Connected & Ready

Supporting inclusion through flexible work models, with Stephanie Nadi Olson

Episode Summary

As head of the groundbreaking flex talent firm We Are Rosie, founder Stephanie Nadi Olson has a vision for the future of work: when companies connect with their employees’ passions as well as their experience, they can create a more inclusive, innovative, flexible, and liberated workforce. In this episode of Connected & Ready, host Gemma Milne talks with Stephanie about the central role remote work plays not only in her vision of the future, but her own company’s culture and how they serve their clients today. Dynamics 365 is helping businesses of all sizes unify their data and create a digital-first culture. With next-generation ERP and CRM business applications, employees at every level can reason over data, predict trends and make proactive, more-informed decisions. Request a live demo today: Thank you for listening to Connected & Ready! Do you have ideas of how we can improve the show? Want to recommend a guest for us to interview? We value your partnership and participation. Please drop us a note at We would love to hear from you.

Episode Notes

Gemma Milne talks with Stephanie Nadi Olson, founder and CEO of flex talent firm We Are Rosie, about how to keep remote employees engaged, the unique challenges of managing remote teams, how companies should be thinking about remote work right now, and how embracing remote work can help companies be more inclusive and reimagine assumptions that might be holding their culture back. 

About Stephanie Nadi Olson:

Stephanie is the founder and Visionary in Chief of We Are Rosie, a growing community of independent marketing experts available on demand to augment, backfill, or accelerate in-house teams. Stephanie started the company in 2018 with a mission to support extraordinary people while providing a workplace that treats everyone with dignity. She was named AdAge Visionary of the Year 2020, World Changing Woman 2020 by Conscious Company, and awarded Entrepreneur of the Year 2019 by the Stevie Awards.

Learn more:


Topics of discussion


Sponsor link

Dynamics 365 delivers next-generation ERP and CRM business applications, helping employees at every level reason over data, predict trends and make proactive, more-informed decisions. Request a live demo today:


Contact us



Follow us on social media




Episode Transcription

Gemma [00:00:05] Hello and welcome. You're listening to Connected and Ready an ongoing conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed, brought to you by Microsoft. I'm Gemma Milne. I'm a technology journalist and author. And I'm going to be exploring trends around how companies are adapting to a disrupted world and preparing for tomorrow. We're going to speak to the innovators who are bringing products, operations, and people together in new ways. In today's episode I'm chatting to Stephanie Nadi Olson, Founder and Visionary in Chief of We Are Rosie, to talk about her experience building and supporting remote teams. She shares her insights around how to keep remote employees engaged, unique challenges that remote teams face, how organizational culture plays a role in success, and ultimately how remote teams can enable a more inclusive workplace. We also explore what organizations should be thinking about with regards to work models as we step into what's next, and Stephanie shares some of her hopes and visions of the future of work for all. Before we start, I want to thank all of you listeners out there. If you have a topic or a person you'd love to hear on the show, please send us an email at We're so thankful for you all. Now on with the episode. 

Gemma [00:01:20] Stephanie, thank you so much for coming and joining us on the show today. Why don't you start by introducing yourself, tell us a little bit about who you are, where you work and what it is that you do. 

Stephanie [00:01:28] I'm so happy to be here, so thanks for having me. My name is Stephanie Nadi Olson and I am the founder and CEO of We Are Rosie, which is a flex talent strategy and community of 7000 independent marketers that we plug into really flexible work arrangements with some of the biggest brands in the world to tackle marketing projects. 

Gemma [00:01:48] So you mentioned there about flexible structures. You know, for those that may not know, We Are Rosie was founded with this remote first policy for your immediate team. Why don’t you tell us a little bit but why you decided to focus on being remote first? You know, what did you see as sort of pros and cons there? 

Stephanie [00:02:04] You know, I've always kind of worked remote, so I've worked for some of the biggest global organizations, including Microsoft, but I've always been based here in Atlanta. So since Atlanta is not typically a big hub for a lot of the global companies I've worked for, I've always kind of felt remote in a way. I've had to travel to have a lot of meetings and to spend time with my team, but it really gave me an appreciation for the value of remote work. You know, it allowed me to work from home a lot more often, frankly, because there weren't a lot of people watching me and who could see where I was every day. It gave me more time with my family. And I just have experienced firsthand the beauty of working remote. And so when it came time for me to launch my own business, it was an absolute no brainer. I knew that there were a lot of people who, like me, enjoyed working remote, enjoy that flexibility and I thought to myself, if we're going to bootstrap this company, I have to attract the best talent in the world and I don't want to put any barriers to my talent attraction process like geo or location that would prevent me from getting the best talent. So remote first has been a huge part of our culture and ethos since I started the company three years ago. 

Gemma [00:03:14] Amazing. So you've obviously been doing this for three years with We Are Rosie, but obviously for a lot longer. One of the things we've been discussing on the show in previous episodes is, of course, what's been happening over the past year with Covid and perhaps why what's happening right now is not remote working, but rather working from home during a pandemic. But I'd love to hear from your perspective what has remote first looked like in practice and what, if anything, has changed or is different about the conditions over the last year for everybody? 

Stephanie [00:03:46] Yeah, you know, it's interesting. I have two views on this. As a business owner, I have a team of over 30 people now working across four time zones for We Are Rosie. We've more than doubled the size of our team in the pandemic. And so we've seen the changes and the impacts on our team, particularly around empathetic leadership, I'll say, when leading a remote team. So we had all of the practices in place to lead a remote organization because we've been built this way. Our culture has been built on top of it. But to add in the multiple pandemics and global crises that we're all facing right now on top of a remote team is something that I don't think anybody has had a playbook for and something that we've had to experience and learn from and adapt to alongside all of our clients. And there's certainly been some big learnings and changes from that. And then the other side of our view into remote work and how it's evolved over the past year is with our clients. So We Are Rosie works with 20 Fortune 500 brands, typically with their CMO or marketing department. And a year and a half ago, a lot of our conversation was spent kind of educating marketers and global leaders on the value of remote work as a form of inclusion. And in fact, the last business travel meeting I had prior to the world stopping, was this road show that I did and I met with five fortune 100 brands. And the talk track was remote work is inclusion. And you can't say that you want a world class organization and the best talent in the world and diversity on your team and then also say this entire team has to live in Cincinnati or this entire team has to live in New York. And I was really pushing people to think outside of kind of the norms that they've accepted around how work has to happen, because we have to peel back some of our foundational assumptions about how work has to happen to really leapfrog on our diversity and inclusion efforts. So the beauty and I don't want to disregard the fact that the last 14 months have been really challenging in so many ways. But the beauty of this moment is that we're no longer having those conversations. I think everybody has recognized that perhaps a lot of the assumptions we've made about how work has to happen were misinformed. And were kind of held as gospel when they shouldn't have been. And now everybody gets it. Right? So like just the tone of the conversations that we're having with our brand market or clients has gone from “I don't really know if we can do remote, you know, I don't know if I want remote talent coming in to my organization,” which is a big part of what We Are Rosie offers to, “Oh my gosh, our organization needs to look more like We Are Rosie, how can we learn from you and how can we how can we use this talent that's been working remote for years prior to the pandemic to kind of inject that remote first culture into our own organization?”

Gemma [00:06:38] It's really interesting and really comforting to hear you talk about remote primarily here as a form of inclusion. Right? And speaking about getting the best talent, not about sort of, I guess, trying to hit goals in terms of diversity or whatever, which sometimes these kind of inclusion policies can cynically be. But a lot of the time as well the conversation around remote is about productivity and it is about how do we get the most from people. We're seeing a huge rise in demand for employee surveillance and all these kind of things, which really ties back to this question of like how can we make remote work from a productivity standpoint? Do you feel that you're still having to have those kind of conversations or is talking about it from an inclusion perspective kind of enough for the clients that you're working with? 

Stephanie [00:07:24] Yeah, I think the broad answer is it depends, right. We have some global clients who are very adamant that they want their entire team back in office full time as we did it before, as soon as they possibly can. And then we have some clients, you know, Microsoft included, who are saying, let's reconsider this. Right? Like, how do we restructure or rethink about bringing our workers back into the office and potentially a hybrid way that gives people the flexibility to work in the way that makes sense for their lives and for their career. Because the truth is, there's no one size fits all approach. You know, we have this community of seven thousand people. I'll say most of them want to work remote full time for now. Right? And six months from now, that may be different for them. Right? They may be caregiving for a parent. We have people in our community who are transitioning genders who don't want to go into an office until they work through that process. And so the beauty is we've seen leaders start to recognize people as whole human beings. You're coming into people's homes. You're seeing their children and their pets and their parents and all of these things that are an important part of their lives. And I think we're really starting to consider like the seasonality of people's lives and how that may impact how they want to work and the subsequent value of setting up organizations to work in a hybrid way so that people can flow with their seasons and stay in the workforce, which is really important, and stay in a really highly contributing role to these organizations. 

Ad [00:08:55] Dynamics 365 is helping businesses of all sizes unify their data and create a digital-first culture. With next generation ERP and CRM business applications, employees at every level can reason over data, predict trends, and make proactive, more-informed decisions. Request a live demo of Dynamics 365 today by following the link in the episode description.

Gemma [00:09:23] So let's talk a little bit about, you know, making remote work work for lack of a less punchy marketing way of putting it. Thinking about both the We Are Rosie team and as well as the individuals and the companies that you are working within the teams within those companies. What are the most successful remote teams doing differently to really ensure that not only they are getting the job done and delivering the best work for the client at We Are Rosie but the individuals both from the client site as well as the employees of We Are Rosie, are also engaged and energized for the work that they're doing. 

Stephanie [00:09:55] Yeah, I think there's two ways to think about this, and they're both equally important. And the first I'll talk about is culture. Remote work has necessitated a shift in culture. I think most people would agree in many corporate cultures 18 months ago, if you said I need to work from home for the month of Ramadan because I'm fasting like that would have just been a nonstarter. I think probably 95 percent of people would say, absolutely, I cannot ask for that. And so we're really in a place now where we get to reimagine culture and we've all been in it together for 14 months. So how do we normalize these kind of inclusive practices that recognize that people sometimes need to work in different ways for various reasons, and that if we can facilitate that, we will reach our inclusion and equity objectives that are so critically important for business today. So I think that on the culture standpoint, people are really reimagining everything about how they approach flexible work arrangements to how are they assigning people to work or a position within a company. So many of our partners at We Are Rosie had to go through unfortunate layoffs due to Covid and the pandemic. And it's heartbreaking, right? Like these leaders are still reeling from the decisions that they had to make and amidst, you know, everything else going on in the world, nobody wants to see people you care about leave your organization. And I think as we get ready to rebuild coming out of this pandemic or whatever that is going to look like, people are starting to think differently, like, hey, is there a way to rebuild in a hybrid way? Is there a way to rebuild in a flexible way where we can bring people on in kind of a burst capacity or in a freelance or contract capacity because nobody has a silver ball yet and we don't know how we're going to emerge from this, but people are really shifting their culture to welcome people who are working in different ways, but also to give the organization more flexibility as we reemerge. So those are like some of the cultural things we're seeing. One more cultural piece trend that I'm seeing that's really important is just empathetic leadership. You know, it has never been more important than it is right now. I mentioned earlier, like, we are living through two global crises and both the reconciliation of race relations in America and beyond, and also the Coronavirus pandemic and leaders who have not been leading empathetically and honoring everything that is happening around us and treating your employees and your extended team with the love and compassion that they deserve through all of this are not going to retain talent long term. So I think the rise of truly empathetic and human centered leadership and treating the members of your team as whole human beings has never been more important. And I think that we've all seen over the past 14 months the reason why it is so critical to our success, because we've all been in it together. So there's a lot of work that can be done on the culture side. And a lot of the companies that are embracing hybrid teams and inclusion in this moment are doing all of those things. The second thing that every company needs to look at is operations. So there's some very basic operational things that have to change. If you're running a remote team, if you're running a hybrid team and by hybrid, I mean, everything from, you know, in office, out of office, in market, not in market, freelance or contract and traditional full time. And there's some operational things that definitely need to happen to enable success of those teams. So the first thing I always say is that you have to pay the communication tax of being a remote or a hybrid team. That is the tax you pay for not sitting next to each other in an office every day. And I think the mistake that a lot of people make is thinking, well, then we should have more meetings. We should add to your point, we should have more surveillance. We should be monitoring people closer. I beg to differ on that. I actually think that the best way that we can pay the communication tax operationally to ensure that our teams are collaborating really well is to give our team the resources to communicate really well asynchronously. I saw something the other day that said, like the greatest skill any employee can have in the new workforce or in the future of work is being able to write succinctly. And I really agree with that. So the ability to communicate your thoughts and needs to your colleagues and teammates in a really succinct, straightforward way is really critical. And I think there's some operational training that needs to happen around that and a lot of teams. And then the last thing I'll say on the operations side is like evaluating internal processes. Even things like performance reviews, how are you deciding who gets promoted within your organization? Can you be certain that people that are working remote or hybrid in an organization that for the last 20, 40, 50 years has been in office together, can you ensure that the people that are working remote aren't at a disadvantage? You may need to look back at some of your HR policies, some of your performance management policies and things like that just to ensure that you're leveling the playing field for success. 

Gemma [00:14:49] You mentioned communication tax for anyone who hasn't come across that term before. Can you just briefly explain it? 

Stephanie [00:14:55] Yeah, I think communication tax is just having to be more mindful with when, how, and how you communicate basically. Right? With people being forced to work in an asynchronous way now where they may be homeschooling children, right or they may be caregiving for a parent right now, we have to really pay attention to the way that we're delivering communication. We can't just do everything we've done before. Right? We can't just pick up the phone every time we need to talk to somebody. We can't be doing insane numbers of messaging over messaging apps with our teams, but we really need to pay attention and be mindful about how and when we're communicating and the way that we're giving people the opportunity to respond. So just the communication tax is more intentionality around the way that we're communicating with our teams and giving people the opportunity to collaborate. 

Gemma [00:15:43] That's a really interesting point you made about the asynchronous communications. Actually, I hadn't really thought about it like that. Funnily that I hadn't thought about it because I do a bit of teaching at university and we've been trained on how to teach synchronously and asynchronously, and we've had a lot discussions about how we never considered the difference between the pair of them. But you're right, it's a totally different approach to doing things. Let's talk a little bit about common mistakes. What, if any, are the common mistakes that managers make when managing remote teams? And is there a way to sort of avoid these common pitfalls? And also, are these things that are unique to remote teams or is this a bit management in general? 

Stephanie [00:16:20] Yeah, I think that there's some overlap, but there are certainly some distinct things that leaders need to focus on when leading a remote team or leading a team with remote team members. I mean, the first one that is definitely specific to remote team members is, are you making sure that they feel included even when you may have a team in a room? I think we've all been there where you're the person on the phone and everybody else is in a room together and it can feel really hard to interject or contribute in a meaningful way. And so I think leaders ensuring that everybody on their team remembers who's on the phone, remembers who's dialing in or who may not be in the room and making a true effort to make them feel included and to make sure that they have a voice and can be heard. The other thing that I have found in leading a remote team and part of this is definitely the overlay of the psychological burden all of our team members are under right now with everything else going on in the world is more frequent rewards and recognition. This goes such a long way with remote team members who can sometimes feel disconnected from the mothership or disconnected from their colleagues. You know, again, we've got team members in all four time zones. Our team has more than doubled in size since Corona. So we actually have more team members who have never met a member of the We Are Rosie team than have. And we have found that more frequent rewards and recognition has really helped people feel tied together and also constant reiteration of the mission and purpose of the company and the team. So I have really found that when you are working away from your colleagues and people often ask me like, how do you build culture? Like, what's the culture like at We Are Rosie if there's no water cooler or ping pong table? And my unequivocal answer to this is like We Are Rosie is a mission driven organization. We wear our purpose on our sleeves. Everybody who comes to work here knows exactly what we stand for and knows exactly the importance of the work that we're doing and providing access and opportunity to people who want or need to work in a more flexible way. And that is kind of the glue that binds our team together. And it's really galvanized our team, even though we don't know each other as well as we would if we were all together or we haven't met in person. So I think that neglecting to set a mission or a purpose and you can do it no matter what company you work for. You know, We Are Rosie is a super purpose driven organization. But even if you're sitting inside a global Fortune 10 brand, your team has a purpose and a mission and a vision, and you can really help bring your team together around that. 

Gemma [00:18:46] I should ask you to start, but know that you were talking specifically about mission and purpose of real Rosie. Why is it called We Are Rosie? What's the story behind the name? 

Stephanie [00:18:52] Yeah, I love this. I get asked all the time. So I have two daughters at home and my youngest daughter is Margot Rosie and I named the company after her because when I decided to start We Are Rosie first of all, it is like the scariest thing I've ever done. I left a high paying job as an executive in marketing and decided to bootstrap a tech company, which is wild. But I wanted the company to have a name that would remind me when times were hard and launching a company is difficult. Why I'm doing this. I'll tell you a quick story. A sidebar, but I have this vision that when my daughters are my age, they're going to wake up in the morning and look at their phone and it's going to say, hey, Margot, you just finished a three-month project with Brand X doing brand strategy work. And here's five additional projects that you can choose from to tackle next. One of them may be a one-day brainstorm session. The next one could be nine months of looks more like traditional full-time work. But it's got a nine-month timeline on it. And the next one could be three weeks of just as a fractional CMO somewhere, and that she'll really be empowered to make a decision about the type of work she wants to take on, will be using machine learning to make high recommendations about the type of work that will light her up and resonate with both her experience and her passion. And that will really start liberating the workforce to work in this truly flexible way. And the output will be incredible for the brands that tap into talent in this way. So I really wanted the name of the company to be meaningful for me personally. 

Gemma [00:20:19] I love that. I'm going to then ask you this next question. I was going to leave it till later, but what is the biggest benefit of remote team then? I mean, I think I know where the vibe is going to go with this answer. But just building on what you said, it seems like you've got such a clear idea of it. Would love to hear it from the horse's mouth. 

Stephanie [00:20:35] I think it's two things. It's inclusion, obviously. And then all of the incredible outputs that come from inclusion, which is innovation, adaptability, flexibility. And I think that when we start to reconsider the way work happens as a form of inclusion and we start to really question the bedrock upon which we've built corporate culture, we will really create a truly more inclusive and enlightened workforce and corporate culture. And so I think, without a doubt, the companies that are adopting and are thinking forward about how they can embrace hybrid culture and remote culture and even going beyond, like, how can we reconsider the 40 hour work week? How can we reconsider 12 months a year of working? Right? Is there a way to give parents who may want summers off with their children a way to do that? And flex talent is a way that you can do that by bursting people in and out of your organization. So I think that there's just such an incredible opportunity and we're seeing it with all of our clients that are using both individual Rosies and then we also sometimes plug in teams of 10 Rosies into their organization, the immediate burst they get of diversity and inclusion from our team, but also the innovation they get from the unique perspectives they're able to tap into from people who have opted into working this way is incredible. 

Gemma [00:21:54] So you've made the case pretty strong. Let's go into some practical tips then and ideas for people, for managers, for clients who are either, already got remote teams set up, or are wanting to expand or start using remote teams in a more intelligent and purposeful way. Let's talk a little bit about what it means to try and take a temperature of what's going on. What can organizations be doing to better understand what's working and what's not when it comes to having a remote team? 

Stephanie [00:22:21] Yeah, I mean, I think the easiest answer here is ask your team, right? Like we've all been thrown into the deep end together and I don't think any leader could pretend to have all of the answers. So I think creating a culture where you actively solicit and care about getting feedback from all members of your team is really important in this to really understand what is working, what's not working and what could be done better. And I think that there's generally kind of always different ways to improve. And I'll give you an example at We Are Rosie. So when I started the company, I said, well, you know, we're going to be a cool tech company. So we give unlimited PTO. That's the thing to do. And that was kind of a shortcut for me. Right? I was just like, let me fall into what's been done in the past because it's easy and it's that seems like the thing to do, one less thing to think about so unlimited PTO is the way to go. As we got into the pandemic, my team is giving me feedback that they were feeling burned out, understandably so, like just the emotional psychological burden that everybody was carrying on top of working at a fast growing startup. And so we were really happy to get that feedback and of course, always thank our team for providing it. And we sat down and thought about, OK, how do we change this culture? We've inadvertently created a culture where people are not using their PTO and are feeling burned out. And we simply made an update to our time off policy that every single person at We Are Rosie is required to take five days of PTO per quarter. They're compensated for doing so. So it's all tied to their KPIs and their performance at the organization level and it applies to everybody. So we expect it. There's no guilt for, oh, I don't want to ask this person to cover for me because, you know, you're going to get to return the favor. And then we did the work to create an environment where people felt like they could take those five days. And so one of the things I encourage other companies to do is have a tinkerer's mindset. You don't have to have the answer that, you know is going to work for your team long term. I don't know if five days PTO required per quarter, and of course, we also give the team floating days, is the right thing for us long term, but until we're out of this pandemic, it is absolutely a behavior I want to incentivize my team to have and I want to encourage them to take. And so, you know, you just keep tinkering, right? You solicit feedback, you tinker, you adjust, you're fully vulnerable and transparent with your team, that that's exactly what you're doing because you don't have all the answers and just work with your team to figure out what makes the most sense for them. 

Gemma [00:24:47] Yeah, burnout is definitely been a topic that's been spoke about and, of course, experienced by so many people over the last year in particular and before that too even with general work culture that we have in the 2020s, especially when thinking about if remote teams have previously been highly engaged and productive and are now you've either noticed that there's burnout or they're starting to disengage or even they are telling you as directly as what you're talking about. What would be your advice in terms of getting it back? You've talked about enforcing to some degree PTO, but what are other ways that managers can consider to try and get that burst back at the right time? 

Stephanie [00:25:22] Yeah, there's a few things. I mean, I'm biased, right? Because I clearly believe wholeheartedly in the value of flex talent. But we have a lot of clients that bring on teams of Rosies for burnout support, literally that's the reason. They call us and say our team is struggling. We want to drop everybody on our team down to 20 hours a week for the next two months to give them a minute to recover. And so we're going to bring in Rosies to fill the other 20 hours, give that flex bandwidth to the team so that they feel supported. And we're seeing this both with the brand marketers we work with and even the ad agencies that we work with who are just starting to think differently about like how do we actually give people some additional bandwidth or flex bandwidth so that they can just take a moment for recovery? The other thing that we do at We Are Rosie is plan for recovery, period. So we go through these sprints. Right? And you can't do sprint after sprint after sprint without recovery. I played softball for 13 years and use a lot of what I learned playing sports to like, you have to have time to recover. So I like the principle of cycles of work and recognizing that it may be a particular person, it may be a particular team that's just been sprinting for a while. And leaders really need to keep an eye out for that and say, OK, so we're going to have two days of no internal meetings. Right? Or we're going to have a day where we do stuff together as a team where we're just not going to be responding to emails this day and really set up time for people to get reconnected. Because I think that's often the hard part, is that you're burned out and it can feel isolating and lonely if you're not close to your team or you have you know, we've all been sitting in our homes for 14 months. So I think building in time for those recovery periods is really important, too. 

Gemma [00:27:03] I really love this idea of the tinkerer’s mindset, that's a lovely way of putting it. For some people that might seem quite ambitious or a pretty hard thing to do, particularly for larger companies where things might seem quite set in stone, I'm thinking policies, for instance, or other things there's going to seem difficult to change. Can anybody adopt this tinkerer mindset or is it more for the sort of startup-y pivot-y kind of companies that are out there? 

Stephanie [00:27:26] I think a tinker's mindset is relevant across the board. It's really an innovators mindset and I love there's a saying that I've heard that's little by little and then all at once. So what are the little things that you can do on a daily basis to shift your organization more towards what you want it to look like long term? Because we aren't going to just flip a switch and have like the magical new version of our teams and the way that we're working together. So I think a tinkerer's mindset is really instrumental and critical in determining what are the levers you can pull daily and what are the little tests that you can run with your team. I mean, another kind of tinkerer’s test that we ran at We Are Rosie is like no meetings on Friday, you know? And that's something that I think a lot of teams could do and a lot of leaders could implement and then having that feedback loop from your team. So what did this mean for you? Did we actually do it like we said we were going to, you know what made you nervous about this? What did you love about it? So I think that there's just these fun little, you know, tests that you can run with your team. And it's a great way to engage your team and get their feedback and keep them engaged and also, again, be vulnerable, like, hey, I don't know how to turn this whole ship into what we need it to look like. But like, here's some things that based on your feedback, I think we can try and I want us to try it together and we're going to put parameters around it. And we're all going to have a tinkerer's mindset. We're going to see if it works. If it doesn't work, we're not going to do it forever. But I think it's a really beautiful way to drive innovation and organizations big and small. 

Gemma [00:28:50] As you mentioned, you know, a lot of us, at least office workers or people that predominately work with a computer have been working from home for 14 months. So it's hard to imagine any company that could be remote isn't already to some degree out of necessity. But we are at a point, I feel, with the pandemic where over the last 14 months there has been a lot of patchwork solutions to things just to survive. And working from home during a pandemic as opposed to intentional remote work has been one of those things. But it seems like now a lot of the conversation is OK, we're here, we've done all these kind of short term what felt like short term solutions that have end up being very long term, and now we need to sort of either translate them or advance them into something that's sustainable, or we really need to have a bit of a rethink and rebuild and take what we've learned from the last 14 months and move that into, OK, this is actually what we're going to do as a company moving forward. So thinking about remote work in that sense, and perhaps for some companies, maybe they're seeing it as a new thing, even though they've had people working from home for a long time. What would be your advice for those companies who are - got that mindset of we're going to make this work moving forward? What would be some good first steps to start laying out that strategy and what that looks like in practice? 

Stephanie [00:30:03] Yeah, the first thing I'll say is that you're absolutely on the right track if you're thinking that way. You will lose the battle for talent if you don't embrace this long term. And so I think there's a lot of really smart leaders who are trying to figure this out. I think the first thing for any organization that's saying, OK, we need to evolve, we've been forced to evolve, but now we have some - we're 14 months in we've got time to be more intentional with how we carry this forward. Versus to your point, just like a Band-Aid solution. I encourage teams to really ask yourself, like what business practices around how work happens within your organization are you firmly anchored in from the past that are irrelevant to the future or to where we are today? This is where I get into people really questioning, like why do people have to be in office? Why does everybody have to work nine to five? Why do we have a meeting-based culture and really reconsider everything about how work happens within your organization and of course, choose the things that you want and need to carry forward, but be really intentional, again, with this tinkerer’s mindset of saying, do we really need this? If we're going to blue sky, how this team works together in the future in a more human centered way versus kind of what's the institutional response? How should we do this as a business? But like, how should we do this for the people that work here and take that approach and begin to really reimagine how work happens within your organization? It will look different for every team. I think some teams, you know, we've had some clients that have, like, broken their massive office space leases and they're like, we're not coming back to that. We've seen clients shift over to a hot desk model where they're not only creating hot desks for their employees, but they're creating hot desks for the community. So you don't even have to work there, but you can pop in. They've made their own kind of mini coworking space. And then we've got some clients who are saying, you know, no, we're a massive company and we need people here full time. And some people want to be in the office full time, but we're going to create space for them. So I think really getting to know what matters to your team and to your organization. And again, you're going to have to include everybody in this conversation. So doing polls and having conversations to figure out what's important and then figuring out what levers you can pull to reimagine it, you know, like what are the radical things that you can do? We are in a once in a lifetime moment to be radically innovative with how work happens. And so I would encourage everybody to look for the ways that you can do that within your own organization and to be bold about it and give it a try, because if we hadn't all been forced to work from home for 14 months, we would have carried on for the next 25 years saying it was impossible. 

Gemma [00:32:41] Final question for you, Stephanie. I want to build a little bit on the vision that you painted for your daughters earlier on, which was a really lovely way of framing your company and the mission that you're all about. Let's zoom out and think about the future and society as a whole for a second. Looking forward from your experience, what is your biggest hope for the future of work? I'm assuming that you've already said remote work in teams are here to stay, but what is that hope that you have and what should organizations be planning for when thinking about what's possible for coming next? 

Stephanie [00:33:13] My hope is that we use this moment in time to truly align work with the way people want and need to live. That we use everything that we've built over the past decades in terms of technology. We use all the cultural learnings that we have over the last 14 months and the years and years prior to that to say like, this is a moment for us to build work around human lives. And that when we do that and we stop treating people as a resource that needs to fit into this institutional way of working, but as the source of everything that happens within our company and that keeps all of the wheels turning, that kind of change of a way of thinking will really allow us to say, like, we don't need to have this fear-based way of work. We don't need to have surveillance. We don't need to be babysitting the people that work for us. We actually need to be focusing our time and energy and effort and creating a way for all of these people to work that treats them with dignity and respect, that connects them with work that makes sense both from their experience but also from a passion standpoint and reconsiders the way that we're plugging these people in to our organization to capture all of that magic. So that is definitely my altruistic hope for the future is this like truly liberated workforce that can adjust the way they work with the seasons of their life and that we have companies who have adjusted the way that they work to capture and support and welcome this talent. 

Gemma [00:34:40] Stephanie, that's a really lovely note to end on. Thank you so much for sharing your expertise, your vision, and also your hope and positivity around this topic, which I think despite the last year and how long it's felt like we've been doing this, it can still be a pretty daunting thing for people and something that a lot of folks might not feel -they've got their heads in their hands, quite wrapped around. So thank you for that energy that you bring and for all of the top tips that you've shared with us today. 

Stephanie [00:35:03] Yes. Thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed it. 

Gemma [00:35:09] That's it for this week. Thank you so much for tuning in. You can find out more about Stephanie's work and indeed some of the broader themes we discussed today in the show notes. If you enjoy the episode, please do take a few moments to rate and review the podcast. It really helps other people discover the show. And don't forget to hit subscribe and tune in next time to continue our conversation about innovation, resilience, and our capacity to succeed. 

Ad [00:35:38] Dynamics 365 delivers next generation ERP and CRM business applications, helping employees at every level reason over data, predict trends, and make proactive, more-informed decisions. Request a live demo of Dynamics 365 today by following the link in the episode description.