Mobilizing the Talent Continuum

When it comes to work, the future is now. Along with the sudden, widespread shift to remote teams and a growing reliance on contract workers in fields ranging from transportation to design to healthcare, the nature of work today is increasingly dynamic, distributed, flexible, and digital-first. Relying on the extended workforce is more than a short-term, stop-gap solution: businesses are finding this population to be an efficient, viable source of talent instrumental to their core operations.

Yet the complexities of managing a so-called blended workforce can hinder an organization’s ability to embrace the change. Which is why Utmost developed the first ever extended workforce system (EWS) to help enterprises source, engage, pay, and optimize their entire non-employee workforce, including freelancers, consultants, service-based projects, etc. The company, which was founded in late 2018 by former Workday and Groupon executives, has been a distributed organization from the start and has a unique vantage into the fast-changing nature of work.

On the latest episode of Greymatter, Utmost COO and co-founder Dan Beck sat down with Greylock partner Saam Motamedi to discuss the evolving business climate, best practices for remote teams, and his predictions for the future of work. This episode is part of Greylock’s #WorkFromAnywhere podcast series. You can listen to the podcast here.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Saam Motamedi: I’m excited to be here with Dan Beck from Utmost. Dan, I’ve been looking very forward to this conversation for two reasons. One: it’s been a privilege to be partnered with you and the team since late 2018. You folks have been running the company distributed from the start, so I’m keen to ask you about that. Second: I’m keen for folks to learn more about what Utmost is building, as well as your perspectives on the future of work given the vantage point Utmost has as the new system of record that enables the extended workforce.

But let’s first start with Utmost as a company and how you folks run internally.

Dan Beck: Thank you Saam, great to be here. So, Utmost is in the business of building enterprise solutions for non-employee labor. Think of these people as contingent workers – the contractors and gig workers as well as service-based contracts, business processes, and other outsourced relationships. Essentially, this is all of the non-employees who are doing work for the business.

We’ve been at this for two years. I’ve already seen a massive increase in the amount of sophisticated questions being asked and answered around total workforce planning and ultimate strategic workforce optimization that is inclusive of employees and non-employees. If you back up even a few short years, the whole industry for non-employees was just about a rate card (i.e., give me a better rate for this job code). Now, we think there is actually a talent-forward view of this and it is going to be the way companies think about their workforce in the future.

This is why we started the company. After 10 years at Workday running their technology products group, we started seeing that companies had a pretty good handle on their employee population, but no idea about their non-employee population.And we said, “Why is that? It can’t be so complicated to get a handle on the non-employees.” But it was, and it usually itame down to a combination of terrible software silo data and all of the other usual things that can get your entrepreneurial juices going. We also saw this interesting mix of how non-employed labor/extended workers usually get connected to enterprise via a staffing engineer. So we put these tools together to help get the right strategic workforce mix so they could prosecute their business.

As a team, we’ve been distributed from the start. I’m here in California (our headquarters are in San Francisco) and my two co-founders are Irish and based in Dublin, Ireland. We’ve run our entire engineering and design efforts out of Ireland from the get go.

Saam: Why did you start Utmost in a distributed way?

Dan: It was really by nature of our founding team. My two co-founders (Annrai O’Toole and Paddy Benson) are in Dublin. I knew Annrai from my days at Workday, and at some point you go from colleagues to friends as you work together for 10 years. And so by necessity we said we were going to be distributed from the start. Paddy runs our engineering functions, so we knew we were going to build our engineering team in Ireland and then have more of the go-to-market functions here.

I think being distributed from the start, mainly between San Francisco and Dublin, helped us have good best practices from the get-go. Some of the things that we did as a distributed team from day one are now quite common. But it started with obvious things such as good use of collaboration tools and writing everything down. It takes good discipline and shows the right level of commitment to the team. That’s sort of obvious, but a lot of times those water cooler-type chats wouldn’t be captured anywhere, so we really took extra efforts. We also never treated our office or network as trusted – in other words, we never had the equipment in offices that made it the default location. We always had multi-factor authentication to every service we were using, and I think that helped us. As we brought on new team members (and certainly as we got into Covid) it was pretty self-evident that we were prepared for this distributed nature, with aggressive use of SaaS services and collaboration tools. But both our network and our physical facilities were never treated any different than sitting at home or sitting in a coffee shop.

Saam: Yeah, that’s really interesting. One of the things I hear a lot from founders and startup builders who have transitioned from an in-office culture to a more distributed culture over the last few months is that they miss the serendipity of the office. You mentioned the water cooler, where those more serendipitous interactions that build trust and connection between teammates happen. I’m curious if you folks have used any interesting tools or operational practices to continue to generate that serendipity across the team.

Dan: Yeah, we do. We thought about this a lot both because we were distributed from the get go, and then when Covid hit and we shut down our physical offices, ironically, it seemed that the team in California and the U.S. writ large was almost more used to being remote and being distributed than the team in Ireland. Two-thirds of our team is in Ireland, so suddenly our core team got a dose of needing to be fully remote. And so I found that while we were quite good with the distributed collaboration, we got more committed to it.

[To recreate serendipity] we’ve done things like the virtual happy hours and we have a “Fun Team”. That sounds a little bit like your company might be too serious when you create something called the Fun Team. But no kidding, we have virtual happy hours with a fun team assigned for games and ways to bring people out of their shells. Because now suddenly you have a team of software engineers and designers and product leaders – who may be teams that are a little bit introverted to start – and now they are thrust into a remote situation.

One of the things we play with is called Drawful, one of these online drawing tools that are pretty lightweight. They’re purposely flippant and fun (from a business productivity perspective). We’ve shifted to pretty heavy use of products like Mural for virtual white boarding and collaboration, and that’s widespread now (We’ll use products like Figaroa for our design efforts, but then we’ll wrap it with more aggressive products like Mural). We are also following all the regulations and getting ready to have go-back-to-work plans, but those keep getting pushed out. So right now it’s an interesting dynamic of trying to set expectations, but then being ready to get back in person if and when that’s appropriate.

Saam: That makes sense. One more thing I’m curious about as far as working as a distributed team: you mentioned written documentation. When you work in a distributed way, these constraints are actually forcing functions that encourage teams to write more, document more, and communicate more clearly. Can you expand on that in two areas: One, are there any resources out there on how to do documentation and communication as a remote team that you think are the best-cost and best-in-class ways? Second, you’ve been doing this for almost two years. What are some of the benefits (that folks who are new to this might not anticipate)that come with being forced to document things so regularly and consistently?

Dan: Yeah, to answer your first question: we’re probably using the kind of tools you’d expect. We’re exploring Coda, we’re heavy users of Google, all the products like Slack et cetera. To answer your second question: the key is to have discipline and structure around writing things down. For example, one of my functions is leading our go-to-market and sales marketing services teams. So I’ll ask the team to author something, even if it’s just a brief written report. Then at the start of the meeting, we’ll all review that so that everyone has a bit of a baseline to their understanding. And it’s not just about having the discipline to write things down, but to also put them in a place people understand. As we develop our pipeline into opportunity, that gets put into a folder in our Google Suite structure, and anything we find related to that also gets placed in there. If you look at our pipeline, we have 35 active opportunities right now, so there are 35 folders under our CRM tool that are labeled as indicative of each of those client opportunities, which is really handy. You also want to have all of this written down and retrievable in situations where, for example, someone says, “Oh, I just had a great discussion about this particular blog,” and I’ll say, “Great, I look forward to reading the notes.” This is really important for newer members of the team, as you can imagine that when the co-founder and COO says something like that, people are like, “Oh right. I should write up those notes and then link to it.” We use HubSpot for that, in this case.

One thing I can share that is very tangible. We just brought on a QA test automation engineer. We’ve been very tight on headcount growth with Covid, but we have selectively brought on new players. We can give them a treasure trove of stuff to read when they onboard, and people can very rapidly get up to speed. It’s compelling.

Saam: Absolutely. I think onboarding speed seems to be a consistent benefit that I hear from other founders who are running companies in similar ways.

Dan: We would all agree it’s the right thing, but we never quite got around to it. And now there’s just so much more of an expectation. It also helps with FOMO. You know, folks don’t want to miss out on this meeting or that client engagement. They don’t want toms out on whatever moment it is that is more client-facing. But they can feel more comfortable if they have to miss it because they know they are going to get a really good digest of what happened. They’ll get all the details of the decisions made and even the little things like who was there. And I’m sure you are seeing a lot of other cool tools that we should avail ourselves to.

Saam: Yeah, you mentioned several that I’m excited about. And I think it comes back to what you said which is that these aren’t new best practices – these are best practices that we’ve known about for a long time, but it’s easy to be lazy when you’re sitting next to your colleagues and you can get away with some of the laziness. So the constraints introduced by this pandemic and the way we’re all working now actually forces us to adopt these best practices consistently. In that sense, there’s a bit of a positive impact as well as on the way we work.

Dan: Yeah. We also find these practices that you’ve optimized for remote meetings and remote teams end up being the practices people want to do anyway, even when they’re in person. Or the outcome of an in-person meeting ends up being posted in a doc where people can find it hidden on a Slack channel. It’s kind of interesting to see that the behaviors are persisting even when we are, in fact, together.

Saam: Yeah, absolutely. Let’s segue from talking about how you folks are working at Utmost to remote work more generally. And one of the things I’m curious for your perspective on, Dan, is as we think about this concept of distributed teams (and this concept becoming more mainstream, with more companies adopting it), is it making different labor pools more accessible to companies? In particular, how does this shift make contingent labor a more viable source of talent for companies?

Dan: Right now we just see an acceleration of the use of contingent workers. And,in a way, we obviously knew that when we started the business. But as we’ve gotten into it the dynamic nature of how it works, what we’re actually getting done continues to astound me. I think Covid will certainly continue to be an accelerant. For example, I’ll tell you the one situation that came up recently that sort of blew my mind. We can see that healthcare delivery networks are composed of vast numbers of volunteers. When I heard this, I was thinking in the context of a volunteer at somewhere like the Palo Alto Medical Center; some nice person sitting at the door who guides you where to go. That kind of volunteer. But no – this was in reference to nurse practitioner volunteers. We are working with one health care center that has 2,000 nurse practitioner volunteers. This is something we learned very recently. They are volunteering to get their clinical hours while simultaneously holding multiple other roles. They are part-time workers at a certain rate, and then they are volunteers in order to get clinical hours as a nurse practitioner. So that means the same individual is on two active engagements with two totally different pay rates, qualification needs, et cetera at the same time. From the employers’ perspective, most of what they are doing is entirely free volunteer work. And it’s not one or two or 10 percent of their workforce – it’s about a quarter of their workforce that fits into that population demographic.

In the insurance business (where we got our first customer), we see that they have tens of thousands of insurance sales agents. But those individuals come together with brokers that recommend multiple insurance products, so it becomes this interesting fusion population of around 1,400 employees made up from 14,000 independent sales agents working with 10,000 brokers. Now, all of that work (which is a traditional business used to doing things in-person) is transitioning into digital methods of selling those products. So the nature of how all this works is changing. Actually getting things done in the real world is already extremely complicated, including outside parties. So the number of people involved is already vast. Contingent workers is just the top-level name for it. We call it the extended enterprise, or extended workforce.

With an eye towards what’s going on with remote work, we see something else. This is a little bit harsh to say, and I want to be thoughtful and sensitive to what’s going on out there for workers. But quite candidly, the CHRs I sit down with will tell me, “Look, we furloughed 5,000 people and we’re only bringing back 500.” Forty-five hundred people are essentially out of a job, but the work still has to get done. They just might need to be in a different employment relationship. We see stats from well-regarded analysts like Gartner saying 74% of organizations plan to increase their use of remote work after the pandemic, and a third of organizations expect to increase their use of non-employee labor.

So, my take is that you are going to have these really dynamic working relationships, and they’ll continue with an acceleration of the non-employed labor. This means even our little company. We’re only 34 employees, but now we have more than 120 non-employees doing different things for the firm across all categories. That includes accountants, the consultancies, the staff engineers, that plant waterers – folks that actually come to the office when we start going back . And I don’t think we’re alone in that. It’s already a rich tapestry of how it works – how things actually get done out there. The Utmost progresses, the more we discover these different use cases that are quite compelling. It’s just going to accelerate post-Covid. I hate to say the furlough example again, but companies are essentially saying, rather than having employees, they are going to have more labor costs. That ultimately leads them to the extended workforce and other types of working relationships.

Saam: You mentioned how the pandemic has accelerated different employers accepting remote work as part of company culture, and how they are now allowing remote work arrangements to be a core part of the workforce going forward. As you talk to your different customers (whether it’s insurance companies, healthcare companies, or companies in different verticals), what are the questions employers should be asking themselves when they evaluate their total workforce strategy (and make decisions around different work streams or teams)? What should they ask to figure out whether to just maintain employee labor, or to consider non-employee labor and remote as part of that?

Dan: You’re asking the right questions. If you back up 20 years, non-employee labor was 2% of the working population. Today, according to a recent study out from Arden Partners, that group makes up 43% of the working population, and that is up from 10% in 2010. So in the last decade, we went from 10% to 43%. We’re seeing how that manifests as we engage with senior level execs. They are asking, “How do we think of the right workforce mix? How do I optimize my entire workforce?” We think it starts from a place where, first of all, you need core visibility to even engage in that discussion. You need to be able to see who’s working for you and where. Once you start having a handle on that – and these are the kinds of things, candidly, that Utmost helps with – then you can start asking, “What are the critical roles? Where are the locations where I need workers? What skills do I need? What suppliers are bringing me those skills?”

If you had to say what the great connective tissue is now, it’s getting to a skills taxonomy where a company can ask a question and get a fair answer. Companies have job codes or job classifications, so say they have 10,000 employees – they’ll have something like 5,000 job classifications. If they have 10,000 contingent workers, they have 50 rules for them. So it’s not even a fair comparison. It just doesn’t map. But when you get it down to a skills level, and say, “Do they have marketing skills? Software development skills? Python skills? What sub-aspect of the job can they perform?” Thinking of it that way becomes a much better way to make a comparison. Secondly, you ask, “What are the critical projects? Is this revenue producing? Is it about operational efficiency? Can you do it within regulation?” Then ultimately that helps you understand how it factors into the strategic workforce plan.

Saam: Yeah, I’d love to just double click on that a little bit. Tell me about Utmost’s software and product capabilities and how companies are using it today to help answer these questions around the entire total workforce.

Dan: Companies are using Utmost as a system of record for their non-employee labor. And importantly, the way we differentiate is by thinking about that as classifications of all types of work. We don’t delineate or just focus on temp labor brought to companies by staffing firms. We think about the full set of cohorts. It really is a talent continuum. And whether they are a freelancer, contractor, consultant, or a contingent worker via a staffing firm, a service-based contract, business process outsourcing, we don’t make a judgment or choice on that. We’ve designed a system that can handle those complex business relationships and then cross-sourcing with labor; engaging on and off-boarding, tracking time, invoicing, paying – that’s the solution we offer.

And importantly, we’re squarely focused on serving Workday customers. For a Workday customer, we call that entire non-employee population the extended workforce – we say you can extend your working investment to support your extended workforce. That’s the software we built.

What’s interesting about the platform is that it gives you a total talent picture. And our belief is that we want to be on the right side of history; that increasingly the worker is more empowered. We believe a lot of people have chosen to be more independent. This is not a thing that’s thrust upon them. This is a lifestyle choice. They have skills, they have interest, and it’s a choice to be a freelancer, to be independent, to set up their own little company.

There’s a trend in that companies increasingly have relationships with the workers, so they can mobilize talent when they need it. It’s less about finding someone who they have no idea who they are to do a project. Instead, when they’re ready for the project, they remobilize talent.

You see that in some cyclical businesses. For instance, in retail where there is a holiday spike. Another example: we have one client in life sciences. Over an eight-week period annually, (during cold and flu season), they have 20,000 workers come and pack pills and bottles in their facilities – and that’s even pre-Covid. The speed and the velocity of these labor spikes are really interesting, and yet each of those 20,000 workers need to be certified to do that activity for them. You have this army of people coming together. During this eight-week window where they rely on these extra people, most of the people spend four weeks there total. It’s high velocity and very dynamic, physically in-person because of the nature of the business. But really it’s just mobilizing work on an increasingly global, remote and dynamic basis. We built software to support those kinds of use cases and in a way that’s complimentary to Workday so you can get to a total workforce view.

Saam: Great examples that you gave up. You’ve referenced a few other verticals and types of customers as well. When you look across the board of companies that you’re working with and that are using that most, what are some of the other patterns – beyond just the elastic nature of work that they can take advantage of – and that you see with the extended workforce?

Dan: As we get out there and engage with more clients, we see patterns of blurring the lines between employees and non-employees. Some of the workers in this extended workforce are highly skilled. They are so skilled they choose not to be employed by anyone; they’d rather be independent. They dial in to connect in for small pieces of work to contribute to a whole. It’s not true in the least that the experience we are having is just people looking for low-skilled labor that you don’t want to hire an employee for. Sometimes it’s just the opposite. It’s skilled labor that you can’t hire, but that you want in order to get specific projects done. It’s really everything under the sun. It’s skills-based. I know one gentleman – and this is the kind of person who is where we all want to be – he’s a chief medical officer for hire. He’s the individual who gets hired when life sciences companies want to get a drug through a clinical trial. He is purposely independent, he doesn’t want to be an employee for anyone. So he’s on the upper echelon. We see digital global supply chains. We have one prospect (not yet a customer) they literally have people on courthouse steps, getting legal documents, case law directly from the courthouse. They digitize documents and the digital versions go to three facilities in the Philippines, in India, or in China. They tag it, they digitize it, they make it searchable, and then it comes back and they package that up into a searchable database for legal entities. This is all outsourced labor for global supply chains that will just blow your mind.

Saam: That makes sense. I want to flip it and go to the employee or worker perspective. At times, you’ve referenced how this is a new form of work. There’s a lot of positives associated with this form of work for the employer as well as from the perspective of the worker. Can you elaborate on that? For workers who are finding employment in these forms, what are some of the considerations that they should have in mind as they transition to this type of work?

Dan: I think more empowered workers who have control over their data is a good thing. We certainly see some skill sets across industries that are more likely to be independent freelancers. Sometimes it starts with a side hustle. We’re seeing workers who are employed somewhere and they’re doing a side hustle and developing their skills more. But at the highest level, we are seeing that individuals increasingly feel confident that they can go out on their own. If they have a skillset, it’s something they love and they want to do, they can do it. If there’s one thing we’ve learned since we started the company, there is an amazing array of the type of workers, the skill sets, the type of work being done, and the business constructs. Sometimes it’s an individual showing up as what by U.S. tax code would classify as a 1099 worker. Sometimes it’s a service-based arrangement and you don’t even need to know who’s working on it because it’s entirely deliverable based. But it’s increasingly that it’s higher velocity and it’s more specific. It’s just one of those things like how 20 years ago you would have said, “Oh, we’re going to hire a bunch of people as employees. We’re going to have them in a single facility and we’re going to have them prosecute our business.” It’s nowhere near how it works anymore.

The other thing – and this is a little bit more on the alarming side – it’s amazing how clunky some of the experiences are. Some of this is related to Covid, but we had one prospect who was a very large employer and, unfortunately, they were terminating their continued worker contracts. Many of these workers had received hardware, laptops, badges, et cetera from the company. But now the company is remote and no one is coming into the facilities. They literally have laid off hundreds of people and they don’t know how to get their equipment back. They don’t even know where to send a box to say, could you please mail back this laptop? It’s amazing how rudimentary some of the relationships are out there. And we think there’s a lot of opportunity to improve that.

Saam: As we’ve seen this transition and acceleration to more flexible work, we’ve also seen evolving policy and regulation and some pushback as well. I’d love to get your thoughts and perspectives on the pushback on gig work and contract workers and some of the legal activity that’s happening around how they should be classified.

Dan: I think it’s pretty tragic. Talk about a vibrant time, right? Legislation related to employment law is really interesting right now. We’re all presently in California, there’s Assembly Bill 5. This is causing Uber and Lyft and other other gig work companies to put a ballot initiative for this November to say we should let gig workers be independent if they want to, but we should have benefits. There was a recent Op-Ed from the CEO of Uber in the New YorkTimes saying that they want to offer benefits, but there’s a Catch-22 for employers: they say the more you offer benefits to workers, the more you’re likely to be seen as those workers being employees.

So I think now we’re in this dystopian scenario where if you’re an employee, you have benefits, and if you are independent, you don’t. Particularly over the last four or five years, there is a lot of energy around having a third category of workers. It shouldn’t be so binary. I’ll tell you my philosophy on this though – I think that genie’s out of the bottle. I think it’s a bit of a naive view to say, “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone were just an employee and there were no more gig work, no more kind of contingent work freelancer?” The McKinsey Global Institute says there are 162 million independent workers globally working right now, just in the U.S. and Europe.

So I think it’s naive to think we’re just gonna go back to the Fifties where everyone was just an employee for life and everything was great. Now, I think people want choices. I think flexibility is good. I just think we need to find ways to have more benefits and more protections for workers. Could that be a third employment category? Possibly. There are pros and cons and I’ve seen some really interesting legal papers and white papers out there. I like the idea of empowering the workers, but finding that social safety net. Certainly, with Covid and the fires in California right now, we see the extra stress that is being put on workers when they don’t have a safety net. There is a more nuanced view than just a binary one of being an employee or not.

Saam: Absolutely. I like the use of genie out of the bottle. I think we’re going to have to see an evolution. It will be interesting to see how the legislation keeps up and adapts to the new reality.
When we talk about the future of work, I’m curious what trends you think will persist about the current environment. With the way we’re all working right now, and the way companies look at talent, what do you think will persist and what won’t, post-pandemic? Are there elements of how we’ve begun to work that you think will revert back over the coming years?

Dan: I think what will persist is way better usage of collaboration tools and techniques that are geared towards remote work, but that turn out to make better practices even when you’re all in the same place. I think a lot of that will persist. I do personally like the serendipity of being at the white board and being together. But I’ll tell you what – using Miro and some of these tools today, it’s just about as good. If someone missed the meeting, they can catch up really quickly, there’s that ability. I also think acceptance of remote work will persist. It sounds naive to say here in August of 2020, but earlier this year I was reluctant to hire a VP of marketing who wasn’t going to be in one of our primary offices. I thought, how can you be a people leader and hold down a major function if you’re in a different state? Now, five months into Covid, of course we can. We’ve all been remote, we’ve proven we can be just as productive (possibly even more productive). One more thing that I think will absolutely persist is that companies are going to have more pools of talent that they tap into to get their business done, and these are groups that are increasingly separate from them. It’s going to be alumni groups. It’s going to be former contingent workers that they mobilize. It’s going to be different sets of firms that are able to work. For example, we had a contract designer, she was fantastic (you guys put us in touch with her). She worked with us for five weeks. If at any point she put up her hands at, “Hey, I’m free again.” We would take her. She was a 1099 worker. I think this idea of multiple, slightly extended pools of talent that companies mobilize to get things done will continue.

For the things that won’t persist? I don’t know. I think this state we’re in of never coming to the office and never worrying about it, but there’s a human side to all of this. Whether it’s getting together for a hackathon, or a period to get together, I think we’re gonna want to do that.

I think there will be price pressure. I imagine there are a lot of new geographies that a lot of people are moving to, so we’ll have a cost of living increase. We’ll say, “Great. I’m glad you’ve moved outside of St. Louis. We’re going to now change your salary to reflect that.” I think it will be interesting to see how companies manage that.

But honestly, I think that Covid is a hot mess. I really feel not just for the tragic loss of life, but the loss of income and jobs and the impact of the economy. But most of what I see are accelerants for the way that work’s going to look in the future. We just took 10 years of gradual evolution to a more remote, extended workforce with different pools of talent. We just crammed it into the last five, six months. And I think a lot of that’s going to persist.

Saam: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. We see the same thing from our perspective; taking many years of digital transformation and accelerating it into a couple of quarters. I think the interesting point you raised is that of the future when we are post-pandemic and able to go back to the office in some capacity, we’ll land in this  hybrid world. Then there are the questions of what things we will have to do as companies, teams, et cetera to make ourselves productive and maximally impactful in that hybrid world.

Dan: You know, I think you’re right. I agree with that.

Saam: You mentioned the human side of things. I’d like to end the podcast on that human side of things. Dan, what advice do you have as a leader and as a founder for folks who are transitioning to this way of working? Also, just personally, what are one or two things you’ve been doing to stay sane, happy and productive during this period?

Dan: Yeah. I would say there’s just a ton of great content out there. We partnered with you and Sarah, so we have exposure to the Greylock network, which is of course fantastic, but there’s so much public content out there. Companies are sharing their learnings. To entrepreneurs, I would say take advantage of the chance to learn and keep learning. Be it an online coursework, podcasts, et cetera. I’d say from the sanity side: You know, it’s not every day that you’re home for five months in a row for dinner. So there is always a silver lining out there with what we’re facing.

Now, personally…don’t laugh at me, Saam, but I’ve gotten into birding. I’ve taken some online courses on ornithology. I’d recommend the Cornell School of Ornithology if you’re into birds. So, I’m trying to appreciate the little things. Maybe the takeaway there is to do something very different than your day to day. I’ve always thought birds were cool. Now I think they’re cooler. They just get you out there. And they’re everywhere. And they can fly!

Saam: I completely agree with the sentiment of looking for something totally new to do during this time. Dan, thanks for joining us on Greymatter. I’m delighted we got such a unique perspective from both sides on the future of work, remote work, distributed teams. And thanks everyone for listening. Thank you.

Dan: Thanks so much for putting up with me! I enjoyed the chat, as always.

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