centrexIT Podcast Work from Anywhere

Darin Andersen and Kim Hakim from Seamless Podcast welcome special guest Sean Ernst, in this podcast episode “Futurecon: Work from Anywhere.”

I packed my dog, camping gear, everything, and I drove across the United States and I worked for two months on the road.”

Have you ever dreamed about packing up your dog and just taking off? That’s what Director of Technology Sean Ernst did, all while keeping connected and productive at work. In this episode Sean discusses why the business world is forever changed by the new work-from-home standard and why companies should be excited by the new normal.

Listen here or on your favorite platform below.

 

Full Transcript

00:00:43  

Darin Andersen
Welcome to the Seamless podcast: the Futurecon cybersecurity series. I’m Darin Andersen. That’s my co-host, Kim Hakim. 

Kim Hakim
Hi Darren, how you doing?  

Darin
Good, and you? 

Kim
I am good. Happy “Almost Thanksgiving. 

Darin
Yeah, so you’re going to be cooking a turkey, I understand that Thanksgiving will be at your place this year as it normally is. 

Kim
It is and as I was mentioning earlier, the word on the street is maybe the turkeys are out of stockso I gotta figure out how I’m gonna get a Turkey. 

Darin
I think they’ve all been shipped to the wet markets in China, so that might describe where they all went. 

Kim
Well, I don’t know. I’m in the Midwest. I guess I could grab my daughter’s and grab our guns or my gun and go shoot one. 

Darin
Yeah, probably not too far from there, so do you do the full traditional meal like the big Turkey and stuffing, potatoes, gravy? All that stuff. 

Kim
We do! And I’ve been trying, I guess, I’m going to Florida a week after, so those two things don’t go together. 

Darin
Yeah, probably like a little different there, you know. 

Kim
Yeah, I’m talking about eating that heavy meal on Thanksgiving and then leaving to Florida five days later. 

Darin
Yeah, yeah exactly. You need like a oneday rest period. A Thanksgiving quarantine. Well, we have a wonderful guest today. He’s been on a couple of our shows before. Sean Ernst is the Director of Technology for centrexIT. centrexIT is one of the largest managed service providers in Southern California. They’ve been in business for close to 20 years. 

We thought it would be a great thing to hit the topic of what it means to work from everywhere today. You know there’s this idea that in the past that we’ve lived primarily in the digital office. Then there were remote workers. Those remote workersyou know, had sort of special opportunity to work from home with some special tools. It was all fairly regulated or regimented. And then all of a sudden we find ourselves in the covid crisis, you know, moving everybody to that status, so we wanted to kind of pull the thread on that. Welcome to the show, Sean. 

00:02:41
S
ean Ernst
Thanks guys, appreciate it. 

Darin
So what was it like when the covid breaks first hit, that was in March of this year? Here we are almost towards the end of the year. What’s the experience been like? 

Sean
It was a interesting couple of weeks, probably for the first four to six weeks. I lost the most hair in that time period. 

Darin
You’ve got a bald cap on today. 

Sean
Yeah exactly yeah yeah I gotta hide it now. I think the biggest thing that  we saw and I’d like to you know is that our company put us in a good position for us to be able to support everyone. Dispersing from the office. We had made a plan when starting last year in February. The reason was we were trying to eliminate the dependencies on the office for everyone for us internally. And it wasn’t because we were expecting a worldwide pandemic to force everyone work from home. It was because we live in San Diego, and when it rains what ends up happening is we lose power, and one year we lost power at the office. And we said we we can’t have a dependency on something as simple as a light rain like that happened. 

Darin
I’ve always noticed that, to your point, in San Diego it’s the weirdest phenomena. You get these like Power outages, but you also get sort of a laggy Internet, right? So it’s like why is my Internet slow during the rainstorm there? There are definitely technical reasons in San Diego why that’s the case. 

00:04:01
S
ean
Yeah, obviously we rarely get it, but when we do and it happens typically there’s a lot of adverse effects that happen, so we made this plan to kind of decentralize the office at that point. It took us the better part of six months for us to not only map out the plan, but bring the right technology for us to be able to do that. We completed that somewhere around the beginning of the year, Februaryish. 

Darin
And that was just sort of like a plan that you’re working on, you’re kind of wanting to do a little bit of DR in there, so you had these plans in place just prior to things breaking out. 

Sean
Yeah, absolutely. March hit and we were talking with our clients who were familiar with what was going on. Just kind of giving us the idea of what should we expect. They said expect us to all go work from home probably within the next couple of weeks. 

We made the decision as an executive team and said “we’re going to send everyone home” – two weeks prior to the country saying  Basically, shut down. So we did that. We sent everyone home, worked out some of the kinks, some of the challenges. But the good thing was, that by the time all of our clients heard it and recognized what was happening, everyone had already been home and working for two weeks and we really didn’t have any bugsSo the move we made with the technology, plus sending everyone home, put us in position where we went back to talk to clients and said, you know we recognize this is not what the ideal situation for anyone. And we got great feedback. They said you guys were able to do everything we needed you to. We can get ahold of everyone. It was awesome.  

00:05:34 Darin
Yeah, ’cause you’re used to having, you know, several dozen team members who kind of work on the various projects that you have. They’re front and center. They all exist in one office, or you’ve got a couple of offices, and that all changed. You know, very rapidly. 

Sean
Yeah, and you knowit used to be the swivel chair effect in terms of hey I need to ask someone a question. We had the right technology to allow us to still be able to accomplish that, albeit in different means, and I think different wardrobe too than what everyone was previously used to wearing. You know, company Polos. 

Darin
Yeah, I went from shirts with collars to shirts with no collar. Seems to be the standard issue from home. 

Sean
Yeah yeah yeah. And then it was like, yeah: pants.  Now we’re at: shorts, and then it was like, you know, maybe shoes? And so now you just know to basically keep it from the neckup when you’re on video, right? 

Darin
Well put. I think actually you and I were on a call this week and we happened to see mutual friend who didn’t realize their camera was on, it was pretty funny. 

Sean
Yeah, yeah, I mean the good thing you said
, he was only….he was halfdressed, yeah. 

Darin
Yeah, yeah, exactly. So this idea of the digital workplace. Marketing hype? Or something that you really think is really emerging and different from what we’ve talked about before. 

Sean
I love the idea of what the concept behind the digital workplace is. I think it’s another marketing term much like cloud. It’s like any of the other buzzwords that you’ll hear. The core concept behind digital Workplace,” Workspace, you know, whatever your flavor is, is really that before we used to have a lot of dispersed apps that were kind of siloed off by themselves. This whole concept of digital workplace came around and really consolidated a lot of it. There’s good and bad that comes with it. 

But it would be like if you went to IKEA to buy something, you typically wouldn’t buy everything from IKEA. Maybe you want something; like this lamp from IKEA, or these plates, or whatever it is, but you wouldn’t buy everything from them, so there’s good and bad that comes with the idea and the concept of it. And really, the consolidation of all these things. Because as much as they are consolidated, it doesn’t mean it’s always the right thing for the business. 

Darin
You know, it seems like we go through these cycles where there’s a leading technology and that leading technology becomes the thing that we talk about. And you mentioned cloud, right? That to me is like a something that we talked about a lot as a technology that was very core. And it did bring about a lot of change. So here we are in a sense, living in the cloud and living in the cloud is defining these new types of spaces where we work, right? So beyond the initial idea of remote work, of virtualization, of environments...now we’re doing those. We’re doing a deeper dive on the kind of space that that defines. 

So all of a sudden we’re talking about even new technologies like VDI, which we should talk about. We’re talking about a plethora of SAAS apps you can do. You know, with SAAS just about anything that you need to do in the office. And now behind that you have a whole generation of users that have only lived in that world, right? Millennials in many cases. They have never used the traditional wired network, the traditional space where they had a set of applications that were installed on a computer or even on a local network. 

00:08:45
Sean
Sure, and I think that’s the funny part about digital workspaces. Even the idea of a digital handset: we had digital handsets back in the mid 90s and even earlier, before my time. 

So I think the idea that when you talk about the things that come along with the digital workspace, it’s not necessarily just any one set of technology, but it is also much more. Previously, the way we communicated was you picked up the phone and you called someone. You sent an email, you waited for response. Now it’s everything is more on demand and really more real time and the real time collaboration comes through. Those are the advances that we’re seeing in the digital workspace and everything that follows it. 

Darin
It yeah, so you know I want…

Kim
I’m sorry Darin. I was just thinking about that though 

Darin
No, go ahead, Kim. 

Kim
Darin and I can go back to the 90s. You know what? If we did have this pandemic happening in the 90s, how would that look? Because you know, what do you think that would look like? 

Sean
I don’t think it would be as easy as it was today, and I would say the advances in technology today have put us in a position that
, you know, in a lot of ways when this all went down, the end of March/beginning of April, in a lot of ways, people just said you know what I always said I could work from home. Now I’m just going to prove it because we have all the capabilities.” There will be some limitations depending on I’d say cutting edge, bleeding edge how advanced you are in technology within the organization. 

A lot of the more legacy organizations that have been around for a few more years who are used to doing things in the office...if they weren’t prepared with VPNs and Cloud hosted, whether it’s voice or applications, they maybe struggled a little more out of the gate, and that’s to be expected. I think more of the companies now that were born more recently and I would say within the last 10 years they probably looked at “there is no benefit to me hosting this. There is no benefit to me to have these things on site next to me more than I feel more secure with them.” Ultimately, what it’s doing is that it puts us in a position that when you look at those, there’s more recent companies as opposed to legacy. We kind of saw it. We saw the writing on the wall with those companies to say that we know these ones probably will have a little more of a struggle, and there’s some training and things that need to go into that. And the more recent onesThey were already living in the cloud. They were already living in apps that were geographically dispersed, so to them it didn’t really make a difference. It just meant that your commute from the office or from home to the office was a lot faster.  

It takes me about three seconds to go from my home to my office because it’s right next to me. 

00:11:20
Darin
Yeah, it just will be interesting to see, like one, we should talk a little bit about where this goes next. So we are talking a lot about millennials. And then behind that, I think, are the gen Zers, and they will be the first 100% digital native from the time they were born. You know, through whatever is coming next anhey, in a sense, will define the technologies that come in the future. We’re sort of laying the groundwork for that, and it’s just interesting that it’s sort of this idea that you can work from your office, which I think was the paradigm that many of us sort of grew up in, and that was like you can work from home and then all of a sudden the office is diminished and you have people more working from home because of the circumstances. Then there’s this third class, which I actually think is the up and coming, and that’s the sprinter crowd, you know, like the ability to work from your sprinter on the mountain, top, at your pace with your partner, and you’re both doing it and you’re going across country. I think for some that seems like a little bit far fetched, but it is happening. It’s already happening and I think if what you look at the next generation coming up, it’s part of the jam that they want to be, you know, living inside of. 

00:12:24
Sean
And I’m one of those. I’m a hybrid of all of them.  Earlier this year I lived in downtown San Diego. My building was wrapped in plastic they were doing  some work on the outside, some external project and I couldn’t see outside so I’m not only stuck at home, but I can’t even see outside being stuck at home and I said I’m done with this like I’m just going to go work from the road. So I got a big cell phone booster. I packed everything up.  

I packed my dog, camping gear, everything, and I drove across the United States and I worked for two months on the road. I drove from San Diego, north, and then all the way to the East Coast and back, and the whole time no one even knew. I didn’t tell anyone besides some of the leadership team. I didn’t tell anyone. I was on the road and no one even knew – they had no idea that I actually wasn’t in San Diego. Meanwhile, I was working from a campsite in somewhere in Oregon. I was working from the beach in Northern California. I was working from I surprised my mom and I was working from my mom’s home on the East Coast in Maryland. No one had any idea that any of this was taking place, and part of it was the technology allowed us to do that, it gives us the freedom to be able to do that. It comes at a cost in some cases, and that cost to me was really me making sure that I was putting myself in a position that I had the right Internet. You know, I had to be in the right space to be able to do those things. I had power. Our needs have changed since all of this happened. 

And now the need is, you know when you talk about 5G and Internet connectivity, our needs have shifted. Before it was: we need all this bandwidth. We need all these things. Well, 5G takes care of that. I mean, businesses don’t even need the traditional Internet circuit anymore. You could run it off once it becomes readily available. 5G. 

Darin
Was it more or less comfortable and did you feel more or less capable than you expected to on this two-month sojourn? 

Sean
You know, I think early on it was uncomfortable, and it was because I didn’t want to let the team down. That was first and foremost. I didn’t want to let the team down and so I was actually hyper focused on making sure I was able to deliver on what I was supposed to. 

So that was the first part, and then after probably a week or two, the other part was having a dog and I also had to make sure that the dog was..not doing like anything she shouldn’t be doing during the working part. So the first couple weeks were probably the biggest adjustment that I had. But after a few weeks and getting a little more kind of calm, cool, collected with it, it was business as usual. 

 

Darin
And a lot of it was hey, I need to be at this place for certain things ’cause you might have more connected activities and then your day frees up. Did you find that you had more or less what I’ve called white space  more time to think, to be creative than being sort of tethered to your company network? 

Sean
You know, I think that the thing that probably changed the most. When I was in the office, there were people constantly coming in and out, and I think that mental leisure is not readily available when you’re in the office. The office, I think, is something that takes away. I think the number I heard was that when you’re in the office and if it’s a standard 8 or 9 hour day, you’re probably only productive for five hours of that. And the reason why you’re only productive for five hours because you’re constantly being interrupted, whether it’s by people, some other influences. 

Darin
Yeah, some technology right? Technology is constantly interrupting you. You know if you’re more connected, you are more interrupted, I think. 

Kim
Or just the chatter amongst the other employees. I have an employee, you know, we were all working together and now of course they’re remote and I had them come in. One of my employees said I can do it, but you know, I can’t get anything done. There’s too much chatter. There’s too much disruption. At home, I can get my work done. 

Sean
Yeah, and I think that the funny thing for the longest time is that what people thought, and I think this is what businesses thought and what business leaders thought, was that we can’t be as productive at home as we can be in the office. Ireality I think you can be more productive. I think you could be more productive with even less time at this point. And when you see people talk about, you know, do four 10hour days. I don’t think it’s necessary. I think realistically you could do five. You know, five days a week and 6 hours a day. You could work and you would still be more productive than you would be in the office. 

Darin
Cause what you’re saying is your time is comparable to what you’d be doing in the office. If you’re in the office for eight to 10 hours, but you’re only getting 6 hours of work done because there’s these kind of digital and human interruptions, thenDo you think that the human interruptions are just noise, or is there some benefit that comes from the human interactions?  I do think the idea to be in a place where you can collaborate with two other people or three other people, which is not the water cooler talk, but the collaboration talk that that could be valuable, and it doesn’t accrue against the three hours of non-work. It actually accrues towards some very effective work time that that moves you forward on your agenda. 

00:17:25
Sean
I mean, there’s something to be said for the social interaction that comes along with it and I think from that is that the social interaction piece being thatIf you enjoy where you are, and you enjoy where you work, and I will praise centrexIT for doing that, is that we have a culture that we enjoy who we’re hanging around with. It’s a second family.  

Darin
I mean centrexIT has been highly rewarded: CEO of the year. Best company to work for. I mean it really is. There’s a big company culture. That’s a very critical part of what makes the company successful. 

Kim
Yeah, I was looking them up, and it looks like nobody’s worked anywhere else but there, when I was looking at your history. 

Darin
I mean, well, Sean, you’re an example. I mean, I think you’re about 22 years old, and I think you’ve worked there for most of your life. 

Sean
[Laughter] Yeah, you know, they recruited me. 

Darin
I’m looking at him. He’s very young looking guy. 

Sean
They recruited me out of kindergarten. So it was great. It was really awesome. It’s a testament to my boss, Dylan Natter. 

Darin
Who is the CEO, and founder. 

Sean
Yes. His goal was that he didn’t want a corporate structure. He hated it. He said he had two jobs before and that they were, you know, kind of corporate in in the way that they ran business and how people interacted. He hated it. I came from the military, as we kind of spoke about earlier, but I came from the military and I got out because I really didn’t want that. I didn’t want that. It’s a place where if you’re going to use the restroom there’s a manual you have to follow to be able to do that. 

Darin
How to get there, how to operate, how to get out safely and everything. 

Sean
Yeah, yeah, I mean you have a standard issue zipper that you have to use. You should be able to do it. So my goal was that I wanted to get away from that. So when I joined centrexIT it was really small, and we were kind of allowed to basically create on the fly in a lot of ways. When we were smaller it was great. And as we started to grow, we recognize we needed to continue to mature. 

But at the core of it, when we said, hey, we’re going to mature processes, people,” that whole thing, at the core of it remained the family element, which is: we spend more time here in many cases than we do with our own family. So we shouldn’t put ourselves in a position that we don’t like who ee work with, we don’t like the things that we’re doing. It should be something that when people get up in the morning and go to the office, they love doing it. We’re still doing that. We’re just not going into the office right now, but at the same time I think what you have is a lot happier people.  I would be hard pressed to find an organization, in most cases, I’m not going to say everyone, that isn’t better off and doesn’t feel that they’re better off now. And when you look at if we don’t have to have an office we come in to, people are spending less money on getting to and from places, they’re spending less money on going out for lunch, ’cause you know they’re working from home at this point. I think this is thing everyone was scared of – that we could actually work from home and be a really great organization. It just took something like this pandemic for that actually to come to fruition. 

00:20:19 
Darin

To create the opportunity to do it, well, it’s interesting. I mean, you’re in a really special place in the organization because you’re the one that’s sort of like supposed to be a year or two ahead. You’re sharing your own life and finding for yourself how this kind of digital workspace works. You’re looking and working in some of the newest ways. And then you’re trying to bring that back. ’cause I imagine some of the things that you learned in your own research was something that’s being deployed back, ’cause at the end of the day, you are supporting the IT infrastructure for many companies across San Diego in Southern California, so these aren’t companies that want to go down. Nobody wants to  have to call their IT person to say my networks down I can’t get into my data. I can’t get to my information. 

Sean
Yeah, and it’s one of those jobs where they don’t want to have to do that, and typically they’re not going to call and say, hey, I just wanna let you know everything is running great, too. I would say, in a way, that we know we’re doing a good job if people aren’t mad. I think that‘s certainly most jobs, but it’s one of those ones where they’re not also reaching out. And I’m not blaming anyone for that, but that’s kind of the reality of it 

We had an argument about this yesterday. I had this argument with my boss Dylan and he was saying “you think two years ahead, and that’s good. It just takes us awhile to catch up. If I really thought two years ahead, a year and a half ago I would have said, hey, I’m pretty sure a pandemic’s gonna happen and we should probably do something about this.”  

But in the reality of it, when we get the way we approach technology we try to stay as ahead as we can. It’s really hard for us to be able to not only put ourselves, but put our clients, in a position that we can take a technology and say “this is going to be really valuable for our clients, and the reason why is because there are certain things that happen when you talk about like the digital workspace. There are certain things that we can’t predict that’s going to happen. So to say that we should move everyone towards this... It’s not something that is front of mind and that we normally see or people see value in, simply because it takes something catastrophic to happen for them to realize what I actually should do. 

00:22:48
Darin
But I love the fact that you’re in this position where you’re forward, leading this idea. I do get the sense with you that you had this notion that people are going to be invested in this environment. But then when I’ve talked to you about the digital workplace, which is now out there, is that there is a kind of corporate message you see. Gartner’s doing a report on it, IBM is doing report on it and that’s scary, right? And those aren’t like two months old. Those are going back 12 months, right? So this notion this meme of the digital workplace has been around for a while, and I mean we’ve talked about it. You’re like, oh, that’s marketing hype.” But yet, you believe it because you actually lived it.  

Sean
Yeah, I do. And I think it’s marketing hype because I think it is the same way that cloud was in the beginning and everyone said hey we need to go to the cloud.”  But when you look at what the cloud is,  it’s a giant data center that’s noisy, they cool it, and there’s a bunch of servers running in there. It’s nothing more than that. It’s not like it’s this magical thing that’s going to end all, be all, and, you know, save everything. 

So when we look at the digital workspace, and when we talk about it with clients and our team internally as they interact with clients, we focus on what does the business need.” That’s certainly changed within the past yearI think everyone recognizes that, because the traditional way, the way you did business is going to change. We probably won’t go back to normal at some point in the future, at least for a few years. And even if we do, it’s still going to be a modified normal way of being. 

00:24:21
Kim
I think moving into this digital workplace that we’re in, it also takes a lot of trust as a leader because I felt it in the beginning when my team went home. I was always nervous. Are they working? The first thing I would do is look at my phone. You know: they better start emailing right at 8:00 o’clock. You know ’cause they work, different hours. 

Then I was like OK, when we’re on zoom calls now we need them to show their face. That was the first couple of months and I kind of kept waiting for the ball the drop. Well the ball never really dropped. No one messed anything up. And, do I think everyone’s working those structured 8 hours every day? No. But they do get their job done. 

Darin
But maybe that’s what it highlights. Maybe what it highlights is the fact that we saw people working in front of our eyes, and they did a good job at making it seem like they were working. Or maybe the work is more stretched out because you do have these social elements that are occurring. Maybe they have less distraction at home, although for me there’s this counter argument to that, so I’m kind of arguing against myself that the polishing the silver aspect of being at home right? It’s like you’re looking for things that will distract you or that you need to do that you normally wouldn’t do if you’re out of that space. 

Sean
Yeah, and that’s a great point that you brought up, by the way that. What’s the measure of success, now, working from home? You could say it’s that if whatever role you’re in, you have the capacity to do the things you need to.” But the litmus test that comes along with that one, what does success look like, is that your reaction iswell, I don’t know if they’re working. I don’t know if they’re working the way they should, or if they’re working the right hours.”  

Darin
But have you ever wondered that before? Like, have you ever wondered that when you were managing and working with people in the office.  

Sean
Sure, I mean, absolutely. The part I saw is that you had the leaders, and then you look at it like you look at and NPS score, and you had the detractors. You had people that were driving a lot of things, and you had the ones that probably weren’t carrying their weight in some capacity. When it’s frontofmind, when you can see it, it’s much more tangible, or like, visceral, and in the way it is.  Ultimately now when you’re at home the question is was that person, you knowAre they cooking? Are they mealprepping right now? Are they doing something that would take them away from their work? 

00:26:45 Darin
But maybe then you can argue “well, that’s actually working out better, because their health is better. They’re like, you know, doing what they want to do. They can get the work done, so it it actually really is something worth pulling the thread on. 

Sean
Absolutely. And what I think you’ll see coming out of this, and what ultimately I hope comes out of this, is that not necessarily that it becomes more micro manage, in the sense that we need closer reins with everyone because they’re now all apart.  What it becomes is that there are more ways to incentivize people to be the best person that they can be, working from home. Because when you look at the office, there’s some organizations in some verticals of business that will never be able to work from home. That’s just the reality of it. You can’t go to a restaurant and have a virtual restaurant. They can send you food and you can cook it. The experience of going out to restaurants is different. I don’t want to have to cook. I want to just sit down and they take my order and I converse, and that’s great. 

But what hopefully, and this is what I think the hope of this becomes, is that you see people now are putting more emphasis on ensuring the health of their people and putting people first. If you focus on the organization, and you empower them with technology that allows them to do what they need to do, what you end up having is happier people, and I would say hopefully healthier people, that come out of that. In the end they become more productive members of your team. And I don’t think there’s any business owner anywhere that would argue that and say that this isn’t good. Working from home isn’t good.” Because in a lot of ways that they say it’s not good, I would look at that business and say tell me why it’s not good? What about this is not, you know, allowing you to be a better organization?” There are things within the person, and maybe that person’s lifestyle, that may detract or be an issue. But ultimately, for the organization as a whole: you’re spending lessyou don’t need an office, you don’t have to maintain all of the kind of the accoutrement that comes along with having an office. 

Darin
So you have an office, you have the furniture, you have the power, the internet, all the things that have to be there to serve the people in that office and all that goes away and gets transferred into the home space. And what’s interesting about that is so many times the bandwidth is faster and cheaper in someone’s house than it is in a corporate and in commercial organization. 

00:28:56
Sean
Yeah. For what I paid for my home Internet connection, it’s probably a 10th of what we pay for the office experience. And then you look at Employee Perks. In our organization our employee perks were “hey, we have a kitchen. We’re fully stocking it. You know, doing all those things, with all the benefits that came along with it. Ping pong tablesall of the traditional tech benefits. So then it was like well, then what’s now important to us? Well, if everyone is going to work from home, what’s important?  Let’s get you set up with an ergonomic desk. Let’s get you set up with a standing desk. You want mats? 

Kim
So, are you doing that stuff for your employees? I find that really interesting. I makes me think, we’re doing so much for our customers, but what am I doing for my employees? So I’d love to hear some of the things you’re doing. 

Sean
Originally we had kind of a big bullpen where anyone who was an engineer worked. And we gave them all the standing desks, the convertible desk at that point.  Once we went to work from home we said everyone just get settled. At the very beginning was just make sure you have a workspace where you’re able to work. You know, separated from the kids.  

Darin
That was conscious. You’re like, hey, step one is get a stable space to sort of separate out from. You know, the workspace versus the personal life. 

Sean
Yeah, ’cause when you look at that from the perspective that is as equally important, and I think that’s one of the at the forefront of the decision of working from home that has to be there. You need a space that you can have the kind of the solitude to be able to do what you need to do. That’s important in order to be able to be a productive member of an organization. 

Darin
Concentration, these kind of ways to participate, and get your job done. 

00:30:55
Sean
Absolutely, and so then our second thing was that, well, we have all these desks that we bought, and all these standing desks, and it was like look, everyone come in take what you need to. Work with HR and make sure that they know what you took home. We had Sonos speakers around the office. We had all these things that enabled people to do their jobs in whatever capacity it was. 

Darin
So it’s already there in the office. You might as well take it to your house, and you’re kind of transferring that technology directly into the home. 

Sean
Yeah. You liked the standing desk at the office. Great, let’s replicate that at home. And there should be no difference in the things that made you as great as you were in the office. We need to be able to replicate that, especially while you’re at home because now you have other distractions that are there. It’s not necessarily your teammates that are distracting to you.  

Darin
Polishing the silver. I call it the leaf blower, the significant other, the dog. The child. I mean these are things that are different kinds of distractions. 

Sean
The contractors working on the outside of your building. Those were the things now, the new challenges that we had to face. It wasn’t that they were necessarily different in the purest sense of it, because it’s still people, it’s still things. All it did was it just shifted from the distractions of the office. 

00:32:11
Darin
It shifted the distraction: that’s going to be our nomenclature. It shifted the distraction, yeah. 

Sean
Yeah, absolutely, and I think everyone, once you look at it, there are large organizations, especially in tech space, that have embraced this for many years as a way of being and are part of it. They have a head start on everyone else. But when you look at that from a perspective of what do we need to do is we need you guys to stop. Don’t focus on work. Focus on making sure that you can be as good as you are an we want you to be as good as you are from your home. Focus on that first and then let’s focus on work. Because if everything is a distraction, no matter what it is if it’s kids, if it’s family and all those other things, the work from home honestly becomes a detriment and there’s no benefit to it. All the other benefits that we think should be there, they kind of fall by the wayside simply because you now have other outside influences that are affecting your wellbeing. 

Kim
Well, and I think you have to be as a leader…you need to know how to read your employees. I had an employee this summer that had some things happen, personally, and I could tell that she was just out of it mentally, and I had to call her and said I don’t really care about work. You need to pick yourself up, get out of bed, go walk, go get fresh air, take care of your mental health because if you don’t have your mental health, nothing else matters.” That was like a little journey I went through with her, and now she’s such a great employee. And it didn’t matter. Her knowing that I really cared about her as a person and put the job on the side matters. She’s one of my hardest workers and I’m very lucky. We’re small, but here are people that’ll sit here and listen… I know how it feels to not have a good team because this is my second company I started. My first year and a half I fired a lot of people, but now I’ve had two years of almost stable people, so I feel bad for the people out there that went into a lockdown when they didn’t have a solid team in place. 

Sean
We do personality tests when we bring someone into the organization. 

Darin
A special assessment kind of thing? 

00:34:36
Sean
It’s called Predictive Index. You can look at disk assessments and everything else and produce similar result. It’s in that world. It’s to basically understand the person. Because if we’re asking them to work from home and be there and collaborate remotely with everyone, there are certain key indicators that would say whether this is good or not? And so when you look at that and you say, like, will this be good or not? Well, in a lot of ways you should be able to tell us that someone can only fake it for so long, in the sense that do they understand like kind of what the job entails, like you’re going to be by yourself, and you will collaborate with people. And it’s not that we’re everyones isolated. Everyone is constantly communicating, collaborating, but s this the right position for you? Simply because ’cause if it’s not, you may be able to do it for a little while. You may be able to do it for a few weeks, few months, whatever that looks like. But at a certain point you’re going to fall into what you’re most comfortable with and where you really start to kind of accelerate. And if that’s not what that is, then let’s not let’s not put you in a position that we have to have an awkward conversation at some point in the future. 

Darin
Awesome. Well, man, it’s amazing how fast the show and by we have to continue this discussion. I do think it’s super pertinent to the way technology is going to go as we go forward. I want to thank our special guest, Sean Ernst. He’s the director of technology for centrexIT, aMSP, managed service provider based out of San Diego. Sean, If folks want to get ahold of you and learn more about what you do or this topic, what’s the best way for them to get ahold of you or the company? 

Sean
Email is probably the one I’m tied to the most, so it would be S Ernst at CENTREXIT dot com. 

Darin
Awesome and Kim Hakim is always doing interesting programs around these topics and other things, especially related to cyber security and how we protect the home space. And this new emerging workplace. Kim, what’s the best way for people to get ahold of you? 

Kim
The best probably is LinkedIn at Kim Hakim or you can go to my website at futureconevents.com. 

00:36:40 Speaker 2 

Awesome, and if you’re interested in learning more about seamless podcasts, the futurecon cybersecurity series, you can simply go to www.seamlesspodcast.com, navigate to the futurecon cybersecurity series. You can see a number of shows that we’ve done. Gosh, Kim, I think this is coming up on show #30. 

Kim
I know, we’re almost at a year! I was thinking that today that’s crazy. 

Darin
Yeah, we’ve done a lot of shows, and so there’s a lot of content there. We have a lot of great guests coming up. We had great guests today and you can also check us out just at your favorite podcast channel. So if you listen from Spotify, iTunes, you can actually just go there directly. Download demand for the show. So I want to thank everybody for being here and look forward to catching up on the next Seamless Podcast Future Con cybersecurity series. Thanks everybody.  

Sean
Thanks guys. 

Kim
Thanks everyone. 

 

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