, not yet. I mean, it's truly over in terms of, in, you know, a number of years, the companies that require people to go back to the office, most of them won't be able to retain people. Yep. I think people are going to make the best decision for them. I think the, the future to me looks like, some organizations really embracing, the, the office first life, like really, and, and that will be for the people for the 16% or whatever percent it is who want the office first lifestyle. Like I think people are going to find the right culture for them, but it will take a lot of reshuffling of the cards in terms of people, but also reshuffling in terms of, you know, and, and redefining what hybrid means to each company to really find the right thing. And that right thing might change from, from time to time. so I think, but, but, you know, I think that it just requires a constant conversation. Hybrid is a slow burn. It's a slow burn, but it will totally pay off. but I'm curious from your perspective, what does the future of culture and the future of hybrid remote work look like for you? Yeah.

I think the, the future of hybrid we'll go through multiple iterations. We'll eventually end up on that idea of, as you said before, that the office is a park is here. If you want it, how you want it, why you want it when you want it, except you, you want it nine to five, Monday through Friday. Fantastic. You want it once every two weeks to come in and have coffees with the people who are there to go to lunch with your colleagues and they can go home and actually do the work. That's fantastic as well. So I see that the call finish line, but the ultimate, or we'll end up after multiple iterations of whether it's to force three to hybrid model, whether it's everyone on the same day as then moving to multiple days, then no spoke, maybe moving to a more spoke model instead of having to go on a 60 minute commute to get into that office.

[Scott] Cause that's the biggest thing, right? You could say two days, three days, nobody wants that 60 minute queue. I commuted 70, 80 minutes each way from long island down, down to the wall street area. And it was absolutely miserable. So getting past that eventually to that point that you want to use it, use it. You don't want to use it. That's great. that's great as well and no further engagement it's really going to be. And I think this is the issue with many of the companies that are doing hybrid. Now it's redesigning and recreating all those office moments, all those off office cultural pieces for remote first mentality. how you communicate, how you get those little serendipitous moments, how you do team fun for, for years, remote companies have used, blamed remote companies have used the video in the wrong way.

What do remote companies use video for, for meetings? One-on-one all hands team meetings. And that's why you hear about zoom fatigue or one of the reasons. Well, again, all those ideas could be, you could just replace this into a long form document or an email, but companies haven't been using, okay, let's get, instead of the 40 minute team meeting, why don't we get 45 minutes of team fun? Let's play a game. Let's do Pictionary, let's do trivia, let's do some type of thing that spot doing Netflix party or whatever it is let's use video for that relationship building and that connection, that interaction. so I certainly think companies will eventually end up in that, in that direction because they're going to be forced to do that. And then that's, I think my, view view in the future. but people who want to get in touch with you learn more about you and learn more about Café. What's the best way to do that.

[Danielle] Yeah. So, usually LinkedIn, I am on there quite often. I'm actually a LinkedIn creator, which happened quite recently. So, I am at Danielle Farrage. Oh, and like on LinkedIn and then on Twitter, I am at hybrid futurist. And, what else? I do have a website, so you can, you can go there. Danielle frosh.com and then to, to learn more about Café, actually we have, you can download it for, for 50 users for free at Café.

[Scott] Awesome. And so we'll include all of that information in the show notes and on the post. So everyone can get ahold of that and all the kind of other information, that we mentioned before. And Danielle, thank you so much for joining and having the conversation about where hybrid is going and how they can use Café to best support their team in harbored work. And until next time everyone have a great day.