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Don't want to go back to the office? You don't have to.

Show Notes

Tips from a digital nomad and a global team manager on how to work from anywhere successfully. (Audio from a LinkedIn livestream on 7 July 2021)

See it on LinkedIn.
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What is Borderline?

Borderline is a podcast for defiant global citizens covering geopolitics, immigration and lives that straddle borders, with host Isabelle Roughol.

Isabelle Roughol: Hey, it's Isabelle.

This is a little bit extra
for the podcast feed.

This is actually the audio
of a LinkedIn livestream.

I just did with Lauren Razavi, who
is a digital nomad, author, expert

activist, about working across borders.

And she and I are friends and together we
have something like 20 years of experience

of working remotely and across borders
and in a distributed or remote team.

And so we got into what that means
and how you can make it work in

your organizations now that so many
people are working remotely and want

to stick with it past the pandemic.

So that's something we
did on LinkedIn Live.

So you can see the video as well
on LinkedIn or on YouTube, or you

can just listen to the audio here.

And if you're interested in this kind
of stuff, we're going to be doing

another one next week, same time.

So that's Wednesday July
14th, 1:00 PM london time.

So that's 2:00 PM in Europe
and that's 8:00 AM in New York.

So look to my LinkedIn, look to the
newsletter, and all my social feeds to

get the links or the YouTube channel.

So again, that's me and Lauren Razavi
talking about remote and distributed

and hybrid work and how to make it work.

And next week, we'll be talking about
how to build a global career, the

thing that you need to think about, the
things that you need to think about,

uh, right now, if you're thinking about
transforming your career and taking

it in a direction that gives you a
little bit more freedom of location.

So that's what we'll be getting into
next week since apparently everyone is

quitting their job right now because
they don't want to go back to the office.

All right.

I'll let you listen.

And I'll talk to you soon.


Hello everyone.

We are live, I believe.

Hi, I'm Isabelle Roughol and
I am joined today by Lauren.

Hi Lauren.

How are you?

Lauren Razavi: Hi, Isabelle.

I'm doing very well.

Thank you.

Thanks for, thanks for having me here.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, this
is so much more fun to be doing

this, uh, with company rather
than, uh, rather than on my own.

I find so much better than a monologue.

um, introduce yourself to,
to get us going, I guess.

Lauren Razavi: Yeah.

So my name is Lauren Razavi
and I'm a writer and activist.

Um, I'm currently writing a
book about digital nomads,

which is called global natives.

Uh, and that's coming out in September
and I'm a tech policy fellow at the Tony

Blair Institute for global change, looking
at remote work and the future of cities.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah,
congratulations on that.

I thought that was a, that
was a recent announcement.

That's really cool.

And I look forward to reading the
book and definitely having you on

the podcast when that comes out.

Um, and I'm, I mean, if you're
following me on LinkedIn, uh, on

YouTube, you kind of already know who
I am, but, I'm Isabelle Roughol, I

am the founder, producer, one woman
behind the one woman show that is

a borderline, which has podcast and
newsletter or community, uh, media for,

um, defiant global citizens covering
kind of lives, lived across borders.

Um, and I was in my previous life, the,
um, international editor at LinkedIn on

this very platform, um, hence, uh, being
here quite a bit and, and having this

experience of managing um, a remote team.

And so I was, as I was saying in a
post announcing this, uh, the two

of us together have like a couple of
decades of experience of doing all the

things people have been doing during
a pandemic, you know, working remotely

and on the zoom and all of that.

And, and around across
time zones and borders.

Um, so that's what we're
going to get into today.

Um, let's start by defining some terms
and I want to say hello to everyone.

I can't even keep up with the chat, but
I love seeing everyone mentioning the

country that they're from like Turkey.


Um, that's awesome.

So hello everyone.

By the way, we'll be taking questions
to like drop them in the stream.

Uh, we'll absolutely be answering them.

Um, Cameroon Bangladesh.

It's so cool.

Um, so yeah, right.

Lauren Razavi: Sorry.

Super borderless crowd we have

Isabelle Roughol: with them.

I know, I know Somali land, man.

That's cool.

That's like, uh, one of those
like countries that are, um, are,

you know, countries, there's a
whole documentary about that.

It's really fascinating
places that don't exist.

Um, all right.


Uh, Danielle, I love these, uh,
seeing these followers, uh, come back.

All right.

So let's get into our topic.

Let's um, define some terms.

What do we mean?

Uh, you're the one that taught me the
difference between remote and distributed.

And now there's a new
word hybrid as everywhere.

Can you define what those are?

Lauren Razavi: Yeah, sure.

So I kind of think to put the human
face on this, it probably makes sense

to talk about how my experience in your
experience is a little bit different.

So, uh, you were working, uh, for
LinkedIn and kind of building this

international team, um, and very much
working in the remote context, but if

I'm correct, like you had colleagues
in offices around the world, right?


Isabelle Roughol: Yes.

So often, um, editors
would be kind of alone.

As an editor in the office, but
there were other functions around.

So they weren't working, you know, from
home from, you know, the company was, was

present and had an office and all of that.

But then our boss was in New York
and the bulk of the organization

was in the United States.

Lauren Razavi: Cool.

So, yeah, for me, when I was a managing
editor for Google, um, and I did a

couple of other roles for Google kind
of over the years, but I was working,

uh, as part of a distributed team.

And essentially I think the difference
is really in, uh, to be remote.

You have to be remote from
something, whereas distributed.

Uh, is just kind of like remote by design,
if you like is it's distributed by design.

So the team that I was running and
the teams that I've worked as part of

in tech has been fully distributed.

So there was no kind of like monitor
sitting in the office, uh, sort of

not located with the remote work.

But instead of the entire team
was completely distributed.

So everybody was working from home
or from their own co-working space.

So I think this is a sort of an
interesting thing for us to think about

now, because there's been a lot of talk
this past year about remote work for

obvious reasons, but actually the move
that I think businesses need to be making

is towards more distributed structures.

Um, meaning that you're sort of designing
for the people who aren't in the room.

Every single time, uh, you kind of
make a decision, uh, or do something.

And now, uh, with things sort of
beginning to reopen, et cetera, we have

the rise of hybrid work, which is sort
of parts in the office and part remote.

Um, and I think we're going to
dig into that a little bit and

kind of like the do's and don'ts,
uh, in our conversation today.

Um, but I think the biggest thing
to be aware of, uh, is that remote.

Um, so sorry.

Remote suggests, uh, being
remote from something.

Distributed suggests that
everyone's kind of on equal fitting.

Uh, and that actually there,
perhaps isn't an office that, uh,

that people can gather in, I'm

Isabelle Roughol: sensing a bit of a,
um, preference in the way that you're

in the way you're, you're describing.

Why do you think that
distributed as better than that?

Or do you, that's kind of
what I'm getting, but yeah.

Lauren Razavi: Yeah, I definitely do
because, um, I think remote is kind of

this half step on the way to distributed.

So we're kind of in this environment
now where everybody is talking

about remote work, but kind of
not taking the conversation.

Beyond that idea of not
being located somewhere.

Whereas if you think more about
teams, if you think more about kind

of redesigning and future-proofing
businesses, uh, it's really a

distributed mindset you need to have.

So in practice, that means making
sure that you're kind of redesigning

functions, so that decisions aren't
being made by like the three people who

are in an office and then sort of being
reported to the 20 people who are not.

Uh, in the office who are remote workers.

Um, so we need to master, uh,
asynchronous communication.

ie not, uh, making decisions in
a room together, but instead, uh,

kind of communicating in a more
thoughtful and intentional way.

Um, and it's really, really
important, um, to, uh, get really

serious about documentation.

So there are some great companies
out there, her leaders in the

remote world, um, like get lab.

Ghost and WordPress, um, who create
extensive documentation and really

document every decision and process,
review that stuff and make it

useful for every employee or entire
teams within the organization.

And it labs case.

A lot of that stuff is actually fully
public, so anyone can access it and

kind of gain from their knowledge
of how to, how to design a business

in this way and how to work in this.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah, that's awesome.

You were reminding me, um, there's
a former colleague of mine.

Uh, Brian SU um, I don't know if he's
here, but I'll, I'll share his stuff.

He did.

He does his great, like, um, He's
a data guy and he does, he's great,

like Tik TOK, videos and videos on
LinkedIn about what it's like to work.

And he had a hilarious one the other
day about like finding who's the owner

on a particular project or product.

And like, that's really basic information.

But I remember being so frustrated,
it would take me like over a

day of like emailing around and
all of that to find out because.

Like in the room with these people.

So you never know, you can't just go up to
someone's desk and find that information.

So the documentation is so important.

Um, you reminded me also of a conversation
that I feel like we didn't have enough.

Um, especially, you know, when people
started talking about how, you know,

the pandemic had revealed remote work,
everyone was going to get back to that.

Cause it was so much better.

And people talk about
how it's so much better.

You know, for working parents or
for people who are disabled and,

and maybe cannot, um, you know,
access the office as easily.

The thing that bothered me with that,
and it gets to what you're talking

about remote versus distributed, is
if you're just remote, you're also

remote from the centers of power.

And so I protect, you know, we're S
we're pretending that we're making

work more accessible, but actually
we're still marginalizing people who

can't be there physically, um, in
the room with the decision-makers.

Lauren Razavi: Hm.


I, I think I agree with that.

Like, um, so much of, uh, designing
for this new world of work is

really about questioning hierarchy
and reassessing where power lies.

Um, I think we've seen a huge pushback
actually to a bigger extent than, uh, than

I was expecting from workers who want.

Who wants flexibility, her sort of, I
guess like renegotiating the kind of

standard contract or the standard terms
of what it means to be an employee.

And I think that's really important.

I think that, uh, there are a lot of
managers who perhaps want people back in

the office because they're not quite sure
how to be a manager in a remote context.

And it would be easier to just kind of
get everyone back where they can see them.

But actually I think like the whole.

The whole, like negotiation of work
has changed and we're seeing all over

the U S right now, um, people quitting
their jobs, uh, because they're not

happy with how their companies are
kind of transitioning, uh, or sort

of adjusting to this new world.

Um, I think we're going
to keep seeing that.

I do think that there's been quite
a big power shift over the past year

from companies setting the tone and
setting all the rules to individuals.

now Um, it's, it's kind of up to you.

Like what you can, uh, like what you, what
you want to get out of, work how you want

it to fit in with the rest of your life.

And I guess I'm completely biased on
this because as somebody who's been a

remote worker for such a long time and
the digital nomad, I really believe that

people should be able to sort of have
the freedom to define their own lives.

Um, and that work should fit into
that rather than be the kind of

leading force that defines Absolutely
everything else that you're able to do.

Isabelle Roughol: It's funny.

Um, yeah, you're absolutely right.

I feel like a pandemic has just been
like this kind of like watershed where

a lot of things that were brewing, you
know, we're just accelerated, which

is true in a lot of, in loving areas.

Um, but I, you know, it's funny cause
it's a decision that I made just before

the pandemic, uh, for, for myself to,
um, leave a corporate job and, you know,

kind of figure things out on my own.

And um, so many people now are coming to
me being like, oh, how did you do this?

Like, why.

Uh, you know, give me some
pointers and everything.

And you're talking about the difficulty
of managing remotely, uh, hit me up

because I did that for years with
hiring and managing, I think we'll

do another, like another life because
there are many, many, uh, You know,

tips and tricks for doing that.

But I think the fundamental one is, trust.

Um, like the old world of work,
if you're still thinking I'm a

manager, therefore I'm the boss
therefore I tell you what you do.

That's never going to work in a
distributed or remote or hybrid world.


Like you first, you got
to empower the individual.

You gotta hire people that you can
trust that, you know, are, smart

and are going to do the right thing
And you just gotta let go of the

illusion of control because you have.


Lauren Razavi: tastefully.

I actually said to a client recently, um,
you know, like if you can't trust your

workers to get the work done and kind of
like handle their own hours, et cetera,

uh, then like the problem that you have
is not really about getting people back

to the office and working set hours.

The problem you have is that you're
not actually building trust with

the people that you're employing.

Um, I think that's, that's really
fundamental because without.

You get very, very toxic company culture.

And I think that's applicable whether it's
in an office or in a virtual environment.



Isabelle Roughol: loving
what I'm saying here.

I'm learning how to make
comments, show up on the screen.

This is really cool.

Um, so I think you're absolutely right.


The human interaction, the human
element is super important.

Um, I think where a lot of organizations,
um, are, are wrong is, um, when they

think, oh, we're just going to go, um,
distributed or remote to like save money.

Cause yeah, you're not, uh, you know,
you're not paying for real estate.

You're not paying for an office, but you
better have a really good travel budget.

Like right now, obviously.

Uh, it's not possible in a lot of places
for a lot of reason, but when I was

building my, my global team, um, you
know, we, I first, when I started out

before I was a manager, um, we were a
much smaller team and my boss was in

New York and I was in Paris at the time.

And, um, I had a quarterly trip.

Part of the deal.

I was in New York every two, three
months, because I had to, especially

in the beginning when you don't really
know people, I had to gel with them.

Uh, and every is also like about
motivation and inspiration.

Every trip kind of charged me
up for the next three months

and like really motivated me.

Cause it can be hard
to be kind of isolated.

And then when I built my own team,
same, you know, I mean, yeah, I did a

lot of interviewing hiring remotely.

Um, but.

You know, I try to go and
visit the offices too.

We would find like a central city
that we could all, uh, join in.

And then we would have, um, yearly
kind of offsite, like big, you know,

everyone like 50 of us together.

Um, you know, socializing, you
know, working, but also just getting

to know each other as people.

I think that's super simple.


Lauren Razavi: I totally agree.

I think it's, um, it's a bit of
a nuance that's being missed in a

lot of the conversation about, um,
the switch to remote right now.

It's like, just because you may
not have the same level of office

space as before doesn't mean that
there's no in-person interaction.

It just sort of means that you have
to reassess what the value and the

purpose of those interactions are.

So I think a really good example is,
um, the company automatic, uh, who.

Uh, founded what pro they're the
creators behind, uh, what

Um, those guys organize a grand meetup,
I think is the language that they use,

but they bring together all 1500 of their
employees who are based in something

like 70 countries around the world.

They bring them together in one place.

And then that's a very sort of intensive
in-person experience, a sort of company

retreat, um, which obviously costs a
lot of money, but also delivers a lot

of value because, uh, these team members
are able to kind of come together in

person, have a really like pleasant social
time while also kind of getting to know

one another, um, more professionally.

Uh, and then when they kind of go away,
when they go back to home or less kind of

remote work environment, those relations.

Are a lot stronger.

You're able to remember sort of
have these shared memories of that

time at dinner or when somebody
had too many glasses of wine.

Um, and I think that side of things is
really, really important and I'll just,

um, I'm going to keep like cheerleading
for get lab, um, because they truly,

really like doing everything right.

I think, um, but uh, those guys make
available, um, a fund so that members of

their teams are able to, um, basically
go through a small, a short price.

Uh, and then be able to be funded
by the company to go visit a

colleague in another city or another
country and things like that.

I think, um, companies can sometimes be a
bit resistant to it because they envision

absolutely everybody taking a trip every
other week, but in practice, like people

don't want to travel all the time.

They're probably just going
to take a couple hours.



And then that's, again, going to be
really, really meaningful for sort

of having that, um, that colleague
relationship that I think a lot

of people, which is completely
understandable after the last year and

a half, uh, seeing remote work as an
incredibly isolating and lonely thing.

Whereas I think that the kind of next
stage, if we say we've done remote

work during a pandemic, the next
stage is going to be distributed work.

I think it's just a really, really
exciting time to be an employee or to

be running a team or running a business.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah.

Um, like Margaret is saying, you know,
it started remote enough to six months.

I've only met two of my coworkers.

One was in a parking lot.

Um, man, I, I cannot imagine starting
a gig remotely right now, like props

to you because that is really hard.

And that's something that, um, you
know, when I, again, when I was.

Uh, remotely.

The one thing that we always did is
like, week one is in-person onboarding.

You know, I fly to them, they fly to me.

We fly to somewhere in comment in New York
or whatever, but, but we are, um, getting

together and that's really important.

So starting remotely, um, is hard, but
I love what you're saying about like,

like meeting someone in a parking lot.

That's actually something, um, I've
noticed quite a few people doing.

Um, you know, during
the pandemic it's yeah.

The offices were closed, uh, but
you, you could still, you know, have

several people, especially in big
cities from the company in the same

city, and there's nothing stopping
you, you know, meeting for a walk

in a park or something like that.

Um, what I do like about, you know, not
having to work in the office and I noticed

something that a lot of people are big
fans of is, you know, working in coffee

shops, working in coworking spaces,
working in, um, I don't know if you

experienced that when you were at Google.

One thing that frustrated me frustrated
me working in tech is that it felt, um,

Divorced from the community because a
lot of the people and that's, you know,

that's a whole other issue, but a lot
of the people who work in tech kind

of have the same backgrounds, the same
age, um, you know, the same interests.

And so the chances that you're
going to meet, uh, Older person,

an immigrant, a, uh, someone who
works in a completely different

field, um, end up being pretty low.

And since you're working like
all the time, and you're having

your meals in the office as well,
because food is provided, um, you're

just, yeah, you're in that bubble.

And that disconnects you from your
users, from your customers, from your

community, from the people you're
doing this work for in the first place.

Lauren Razavi: Hm.

Yeah, I have to say, um, my
experience was pretty different,

but that's probably because I was
never in an office for Google.

Um, so I was working, uh, first
of all, like my first contract for

Google, um, gave me a very strange
impression of the world because, um,

I was kind of fresh out of university.

It was a project being run by two.

But us distributed women leaders, uh,
within the company in different locations.

Um, and we were basically able
to, um, to just collaborate in

this distributed fashion, I guess
this would have been like 2014.

Um, but we were able to kind of
collaborate in this distributed fashion,

um, which to me felt incredibly intuitive.

Um, and so we were kind of
able to, uh, to do that.

And the team was very, very diverse
and very, very international.

Um, later on, when I was leading
a team, I made a real conscious

effort to be working with people
across borders and across cultures.

Um, because I was running
creative teams and creativity.

Definitely it doesn't just remain
within one nation's borders.

Um, so yeah, I think
that for me, although I.

I sort of heard from, from colleagues,
uh, have, have worked from the big tech

companies about these kinds of experiences
of really like living at the office.

Um, I would say that my experience was
very, very different because I was a

remote worker throughout, throughout that.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah.

Um, yeah, that's great.

I, um, I hate to be that person who's
now going to complain about like the free

gym and the free meals and everything.

It was wonderful.

And the commute, the
company was wonderful.

The people I met there were wonderful.

There is, there is that sense that,
you know, after a while that you're,

yeah, you're in a bubble really.

Um, and, um, and it's good to get out.

Um, I'm at was making
another, uh, good point.

And then we have a question from
Martella, um, On on, uh, young people

kind of needing, I mean, he's talking
about students, but you can kind

of extend that as well to younger
professionals needing the structure

and the discipline of an office.

And I also think about them,
like just needing to be able to

absorb, um, the codes of the, of
working life and the mentorship.

Like, how do you, how do you get
that as a really young, uh, worker?

Um, if you're not in the physical
presence of other people,

if you're just behind you.

Lauren Razavi: I think it really
comes down to whether the company

that you're working for has in fact
designed their distributed systems.

Well, whether in fact you're going
to get that structure and discipline,

but I think people just instinctively
think comes from the office, but does

not always, depending on like the
company you're working for, but if it's

a distributed company and they have.

Processes in place, you will get
exactly the same value, um, that you

would expect from the office in that
way of the structure of the discipline,

um, of kind of meeting people, um,
and learning the kind of ropes.

Um, I really don't think that
changes in a natural environment.

I just think that it's really grounded.

Um, because previous generations
had that experience that somehow,

you know, the office water cooler is
where all the best ideas come from.

Um, and I guess my response to that
is like, there are an awful lot of

water coolers on the internet and
you can be in your pajamas while

you, uh, while you access them.

Um, that's, that's a very, uh,
sort of remote first mentality.

But in fact, um, I can't remember.

I was recommending this to you.

The other day is about that.

There's, um, there's a book.

I think it's cool managing
talent in the networked age.

And it's a re like Reid Hoffman
of LinkedIn is one of the,

um, the authors of that book.

And in it, they essentially argued
that, um, the future of careers,

uh, is going to be more about the
kind of networks you cultivate as an

individual, rather than about, um,
working for a particular company and

sort of playing by that one company.

I really think that's true and
it really reflects my experience.

Like I've been a remote worker since 2010.

I've been a digital nomad since 2013.

And yeah, I have not a tool
struggled with not having a physical

presence in an office for more
than, you know, the occasional

week, maybe, uh, every year or two.

Um, in fact, I've really been able to.

Take advantage and I guess not get
distracted by some of the distractions,

the office politics, um, and just
really kind of forge my own path.

And I'd really encourage anyone
who is worried about that.

Particularly younger people to
just stop kind of, um, stuck kind

of like thinking about the next.

And just stop thinking about how you
can embed yourself in communities

and industries and things that you'll
really passionate and excited about.

I think there's a huge opportunity
for a more kind of bespoke individual

to you, uh, career in the future.

Um, and yeah, if you're, if your current
company really sucks at remote work,

like choose another thing that right

Isabelle Roughol: now.



And, um, and there are.

As you said, like the, your, your,
uh, professional activity networking,

your learning, doesn't have to
be either within the company that

employs you, that you work for.

Um, you know, there are professional
events, there are networks, or, you

know, in London and parts of hacks
hackers, which is a group before,

um, people who work kind of at
intersection of media and technology,

which is, which is my sweet spot.

Um, there are, you know, there's
just a lot of different organizations

that, that you can join and
you can have that physical.


Um, interaction, uh, you know, like
what, what Khalid was saying, which is,

uh, uh, you know, that the socializing
aspect, um, can be challenging.

When you're working, um, uh, remotely,
uh, but yes, the comment is too long

from the screen, but yes, you have slack,
you have activities, you have things

that you can do in person, for sure.

Lauren Razavi: If I can just, um, add
something that I think something, uh,

that, you know, whether you're a new
employee, an old employee, whether

you're a manager, whether you're a boss.

I really think that something
everyone should be thinking about

right now with the teams is designing
rituals to kind of facilitate.

That social side.

And now that sounds like it's just
going to be absolutely terrible.

But the reason that I'm actually saying
it to everybody here is because I don't

think those things work very well.

Just as a top-down kind of thing.

Like P like the people who
run the company, telling

you how it's going to work.

I think a lot of it
builds from the Boston.

It's more like grassroots.

Um, and so for example, um, arranging
like a monthly town hall, Where

everybody can kind of get together
for an hour and maybe there's some

kind of structure, but the main idea
is so that anyone can bring anything

they're struggling with, to the table
on like a company level or organizing a

couple of hours each week where you're
doing co-working sprints via zoom.

So you, a bunch of you
can log in together.

Someone does a bit of an introduction,
um, and you just kind of worked

together and you know what, you perhaps
know what you're working on and kind

of can collaborate live a little
bit like you might in the office.

Um, these kinds of things can
just really, really help to

actually build company culture.

And . When I've worked, um, on
like loads of different projects,

this is like really important.

If you aren't meeting in person is
to still kind of understand what your

check-in points are and to have those more
informal and kind of casual interactions,

um, day to day or week to week as well.

So like, rather than feeling bad, if
you may, to something that's really

not working, like really feel empowered
to suggest something and perhaps.

Oh, so be the one who sets things up and
then rotate running it amongst colleagues,

Isabelle Roughol: there was a, you
reminded me of, um, one, one such

ritual that I absolutely loved.

It was in person, but it could
absolutely work out remotely.

Uh, and this was what, um,
pulse, which was a startup

that LinkedIn acquired back in.


13, I think.

Um, and then when he first joined the
company, um, I wasn't one of their

all hands in, uh, in San Francisco.

And, um, they had this tradition,
uh, where kind of everyone could

speak up and say, you know, whatever
that was on their mind, but it

was, um, I like, I wish I wonder.

And it was like the, the
sentence had to start by.

I like, or I wish or wonder, and it
just like created this, like, um,

Kind of amazing a brainstorm where
people like, you know, I like, you

know, this new product feature.

I wonder why, you know, we're
not doing this whatever.

And, um, it just, I was such so wonderful.

Uh, and it, you know, it's a simple
ritual, but it just gives people like

that framework to rather than just
say, Hey, tell us what you think,

which can be a little bit like, oh,

Lauren Razavi: Maybe just one
more thing to add to that.

Um, since I know what both members of
a London writers Salum, I think those

guys are really interesting example
of sort of building, um, remote or

industry infrastructure, actually
outside the bounds of the company.

So if I can say really, really briefly,
um, essentially at these awesome people

who run Lyndon right to Salah and, um,
Matt and Pearl, when the whole world

went into lockdown last year, they
decided to kind of move, I think what

were like monthly events online and
they started writer's hour, which you

can check out on writers,

And basically it's a free writing spring.

At, I think it's 8:00 AM and like four
different times zones, every weekday and

it's grown so that there are hundreds
of people, um, who are attending

these, these sessions every single day.

Um, and so this is kind of like in my
view, a writing community infrastructure,

um, and it's really, really cool to just
kind of have these things in a remote

context that you can show up to and that
you can kind of feel in, in community.

Um, around.

So I think the kind of takeaway, uh, the
reason that I bring this up as an X, as

an example is because if it doesn't feel
right to do that within your current

team or your current company, as in,
come up with a ritual and start something

also look more widely actually at your
industry and have a think about whether

you could do something like writers.

For the marketing community
or for the tech community.

Um, and really like, don't
be afraid to experiment.

Like we're in a playground
of experimentation right now.

Nobody knows what the hell they're doing.

And those of us who've been the
remote working for a decade.

So everything's up for grabs.


Isabelle Roughol: it
changes so quickly, right?

Because the technology changes.

And so what was, uh, you know, I studied.

Uh, working remotely, you know, like
you, even before LinkedIn, I was,

I was working on a project between
the Figaro and the New York times.

So, you know, newsroom in piracy, Paris in
newsroom, in New York, that was in 2009.

Oh my gosh, we weren't doing zooms.

Like, and so, um, but still somehow
we, we know we managed to work.

So the, the, the technology is going
to keep changing and therefore the ways

that we work are going to keep changing.

Uh, we have tons of great,
like great questions coming in.

I can't even keep up with, uh, so
we're going to go really quick.

Uh, fire round, like really
quickly, um, lightning round, sorry.

Um, Marcella Marcella who's uh,
hi, who's a member of borderline.

So you can do like her and support the slash subscribe.

That was by my a plug.

Um, any tips on how to fix remotely?

What was.

Broken in the office, right?

If you just take a dysfunctional team
in the office and you just make it a

home team, they're still dysfunctional.

Um, I think, and then I'm going
to, uh, send it to you, Lauren.

But I think one thing that's
interesting is actually.

It's a great diagnostic tool.

What was broken about your team?

Was it because it was in the
office and the office wasn't

working or is it something else
that, you know, that remains when

you're no longer in the office?

Like, what was it that was broken?

So I, you know, being able to kind
of, uh, change the environment, that's

kind of your variable in the experiment
to kind of understand, uh, better.

What, what is going on?

Um, Lauren, do you have suggestions?

Lauren Razavi: Yeah, I totally agree
with, um, I totally agree with that

with your assessment there, Isabel.

Um, I think maybe the only thing that
I would add is that I truly think

that, um, some companies, uh, Like
not, you cannot fix them essentially.

Like I think that, uh, if you, it
really depends, it depends on the exact

nature of the dysfunction, of course.

But, um, I wouldn't say that, um, a
team that was already dysfunctional

in the office and is sort of trying to
translate exactly what they were doing.

Into a virtual environment.

I don't think there's, there's
going to be a change there.

Um, I do think there's an
opportunity for employees.

Um, and any team member, really
bit to just kind of like step

forward and say, Hey, can we have
some honest conversations about.

Working and what's not working.

And maybe actually the tend to remote
work gives you a bit more of an

ability to diva because it's like
the reason to stop the conversation.

Whereas perhaps a couple of years
ago that wouldn't have been possible

because where is the space to, to
kind of talk about the dysfunction.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah.

And you have a, your sponsor uh,
Metalla from, uh, McKayla, uh, as well.

Um, yeah, suggesting, you know, you
need to understand the diversity of

each of your team members and, uh, yeah.

That's something that maybe you weren't
able to do in the office because there

were too many people around and, uh,
it could get awkward, but you can

actually have a lot more one-on-one
conversations and understand kind

of where everybody's coming from.

Um, when you do that, when you do that
remotely, and again, if you're in the

same city, you can just go out for coffee.

But if you're not, um, you know, you
can do that via zoom and whatnot.

I mean, we do, we do everything on Cigna.

Now we do therapy on zoom.

We certainly can do, uh, you
know, one-on-one with a manager.

Uh, in fact, uh, that's I did for a long
time, I'm going to take a couple more

questions, send your final questions.

And I'm realizing we're already a
half an hour, but there's so much

good stuff here that I'm happy to
continue unless you need to run.

Um, Lauren.

All right.

Let's, let's take a little bit more time.

Um, I like this cache this question
from a Manuel because, uh, how can I

present myself as a credible person?

If I'm to work from
Ghana for someone abroad?

Uh, I mean, your being from
Ghana doesn't make you any less

credible than a, than anyone else.

I mean, the beauty of remote
distributed work is, um, is that

you can do it from anywhere now.

The challenges.

Find, um, is like, even if some companies
are increasingly either open to remote

work, but they still want to hire, um,
in a country where they have a legal

structure where they have an office
where they have, uh, where they're

incorporated, uh, you know, for tax
reason for, uh, social insurance, social

benefits, everything kind of reason.

So that's, that might be the challenge.

I know Lauren, you were telling me
the other day about some interesting

innovations that are happening in that.

Lauren Razavi: Yeah, sorry, I'll try
and keep it brief, but essentially that

a lot of new startups popping up at the
moment, um, which are targeting companies

that want to recruit people from overseas
and helping them make sure that they are

contracting with people as freelances
in a completely like compliant way.

So this like intermediary platform,
uh, for an example, I think one that

I've come across is, is Hey portal.

Dot IO, H E Y

Um, that's just one example.

There are many of them now, but
essentially these, uh, these companies

are popping up so that they are able
to, um, sort of be the intermediary

step between people like Emmanuelle
and perhaps like a European or an

American company, um, who wants to be
able to work with him, but actually

don't want to set up a local office.

Um, this kind of stuff basically makes
it so that a company can sort of run

a global payroll, um, of freelances,
um, and be able to kind of like, uh,

comply with all of the local regulations
in whichever country somebody is in.

Um, one thing I would say just a really
practical level is, um, be really,

really careful with American job
applications in particular, because

a lot of them ask you for that.

Lots and lots of information,
lots and lots of time and energy.

Um, and then don't even stay anywhere,
but that only open to like us citizens.

Um, I've actually been caught
out with that, uh, with, uh,

the media organization before.

So I always want to like
warn people against it.

Like, there's nothing wrong with
like getting on the phone or sending

an email to just try and clarify
before you send it an application.

Isabelle Roughol: Yeah.

I, I had a friend who like just
kind of went through the whole

process and was like, Hey, by the
way, I don't have to FISA that.

You're going to need, like,
are you going to sponsor me?

I went through the whole process
and like, at the very end, they were

like, oh, we can't make this work.

You know, legally, um, and often
that's because the hiring managers,

you know, they want who they want
for their team, for their project.

They seek your skills are amazing.

They have no idea how immigration works.

If they're not immigrants themselves,
they've never encountered it.

They have no idea how complex
and restrictive it is.

Um, the way that we understand.

Um, and so they just want to go
for what they want to go for in

like the very end of the process
when HR is drawing up the paper.

So like, Nevermind.

Um, so yeah, pick up the phone cause
you don't want to waste your time.

Like your time is precious.

Your job searching time is precious.

If anyone thinks you're not
credible coming from Ghana.

Oh my God.

You do not want to work for them.

Like that sounds dreadful.

Um, all right.

I'm going to like go through will quick.

This is a great comment, which
is too long for the screen, but

check out the common stream.

Cause there's some great stuff coming up.

I'm just.

Pull out the questions.

Um, there's a question.

I see a question, mark.

I bring it up.

Um, how are people managing
their teams back to the office?

That's the whole point.

We don't want them back to the office.

Do we.

Lauren Razavi: Yeah.

And so the second part of the
question they investing in remote

software with COVID and mine too.

So I do think that a lot of companies
have sort of already made that shift

in terms of like, if your company
didn't have a zoom subscription

in March 20, 20, or April.


They probably got one.

I think we're going to see a
lot of that stuff stick around.

Um, and that does open
up new opportunities.

Even if some people do go back to an
office to work in new ways to work

with a broader kind of cross section
of people, um, perhaps globally.

But yeah, I think that, um, in my view,
like, uh, getting the teams back to

the office, I literally trying to go
back to what things were like in 2019.

Um, doesn't make a lot of business sense.

Like it's probably not going to
get the best out of your teams.

Um, it's probably not like the best
approach if you want to kind of retain

your talented workers and make sure
that they're happy and make sure that

you are competitive in this new realm.

Isabelle Roughol: One.

Um, solution that we haven't really
talked about all that much is hybrid.


So you're partly back in the office.

Partly not, I don't know.

I'm a little skeptical on that because
if it's another, um, the company, was it,

um, some big tech Silicon valley company
and it was like, oh, you know, people are

going to come back on Monday, Tuesday.

So state I'm like, how is that any
more flexible, you know, you're

still putting a kind of a rigid
structure in place that does.

Take into account people's, you know,
kind of personal, um, situation.

So yeah, you have to be in the office
less, but you're still restricted

in a way that a lot of people are
just not really willing to do.

Like, we don't have the whistle
at the top of the factory telling

us when to come in anymore.

Like that's, that's.

Lauren Razavi: Yeah, I think, um, it,
it sort of opens the, uh, opens the door

for that to be quite a big problem in
terms of presenteeism as well, because

if you're working two or three days a
week at the office, um, then, uh, you may

well find that the managers who really
wanted you to come back to the office are

actually quite insistent that you are.

Staying until you've finished
your work on those days.

Like I'm, I'm hearing kind of
stories from, from different

friends around the world.

It's kind of being told they need to
work from the office for two days a week.

And that ends up being two
12 hour days in the office.

And then the rest of the time, a sort
of normal working day from home and

that, but is hybrid failure like that.

The polar opposite of what a successful
hybrid work model looks like.

Um, and yeah, I think it's really
important that, uh, employees,

that team members are in fact, like
holding their companies to account

on that because, uh, it is going to
just kind of breed a toxic culture.

It's going to make it much, much worse
human experience to work for that company.

And even if you decide that you're
going, if you're not going to stand

for it, I think we all kind of have
this obligation to educate patients.

On what it is that we want as
individual humans right now.

Um, and there's definitely an
opportunity for that, uh, on companies

that are misstepping, uh, in terms
of that, that return to the office.

Isabelle Roughol: Mm.

And that's true too, when you're working
from home or you're working from.

Uh, you know, coworking space,
whatever, but especially if you're

working from home, which is, did they
stretches and stretches because you

know, you wake up you're right at
your computer, you know, you don't

really have that commute, whatever.

So, uh, and, and it's easy to just.

Not have that disconnect from
work to home because often that's

literally like sitting on a different
side of a couch or something like,

um, so, so it is definitely, you
know, something to keep in mind.

I think we're all still, you know, both
managers and police self-employed as well.

Uh, that's certainly my
experience at the moment.

Well, you know, we're all kind
of figuring out what the, where

the, where the boundaries are.

I like the idea that I know something
you talk about a lot at like, you

know, forget work-life balance is
more about like harmony and how did

it to kind of kind of fit together.

But that's often used as an
excuse to just be like, oh, sure.

I can work at 11:00 PM because, you
know, I took a break at 2:00 PM to

pick up my kids or go to the gym.

Like, it's not kind of
where, um, I want to go.

I realize we're we're at 40 minutes.

I think we're going to close it for today.

Anything else that you want to.

Touch on Lauren.

Lauren Razavi: I think I just want to
respond to, um, Mikhail's question,

which is how many hours a week will
be ideal in the hybrid workspace.

Um, because it's actually a really
important point about distributed

work is that, uh, we should stop
thinking about work in terms of time.

And instead think about output.

So what, are the goals that you need
to achieve and how quickly, not how

many hours are you going to work?

How many hours you work is an input and
what you actually get done is the output.

Um, and a lot of asynchronous.

Um, communicators.

A lot of distributed companies, um,
are actually really, really bullish

on, uh, having no interest in, in the
number of hours that you're spending.

I, if you're, if you're being paid
for 40 hours a week, but you're

getting your work done perfectly
and 10, that's fine for them.

And they're not going to argue with it.

Um, I think was just a
kind of useful framing.

The final thing that I'd just like to say
is I'm very bad at self promotion, but I

have a newsletter if you'd like keep in
touch and buddy, uh, you'll find me at.

L Ross that's L a Zed or Z for
the Americans, uh, dot dot com.

Um, that's totally free of charge.

So please feel free to, uh, sign
up and drop me an email sometime

and reply if, uh, if you fancy

Isabelle Roughol: time.


It is a great newsletter.

I read it every week.

Um, so strong recommend.

Um, and to your point, um, one, one kind
of final point I wanted to make as well.

I'm aware that, you know, a lot of the
conversation we're having is around, um,

professional kind of jobs, which can be
more self guided, which, uh, where you

have a little bit more, um, freedom.

Um, then, uh, some of the, um,
more hourly job, which again are

based two things on that one.

I saw that, um, LinkedIn recently,
uh, did some, uh, put out some

research around kind of the fastest
growing remote work, um, in.

The United States, I think it
was, but, but it applies really

everywhere and it's not all, uh,
you know, it's not all professional.

Desk-based, it's, you know, there
there's a lot of other things.

Um, the other, you know, when you
were pointing out, you know, not

doing by the hour, reminded me.

It has been, the system has been, uh,
for decades in Marsay, in the south

of France with, um, waste collection
so that the garbage collectors

are paid, not by the hour, but by.

When is the garbage collected, and
if you can do it and if you can do it

in 10 hours, Why we're just going to
leave you on your truck for another 12.

Like, just so you're,
you've put in the hours.

That's ridiculous.

Now would that, unfortunately in
Marsay that's often meant that

the job has half-assed because
then they could get out early.

So there is that question
of quality control.

Um, but if you fix that, then it's
absolutely, um, something, something

that can be done that just reminded
me of, I'm also terrible at self

promotion, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Um, you, my work

You can find the podcast, which,
uh, just had a great episode.

If I'm a see, saw myself come
out yesterday, uh, which I

loved, there's a newsletter
that you can subscribe to there.

A lot of it is free.

You can support it, uh,
with a paid membership.

Actually, a lot of it is free
and, uh, and, uh, yeah, I

hope you'll, you'll join us.


There's a community of, of global
citizens talking about work and

life and immigration and all
these things that happen in the

spaces between, uh, countries and
cultures, where a lot of us live now.

Including the two of us.

All right.

Well, thanks everyone.

We're gonna sign off.

Um, we'll be back.

We'll be back next week.

Same time.

We're going to keep doing this, um,
uh, throughout the summer, minus a

few weeks where we'll be on holiday,
but, um, we'll, we'll keep talking

about working across borders.

So stay tuned for the day.


Lauren Razavi: feel free, feel
free to get in touch with us.

If there's something in particular
you'd like to hear us talk about,

because I would very happy to do that.


Isabelle Roughol: drop it in the comments.

My email is ISA

Um, you know, get in touch.

Lauren Razavi: Thanks guys.