How Leaders Can Embrace the Best of the Future of Work when Their CO's Aren't w/ Tania Kefs @ Jurnee
Just doing remote isn't good enough. Leaders need to embrace the best practices the future of work has to offer. Even doing it team by team.
Here's the recap...In today's episode, I spoke with Tania Kefs, the CEO & Co-founder of Jurnee. Like me, she's working on building her next company. We wanted to focus the conversation on the individual leaders within the company and what they can do to build better cultures and engagement. Even just within their team. Building amazing company cultures can be done from the bottom up (though not recommended). We dive into the challenges individual leaders have within a remote organization, what are the easy changes to implement within their teams, and more.
First steps in building an amazing remote team culture 🦶
Async, 4-day work weeks, regular IRLs, team fun. There are so many best practices of the leading remote organizations. But leaders working for companies that are just doing remote may not be experiencing all or any of these best practices. They may still be using archaic practices like weekly information sharing sync meetings because that's what they did in the office. Employees are now lucky to listen in via Zoom instead of sitting in a conference room together. So where does a leader that wants better start? Can they effectively and successfully create a micro-culture just within their team? In many cases the answer is yes and here are a few things you can start with.
The first steps to async
Both you and your team may be used to the daily (hopefully not twice daily) standup over Zoom. Where the team shares what they achieved yesterday, planning to do today, and blockers they have. It's also the opportunity for the leader to share feedback, news, and similar. These standups can go async like I do with my teams. But it requires over-communication and creating that habit. For example, a designer shouldn't say today they're working on updating the checkout page on their e-commerce store. Rather giving more detail like redesigning the checkout page to allow users to more easily change quantities, add on products with one click, or something similar. Or as a leader rather than say creating an async training preso, state creating an async training preso to help the team understand what data to share, in what format, and when to best increase transparency and impact within the team.
Next is don't wait for bi-weekly meetings to share feedback or ideas. Many times they are forgotten or can get lost in context. Drop your thoughts into Slack about a test you want the team to try to increase productivity for example and why you're running the test. Or create a video walk-through about some new process or trial. Why you're doing it, what you hope it will achieve, and what expectations from each person on your team. Share that video in Slack and ask for feedback.
Your team needs to spend time together hanging out with no reference to work. Just like they had done eating lunch together or grabbing beers after work. At least once every other week, schedule time into the calendar (30 mins minimum) to organize a team-building fun experience. If you don't have the time or expertise to organize on your own simply search and book a fun event via Jurnee.
It doesn't have to be complex or difficult to launch. You can start with a few get-to-know-you questions during the week or regularly share Gifs. It's all about creating rituals that happen rain or shine. Another great example are short coffee chats (check out Spontaneousli for that). A few mins every so often where two people get together to chit chat about anything.
1:1s or regular check-ins
It's amazing how many teams still don't do these. 1:1s are an absolute must and again something super easy to start. If you focus them on talking about work be sure to include (best to start with) some chit-chat. Ask about weekends, the kids' game, or more details about some trip they spoke about. These meetings must be at least 30 minutes and should be no more than every other week. It's important you spend the time as a leader with everyone on your team. To share information but more importantly to listen and connect deeper.
You can also do what I do and have the work portion of 1:1s where you as a leader are sharing team/company info, giving feedback to work, etc async. Because you're likely just reading through a presentation anyway. So I record these via CloudApp and share them with my team on Monday AM. I give them 2 days to ask questions and share feedback async. Then on Wednesdays, we have 30 minutes of synchronous time. The first item on the agenda is ironing out or closing out any open items from the async. Then we jump to personal development. Finally, just talk about life.
Lead from the front I can't emphasize this one enough. As a leader, you must lead from the front and create the environment of results you want from your team. Your team should take vacation time regularly. At best to spend time with the ones they love, travel to the places they've dreamt of, and similar. At worst, it helps fight off burnout and fatigue. So you need to be the first to book in the calendar the time off. To tell everyone you're taking off. To explain you're unavailable and will not be checking e-mail or Slack during your break. And do it of course. When you do, it encourages your team to do the same.
The same goes for mental health. Whether in Slack, team meetings, or 1:1s share things that are going on in your life. Why you're not sleeping, the stress you're under and how it impacts your day, etc. Again, by doing so you create the psychological safety and environment for your team to do the same. If someone on your team is having a tough day or going through something difficult you want to know about it. You ultimately hope they come to you and tell you the situation or at least (or to start) share 😥 faces in the daily standup Slack poll. Letting you know they're having a tough day.
Scott: 1 - [01:28 - 01:32]
Hey, Tania, how are you today?
Tania - [01:32 - 01:35]
Hi, Scott. Good, good. How are you?
Scott - [01:35 - 01:37]
Good. How's everything in Paris?
Tania - [01:38 - 01:44]
The weather is not as great as we would hope, but that's hoping the next few days it gets better. What about you?
Scott - [01:44 - 02:57]
Yeah, summer's coming along. So hopefully the weather gets better here. It's sunny and hot now every day for the next probably four or five months. So that's yeah, all is well, 30 busy week, which, which is good and happy to end the week, this week with a, with a great conversation and hearing a little bit more about you and your journey and journey's journey and things like that, which is exciting. And some of the episodes I'd like to start off with a non-topical question. And I think probably this one is pretty easy yet. It was obviously in the news this week of Elon Musk saying remote is finished. It's a Tesla and space X. If you're working for me, you're coming back to the office, working at least 40 hours a week in the office. you have obviously lots of both sides. All of us remote people are like, that's just ludicrous. I mean, yes, if you're physically building a rocket or you're physically building a car up, then obviously you can't do that remotely. but for those other roles where you aren't required, there just doesn't make sense to you, but would love to kind of hear your thoughts of what you think about that. And is this going to be a great opportunity for remote companies now steal a lot of the fantastic talent that space X and Tesla?
Tania - [02:57 - 03:25]
Yeah. Maybe you'll be able to get like amazing talents. Like we've seen that with other companies like Apple, for example. I also think that people that work, at space X and other companies from Elon most like, are very specific, and they kind of like, know who they're working for. I don't think that's representative of like what's going on in the world. and it's like one example. So, of course, the CEO is very famous and everybody knows him. So everybody talks about it. I don't think that adds to the reality of like what people are living right now.
Scott - [03:25 - 04:14]
Yeah. And it's an interesting thing the idea of not being able to access talent from, Apple or Tesla or Space X and pre-pandemic. And I'll ask this maybe as a secondary question, pre-pandemic, probably, maybe even like six months before the pandemic started. I started seeing a lot of remote companies popping up. I started meeting the founders, the conversation here that were either coming out of Paris or Berlin. And it was amazed like one after the other, like Paris, Paris, Paris, Berlin, Berlin, Berlin. So I started reaching out to founders and having conversations. And the answer was always the same consistent, no, here in powers here in Berlin. And we have X amount of great developers, UI designers, marketers, so and so forth. We're not curing cancer. We're not getting people to Mars, maybe outside of space X. So we know that we can compete against the Googles and the Facebooks and things like that.
Scott - [04:14 - 04:50]
So we know from day one that we have to be remote first. It's interesting. Now, again, with the trouble that apple with the, at Tesla, like is this now the big opportunity for small startups and powers for Berlin wherever they are right now. Okay, great. You want to get remote, but now you have access to these top talent people that you couldn't get before because as you can see Apple top executives and people are like, I'm not coming back into the office and now you have an access to a super talented pool that you never had before. I'm interested in the kind of your thoughts around that in what movement there, there may be with that.
Tania - [04:50 - 05:33]
Oh yes. I'm a hundred percent. Even a thousand percent. I could not agree more. I mean, I would just personally, when I was hiring, when I was working at Urkel, which was my previous, company, and it was super hard to hire. It was for hard to hire in Paris, but it was also super hard to hire in New York, we had an office and the competition is so high that it's almost impossible, to get the people that you want them to level that you want. And, with this ticket with the journey at the moment, I mean, I would say like 90% of the people that we're able to recruit said that being remote was a key decision, for them to come with us and something that their employer refused to give them. And so it's like not even a question, like a hundred percent that that's going to change the game for a lot of companies.
Scott - [05:33 - 06:03]
Yeah, for sure. And we may actually dive into that question. It seems that these days, like, I want to almost re now remote is no longer kind of like that carrot that you can dangle on saying, oh, okay. Yes, I'm going to take the job because I can work remotely because again, it's becoming a standard, and what companies are now looking at beyond that like four-day work weeks and benefits and other things like that, but we'll kind of hopefully get to that later. but usually, the way we start is by introducing yourself a little bit more and telling us a little about Jurnee's journey.
Tania - [06:03 - 06:50]
Sure. So the for Jurnee came from my experience at the previous company I mentioned, which is Urkel. I was their first employee. I started with only the funders, you know, from the ground up as a generalist and then moving on, into customer success, building the team in Paris and then in New York being a VP and part of the leadership. So that was really interesting to see, okay, how do you build a company? What is hypergrowth? How do you find a product-market fit? What is governance? What are investors? So like a really crushed course into entrepreneurship and building a company. and the thing that came out the most was how do you manage people? How do you keep them motivated and how do you keep them aligned toward the same goal? That's the most valuable thing that you can have as an organization is your people so recruiting, hiring, but how do they work together?
Tania - [06:50 - 07:32]
and that was the hardest. And especially with the distance between Paris and New York offices, like was not always easy for them to communicate and have the same level of information or involvement. and I think that was just like the beginning and now with the pandemic and like the generalization of remote work and how it has become way more mainstream. it is a problem that a lot of companies are facing, and it's not niche anymore. and that's why we journey. We wanted to give them tools to help them, navigate this and be more intentional. And that's why we created a global platform so that you can book events very seamlessly. Because for us, the answer that we had is that if you're not in the same office, you need to find other ways to meet and to interact and have this remineralization.
Tania - [07:32 - 08:11]
So in the office, it's easy. You go to the coffee machine, you have a coffee, you talk about things when you're remote and you do that on a resume, it's not the same. You don't get the same relationship. You don't get the same feeling, but when you have events and you have, you know, areas that are dedicated for it, then people open up and they feel that they can connect whether it's virtual events even, or in-person events. and we wanted to have something that was, you know, people that they knew how to use like tools like for everything, but they don't have tools for that. And it's super important and it's a big budget. So, that's why it mattered to us. And that was something that we wanted to use. and we've seen that companies like in many different countries, started to, you know, come on board and make the most of it.
Scott - [08:11 - 08:59]
Yeah. That's amazing. It's definitely a very much-needed platform. As you said, we can't go into a kitchen and we can't go for beers up to where we can't have those just opportunities to, and so they need to be intentionally created and companies need to say, Hey, we need to have this intention. And it's, yes, it's not just a zoom coffee. It's not just a virtual happy hour or an all-hands. You need to have fun. That's designed specifically to get people engaged and things like that. And I've come across quite a few of these companies. We had Lee the CEO, of confetti a few episodes about this. And I think the biggest unlock, and I said, I'll say the same thing to you is how to make those events, interactions, that's even a word. it's like, if you're doing like a, a chess course or a cooking course or a wine, like again, it's that same methodology of a meeting, right?
Scott - [08:59 - 09:45]
You have one person, okay, this is how you, move the wine around the cup like this, and you smell everything, you taste it. And it's everyone just kind of sitting there on the video call in their own home with their wine or their food or cooking, things like that. And you miss that if it was like in the central office space, where if you're doing a cooking class, you could take the dough and throw it at somebody. You can have like a food fight or you can like, you still miss those. And the big unlock is how you create that interaction within the meeting. And then as a follow-up. but it's yeah, it's something super, super important. And I would love to see, obviously as the product goes, it goes along with the idea I had for this episode. And I think the next few ones are going to be focused on what I like to call version three or the third type of remote company.
Scott - [09:45 - 10:31]
So this is something I brought up at the last episode about the head of remote role. I see that there's kind of three types of remote companies. You have your own companies that have been doing this for a long time, like a buffer, like a lab, like an envision, those companies that doing this since day one long before. Fantastic. You have the second group, they kind of pivoted to remote during the pandemic. And they're the ones who were saying, yes, we believe in this, we're going 110% in right. We're dumping in there. We're jumping into the deep-end of async and four-day work weeks. And no, IRLs all the time. Like, yes. And then you have group number three, which is those ones that pivoted during the pandemic, because either they had to, or they realize that's where the future is going, but they're not yet embracing those best practices.
Scott - [10:31 - 11:20]
They're not yet embracing. Writing is the standard is async of four day work weeks of IRLs of engagements using Jurnee to build intentional opportunities for the team is a company once a month to do a fun thing and as a team to do something like that. So I wanted to kind of focus these sets of conversations over the next couple of episodes on leaders who are sitting, who were very, very future-focused, very I'm all into remote. I'm all into doing the right thing, but you're working for an organization that yet not yet doing the same thing or not yet embracing the best practices. So how that remote leader who wants to do the best for their team can be successful and kind of we'll dive into different areas of engagement, conversations, and feedback and things like that. But I think that's kind of in the direction that I wanted to go with that if that's okay with you.
Tania - [11:20 - 11:21]
Scott - [11:21 - 11:52]
Awesome. So give me the, probably the first question isn't the easiest one-star office is like, what do you feel are some of the biggest challenges for those good leaders that are facing, and they're working for these companies that are just kind of doing remote and especially when it comes down to engagement or team happiness. So again, a company is maybe doing an all-hands or not doing a company-wide fund. Maybe they're thinking about one IRL. They're not really doing much as a company, but as a leader, like, Hey, I need to be doing more. So what do you think the biggest challenges are for these specific leaders?
Tania - [11:52 - 12:37]
Sure. I mean, if your company is not behind, you're helping you. I mean, you're kind of like on your own. So I think that's the first thing is like, okay, how do you get the info? and I think like finding peers in other companies, definitely helps a lot. I mean, you can read a lot of things online and there's a lot of documentation and I mean, podcasts like this one of course. but having someone that is doing it and understand, you know, really interestingly what's happening and whether the challenges like definitely helps a lot. That's true for any role, like when you're dropping into a new role or doing something else, that you haven't done before, I would definitely encourage them to talk to people that have, and if you can, that are doing it well, that definitely helps. and I think, try and learn, one of the first things is to ask your team, like, they're the one that is directly you know, you're doing that for them.
Tania - [12:37 - 13:27]
So what do they want, do they want more engagement? Do they want more communication? Do they want more information tools? Async so understanding what your team wants is like, I think the first step because different teams are not going to want the same things. I mean, a sales team and an engineering team, I don't think are going to have the same rituals, our processes, and that's fine. so I think that that was the first thing. and then I think being very intentional about it and seeing like, it's not just going to happen on its own. It's not, you know, people are not going to have coffee over zoom. If you're not like having a tool or a system they're not going to have like their daily stand-up on slack, the same way that they would have in the office. So I think having the tools in rituals and then having like a try and learn, of course, our method and assessing okay every month, what were the good rituals? What were the ones that are not like, you know, making the cuts, and then going from there,
Tania - [13:27 - 13:29]
I love that point.
Scott - [13:29 - 14:16]
And I want to maybe dig in a little bit deeper to that of, you said a couple of very, very important things, a number one learning and up-skilling, which is crucially important for any remote manager. And I mean, that's how this podcast started in January of last year. I thought to myself, Hey, I've been doing this for, at that 0.8 and a half years. Let me share, just as I want to say a service that the community, let me share what I've done, what worked, what didn't work when I'm thinking about bringing on people like yourself, who've also been doing it for a while and building tools to make it more successful, just to give the knowledge out there, because there isn't so much in the ways of upscaling remote managers or having, I mean, there's lots of stuff of what tools to use or how to do no, have the, have the perfect desk set up or things like that, which okay.
Scott - [14:16 - 14:54]
I mean, that's yes, a brand that's important, but there were things that a manager should be thinking about what they can be upscaling. So maybe to kind of like unpack that a little bit more of know, how can remote leaders upscale, and maybe to focus, to be, to maybe better see issues like burnout and maybe lack of engagement, and potentially what tools they can use. Cause I think these are some of the biggest things, obviously we've seen are in a remote environment when companies aren't doing this, right. There's a lack of engagement, especially during the pandemic, there is a lot of burnout that's happening. what can, what can a leader do to upscale to be able to better see these things, and potentially what tools can they use to also better see these things?
Tania - [14:54 - 15:44]
Sure. I think again, it's different, like based on the teams that you have and then the size of the teams and so on. but I would say over-communicating in remote is probably one of the best things that you can do. and if it's too much, your team will tell you when you can adapt, but under communicating and not understanding which team member is not doing well or have a greater workload than they can, you know, manage or have like personal problems because you don't see them on a day to day or you only see them on a group call. I think that's the first thing that, you know, you should start doing, and having safe spaces for people like to tell you if there's something, you know, happening in their lives. I think one for example, with your team on a very regular, you know, a schedule is super important and even more important than remote because they can't just ask you in a simple way, you know, something that might be bothering them.
Tania - [15:44 - 16:26]
And then there's like a lot of small tools that have been developed that are so super helpful. I know there's like T mood and, you know, a lot of pools that you can have like every day in slack to understand like, okay, how is your team feeling? Why, you know, what's their like morale and so on. and I think ultimately you also see it in the results. so if your team is not like, you know, doing well, the results are not going to be great. so I think having a good barometer, and understanding what the person wants, or would be beneficial, definitely helps. And I think that's also an opportunity. Like we always talk about Ringwood and like, how can we adapt? And it's hard, but it also gives us a lot of opportunity to say, you know, we can be more inclusive, we can be more personalized, and make sure that works for the people that we're working with.
Scott - [16:26 - 16:46]
Yeah. so I'm going to, I'm going to share what I do for my one-on-ones and the tools we use, but maybe I'll let you speak first. the share what, how you, how you're seeing your one-on-ones are formatted, and potentially again, what the polls and things like, what tools you use, like, how are you using, how are you looking at the information to then again, get that bigger picture. So I'll, I'll let you go first.
Tania - [16:46 - 17:23]
Sure. I mean, like for us, for example, as we have like rituals and tools. So like every morning, as we have like a standup cause like we're in the same time zone. So it's fair. I would not say like every morning if we were in different time zones, and then we always have like a question that we ask for engagement. So this morning it was like, if you are an animal, like, what would we be for example? And you can kind of see of like how people are into it. If you know, everything is going well, if not, I just do want to get over with it. So I think that's one thing that has worked really well for us or, you know, or people offering, you know, new questions every day. so it's like really simple things like that, that you can kind of like get a pulse of, okay.
Tania - [17:23 - 18:24]
How is my team doing as a whole? and then we have one one-on-ones, weekly. I know some people do it biweekly, monthly. I think monthly is a bit too long to be honest. I think weekly for us works because we early stage, it goes super fast. There's so much information, you know, that needs to be communicated. and then we try to structure it. Like one is about operational work. Okay. Do you need help? Is there something that, you know, is not clear? do you want to let us know about something that is, you know, a warning on, you know, accounts for ourselves or in our tech, like we're going to finish a project in time or whatever. I think there was one part more about like projects. Like how are you feeling? Do you feel like you're sure, you know, working on things that like you like, and how can you be like, you know, learning new skills. And I think there's a third part that is more about, okay. How are you feeling in your career as a whole? Do you feel that there's a shorter, you know, objective that you do like ties into the long-term goals that you have and how do we make sure that we can adapt? You know, if something comes up at tour three one-on-ones you're like, okay, maybe it's time to reassess and see how we can make a change.
Scott - [18:24 - 19:05]
I like that. I like that. so I'll go into my daily routine. So we also do daily standup through slack using the tool, stand up Lee, please stand up play. I've tried so many were using Friday, but unfortunately, they had to close. So I was quite disappointed with what I had on last season. so one of the things I get is a daily standup, it's usually like the standard, like daily, standup, like, what are you working on today? What's your biggest, a note. So on and so forth. There's one question at the end, which is like an emoji face. Like, how are you feeling today? And I, that's something that I used as a barometer and I always reinforced to my team, like always be honest, like if you're having a crappy day and like you didn't sleep or whatever the scenario is, like put a sad face.
Scott - [19:05 - 19:45]
Like I want you to put a sad face. Cause it's, it's a flag for me. Like I very religiously look at that every day from everyone on my team. And if I see a sad face, that means like, "Hey, I need to reach out to this person now just to kind of see what's going on." Or if they put kind of like a neutral face for like three, three or four days in a row, that's like, for me, it's another flag of, okay, like they're just okay for a few days, like what's going on. It makes me take that intentional opportunity to reach out to them. and, and kind of see what's going on for, for the one-on-one. I do them biweekly and I do kind of a split the work portion. I do it asynchronously. So I'll create a Google slide either going through their data points.
Scott - [19:45 - 20:23]
And depending on my team, they may share something with me ahead of time as well. I'll kind of again, go through that Google slide over, over a video. I'll send it to them on a Monday. We can say, you know, you have two days to listen to this, watch this, just read the document, ask any questions, any kind of questions, feedback. It can be done asynchronously. And then on Wednesday, we have a synchronous time that's set up for more call it relationship building, where it's just kind of having conversations. How are how's everything going? they also get a standardly bi-weekly, which asks them, what were those kinds of big questions of no. Are you enjoying what you're doing? is this aligning with your goals and where do you want to be going? And what training could you be doing? Lots of the Wednesday.
Scott - [20:23 - 21:27]
It's very focused on personal development. so every one of my team has 30 minutes every day logged into our calendar for personal development time, where they could do courses, training, whatever they are kind of long, excuse me for a long-term kind of career. And might've been much focused on, okay, are you able to do that? Are you able to take the time? Like how can I help you? How can I help you reach the goals that you wanted to reach? but I definitely find that again, I'm not a fan, of meetings at all. but for synchronous meetings, again, I've sat in too many of those where you just, somebody reads word for word through like the presentation. You're like, God, like, can you just send this to me? I'm like, I would have read it since your questions. So I myself just try to say, Hey, listen to it on your own time and your own speed. And again, let's take this time, this face-to-face time for relationship building. At least for me, I feel that again, that's the more valuable time of more valuable impact of spending that time together. but I, I like to kind of hear the didn't know quite, quite in line, kind of the next question, you kind of touched on it with like the one-on-one. So, you know, how often, and like, what do you feel is the best format for leaders to build deeper connections with their team?
Tania - [21:27 - 22:09]
Sure. I'll relate that question because I think for there is like, it's more like, you know, you have to ask for a team, you have to see, but for this one, I feel like I have like a more straightforward answer that almost anyone can apply. I think there's like different things that you can do. And it's like not the same involvement or the same resources that you should apply. But I think once a quarter I'm going to start with like the longest, there should be something important that is being organized. It should be the end of the quarter. It should be a celebration. It should be, or something to really motivate your teams. But it should be something that, you know, sets things a bit apart that takes people out of their work out of their day-to-day, because you need that element of newness.
Tania - [22:09 - 22:50]
I don't know if that's a word you need to have that once a quarter, otherwise, you get bored it's routine it's day to day. So I think this is where leaders would invest. I mean, of course, I'm biased because like, that's also like what we do with journey, but like we've noticed that this was super important and that's like why we wanted to answer that pain. I think in addition to that, and especially if you're remote, you need to also smaller engagement as a team, probably on a monthly basis. and there's like a lot of tools that you can do a lot of games that are free or very cheap. like we did scribble, for example, like for us, like it's super fun. you can like set it up, like it's, you know, half an hour or an hour, but just like you chill, you laugh and you need that at least once a month.
Tania - [22:50 - 23:53]
I feel like that's the very minimum I can do it twice a month. That's better. But then every team has the time. and then you probably need something on a weekly, even daily basis, if you can. That's like very light, very small that we mentioned a poll on, like, how are you feeling? one-on-one the question that you can ask your team. and you should be super diligent in those rituals because people need that structure. And I think that it's super important in remote because you can just say like in the office, like, okay, the team is feeling a little, like we'll go to a restaurant, you know, no, that's not how it happens. Like you need to have everybody's schedule, you need to understand what you can do. And, people like want to be prepared. They want to know in advance, what's going on and you can like make them involved. and I think that's super important. That's the importance of remote work thinking as them. Okay. What do you want to do? What is the engagement that would work? there's someone who wants to take a delete on that and actually like it in between the engagements, like them, there is also engagement and that's the beauty of it. So it's continuous, and I think that's like the secret of having a team that, you know, fits well and have good relationships.
Scott - [23:53 - 24:35]
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. as a company, once a quarter has to do something again, fun. Yes. Maybe linked to two quarter-end or quarter starts. There's a little bit of work fixed in there, but again, much more of, it's no focus on the team building, which I have those conversations around. IRLs no one, the company actually gets together, whether it's once a year, twice a year, how often it is like, that's, there's almost no work that should be done. And maybe the fact that these people don't see each other, they come together once a year at build relate. Like that's just hangout time, have a fun time, like organizing. It has to be organized stuff, but it's very focused, not, not on work, but I love the idea of the quarterly for the team. I love the idea in the more often for the smaller team versus the company with my team.
Scott - [24:35 - 25:17]
I do it every other week, I combined my two teams and we do fun. So we do, we play a game, we do a show and tell we do something. And I also used that idea that you've mentioned about ownership. So I kicked off the first one or first two and I said, okay, I want, I want everyone else to own this. So every other time someone else owns the idea of what we're going to do again, to give them ownership, to make sure like they feel their voice is being heard and they get to do the things that they're interested in and also be able to share things that they're interested in and allow their team to get to know them better. And what types of things that they're interested in. and I personally check in with everyone on my team, at least once, probably more, twice a week, even just like through a kind of like slack messages, "Hey, how's it going? ?
Scott - [25:17 - 25:54]
How's your day? How's this, that, and the other. But it was interesting this past week, in one of my one-on-ones that came through like the standard blue feedback, I'm glad to see that people are transparent and it makes me happy to see that. And I wouldn't have people on my team mentioned that she felt like we some it's sometimes, maybe a little bit too asynchronous. and asynchronous is new to everybody in the team. No one's ever experienced it. so I was very much from like day one, like, this is what we're doing. So kind of get used to it. You're gonna love it. And we had last week or the week before we had our team kind of fun and two of the people were out, which is like a third of the, of the, of the team combined team.
Scott - [25:54 - 26:31]
So I said, no, we're going to cancel this week because like a third of the team is in there. We're going to go the next week. And in the feedback she gave us, like, I was disappointed like disappointed that we missed out on the team to kind of coming together, having a good time spending that time together. And I said, damn, you know what? You're right. And like, you're actually right. I said, okay, never again. Am I gonna make that mistake? Like if people aren't there, people aren't there, like the team fund is going to continue for whoever's there. And, they shouldn't be penalized for losing. Like I felt on the other side and like, oh, I don't want to penalize people for missing out on the fund who aren't there, but I'm more pedal. I was, I penalize more than people who were there just said not again.
Scott - [26:31 - 27:38]
And I thought, okay, that was a great one thing. That's like, once every two weeks we need to do something more frequently. So I kind of threw a message into the team channel. I'm like, okay, what other ideas, what could be doing maybe like an hour co-working session or like a coffee thing once a week, or just looking for those opportunities to at least do again, like you said, once a week. So at least once a week, everyone's together on a call talking about whatever. No. So it could be about work could not be about work, but again, those opportunities are so, so important to get everyone together. So I absolutely love the, you know, what you said, for kind of bring in again, diving in that, that idea of the, I think micro-culture. So again, the leader who's with an organization that isn't, again, embracing everything, what do you feel is what can good leaders do to create and foster that culture within their team? So I think we've spoken about best practices that a remote organization could do as a whole. but for like the specific team again, who they don't have the same support maybe internally, like what could they do to kind of better foster that micro-culture within their team and how do they kind of expand that out to other teams?
Tania - [27:38 - 28:30]
Sure. I think it's really hard for managers in remotes, especially if they don't have the resources, I mean, it's hard if you do have the resources. So if you don't like it, if it's even harder, I think it's really about what is your team culture? Cause it's like, we, didn't a big organization. You're going to have equal cultures, as you say. So understanding yours, what's important to them. And there are things that are universal. Like people, they want a deep connection. they want to feel heard. they want to feel motivated. So this is things that like you can take kind of like as granted and say like, if we're not doing that well, there's a problem. And then there are things that are going to be very specific to your team. in terms of like the way that they want to interact, some people are gonna say, we want more synchronous and some people are gonna say, well, we want more as synchronous because actually I do my best work at night and you know, or something like that, or I'm traveling and I still want to be involved and this is going to be very different.
Tania - [28:30 - 28:53]
so I think it's really about the rituals and making sure that those rituals are being adapted or being, you know, taught, and that you can have it with other teams. So, you know, if you're in engineering, maybe you're close to product or you're close to design. if you're in sales, maybe you're close to customer success and so on and having that engagement or having those, you know, the coffee dates and things like that. Those are the things that really helps.
Scott - [28:53 - 29:45]
For the leader, we'll kind of take the first step here and then we'll go into different topics. But for like that first step we're getting leader said, okay, I want to improve the culture here just within my team. You feel like if there's something specific that they could focus on, like the easiest first step, like maybe doing the team engagements, like doingthe team fun and the games or something, or maybe going async again, the meetings now on team meetings. And one-on-ones, let's say the work portion is going to be async-like, what do you think would be like maybe a first good step? Or do you think there could be multiple things that are easy enough to do because they probably can't get like a whole IRL that may not be able to get approval, to get a budget, just to get their team together, or to be able to hire globally where maybe a company is hiring within the specific region, but there are probably certain smaller things that a leader can do within their specific team? What do you think would be maybe the easy wins?
Tania - [29:45 - 30:28]
Yeah, sure. I mean, I think there are definitely two things. There's like one on like a personal level. So like you do definitely have one-on-ones if you're not having them, you can like have a synchronous for work as very doing. I think that's like super cool. I know there are lots of tools I clap and loom and you know, that can help you do it. but I think there should be something synchronous. Like you can't have an asynchronous conversation and have this human element to it. Like, I mean, it's really hard. so you usually have like those moments that are personal, which a team as a manager, you should have at least 30 minutes once every couple of weeks where you can talk and see how everything is going. So I think that was the first one. And then having something with your team as well, like as a group, maybe it's just a standup for the week and it's like, you know, we're working on that.
Tania - [30:28 - 31:12]
This was the way, and this was the problem we're working on it. And then you go, I think if you can like a couple that with some form of engagement, I think it's much easier. There are a lot of free things that you can do. but you can also like ask someone to say like talk to us about like a hobby. And like every couple of weeks, like someone said, like, you know, I dunno I'm fascinated by wine or by, you know, soccer or whatever. And I want to talk to you guys about it and they have questions. I think one of the main things is like when you're doing remote like you have to be super intentional as we said, but you have to say, okay, we're going to go around to zoom or hang out, or, you know, whatever tool you're using and everybody's going to give their opinion, what do they like? What didn't I didn't like. and so everybody speaks and everybody gets engaged.
Scott - [31:12 - 31:53]
Yeah. I, that point is actually so, so crucial that I've seen this mistake made so many times and it's kind of guess I'll, I'll pull this question out now. It's like, how do you engage those introverts? Right? You have people who are naturally like me, we're very extroverted and we'll jump on this screen and we'll talk, talk like the entire time. And you have people who are obviously not that way. and I love that what you had mentioned, it's something that I tried to be very specific myself. But again, whether it's in like a meeting, like a standup meeting, or whether it's in one of these journey fund events within, let's say, or a free thing that you do within your game, how do you feel a leader can very much ensure that their introverts are engaged as well?
Tania - [31:53 - 32:37]
Yes. I think that's really one of the hardest parts because you want them to be engaged, but you don't want to force it on them because like you have to be respectful. I think that's a good way, like during the one-on-ones to ask about what type of engagement they're comfortable. but what you've also learned is that introverts are also the ones that, you know, wanted the most because they're, wanting to have that engagement and not being able to participate as easily, for example, like extroverts, but it's as important for them. So finding a way for that to be, more within what they like is really interesting. some of, you know, some of them that we've spoken with, I've seen some of them, some introverts that we've spoken with, have told us that they liked a lot games or engagement that are over multiple days.
Tania - [32:37 - 33:06]
So this is something that they can get used to, you know like it can be like a riddle or a quiz or whatever, and you're like, okay, you have three days to work on it. And so they like, cause like they're getting a desert asking, you know, people like, oh, have you find like that question, I'm working on this. And so it's like a smarter type of engagement. And then you can like at the end have like a meeting and say, okay, what did you find? Whether answers like who on, who has the most points? and I think that's a way smoother type of engagement, but just like one of the ideas that you can use.
Scott - [33:06 - 33:35]
Yeah. That's very interesting. I haven't heard that before, but, yeah, as an extrovert, I guess still, you're always learning new things about the other side, but that sounds very interesting about doing like multi-day thing where you, it's not forced to stop right now. You'd have to be engaged. You have to give yourself an answer and kind of give people time and let them take the opportunity to be engaged as they want. That's quite interesting. so maybe tell me a little bit more about how Jurnee can actually help these leaders engage with their team and build better relationships. Okay.
Tania - [33:35 - 34:20]
Sure. I mean, as we said, like first, like that was like one of the hardest things, so that's why we wanted to build a tool for it. we think that once a quarter is like really the minimum for a team engagement where you get outside of your routine and, you know, think about the relationship that you haven't and so on. And the hardest part for us was like, we knew we were, we had to do it. I mean most companies have the budget for it because they know, and they understand at a very high level, that you need it, but it's just, that the managers are left to it. And it's not because like, you're a good manager who, you know, how to organize a social event. Those are two different skills that have nothing to do with one or the other. and I myself, like I don't like to organize those things and I've made it my company to try to help people do it because I feel the pain so deeply.
Tania - [34:20 - 34:59]
And I was like, I'm running, you know, a department of 40 people in two countries and I need to organize a karaoke. This is ridiculous. Like why, why should I be doing that? You know? and I think that's true. I don't think people like should be spending time on, you know, finding different venues, getting quotes, understanding the payment process, getting that over to finance, making sure that everybody's coming, having to like understand and go back with all the people like who's coming, who's not coming. do you have the right info on like where you need to be? And I was like, this is a full-time job, but like, people don't have the time to do that, but I understood how important it was for the team to have it. and I was like, we have tools for everything. We have like amazing CRMs.
Tania - [34:59 - 35:41]
Like we have like amazing optimization and automation, like on an everyday tool, but we're not applying that to human engagement, which is probably one of the most precious resources that the organization has. and we wanted to make it more modern. So teams are international they're hybrid. and you know, you want to do things in the office. You want to do teams remotely. You want to do things in real life virtual, but you don't want to go to like five different platforms to do it. You want to have one platform, it caters to all your needs. It's, you know, compliance with your organization. It's compliance with your internal in the very same way that for example, Trevor PIR has done it for business travel in an amazing way. we wanted to offer that to companies. and I think that's the real value.
Tania - [35:41 - 36:11]
It was like, how do you make those real hard engagements, much smoother? How do you engage your team and say like, okay, go have a poll? What do you want to do? Are you going to come? What did you think about the activity? What would you like to do next? and we've seen people which was like really great. Like they've done, like, for example, like virtual terrariums. And they've been speaking about it for a month afterward. They're like, oh, how's your terrarium. And they have it in their background. and that's what you want. It's like, how do you create those bonds? in a more seamless way without all the hassle that's associated to it.
Scott - [36:11 - 36:44]
Yeah. so there's a question that I have like three questions now that came out out of that. where should I share? Maybe they'll start with the first one is you've mentioned, obviously, it could be a hybrid model. Some people in the office it'll be, you'll hear somewhere there. Okay. How does a leader organize an event or what's the best way for a hybrid? You have a company let's say a handful of employees in an office, or maybe some cold mixed coworking spaces. People not like, is there a right format? I know I've discussed this in a couple of podcasts. This is something that I think about a lot. Like, is there a right way? Is there a single way that you engage a team that's mixed all over the place?
Tania - [36:44 - 37:20]
I think it's really a hard question. It really depends on where your team is. I mean, like if you have a couple of people, like, I don't know until the veil of Indian Paris, then you have like 10, I don't know. In Sydney, I think that would be hard. Or I don't know if it would be like the best use of resources to get everybody in, you know, real life, all the time. so I think it depends on where you're scattered geographically. I think it depends also like on your team demographic, like, do you have like people that you need to care for? Like, are you free in like in your movements? I think it's super important to be inclusive, in that type of thing. but I think the team should also like tell, you know, what they want.
Tania - [37:20 - 38:18]
and I think that's super important if they say if we would much rather do something virtual, so I'm like fine. Like there are like so many things that you can do. some people will say that we should at least once a year find a way to meet in person. and I think that's like super interesting and like, people, as they have told us, you know, like, we're like, we don't want to force you to like come into a city. And they were like, no, no, please force us. Like we want to, we can take like a few days a year to come and it's really important for us to like have that. so I think it's truly about, there's no one size fits all. It's really about like, what do you feel makes sense? And we've seen customers do that amazingly, like daily motion and AirCall like, you know, they were having like breakfast in the office because it was like St Patrick's day or, you know, you know, all those activities. And they send the boxes to the people that remotely, with care packages. And so they felt that they could share pictures and they felt engaged with the company in a way, very different way. So I think there's a hybrid events also can work. but again, it's a lot about experimenting it and understanding what your team wants.
Scott - [38:18 - 39:09]
Yup. So maybe I'm going to push on that point. I think what you said at the end, depending on what the event is for hybrid, because I think a hybrid is extremely difficult to pull off the right way because there's obviously a night and day difference between the engagement in being physically together and not being physically together. I think the case, you said where it's St Patrick's day and everyone's doing the lunch. So it's something like that. Okay. We have people in the office eating the lunch, people at home and doing the lunch and that, I think that perfectly makes sense, but a lot of these cases, especially at the beginning of the pandemic of the happy hours and I get, this was always like my, this was a use case that I was brought up against hybrid work. I'll be the idea of no use sitting all alone in your dark apartment, by yourself watching no like 30 people in your office at a happy hour in the kitchen and having fun and laughing and you're sitting there all alone at home.
Scott - [39:09 - 40:12]
I'm like, that's just absolutely the worst. and it is just impossible to engage those. And so whether you do everything virtually and I still see companies make this mistake that unlike all hands or what have you'll have everyone there are zoom boxes, but the people in the office to all be in the same conference room and I keep hammering people like that just can't be like everyone has to be equal. Everyone has to have the same real estate. Like you can't have a group of five, six people altogether in a room that are hanging out together on one single camera versus everybody else. I guess I'm, I'm not much of a believer in hybrid, but, so maybe kind of maybe two last questions I have for you. It's the first one. I think you've hit on both of them. And this one, I started off the conversation at the beginning. How can teams knit or using journey replicate those interpersonal interactions again, that you, if you were together in the office, no throwing dough at each other or, you know, so forth? So when you're virtual and you're doing those virtual specific events, having a journey helped create those interactions between the people wherever they are in the world on a video call.
Tania - [40:12 - 40:55]
Sure. I think there are lots of different ways. I think it's just, it's what it also does. Doesn't start during the event, it starts before when you're choosing what you want to do and how do you engage? And it starts to after, like, what did you, you know, it doesn't starts continues after. and I think it's like a continuous process overall. and I think that's one of the main Dane that like, people like need to get into their routine to make it super similar. It's like people always need to have something to look forward to. and the human component is one of the most important components at work. So having, okay, what do you want to do voting, talking between people like who wants to take a delete all of that things like, you know, it can take a lot of time, but it's really important that any Tufts full work together and that's going to have a huge impact on other projects.
Tania - [40:55 - 41:36]
so I think that was the first one. I think during the engagement, it has to be active. I really believe that people should be doing something. You cannot just be like relaxing and having a happy hour. It's not the same. it's kind of like, it was the funder of, one of the founders of Evernote that said that it's like, you're trying to replicate what's happening in real life virtually. And it does not happen. It's kind of like you for pointing a camera to like it's going to feel boring because that's not how it should be. It should be different. and cinema is completely different. It's another art. And I think we need to have that as well in your engagement. So for us, and like, what we try to show is like, you have active engagement. So if you want to have everybody on the same zoom call, like then do something, is it a cocktail class?
Tania - [41:36 - 42:34]
Is it deteriorate? Do you want to learn, like to cook something or bake or do you want to taste something or give us her opinion? I think that's really the main, first thing, like go for something active. And then I think like if you're having big teams, you should mix that with like smaller engagement between teams. So like you can have like escape games where like you're in teams of like three to five and actually you're doing something together. You're trying to solve a mystery. You have a competition with the other teams and you can actually do that at a big company level. Like we've had like companies of hundreds of people. I do escape games and like super into it because like they want to win and they want to be heard and be known. And, and that's really cool. So I think having a mix of like those types of engagements, where like you have to interact in a way that like you feel comfortable with, really makes a difference. And I think that's why it's hard. Like not to go-to tools that are not like similar to us is that having that engagement all on your own and like it's possible, but it's just like, the step is so high.
Scott - [42:34 - 43:12]
Yeah. so the last question I have is kind of telling off that. So in, let's say you have an event which is less interactive, maybe it's like a chess learn how to play chess. So where it's maybe again, you mean level, say like a wine tasting where it's really okay. You're sitting at home and maybe smelling wine and twirling a wine and things like that. Or it could be creating something physical. How can teams have some interaction? So it may not be necessarily in the call, but like, how do you take the event that you did maybe afterward build on interaction and engagement from that event that's now kind of, again, was just like a chess master or something like that.
Tania - [43:12 - 44:13]
Sure. I think there are things that you can do even during the events. And I think that certain hosts are really amazing and doing this as saying like, just like every five or 10 minutes. Okay. What did you like, what did you think? Do you have a question? if you had to do something, what would you do? And I feel like this really helps people to get engaged in having those spaces. And again, you have to be intentional. So if you're not asking the question and you're not saying like, okay, who wants to speak and say, you know, something it's really hard. I think tools have integrated that really well, whether it's zoom or things like that, that you can have polls. You can have like a chat where people like are interacting at the same time. Like the chat boxes or virtual events are usually packed. And this is a very good sign that the event is going well. because you can have like those two diffTaniaerent things. but I think there are a lot of things that can happen outside. Like people share pictures of like what they have done or receiving packages, or they're saying like, oh, like we're, you know, having a bottle of the wine that we tested because we liked it a lot. And so actually, because something that's part of the culture, and that people like to do.
Scott - [44:13 - 44:56]
Yeah. I love the point about the pictures. And I think that's something that I had learned, is a great opportunity where maybe you create something physical and maybe you do a contest afterward. Okay. Everyone submitted a photo and then you do a contest between the company and everybody has a chance to vote. So you add that again, you're sitting and maybe make an origami, whatever, and then, okay. Maybe not so interactive during the actual event, but then be able to have those interactions of, okay, let's do a poll, let's say the best created one, the worst created one, the most creative and like be able to kind of have that fun and interaction off of like, that opportunity is a great way to add interaction into events. even that may not have so much interaction during the event. yeah.
Tania - [44:56 - 44:59]
Pictures work. A lot of people really love that.
Scott - [44:59 - 45:04]
Yep. any questions, or thoughts for me before we wrap up?
Tania - [45:04 - 45:19]
Sure. I mean, I think like more, on like, having, like seen so many people that come on your podcast, like, what do you feel? Or maybe like the number one or number two, like big things of like, you would give us pieces of advice, for those managers trying to engage your team.
Scott - [45:19 - 46:01]
Yep. I think the number one thing is the single word that has come up more often than anything else across however many 30, 40-something episodes is Intentionality is king. as you've spoken about very, very well, and it's like things that aren't going to happen on their own. You can't just go to lunch, sit together in the, in a, in a kitchen having lunch. So everything, whether it's engagement, whether it's like the check-ins, whether it's the one-on-one, whether it's onboarding, mentoring, whatever it has to be intentional. And it has to be understood that now that you're in a remote environment, it doesn't work the same way it did when you were in an office. Now you need to recreate that experience. So again, when you could, everyone in the office could get up and go to coffee together, you can't do that.
Scott - [46:01 - 46:49]
So you understand those little micro interactions, those little coffee breaks were extremely important and valuable to me that I build a team. How do we recreate that? And how do you bring in a tool or how do you bring in a process and be very intentional? And let's say, okay, once a day, for 10 minutes, we're going to do a group coffee thing, or we're going to pair people up together, or, you know, use my side projects are to plug it in here to use kind of like that opportunity for a coffee break or on the one-on-one meetings. Okay. Had you intentionally gotten that person to give feedback or how do you do things? So I think that's the number one thing. number two, I'd probably say it's creating that environment of transparency and feedback were especially good leaders, like we're always trying to improve and wanting, making it to be comfortable for everyone to share.
Scott - [46:49 - 47:28]
So I think it's known as a leader, you need to lead from the front and whether that's vacation, right? One of the big questions around startups, is unlimited vacation, is it good? Is it bad? It's good because everyone knows that they have the opportunity to take the time off they'd need period, stop. Most people don't take the time off. So you really need like the leader of the say I'm taking this continuous week off or two weeks off, I'm deleting slack. You can't get ahold of me. If you need to get ahold of somebody to go to this one, maybe create a document that says, here's how to do my job in this case, go here in this case, look there. and very being very intentional, the same thing with mental health, I've tried to share like, here are the struggles that I've been going on. And here's like, I've been having a tough day with like my kids, right.
Scott - [47:28 - 48:08]
I didn't sleep. And when you're very upfront and you as a leader, transparent, you create that environment that makes everyone else comfortable say, ah, okay, now I'm having a tough day. Or, you know, my, my baby was up all last night. I'm really tired. And I don't know how productive I'm going to be. Maybe I could start later in the day. so I think that that would be like, the second thing is really creating that environment of transparency. And then when you get that feedback, doing something with it, I think that's the most important part of feedback is what you actually do with it and being transparent with that. It's not, Hey Scott, maybe like the example that I used before, Hey Scott, I think maybe we might do sometimes, maybe to async. I don't think we're spending enough time together. It's not like, okay, I heard you we'll change it.
Scott - [48:08 - 48:40]
Okay. Here's the action plan. And I, I'm going to put a message in the team channel, grab our ideas together, and then we're going to implement one of them. and having, I think those are the two biggest things. I think that any person who is now leading a team remotely, maybe still be struggling, be very intentional and be very forceful in a nice way of creating an environment of transparency and being honest and leading from the front end, when you get that feedback, making sure that action is taking on it and people know what that action and what the timelines and things are. That's a great question.
Tania - [48:40 - 48:50]
Awesome. And maybe a fun one, like what's the worst piece of advice that you've heard that, you know, people like have given like to remote leaders?
Scott - [48:50 - 49:35]
That's a good question. I don't know if it's, I'd say maybe somebody, I don't know if the advice that's given. I think it's just probably worst practices. I think there are some, the biggest one is trust, right? The single foundation of remote work is trust. Right? You have to have trust in your employer and everything else comes after that in a four-day work week. No schedules ASC. Nope. But when companies are trying to, okay, I need to check-in and give me a morning. Check-in give me an afternoon. Check-in what are you doing here? What are you doing? They're singing like that. That's just the worst. and it was, I mean, I could understand why people were doing it because in the office like you saw somebody doing this all day long, right? They're on YouTube or Facebook all day long doing this. But again, it was a perceived, they were doing something.
Scott - [49:35 - 50:16]
And now when you couldn't have that perceive this, they kind of replicated that. Or they replaced that with, okay, give me, let's have a morning zoom and an evening zoom. And they're like a check-in here. And a pulse survey to let me know that you're doing work. It's like, no, no, like make it very clear what they need to do. And when they to do it by and let them run with it, if they do what they need to do by, they do it fantastic Dani, if they don't do it. Okay. Then there's the opportunity to kind of dig in, that, and I think anything around hybrid, I'm very much against, outside of the idea of hybrid being where you certainly replaced the central headquarters for maybe more micro spaces. And it becomes a benefit like unlimited vacation, there's a space or a bunch of spaces or a tool use it.
Scott - [50:16 - 51:13]
If you want to use it, how you want to use it, why you want to use it because you want to use it. And if you don't, when you use it, that's great too. versus, okay, everyone's got to come back or three days a week or two days a week. I think those are obviously the words and we can clearly see that they're not optically working. so it's, it's funny in every one of these episodes, I always hope there's going to be a debate. Right? So Mickey like juicy made the episode, like no real, but everyone, every one of us has been doing this for a while. Every one of us all in the same land, and we're all on the same page. I apologize for the drilling noise behind. everyone's literally on the same page. So as much as I try, even though the last episode with like the head of remote is the beginning, the guy was like, I think we're going to have some conflict here, but the end, like we were perfectly in sync of exactly what, how and why you're doing these things in a remote environment. But, yeah. So for any listeners who are listening and are interested in getting ahold of you, learning more about you and your journey, what's the best way to all the details about, learning a little bit more,
Tania - [51:17 - 51:28]
well directly on LinkedIn, I think that's the easiest way. I think we're pretty active there. so in my inbox, I try to answer everyone as much as possible. and otherwise, like our website, we have chat. we're super accessible. So please come and say hi.
Scott - [51:28 - 52:09]
Awesome. So we'll definitely put all those links in the show notes and Tania, thank you so much for the opportunity, to chat today and to learn more about how you've been leading remote teams, even for the pandemic and with previous companies as well. And, the fantastic tool that you're building to help other remote leaders and remote companies build engagement and build fun because my, my name and my last thing it's like, that's the big thing is people think, okay, IRL, let's get the team together once a year. That's going to do it. Or what do you do in between that? Right? Just in time in between, those are, is probably more important or as important as it time did you get in real life. so thank you so much for building that. Thank you so much for joining. and until the next episode, everybody have a great day.