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    Thanks for sharing this Hanadi. It's a great summary of why flexibility is key for any remote work policy. Remote work should mean working from anywhere (not restricted to office or home) and per the schedule that best suits you (not restricted to 9-to-5). More people are recognising this key difference and I am super happy to see Micorosoft take the lead here :)

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      Absolutely hrishikesh - come to think about it...flexibility is the byproduct of a culture of trust and empowerement, made possible by a leadership with people first mindset 

      Here's the MS policy 

      https://blogs.microsoft.com/blog/2020/10/09/embracing-a-flexible-workplace/

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        True, I've always liked Microsoft in that sense. I heard from a few of my friends that they have a component of 'participation outside work' in their yearly evaluation. This involves things like participation in CSR activities, sports, events etc. Having this as a mandatory component in evaluation clearly shows that you care for people.

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          I don't know if I totally agree with you @hrishikesh. I think employers providing social interaction opportunities is great, but I think "requiring" it (by measuring someone on it) could create a "not great" environment.

          Work-life balance or integration is so important for people and I'm just imagining the person who is already overworked or burnt out and desperate to have some personal time or time with their personal friends and family, but then feeling "obligated" to go to the work social activities instead.

          Ideally the organizations that have systems like this aren't overworking their employees and causing burnout. But I can imagine employees being resentful of having their social time set by their employer in addition to their work time.

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            Right Nancy, that's a valid point.

            Why I said this is great for employees is because at other places, you're expected to participate in social events or even trainings at work over and above your regular work hours.

            That's implicitly mandated  multiple times and I think it's unfair to ask people to put in extra hours because of that. It then completely relies on what your immediate manager does. I myself had both kinds of experiences - Had to stretch because my manager wouldn't consider the extra time time spent elsewhere while there was time when  another manager gave me some leeway.

            To be honest, I am not entirely sure about the specifics at Microsoft. The people who told me about this were surely happy and had no qualms about work-life balance. But you're right, even I wouldn't like to be mandated to spend social hours at work when I am already putting in my usual work hours.

            How's your experience been in this regard? Have you also seen/ heard of other employers mandating social participation at work?

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              I think we're generally on the same page here. The requirement of time above your normal working hours is not cool. 

              I've seen a couple of things related to this: 

              1. I've worked at a company that measured team members during performance reviews on "contribution to culture/values". This is good in theory, but more often than not people interpreted that to mean participation in social events. The events weren't required, but they became some sort of measurement and that left out parents who couldn't stay for a happy hour, or introverts who needed quiet time after 8+ hours in an office. I don't love when culture is conflated with socialness, and it creates opportunities for inequity. 

              2. I am also just a person who hates "forced fun". 😄 So while I appreciate the effort of companies to host fun events, not everyone thinks the same things are fun. So I hate the idea of mandatory events that might just not be interesting to me. I'd prefer some options and choice. 

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                ... events weren't required, but they became some sort of measurement and that left out parents who couldn't stay for a happy hour

                This is quite nasty. But quite natural that people will interpret things around culture in their own way. Although at some point leaders or senior management should figure this and put corrective measure. Did that happen?

                I remember our senior management at Adobe ditched objective performance evaluation totally (giving a rating out of 10) & brought in continuous subjective evaluation because they noticed that people were comparing numbers & competing for that.

                So I hate the idea of mandatory events that might just not be interesting to me. I'd prefer some options and choice.

                True, I am also against forced fun, particularly at the cost of your personal time.

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                  agree with both of you hrishikesh and Nancy - forced fun is counter productive and more often than yields the exact opposite effect 

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      I'm fully onboard with emojis for internal communications within the company. But I am a little more cautious with vendors or potential customers. You can usually tell within an email or two if it is appropriate though. 😄

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        Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Mark! I agree with a lot of your points. I do wonder about the article and the argument that having two different employee experiences is problematic. I think choice and flexibility are really powerful for employees so having the option to choose the experience that best fits their needs could really be a benefit. That absolutely requires that people be informed about the differences, and that leadership not show a preference or bias for one model over the other. That's probably where the inequity would sneak in. 

        I think coworking companies have a real opportunity in the post-Covid world. I imagine many people will become more transient and work "on the road". That creates a much larger pool of potential customers. I know there are some good networks of independent coworking spaces and I'm hopeful that they will thrive once things open back up again and people are more comfortable moving around. 

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          I think the article says it is very likely for leaders to be biased towards a person they see working vs the person working from home.

          This is a great point, Nancy!

          That absolutely requires that people be informed about the differences, and that leadership not show a preference or bias for one model over the other.

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            Agree with your points, Nancy. With a large number of people working remotely, coworking spaces could become the hang-out spot for workers looking to socialize and stay connected.  

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            I really like number 6 here and the idea behind it. It seems like every organization has a tough time getting the team to document in a single place when there always a ton of place something could go. Having at least one area where the messages will disappear has to filter at least part of the team to the correct place. 

            I wonder if tools other than Slack have this type of option. 

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              Haha, even I like the simple ingenuity of it :)

              Which other tools do you think bring out this poor habit of not documenting info? I felt Slack was one because casual chats turn into work discussions, which then get left out.

              Zoom, maybe?

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                Yeah, maybe Zoom or other video apps that have chat features. 

                This isn't specific to a single tool, but I always ask people on my team to close a conversation where it started. If you Slack me a question and find an answer elsewhere, even if we talk about it over the phone later, go back and close it out in Slack. That's partially because I'll probably remember that you asked me over Slack, but not remember where/when we answered it. Also, if we ever need to figure out what the decision was, I'd like the entire thread in one place. 

                I think one single place for documentation would help solve my memory issues and the desire to have entire threads in a single place. 

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                  Absolutely. Rather than thinking of it as closing the thread where it started, we actually follow a document it in a single location and notify the others on Slack whenever the update is made. I shared a bit about this in a post on team wiki.

                  This helps not only the two people involved in the conversation but also the wider team who might encounter the same question in the future. Also has helped us quite a bit in conversations.

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              I have a loose routine to my day. I generally start around the same time each morning. But I've really used the flexibility remote work allows to mix the work and personal schedules. I guess my strongest routine is around looking at my calendar a few days out and making sure I've got the right personal and professional time blocked for what I need, regardless of when it happens during the day. 

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                I do the same myself. Plan out the week tentatively on Sunday and have blocks of time for my activities. It differs drastically in some weeks though.

                Also keep a list of Todos on a daily basis as @justin-465 suggested. But that actually helps me get things done by the deadline.

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                Honestly, I just hate time tracking. 😄

                For real though, fixed/flat rates are nice because they minimize the administrative overhead of tracking time, reporting it out, getting nit-picked about different things and all of the other stuff that can happen with hourly rates. I think that's why most consultants or suppliers prefer the deliverable-based pay. 

                But, I get the client perspective of only wanting to pay for the work done for them. It may be a cost-saving mindset. 

                My personal preference, if what you're being asked to do is really task-based then an hourly rate seems okay. If you're looking for strategic guidance or something more nebulous, a fixed rate isn't as risky as some business owners think. (I personally could spend a lot of time "thinking" about strategies and bill for that if I wasn't very ethical. 😅) 

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                  haha, I quite dislike time tracking too!

                  But that's where I feel there has to be an element of trust when a developer claims to have worked for a certain number of hours or so.

                  If keeping track of time is tough, I would even suggest negotiating a weekly or monthly compensation-model. This way the developer(s), work closer to the team and can be aligned with the goals of the team as against just working to get the "project" done.

                  One of the main reasons I feel certain consultants or suppliers might want to work on a delivery-based model is so that they can take up multiple projects at the same time. Which I think is more tricky!

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                  Wecome everyone! I love seeing this community grow every week. 😁

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                    Wow. This reminds me of a new hire we had a few years ago. We've always been distributed and rely heavily on Zoom and virtual calls to interface with clients. It was this person's first week on the job and they were vaping on a video call with their new client. On the one hand, he was at home so we couldn't really tell him he couldn't vape, but the client also thought it was really unprofessional and created a really weird tone for the entire project. 

                    It's a tricky situation!

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                      I think people are going to be divided on this. While companies consider smoking at work to be unprofessional, it would be really difficult to debate as they are working from home. Maybe a clear set of guidelines and rules while onboarding a new employee would be helpful in such cases.

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                        you can only imagine the number of similar stories cropping up since the whole world went remote - I think it'll be interesting to document these stories and the impact they had on organization policies, guides, processes, etc.... one can derive huge insights for the future

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                        Congrats everyone! 

                        @emmaguo-395 Offsyte looks really cool! 

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                          woohoo thank you!! 😀

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                          Thanks for sharing Nancy. I think this will especially be useful to my wife whose boss is quite neurotic at times and gets all 21 members of the team for hours together. The ability to go out to breakout rooms should be pretty handy for her 🙏

                           

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                            Yikes! That sounds like a real pain for your wife. Hopefully this feature makes it a little easier to step out of the main group and have a sidebar conversation with others when needed. 

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                            I feel very privileged these days - both I and my girlfriend work remotely. We are also living together, so being in lockdown was not so much of a burden for us.

                            It looks that parents with kids working remotely have difficult times.

                            Also, people who unfortunately cannot work remotely, and people from affected industries such as the travel industry.

                            Btw, the 2nd wave of Coronavirus has different timing in different countries. France, Spain, UK, and Denmark look to be in a 2nd wave now. While, for example, Kenya is at its lowest after the 1st wave.

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                              This is where a lot of HR people have been struggling - the 2nd wave and school setups are different all around the world. For companies that have distributed teams, or teams that have become distributed because of Covid-19, it's hard for HR people to design programs or improve benefits that will help and support everyone when they need it. Should we subsidize childcare for people in one country and provide extra days off for people in other countries? Is it a short-term program for 3 months or is it a brand new "always available" program? There are still a lot of open questions and I think HR people are doing their best to support people in whatever situation they are in, but it's definitely not easy and we're not all getting it right every time. 

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                              I think companies that offer flexibility to those who want to work remotely and who want to work in an office will utimately win the war for talent. 

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                                I totally agree here. I think any number of setups could work if expectations are set correctly when people join an organization. However, I have a huge preference for "choice". This is probably closest to a hybrid setup, but there are different ways to interpret "hybrid". I like the setups where people can choose what is best for them - whether that is in office all the time, some of the time, or none of the time. I prefer that to hybrid models that dictate X days per week. 

                                Choice is really powerful - it increases productivity, engagement, and satisfaction. 

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                                  True, the moment you're ready to offer flexibility, it opens up such a vast talent pool. Plus there's also data that suggests retention is much higher when you do this.

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                                    I agree completely with @Srivatsan-44 and @hrishikesh Remote unlocks so much potential in the recruiting for companies, plus retention improves, motivation, and if done well also engagement. Productivity is also higher, particularly for individual contributor work.

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                                  A lot of really good stuff has already been mentioned, but I want to emphasize how important it is for new employees to meet and spend time with their manager in their first days. 

                                  Especially in startups, I see a lot of new managers that really aren't sure what they're supposed to do, so they think HR will just take care of the new employee for those first days/weeks. But the manager needs to be really involved in the process as well so employees feel supported. 

                                  As someone in HR, I always try to remind hiring managers that the work doesn't end when someone signs an offer. It's often more difficult and time consuming to ramp up a new employee than it is to hire them. I try to help them prepare before the start by discussing things like a 30-60-90 day plan. And I think it is helpful to give the managers a checklist of things to make sure they're covering over the first few weeks. Things as simple as: 

                                  - Set up a 1:1 meeting rhythm

                                  - Discuss communication preferences and expectations (email, Slack, text, etc.)

                                  - Discuss the performance review process - even if you just completed a cycle. Managers should be setting expectations as early as possible. 

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                                    I agree completely with you, @nancy 

                                     

                                    HR helps with many things, but the hiring manager must also be present. The hiring managers must be in close contact with the new employees. The employee-manager relationship is crucial for the success of the new employee.

                                    I've seen a very good structure for this: 10:00 meeting with HR for about 1 hour. Then 11:00 meeting with the manager for about 1 hour. HR covers the practical company-wide things. The manager covers the role-specific things.

                                    30-60-90 days plans are a good idea, most bigger companies do them, they are the best practice for that stage for sure. On this, since we are a small team - we just communicate "what you need to do to be successful in your role", which includes "how do we evaluate performance in practice".

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                                    The first point is really interesting - "the future of work will favor workers with skills rather than degrees". Having worked with and near recruiting teams for so long, I know the struggle of actually identifying skills in candidates and how many hiring managers still default to "credentials" or "pedigree" - usually in the form of degrees, certifications, etc. - during the initial screening process. 

                                    I'm really curious to see how resumes will evolve to make it possible for skills to be assessed in the recruiting process. 

                                    The current process involves a lot of take home assignments during the interview process and those turn off a lot of candidates. It seems like either that will become more normal and candidates will be more willing to participate. OR we'll need to think of other ways to assess for skills. 

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                                      Good point Nancy. I remember talking to a startup founder and he mentioned that the future of work would be about individuals building "individual brands" as opposed to just merging into a company and using just a resume.

                                      So, I think that would be something everyone would have to do as opposed to just trying to showcase your skills during a hiring process.

                                      As remote working becomes more of a norm and teams understand the sudden freedom they have in hiring people, new hiring channels will open up. People will get contacted because they liked a tweet thread written by someone, or an article OR because they are a regular reader of the person's newsletter and so on.

                                      So, I do think it will come to focusing on projecting one's skillsets every day rather than just doing it on a certain day for a hiring process. As the former is scalable too - you are now simultaneously a part of the "hiring process" of multiple companies because each one can evaluate your work which is being projected publicly!

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                                        Every call 😅

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                                        I love the last point here ... "it is actually 'work from anywhere'". I think some companies are seeing the move away from offices as a way to save a ton of money on office rent, furniture, snacks, etc. But I'm afraid that makes it too easy to overlook some new costs - those associated with internet stipends (either home or hotspots to actually work from anywhere), shipping items all over (anyone ever had to overnight a laptop across the country before?), etc. And as a huge fan of coworking, and the accompanying community building, I would love more companies to cover those costs for employees where working from their actual home just isn't feasible. 

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                                          Absolutely! I have no doubts that people are going to realize the "costs" associated with remote work. Not only the first-order ones as you have mentioned but also the second-order ones.

                                          The existing remote work companies did not have to go remote unwillingly with communication processes not aligned to working remotely. Thus, I believe that these second-order ones are going to new to the world.

                                          And one of the first would be employee attrition/ lack of applicants entering the recruiting pipeline.

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                                          I've found creating different Chrome profiles to be really helpful to separate work and life. I've got my personal profile with all of my social media bookmarks and other things I like to play around in. And I've got a separate work profile with all of those bookmarks. It makes it a lot harder to stumble over to Twitter during the work day or to check Asana during personal time.

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                                            I could talk about bottlenecks in the recruiting process all day! 

                                            For smaller companies/startups, brand awareness is a huge bottleneck. I wish companies started focusing on their employer branding way earlier. It absolutely must happen before and productive hiring can begin. 

                                            Take home assignments and code challenges create such a bottleneck as well. Candidates who are full-time elsewhere do not have the time or interest in doing 4-8 hours of homework before they can even talk to someone. Especially for software engineering, I would love for hiring managers to take code samples in lieu of completing challenges. Most folks will have something on Github that is at least a little relevant to the position being interviewed for. 

                                            Indecisive hiring managers are probably the biggest bottleneck. They knew they need help, but they don't know what so they search and search for the "perfect" candidate, when they don't really know what that means. I ask hiring managers to create the 30-60-90 day plan before they create the job description. If they can articulate the business need for the position, it is much easier to write a job description, and identify the candidate that can actually help accomplish those business objectives. 

                                            I could go on, but these three seem like a good start. 😀If anyone ever wants to talk recruiting or people operations, I'm happy to share more. 

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                                              Pretty right. Hiring managers are into a mission that knows little about it, though you can set up a better procedure or take a few software into their account for a better analysis.

                                               

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                                              Hi Justin!

                                              What is the name of your startup? :-)

                                              I'm the founder of RemoteMore, we are a fully remote team of 12 people, 3 years old company. We have a bit unusual approach to building a company, e.g. the founders work 70hrs/week consistently 3 years so far. So my experience may not be fully applicable. But that disclaimer is I guess always relevant when sharing advice :D

                                              I think it is mostly about being a founder, not so much about being remote. When you are a founder, you are ultimately responsible for everything. If you are early stage with low amount of capital, you need to be involved in a lot of things (there are no skilled people to take over those areas).

                                              But also indeed remote adds to this. It is easier to stay connected after work.

                                              ...

                                              What works for me in order of importance:

                                              I have dedicated time for work, and dedicated time for life outside of work. For me, I know from experience that if I work above 70hrs/week over more than 3-4 weeks, I get too stressed and tired. I keep track of the hours daily, and keep an eye on not crossing the 70hrs/week considerably.

                                              (70hrs works for me due to the things I've cut out from my week, and due to the possibility to switch between deep work tasks and light work tasks)

                                              Outside of work, I don't have my email on my phone. I rarely turn on email/slack etc. outside of work.

                                              For the remote part - it helps a lot to have dedicated space and dedicated clothes for working. So your mind gets used to "now I'm at work" / "now I'm not at work".

                                              In general, hobbies are great. They get your mind off from work, and it gives you a good perspective on life.

                                              Cheat days are fine. On my weekend, I play computer games without feeling guilty about it. You need to take care of yourself, and that means doing things that you enjoy.

                                              Getting good sleep is quite important. Getting somewhat healthy food also helps.

                                              Having a supportive spouse is also important!

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                                                Appreciate the breakdown of your own situation, @borisov91!

                                                Building a company as remote from Day 1 certainly has its own set of challenges so it's impressive to know you and RemoteMore are making it work 3 years in, particularly with the consistent weeks of 70+ hours working 😮

                                                I definitely think the demarcaton of work time vs personal time is important. Do you generally just set time off in your daily calendar to facilitate this?

                                                BTW, the startup I work on is Quidli - we enable remote companies to offer crypto-based perks and incentives to their team members (no localization required anywhere). Research shows that offering the right perks improves employee productivity by at least 45% so let me know if you need more benefits for your distributed 12 team members 😉

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                                                  For me, I have a relatively well-organized calendar for work things (on my computer), and an almost non-existent calendar for outside of work (just notes in my notebook).

                                                  I guess it is because I rarely have things planned for more than 2 weeks ahead outside of work, so it's sufficient to just write down notes about it.

                                                  The demarcation for me is - I work from 9:00 to 21:00, more or less consistent. So outside of that time, I'm no looking at my work calendar etc.

                                                  ...

                                                  I have been thinking a bit about paying with Crypto to employees, given the international payments.

                                                  But how does it work with the company accounting?

                                                  That was my concern about it.

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                                                    I'm pretty interested in following up on this conversation about perks/payments for employees with Crypto, especially for small, international teams.. Any interest in opening a new thread about it? For reference, I know nothing about it.

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                                                      Sharing the link to this short explainer by Justin for quick reference - Reward employees with Crypto.

                                                      However, would surely be great to have a new thread on this topic. @justin-465

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                                                        Yes, it will be great to read a post explaining how it works, what are the benefits, etc. :-)

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                                                          @lindsayalissa, @borisov91

                                                          Always happy to shill Quidli 😇 

                                                          As mentioned by @hrishikesh, he was kind enough to post a page about Quidli a couple weeks back; so happy to facilitate a more crypto-oriented conversation there if you're interested in diving deeper!

                                                          But just to provide some more background here, I'll link two blog posts we've prepared to give some high level info:

                                                          - An introduction to Crypto Perks

                                                          - How crypto can be beneficial for remote teams

                                                          Definitely let me know if you have more questions, need further clarification, or even challenges 😆

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                                                            This is awesome. I just had a Crypto development happen via one of my freelance gigs, and I'm thirsty for all of this info!

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                                                              Happy to share more!

                                                              Feel free to ask or ping me directly any time! ✌

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                                                          Not sure I successfully "mentioned" you in my response so just manually pinging you as a notification! 😉

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                                                          Yea, I guess I've just been less successful at respecting fixed hours - I always start with good intentions but then I'll inevitably shift things into my non-work time until the entire premise collapses 😥 Perhaps I need to make a schedule for my downtime as well haha

                                                          Re: crypto to employees, happy to provide you some more details. We just connected via LinkedIn so I'll sync with you there in order to not derail this "work-life balance" post 😂

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                                                            Thank you, @justin-465 and @hrishikesh!

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                                                              I'm pretty terrible at "fixed hours" as well. But I have found that I respect my work calendar a lot. So I applied that to my personal life as well and have "scheduled" the personal things I need to do. If I've got a block on my calendar for mowing the lawn, going grocery shopping, cleaning the bathroom, etc. I'm more likely to actually do it. 

                                                              It doesn't always feel great to be so calendar driven, but it does seem to work for me. 

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                                                        I started Shine Bootcamp last week! It has been incredible to see how a "built-for-live" experience has been adapted to a remote format. This is the first year they have an international cohort and it has made the experience that much richer. 

                                                        If you ever plan conferences or look for speakers, consider checking out the speaker showcase in early October for potential speakers. https://www.conference.shinebootcamp.com/

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                                                          Super, congrats Nancy! Sorry for missing out on this - I was actually not aware of it. I will note this for next week :)

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                                                            This is really amazing 🤩
                                                            Really excited to see people from diverse backgrounds come together for this event. 

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                                                              Actually, I added it to the same post. Sorry again for missing out!