#DeepDive on The Remote Workspace Utopia | Hiten Shah on Below the Line with James Beshara

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Key Takeaways

  • Remote work utopia is freedom over time
    • Empower employees to function in their personal best environment that remote work allows. Focusing on productivity as the priority, regardless of strategy.
    • Remote working cultures gain a lot of advantages from asynchronous working conditions
  • Executives and management are optimizing for themselves, not for their team when it comes to remote environments
    • Leadership often wants to maintain their in-office micromanagement strategies remotely; however, this leads to unnecessary inefficiencies
    • If you’re not happy, find a new job. You have leverage due to the unclarity around what is next for working environments.
      • Advice to management: “When you don’t have clarity, go get it. Otherwise, you’re going to end up spending your time recruiting.” – Hiten Shah
  • Design your work-from-home space for comfort
    • Even though there is a looming unknown about what a hybrid working environment will look like, investing in a comfortable and productive WFH setup will be beneficial
  • Don’t manage your time, manage your energy
    • Constantly reevaluate if your meetings boost or drain your energy; optimize your meetings to be productive, valuable, and inspiring, or don’t schedule them at all
  • Optimum problem-solving starts with ‘what is the current and desired state and what changes need to be met’ rather than starting with ‘why and how’
    • Good managers identify the problem, reevaluate expectations, and trust that they have a team of experts to solve the problem
  • “Never mix the conversation of strategy and the conversation of execution” – James Beshara
    • If you mix the two, you will constantly edit down your ambition

Intro

  • Hiten Shah (@hnshah) has invested in or advised over 200 startups, most recently at Nira. Hiten has been working remotely for 18 years now. James and Hiten discuss utopic & dystopic remote working conditions, effective problem solving, and the value of meetings.
  • Host: James Beshara (@jamesbeshara)

Hiten’s WFH Setup

  • Design your space for comfort
    • “If there is any pain in my setup, I make changes” – Hiten Shah
    • Muji Beanbags: This comfortable setup allows him to be eye level with his monitors which is important
      • Every inch your head is tilted forward results in 30 pounds of additional pressure on your neck and shoulders
    • Wears the most basic off-brand comfy hoodies and sweatpants from Amazon
  • The looming confusion of what the hybrid work model will look like has caused people to be hesitant about investing in a proper Work-From-Home (WFH) space and equipment
  • Additional equipment Hiten uses:
    • Streamdecks: helps you create functional controls for streaming and computer action commands
    • Bear: for note-taking
    • Textmate: for some complex texting functions
    • Jabra Headset: great for voice communication and as a streaming microphone
    • Dell Monitors: multiple monitors cohesively link to a single plug-in
    • Airtable: best collaboration tool (much preferred over slack), they also use Google Docs for simple things
    • Hiten also always has the Bitcoin price on a display monitor

Remote Meetings

  • Hiten regularly has 15+ remote meetings per day
    • Don’t manage your time, manage your energy. Did the meeting give you energy or drain your energy?
    • If you dread or hate meetings, you’re not reevaluating the desired effects from your meetings
      • If your energy feels depleted after a meeting, it’s highly likely everyone else does too
  • Don’t let anyone else manage your time; scheduling assistants put your peers/colleagues time at risk
    • The small buffer time that it takes for an assistant to communicate a meeting change is wasting the other meeting attendants’ time. For that small buffer time, the two parties have different expectations of how the upcoming time will be spent.
    • “If I cancel a meeting, it has to be a damn good reason. People could have done something else with their time.” – Hiten Shah
      • Can be harmful towards your reputation, people don’t like their time wasted

Problem Solving

  • Hiten focusses on ‘what is the current and desired state and what changes need to be met’ before any discussion of ‘why and how’
    • The meetings with your engineers should be very quick. Identify the problem, reevaluate expectations, and trust that they are the experts.
    • “My goal is to unblock the team and let them get off to the races as quickly as possible” – Hiten Shah
  • “Never mix the conversation of strategy and the conversation of execution” – James Beshara
    • If you mix the two, you will constantly edit down your ambition
    • You’ll never be able to identify all the problems you may encounter, don’t let the probability of a problem discount the goal
    • Identify which conversation you’ll be having prior to any meeting

Remote Work Utopia

  • Everyone has the freedom over their time
    • People work when they want to work while still meeting all expectations
      • People got a taste of the flexibility to optimize their family time (or other priorities) and don’t want to give it up. And shouldn’t have to if they maintain work standards.
    • Most jobs that can work remotely don’t really have the strict time boundaries that have existed in office settings for decades
    • Hiten believes recreating an office environment remotely is absurd
      • The challenges, priorities, advantages are completely different
  • Asynchronous remote work: allows people to be working all across the world, all urgent things can be covered in appropriate standard work hours in the given location
  • Good communication in remote environments don’t start with a question, they start with the question and potential options of a solution

Remote Work Dystopia

  • Lack of clarity in communication is leading to numerous issues; employees just want an answer of what the working model will be and evidence of pro/con for that model
    • Employees have the power to negotiate their position more than ever now. If employees don’t see the value of being in the office, they will find a company that matches their values
    • Constantly moving the goal post is more cost-inefficient than companies even realize
  • Executives and management are optimizing for themselves, not for their team
    • Many managers value power construct over productivity
    • Update meetings’ are extremely unproductive and usually just waste time and fulfill the manager’s micromanagement itch
  • Slack should not be overused, otherwise, it turns into water-cooler environments or the micromanagement of your colleagues/peers
    • Tools are overrated, contextual and thoughtful written content is more valuable than the tool
    • Although, Hiten highly recommends Airtable for collaboration
  • Many employees are experiencing Zoom fatigue
    • Having your video on is usually unnecessary, having it off can greatly reduce fatigue

Want to bring your work from home game to the next level? Get Remote Work Mastery TODAY

The Ultimate Work-from-Home System to Work Smart, Stress Less, and Love Life

Below the Line : , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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