#194: Can Data Help Optimize the Post-COVID Office? with David Stella

The workplace is changing! Even before COVID, the look, feel, and layouts of offices went through various phases: the rise of cubicles in the 1960s (ick!) and then, decades later, the rise of the open office (“Headphones…deployed!”) are just two examples. What does the “next” workplace look like in a world that supports remote work, hybrid work, and in-office work? It looks… complicated (but exciting). On this episode, David Stella from db.19 joined us to discuss how data (and experimentation!) can be an important tool when it comes to designing productive and effective professional environments.

People & Products Mentioned in the Show

Photo by Mitchell Kmetz on Unsplash

Episode Transcript


0:00:05.7 Announcer: Welcome to the Analytics Power Hour. Analytics topics covered conversationally and sometimes with explicit language. Here are your hosts, Moe, Michael and Tim.

0:00:21.8 Michael Helbling: Hi everyone, welcome to the Analytics Power Hour. This is episode 194. The great resignation hybrid working setups, return to office. The last couple of years has turned working upside down for so many people, and just going back to what we did before is definitely not cutting it at most companies, there’s articles coming out all the time indicating that people who don’t turn on their cameras when they’re at working remotely are thought to be less engaged and less promotable, and there’s just so many challenging problems to solve for companies and leaders as they try to keep their employees happy and provide the right structure for their companies as we emerge from, hopefully, we emerge from the shadow of COVID. I don’t know, let me introduce my two co-hosts, Moe Kiss is the marketing data lead, or marketing data lead at Canva, which is a pretty fast-growing company, so that’s great. Moe, do you work in the office?

0:01:26.7 Moe Kiss: I am part-time. Yes.

0:01:29.1 MH: Okay. You’re doing a hybrid thing. Tim Wilson, senior director of Analytics at Search Discovery. I know you’re remote, Tim.

0:01:38.0 Tim Wilson: And happily, so.

0:01:40.3 MH: But would you go into the office? If they opened one in Columbus?

0:01:43.8 TW: That would be, I hope not.

0:01:46.5 MH: Alright, [laughter] yeah. And I’m Michael Helbling. I’m the managing partner at Stacked Analytics. And we all work remotely, so I work from my home, but I liked going to the office when I did, but anyway, to have this conversation, we needed a guest, someone who could help us talk about what is in between all this data and is people problem, How do we solve this? So David Stella is the principal at db.19, he consults with companies of all sizes on workplace strategy and solutions, he uses the design, data and user experience to guide his clients to the best solutions for their businesses. And today, he’s our guest, welcome to the show, David.

0:02:27.0 David Stella: Thank you so much for having me, it’s a pleasure.

0:02:29.3 MH: So I feel like this episode could be not as sort of data-oriented to some of our episodes, and yet maybe the most relevant thing most of our listeners will hear all year because everyone’s going into this, so first off, sort of maybe tell us a little bit about what you do, ’cause I think that’s sort of a unique industry and expertise that you’ve kind of built, and obviously it’s a great time probably to be in the business that you’re in, I’m thinking.

0:02:58.2 DS: For sure. [laughter] Yeah, so I actually combine data and design, so I am a hybrid strategist who looks at data to help clients solve their post-COVID office needs of the future, and then what does it actually look like in a physical environment. So how does that translate? How does data translate into environment and why? And a lot of times I spend with clients is thinking about why having space, what is the philosophy of work, or what is the reason for space in place and how does it serve in a different world? And so, obviously, COVID has been the great disruptor for all of us, it’s been such a change, and that’s a good thing, right? But this is not a new change, it’s an accelerator, and I love this idea because we’ve been looking at this new way of thinking about work for a decade-plus, it’s just now becoming more tangible, more relevant, and because COVID has pushed us into experimentation with new places, so this is what I do, I get to help clients figure this all out and kind of navigate this new way of thinking about environment and place in space.

0:04:06.0 MK: I’ve got a thousand questions.


0:04:11.5 MH: Start.

0:04:13.0 MK: So I really desperately wanna understand, when you talk about using data to help companies, like What kind of data are we talking about? What are you looking at? And I suppose, immediately I also went to like, is this more traditional companies or are these more, I guess, like startup-y type companies and wouldn’t there be an issue even with the availability of the data that you might wanna use?

0:04:37.0 DS: Yeah, so and that’s a big issue, I mean, technology, depending on the industry will adapt at different rates, so certainly startups and tech companies are gonna be much more adaptive to using data, whereas the legal profession and certain more traditional banking, for example, they’re a little harder to move the needle, but nevertheless the power of data is now more relevant than ever. And I think it’s time to wake up, it’s time to see the relevance of data as part of the new social norm, and I really like this idea that it’s fundamentally changing the way we think about how we are as people, and there’s all kinds of great things I wanna talk about that, but the data comes from people, and that’s, I think, it’s a really important thing to start with. It’s comes from the employees, it’s not a trend, it’s not what PwC is looking at, it’s not what the latest Facebook and/or meta return to office philosophy is, it’s really about mining the data of employees companies and this can be any company, and we start there, and it’s a different approach than most traditional interior design firms would start with, oftentimes data comes from a client, okay, so I need six offices, three conference rooms too, that this is not programming.

0:05:57.0 DS: We have the prescription already, this is deriving the program from the data, and that’s a very different way to start. I worked at the largest design firm in the world for three different offices for several years, and we just never did it this way. It was much more about kind of the trend of, Oh, what’s the latest colour and what’s the latest material and what’s the latest, interesting look, and when we’re gonna do sit to stand desk, that’s great, this is not what we’re talking about, this is real data from people, and there’s lots of ways of gathering it, I think one of the most important was the survey just ask like, What do we want? But surveys have to be tailored in a data analytical-centric way, in other words, you can’t just ask an opinion, you can’t solve for opinions, you have to solve for data points, that’s a really important distinction. A lot of surveys, workplace surveys are too broad, or they’re two touchy feeling, and we really wanna narrow that down to data points we can mine, so we’ve crafted the surveys that are specifically designed to pull information from and then sort and sift and re-shuffle.

0:07:03.7 DS: That’s the first one, and then of course, we interview, which understanding the more broader space in place when it comes to opinion, especially about leadership and how getting a pulse of how things are working in an organization, then we can actually do utilization studies. This is actually monitoring and measuring exactly what’s going on in the workforce, so that’s people walking around with iPads, checking off boxes every hour saying what’s happening here, what are they doing, and how long are they there? And then there’s actually more data points that that are derived from technology, which is the other thing, that’s a big push. So this is kind of like your first question, Moe, it’s like, Well, How do we get people on board? Well, there are still people open the doors of their offices with a key at the front, we need actual data points, so who’s coming in, what are they doing when they’re there, who are they talking with, and how long are they engaging? And there’s some really fascinating things that are coming out that are allowing us to track and use those data points to really understand exactly how environments are used and not just what we think they’re being used or how we perceive, “Oh, that conference room is used everyday.” Is it?

0:08:15.8 DS: And if so, how is it being used? What do I think is not irrelevant, it’s actually, how is it used? And I like that distinction around understanding a data point that’s relevant, it’s not just what we think it is. So then we take all this information and we kind of aggregate it into a data visualization tool that allows customers and clients to say, Okay, what is my team doing and how, and what do I understand from them? And from those data points, we can start to help categorize and start to compartmentalize in some respects each group in an organization. So what’s important, I think, to the success of return to office or return to work, or back in the office or hybrid, or whatever we wanna call it, is not just a policy that says we’re gonna be in the office three days a week, that’s great. But that doesn’t mean anything. It may not be relevant to me. It may not be relevant to my team. I have a friend right now who’s going into the office three days a week, and they all come in at different times, so What am I gonna do? How am I gonna see anybody? Like, what do I have to orchestrate this? So the point is, is that the approach has to be tailored and tailored to as much specific as we can get because that makes the best human experience, something that makes it feel like it’s designed for me as an individual and not just a broad group of people. We’re all gonna hurt in, we’re all gonna hurt out, that’s not what this is about.

0:09:43.9 DS: So the data can be tailored and made more specific so that we can really fine-tune how it gets done, so we categorize, we have mobility profiles and activity profiles, these are kind of measurements around usage, how often I’m coming in? Or do I need to come in? That’s mobility. And then activity is, when I’m in the office, what am I doing? So am I doing individual focused work? Am I doing group think? Am I socializing? Am I meeting one-on-ones? All these different activities, so we try to categorize and then we can take this data and really create environments around it, so I’m gonna stop there ’cause I’ve done a lot of talking. [chuckle]

0:10:27.8 TW: Well, so specifically in the COVID context, and I look at, it’s gone on for so long, and I think about the organization I work for. The people who work there are fundamentally different, who owns the company is fundamentally different, like the structure has changed. My wife’s company, much larger company, similar thing happened that when COVID hit they were about to go change spaces anyway, and then things have changed about organizations where like, How do you go about gathering the non-opinion data when you don’t actually have a baseline to work from, and all these expectations have shifted? And I think kind of a cousin to that is, how do you tease apart what we’re measuring is a result of the environment, rather than, Oh, this conference room never gets used? Well, it turns out that’s not because there’s not a need for a conference room, or just the conference room sucks, like how do you figure out what would happen when it feels like there’s an absence of data to be collected?

0:11:40.6 DS: Right. And that’s a big problem right now. During COVID, how do we do utilization studies when there’s nobody in the office? Obviously, we have to do fill in the holes with more opinion data, unfortunately, we have to rely on our survey and our interviews more heavily than we would normally do, but the tail end of that is the bigger question of why office? We know we can work remotely, we’ve spent two years proving this to the max, we have seen data points from various resources that say, productivity has not only stayed the same, but it’s usually going up, in general, for most organizations. So the question then becomes, why office? And why do we office? And we often say The Office isn’t dead, it’s just gonna be different, it’s gonna serve a different need, so you’re right, we are kind of throwing up the cards deck all in the air and starting from scratch, so what we end up doing is rewinding a bit and going, Okay, here, some of these studies, but do we have to get down to a root cause of why do we need to be together? And I think that varies on a spectrum, like everything else, there are certain organizations that are nope, we’re coming into the office no matter what, I don’t care. We’re gonna make this happen. We’re gonna go back the way it was.

0:12:57.8 DS: I think that is going to be the dinosaur death of these companies because that’s just not gonna fly anymore, we’ve learned too much and we’ve spent too much of our existence in this hybrid world, where we’re some time at space away from the office. I feel that’s going to be a real problem for a lot of organizations, but we’re seeing it now, we’re seeing this, we gotta get back in the office. If you start with that approach, you’re kind of doomed towards the path. I think the question becomes is, well, what do we need as an organization and why? And there’s this whole conversation around shifting the focus of the office from the warehouse of workers, the open office, which has been the predominant design model for the last 10, 15 years, where we have rows and rows of continuous workstations and walls of perimeter offices and everyone gets their little cubby, and we’re gonna collaborate and hold hands and sing Kumbaya and swing back and forth, well, that didn’t work before COVID, it’s certainly not gonna work after COVID.

0:14:00.0 DS: Okay, so we’ve kind of scratched that away, so then okay, well, then why are we coming into the office? So why if we can work productively at home, and we seem to be in general fairly happy with that, that again, the data points around return to office are remarkable, I think the last Liesman study said, only 15% of the US workforce wanna come back under the office full-time, only 15%, 47% want some sort of 2-3 day work hybrid, which is the predominant model, and 17%, I don’t wanna come back in at all, Tim.


0:14:31.2 TW: Alright.

0:14:33.4 MH: You’re not alone.

0:14:33.5 DS: You’re not alone. You’re not alone. So I think that’s compelling, but it’s also anecdotal, it’s not relevant to my organization and the one that we wanna look at, so we have to ask our employees in general, and then you’re right, we have to extrapolate. So why come into the office? I think the fundamental reason, and this is Brené Brown, who’s one of my idols, states we are, [chuckle] here it comes, we are biologically and neurologically wired for human connection, fundamentally, we are social preachers, period. And this idea that we can somehow be in a virtual forever is probably never gonna fly because we’re just not built physically to do that, we get so much of our information around beyond the little box that we’re seeing right now, our body language, our positioning on the nuances, we’ve all been in Zoom calls, we’ve all been in hybrid meetings where three people are on a phone and five people are in the room and there was three people are lost and it just doesn’t work, right? We need to be together to some degree, and I really do believe that fundamentally. So the office isn’t dead, it’s just gonna transform into something much more accommodating for a group activity, in other words, it’s gotta do more than just sit there and have two computers and have me type all day.

0:15:50.8 DS: I can do that at home. Think about a warehouse like Costco, Costco is rows and rows of shelves with bad lighting, and you get in there and you grab your stuff and you go out, Well, why are we designing offices exactly the same way? It doesn’t make any sense. We need to create environments that people can collaborate and connect socially and creatively and bond and create culture that you just can’t do in a virtual world 100% of the time.

0:16:18.3 MK: But it’s really funny, actually, like our office has gone through myriad of… We have a very startup-y office, we have lunch and cafe and a rooftop bar, all the usual startup shit, and it was really funny because they went through these…

0:16:35.5 MH: Do you guys have ping pong tables?

0:16:37.1 MK: There are somewhere, yes, yes. And Arcade games and other stuff, but there was this time where they basically got rid of half the desks, and then they put all these shared desks in the middle of the floor, and we were all like, what are you guys doing? Why are you getting rid of half the desks? Like how can people don’t have anywhere to sit now? And they were like, Oh, but everyone wants to work more collaboratively, and it was like, No, actually there are heaps of spaces around the building to collaborate, when people go to their desk, it’s actually because they wanna focus and they want quiet time and they wanna have a big screen, and so taking away half the desks and we had to go through that, and then people basically gave feedback and we’re like, What are you doing? And so they changed it back, but it was really interesting where there were these assumptions made, I think, about the way that they’re [0:17:30.3] ____ we wanted to work, which was actually like, No, there is so many spaces to have collaboration already, so we need sometimes the quiet spaces to work, and it was a really interesting experience to watch.

0:17:43.6 DS: And I think that’s a great example, Moe, when you’re saying something like, We think as opposed to what data points are we aggregating to get that more validity than just we think? And so that’s the first thing. And you’re absolutely right, I’m the big believer indoors, if need quiet focus time, I’m either gonna have it in the office with the door or at home, when I know I can be quiet and focus, ’cause right now, after two years of COVID, we probably have figured out how to do this, now it’s not great for everybody, if you have young kids, you have dogs, there’s all kinds of reasons to not be at home, but in general, it works, so if I’m going into the office, I need a variety of habitats, a variety of spaces and places to play in, and I wanna be able to use them when I need to, so the office has to be on-demand as needed, I may not come in at 8 o’clock and leave at 5:00, I may come in a half a day, I might meet colleagues for lunch and then come in for three hours and have a couple of meetings, before that, I might wanna do couple of hours of focus work, I need environments that I can grab on to and use when I need them, and I need them to be as flexible and as seamless as I am when I’m at home.

0:18:55.0 DS: So there’s a whole new universe around this idea of sharing and caring, the sharing and caring model, how do we use spaces, doesn’t have my name on it, but something I can reserve, keep when I need it and then move on when I don’t? And that’s all managed by technology, it’s the technology that allows us a much more fluid way of using and spaces as opposed to names on doors and names on workstations. And I think that’s a big change. And also, the idea of having an assigned desk is kind of strange, right? Because I’m not bringing all my paperwork I did at home into the office to do paperwork there, I’m probably coming in for either doing some digital work on a laptop, which is what I’m doing at home, and then I’m doing some sort of moving around and talking to other people and bumping into folks and creating other meeting, so we’re not needing a lot of stuff. The storage of personal storage is kind of going away, so we need to be as mobile and as fluid as we are in our everyday’s life, and I always look at this little device, which I’m holding up, a cell phone, [chuckle] and there it is, that’s what allows us to do it, our mobile technology allows us this fluidity.

0:20:05.6 DS: So we are gotta have embrace that in the physical environment, and because, Tim, we don’t have all the data points we need, because COVID has not allowed us to get the details, we need environments that are as flexible and changeable as we are more than ever. In other words, if things change, if heaven forbid, COVID-20 shows up, heaven forbid, we got it wrong with the IT department who actually didn’t wanna come in all the time. How do we create the environment that adapts and then use those data points to inform us to say this space work, that didn’t, we need to reconfigure? So we need environments that actually are as flexible and as fluid as we are, and that’s a big push into a new world.

0:20:46.0 TW: Are you seeing organizations actually plan or are you counseling them to plan in to say, “We’re taking our best shot with imperfect data and we’re gonna try this?” Is it a deliberately planned, we’re gonna go for one quarter and then that’s, we’re gonna come in and now we’re gonna collect data in that environment and set that expectation? I can see organizations say, “No, you’re the expert, you’ve gotta get it right,” so it’s the analytics side, we get that. I know it was COVID and you’re telling me you’ve got crap data to work with, but I still want you to make predictions even though there isn’t anything there, Is there receptivity to saying, “Hey, we’re taking our best shot, but we’re probably gonna need to change?”

0:21:32.0 DS: Yeah, we’re planning for the change. And so, yeah, we’re building these environments now, obviously, design and Data Analytics takes time, but we’re swinging the hammer now and what we’re finding is, first of all, we’re taking less space. We just don’t need as much space. When we share space, we can take less of it. Well, there’s a huge financial advantage for most corporations to take less space because it’s the second most expensive thing other than employees, salaries and benefits, right? So real estate is expensive piece for most organizations. So if we change the footprint, we can now afford to spend more money on things that move, and every time we think things move, add dollars, right? ‘Cause mobility means, it complicates things. How do I move power? How do I move walls? How do I move furniture? How do I have a cater person that does all this? We can actually do all of that now, and because we can now invest some of that dollars in rent into environments that flex, it makes more sense financially. And then you’re absolutely right, Tim. We gotta continue to march on data points. We have to continue to gather more data as we go along. Data becomes a foundation of environment, and then we can see how that actually translates over time and experiment with changing things around.

0:22:44.5 MK: But so David, my work is been using this new technology and new app called Calvin, believe it’s called Calvin, which basically lets you go in and you book your desk, and from what I understand, and it’s also very useful because we have the kitchen and then the kitchen knows who has dietaries, how many people they need to cater for, all that sort of stuff. My husband’s work does the totally opposite thing, right? They’re basically like, you are allowed 30% of your team in the office on a Tuesday, and they have to kind of organize amongst themselves to make sure they never go over that 30% cap. My work is the opposite, right? We’re like full…

0:23:22.2 TW: He’s in financial services, right? And this is banking, great.

0:23:26.5 MK: And my work also we notice way more people come in on a Friday, because it is a very social company, everyone wants to be there for Friday drinks. But it’s like, how do you balance that? We talked about the financial impact, but soon as you say, we need lots of flexibility, in my head, all I do is say empty desks Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and think, what is the financial impact for a company on that? But how are you working with your clients to balance that? Is it about trying to use some of the new technology?

0:23:58.6 DS: Yeah, we use the new technology to give you the data, but you’re absolutely right, I mean, this kind of arbitrary, we’re all gonna come in on a Tuesday. Okay, why? For who and for what purpose? So for me, it’s kind of like lazy strategy, is like, well, we’re not really gonna do the homework, we’re just gonna kind of put some things together and just have people hurting. You can’t do that. I think that’s the kiss of death, because people come in and go, “Why am I here? There’s nobody here.” Or, “I’m on the wrong day,” or, “My whole team’s coming on Thursday, I didn’t know that.” You have to orchestrate, it has to be a curated experience, it’s not just a randomness, now there can be some of that for sure. You wanna be able to have that level of flexibility, but you do have to orchestrate events, you can’t expect two teams to suddenly magically show up at the same day, you have to actually design that and you have to design the program around the environment, so we use a lot of metrics that helps us kind of determine ratios of how many spaces that we need, both individual, assigned, unassigned collaborative spaces. We use a lot of metrics to help us, and the metrics are gathered from time and through COVID to help us give the place to start and then we allow for changes or mistakes where we go, “No, we didn’t get this right, we’d make some differences.”.

0:25:15.9 DS: But I think you have to really use the technology, not just to reserve, but also to inform, that the second important piece. And then you have to make sure that we have purpose for going in, so curated events, curated experiences, planned activities, and then some amount of flexible in and out as I want to. We’re also starting to see the landlord side of things change, because think about, if I’m a parent and I need to come in for three hours because we have an emergency at the office and we need to get together, what I do with my kids? How does that work?

0:25:52.1 MK: Yeah.

0:25:53.3 DS: So we’re starting to see landlords create on-demand hourly day care within their facilities, starting to use these on-demand services that help support this in and out flux of people that’s not 9-5 regulated and structured. We need some level of adaptability in how we do it. In other words, we can’t orchestrate everything, but we can start to create frameworks that allow us to use spaces effectively, and then again, make changes over time if we need them.


0:26:23.9 MH: All right. It’s that time. Let’s step away from the show for a quick word about our sponsor, ObservePoint. I’m thinking we’ll play a little game this time and see which of you two run out of things to say about ObservePoint capabilities first.

0:26:37.4 MK: White, are you tryna turn this into a quiz?

0:26:39.8 MH: A quiz? No competitions. No comment. Moe, you go first. Name a powerful ObservePoint feature.

0:26:47.8 MK: Automatically auditing your website’s data collection for errors.

0:26:51.7 MH: Correct. Tim?

0:26:52.9 TW: I’ll go with testing your most important pages and pass for functionality and accurate data collection.

0:26:58.5 MH: That feels a little bit repetitive, but I’ll give you a half a point for adding something specific. Okay, Moe, your turn.

0:27:06.4 MK: ObservePoint alerts you immediately, if it finds an issue when you’re doing an audit.

0:27:11.3 MH: Awesome, four credit. Alright, Tim?

0:27:14.3 TW: Okay, beyond real-time alerts, ObservePoint tracks the results of audits over time so you can monitor the robustness of your QA and governance processes.

0:27:24.3 MH: Again, I kind of just feel like you’re adding on to what Moe said. So partial credit, so, okay, if I tally the results right quick, it looks like, Moe you win. Two to one.

0:27:34.9 MK: Yes.

0:27:36.2 TW: Well, really isn’t everyone who uses ObservePoint a winner?

0:27:40.4 MH: Well, of course, but you’re changing the subject, ObservePoint is a great platform, and if you’d like to learn more about its many capabilities, go request a demo at observepoint.com/analyticspowerhour. Alright, thanks ObservePoint. Now, let’s get back to the show.

0:28:00.3 TW: And this, I feel like maybe me exhibiting the rigidity of old age, like the orchestration of… I’ve had this feeling when it’s been the coming back in and oh, we’re coming back in because there’s gonna be this kind of social gathering or this opportunity, or we’re gonna try to get this part of the team in to be working on the same day. In my reaction… Well, yes, when I was in an office and I’ve got long-time friends who I was never working that closely with them, they were just one row over and we got to where we were going to baseball games together, camping together or something, and do you think that it’s gonna be the generation that is graduating and entering the workforce at this point, that they’re gonna be kind of just like we’ve got the more digital native, that it’ll be more of a hybrid working native?

0:29:01.3 DS: Yeah.

0:29:02.4 TW: Is that one son who was about to start a full-time job? [chuckle]

0:29:05.7 DS: Right, so there’s a lot of data around that as well, and that’s the generations in the workforce. If you are a managing principal of a law firm, you already have a book of business, you already established yourself, you already have a network. Your need to be in the office is gonna be very different than a junior attorney or a non-equity partner who’s trying to navigate. So we’re looking at millennials and Gen Zers, our new generation coming to the workforce, needing to be in the office more, because they need to learn the culture. They need to learn office culture in general, there’s no experimentation around like I’ve only worked at home, so how do I know what are the norms around office place? And I need different mentoring and this group thing, this kind of sense of security around my colleagues nearby. As you get older, we see that change over time, we see that becoming more and more diminished, I can work more effectively at home, I prefer to be at home. I already have everything established. I know what I’m doing, and therefore I might need to go in.

0:30:01.3 DS: So once again, this idea of non-rigid kind of, we’re all coming in, we’re all not coming in, we’re only gonna do it this time. We need some level of play, and we need technology to help support that so it’s not chaos. And we also need some planning and programming to make sure that we orchestrate enough time together. There’s a lot of conversations around, well, if I’m not in the office, I won’t get promoted because I won’t be visible for my boss, really? Is that how it works?

0:30:28.9 TW: Your boss is more senior and not coming into the office, anyway.

0:30:31.4 DS: Exactly, exactly. [chuckle]

0:30:32.1 MK: That’s the problem. That actually is the problem. I had someone start on my team who was coming in almost every day, and they were like, the issue is I don’t get any face time with leadership because they don’t come in, so you have your more junior people coming in who want to develop those relationships, but the people they actually need around them are the senior people and they’re opting not to come in very often, so it’s like a double-edged sword.

0:30:57.4 TW: Or you’re an agency that says, “We’ll hire more experienced people to work remotely, but the junior people need to be hired in one of the cities where our office is so they can come in and that was even pre-COVID. I was like, Did nobody see this coming? Like, we should have seen that coming. What’s the answer to that?

0:31:14.2 DS: Well, there’s a lot of different patterns, right? So it depends on your workforce, which is why we gather data from the workforce, and not just a concept. We have to understand what the needs are of your specific organization. And if we don’t get to that level of detail, I can’t answer these questions. So that’s why hopefully [chuckle] I’m employed for a few more years, because my job is to figure all that out, is to gather that data and then create a program tailor to that organization’s needs. And you could say, there’s all kinds of different scenarios, it just depends on the workforce, and then what a company is doing and what their ethos is, what their philosophy of work is, how they wanna project themselves, both internally and externally, a lot of this is to do with equity, diversity, and inclusion, these are all new pushes into a new world of, you know, it goes beyond just ADA requirements and making sure… There’s so many more different ways of thinking about neuro-diversity, and how do we create environments that are tailored for all kinds of people, we’re really changing office to be far more inclusive, both in terms of a personal need, and then how do we use it.

0:32:17.5 DS: So with so many different levels and layers, and in order to unravel all that we need to pull the data from the people and then really, really understand it and do a lot of interviews and focus groups and experimentation. A lot of times you do pilot programs, we’ve done that a few times, where we build small test areas and say, This is how it’s gonna work, what do you think? We did that with the bank up in Canada recently, which was fascinating, ’cause they’re now using the space. Now, you know what? At first is, you have to teach people how to use it. You have to teach them, what do we believe as the bank, why this environment reflects who we are, and then once people understand why and how they will adapt. Change management becomes critical, because we need to educate people about these new ideas. If you just say, “We’re all coming in, Good luck,” it’s not gonna work. There’s gotta be a lot of new learning and thinking around spaces, and we start with leadership teams who also have to figure out, well, How do we work? I’m a CFO, I’m trying to figure out how to make the business money. I don’t care about that, but you should care about that because this is where we get the biggest problem right now, which is attract and retain talent.

0:33:24.3 DS: We’ve heard about the great resignation. Well, the great resignation is not just, we’re all gonna quit and live in an island, it’s really about shifting priorities and work in the individual mind, and that’s the bigger conversation that I think really is exciting for me, is this idea of, where is work as a priority in my life? Before it was Make money, make profit, 30 years of very money-oriented industry, a lot of companies just trying to make a buck, now we’re realizing, wait a minute here, I don’t have to work this hard and maybe I can do it differently now, or maybe I can try something else, or maybe I can do it on my own. So we’re starting to see this change of, and this is what COVID has done, we’re starting to see this change in, where does work fit into my life? Maybe I don’t need the fancy watch and the Louis Vuitton bag. Maybe I can do something different, maybe I can re-prioritize work, and that’s a different thing all together. That’s making companies nervous. Because companies that don’t create environments that create healthy employees are gonna lose those employees to either another company or another way of thinking like, I don’t wanna do this anymore.

0:34:34.5 DS: And so I think that is another trend that we’re starting to see take over, the great reshuffle. You can call it anything you want, but it’s really fascinating to see how many new businesses have started up and how much change in the workforce. So if we care about people first, which I really believe is the fundamental thing we need to do, we need to create environments that are tailored for the individual’s needs and the group needs, and then we will all be successful and we have to find our place of where it should be in the universe, and I like this new, the pendulum is swinging from corporate greed to individual empowerment, and I like that shift, because I think it’s long overdue, and COVID has been, again, another accelerator of, I’m gonna do work, I’m just gonna do it differently now. I’ve learned I can do it differently. I learned, I don’t wanna do this anymore, I’m not coming back into the office. Or I wanna be back in the office. So we’re talking with lots of different changes in the way we think about work as a society, and I think that’s also fundamentally fascinating, and another resultant of our COVID, grand COVID experiment, which is still ongoing unfortunately, but we’re starting to see the trickling back and the changing back, but it’s coming back smart and not just coming back to come back, and that’s a difference, and I think companies that tackle that head-on and really invest in it are gonna be more successful.

0:35:56.4 TW: I wanna ask you a question about the Metaverse, but I feel like it’s such a non sequitur at this moment.


0:36:03.4 DS: Well, actually, it’s another technology, it’s a buzz, but it’s another technology that’s coming.

0:36:12.5 TW: Yeah, it’s coming and obviously there’s lots of investment behind it, but is it any different than just sort of like, a more fancier Zoom call?

0:36:22.7 DS: I have not personally experienced it yet, it’s better than a Zoom call, you get some amount of… But think about the digital technology in cinema over the last 20, 30 years. You can go back and look at a 1980s Star Trek film, and then look at it today and go, Holy Molly, right? So we’re just getting started with Meta, and this horizon where a construct of a digital, virtual conference room. Do I think there’s merit to it? Absolutely. Do I still think we need to be together physically, because that’s how we’re wired up? Yeah. So I think it’s another better tool, but not the only tool. A lot of clients I’ve engaged with are very concerned about the hybrid, meeting. Three people in the office, three people abroad. This is a real problem, and we’ve heard people go, We’re not doing it, either all at home or you’re all in.

0:37:16.2 MK: Really?

0:37:17.3 DS: Because readjust is to disrupt. Yeah, we’re seeing that policy going, No, we’re not doing hybrid unless we can do technology that actually makes you really feel like you’re part of a meeting, and we’re starting to see that.

0:37:28.0 TW: Like telepresence robot.

0:37:31.1 MK: We did the thing for a while where it was like, it didn’t matter where you were, but there had to be a person per screen. So each person had to join themselves, but the issue with that is then you go to the office and you still have Zoom fatigue, even though you’re in the office.

0:37:47.0 DS: Exactly, it’s a strange thing to do. Like I’m gonna go to the office to be in on a Zoom call, like why would I do that? [chuckle]

0:37:53.8 MK: Exactly.

0:37:54.7 DS: I’m going to the office to see somebody in my face, and not to have another screen in front of me. But that actually depends on the company, again, how much remote work is going on, is your workforce distributed across distance, if not, things change. So it depends on the workforce. How do you solve that answer? We worked with a large company, again, in Canada, in Toronto, who they were all very close, we did a drive study, and so we knew where people were living and how they were and where they distributed they were. And they made the policy, I said, No, initially, if we’re gonna have the meeting, you’re gonna be either all in or all out, and we couldn’t do it because logistically we could do it. Whereas other company I was working with in Pennsylvania, they were already distributed across the country. So they just had to be virtual no matter what happened, and that was it. We just didn’t have the opportunity, so we needed to orchestrate moments in time to come into the office, and their office reduced square footage by two-thirds because most people were home and liked to be at home and wanted to be at home, and therefore their need for space was different and we tailored it to their needs.

0:39:03.9 TW: So I feel like there’s like a basic assumption, this entire discussion, I think pretty much applies to knowledge workers, where there’s the option, which I feel like sometimes the articles will say, Oh yeah, yeah, of course, if you’re on a manufacturing line or if you’re…

0:39:21.2 DS: A researcher, yeah.

0:39:22.3 TW: Yeah, or you’re customer service where you’re servicing clients. Years ago, I worked in an office where it was like the front office and we were the knowledge workers, and then we actually backed up to the part of the manufacturing facility and we would go back there and there was a need to go back there. Have you come across those cases where it’s like a company actually has both and you’re having to figure out the ones who… It almost starts to… And there are they’ve… Some of the literature on this talks about this, it is driving some of a little bit of a divide, getting to the gap of who has the ability because they’re knowledge workers, they may be at the same company, it may be their neighbor who just can’t. And that feels very uncomfortable.

0:40:13.7 DS: Yeah. It creates disparity and a workforce that… I work as a researcher in a lab and I can’t do the work at home, I have to be in the lab, or I’m on an assembly line and I have to be at the line or I’m quality control. So we’re seeing some of that, but don’t forget, there’s already pre-COVID some of this philosophy or some of this stratification built in no matter what happens if there’s gonna be a difference between the ethos or workforces depending on what you do in general. So the question becomes, the equity of how do we get workforce to feel like we’re still in a shared environment? And that does take more orchestration, it takes a little bit more, again, philosophy of work, study and thinking about, we don’t wanna create this disparity between blue collar, white collar or a factory worker, or knowledge worker, or whatever you wanna call it. So how do we start blurring that? And I think that comes, again, intent. How do I create intentional moments to change that ethos, and how do I create the ability for there to be still cross-connection? And that comes down to, again, studying is that a problem? Do we have disparity in the workforce pre-COVID, during COVID, in COVID? And if we so, do we make a conscious effort to change it?

0:41:26.3 DS: And I think that’s all part of the studying of how and why we get back to the office, if we do that, and then what would want you to solve for? We need to be able to solve for that in a specific way, whether that’s technology helping us, whether that’s scheduling, whether that’s environment, or are all three, and we’re starting to see that become a play. You can see that there’s really no one size-fits-all solution. Everyone is gonna think and work differently. So the tailored solution per company, per organization is really the best bet because it’s the only way to get it right, otherwise you’re just swept into another trend, we’re all gonna do open office again, and then we did that and lived it and hated it, and that didn’t work. So we need to be more specific and more tailored.

0:42:09.7 TW: I’ll also throw in a vote for the… Since Michael, I blame you for the reason that years later I wound up with an Oculus go, that I actually do see a lot of promise for the virtual meetings as a way, because you can have physical interactivity that is responding to physical things. I mean, you can throw things at each other in a virtual meeting, right? Some of the shenanigans that happened…

0:42:35.6 MH: That’s the kind of behavior we don’t wanna reward.


0:42:38.2 TW: I mean, you know, Rubber ducks or something.

0:42:41.4 MH: So, okay.

0:42:41.8 TW: I think that’s the meetings where people are physically engaging, and I think that’s one of the challenges, even if you’re in the office and everyone’s looking at a screen, you’re kinda locked in, where I do think the more immersive kind of VR starts to get to where you can have a little bit of physicality.

0:43:02.2 DS: Yeah, I’m also very curious about in general, if Metaverse will take off and let alone in work environment, that’s just one aspect of a much larger vision for Metaverse. Look, I didn’t think we would ever look at a movie and not be able to see if that person was a digital character or a real character, and we’re getting real close. I’m like, no, I’m not quite sure anymore. So can the technology bring us to that? Perhaps, to where we really have an avatar that we live and breathe and understand in a digital world, and that becomes another identity of ours, and there’s movies on this, as you know, Sci-fi movies that have this out there, really interesting ways of thinking about it. I don’t know, I mean, I think we’re a ways of, but maybe not. I know Zuckerberg is kind of investing in it, so [laughter] really he thinks it’s coming sooner than later, so we’ll see. We’ll see.

0:43:53.9 TW: Well, I guess that’s putting Metaverse, the Facebook Metaverse separate necessarily from VR. I mean, like Microsoft Teams tried to do their auditorium view, which was about as hunk o’ ham, yeah.

0:44:03.8 DS: Horrible, it’s horrible.

0:44:06.5 TW: But just recognizing that those sensors can sort of pick up on things, I think about doing exercises, brainstorming using a mural, a digital post-it note tool, and that still feels a little clunky, but wow, during COVID we did some of those were some of the most productive sessions we had with clients on doing things. It’s like, Yeah, if we had all traveled to Pittsburgh or Philadelphia or wherever, we would have been handing out Post-It notes, but it’s intriguing that the technology is getting there and a lot of those technologies, I think, are saying, as the hardware advances, how can we put the software on top of it to make this feel more seamless and tactile?

0:44:48.1 MH: Alright, it’s time for the Conductrics quiz. You know that quizzical query, that conundrum that creates consternation amongst my two co-hosts as they go and compete on your behalf listeners. So let’s get into the Conductrics quiz, which incidentally is sponsored by Conductrics, the Analytics Power Hour and the Conductrics quiz are generously, generously sponsored by Conductrics. Conductrics builds industry leading experimentation software for AB testing, adaptive optimization and predictive targeting. You can find out more about Conductrics at their website at www.conductrics.com. Alright, Moe, are you ready?

0:45:36.0 MK: I am.

0:45:36.6 MH: Alright, you are competing for our listener Katie Gatus. And Tim?

0:45:44.0 TW: Yes.

0:45:44.9 MH: Are you ready?

0:45:45.5 TW: I am not.

0:45:46.7 MH: You are competing on behalf of our listener, Dylan Oftencamp.

0:45:51.2 TW: Excellent.

0:45:52.8 MH: And I don’t know if I pronounced that correctly. Oftencamp, anyways, it doesn’t matter ’cause we’re going into the quiz, here we go. Designing an AB test of the Pearson name in variety, which is the standard version, can be seen as a sort of joint optimization problem where we are trying to minimize both the type 1 error also called the Alpha for the test, and the type 2 error called the beta of the test. The power of the test is one minus beta when running a one-tailed superiority test with just two possible treatments, a control we will call A and a new intervention we will call B, the power of the test is, I don’t know why he put letters here instead of numbers, ’cause this might be confusing. We’ll just swap out numbers. One, the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis that B is not greater than A, two, the probability of accepting the alternative hypothesis that B is greater than A. Three, the probability that B is actually greater than A. Four, the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis when B is greater than A is true, or five, the conditional probability that the test shows that B is greater than A when the null is true. Simple.

0:47:15.8 TW: Oh good Lord. I mean, this actually… Yeah.

0:47:20.2 MK: I have never been qualified for this quiz, but I am really not qualified to this quiz.

0:47:25.0 TW: I feel like I would be, but I need to draw it out, so the prompt. Let’s see. So when running a one tail superiority test with just two possible treatments, the control is A, the Power of the test is… Okay, the intervention is B. Power is accepting the… We need like dead air just to read through…

0:47:48.2 MH: Yeah, this one’s not easy, I have to say.

0:47:52.8 TW: I mean, it’s just ’cause it’s a word salad, it’s tough to do in odd…

0:47:55.9 MK: It’s the word salad. You’re right.

0:47:58.5 MH: Yes.

0:48:00.8 TW: We can go through some elimination ones and then it’s gonna be like, yeah, if I paused and we didn’t have a good zillion amount of dead air, we would be able to do this. You’re killing me, but you wanna start with the elimination, Moe, or you want me to start with an elimination?

0:48:16.3 MK: You can start.

0:48:17.4 TW: I’ll start. I will eliminate number three, the probability that B is actually greater than A.

0:48:23.9 MH: Alright, eliminate three. You can eliminate three. And now we’re down to 4, one, two, four, and five. What do you think Moe?

0:48:37.5 MK: There’s lots of words.


0:48:45.5 MH: It’s strange, ’cause now I am very much in your corner this time around, ’cause I feel like this happens to me too very frequently of this. So you’re not alone. That’s what I wanna wanted to tell you.

0:48:56.6 MK: I’m gonna eliminate five.

0:48:58.9 MH: Five, the conditional probability the test shows that B is greater than A when the null is true. I’ve got great news, that bitter word salad is now off of your plate for the duration.

0:49:09.7 TW: ‘Cause I don’t think it’s a conditional probability. Okay, I’m gonna talk this one out and then I’m gonna go for, I guess, so power is basically the false negative type two, and somebody’s gonna say that’s not right, but it is generally saying that the null hypothesis is that there is no difference. And the confidence is that you would say there is a difference when there isn’t, the power is that you would say there is not a difference when there is, which is rejecting the null hypothesis. So I think one is confidence. It’s either two. I think, I’m gonna go with two as the correct answer, but yeah, I’m gonna go with two as the correct, which is the probability of accepting the alternative hypothesis that B is greater than A, although it doesn’t actually… Yeah, I’m gonna go with that one. It’s a word salad. I honestly, conceptually feel like I have the right answer, but I can’t make the words, frame it in my mind.

0:50:20.7 MH: Well, as luck would have it, Tim, you are incorrect. Which means, Moe, you’re the winner.

0:50:27.0 TW: There you go.

0:50:28.5 MH: But you were so close and actually probably the closest to understanding between all of us what actually was going on. [laughter] I was sort of like, Dylan should probably get a little something too this time around, but no, Katie, you’re a winner. Moe, great job just by hanging in there. You just hung in there. So yes, the answer is four, the probability of rejecting the null hypothesis when B is greater than A is true, is in the Pearson name and test setting, we don’t directly include our prior beliefs about what the state of the world is with respect to the truth of the null. In our scenario, the null is that B is not greater than A. And alternative hypothesis that B is greater than A. So we don’t get a posterior probability around the result, instead, we just asked if the null actually was true, how likely would this result or greater B? And in a similar manner, when we create our experiment, we specify a power, such that if the alternative is true, then the test will reject the null one minus beta percent of the time when the alternative is true, and will fail to reject the null when the alternative is true, the type 2 error beta percent of the TOT. So I read very well. Moe, you’re the winner.

0:51:48.6 MH: Thank you so much to Conductrics for the awesome quiz, and if you are totally picking up on this, you need to reach out to Matt Gershoff and collaborate with him on his excellent testing product because you would fit in very, very well. And big ups to Katie Gatus for winning and let’s get back to the show.

0:52:13.3 MK: David, I have one completely random question that has just like peaked my interest. One thing I was thinking about is whether geography plays an important role on people’s preferences? So if for example, in cities like Manila, where commute times are massive, would that have a significant impact on what people want? And the same also with the density of the city, because if you say, I live in New York and you have a really tiny shoe box apartment, but transport’s easy, you might be more inclined to wanna go to an office, so Is that something you have to really factor in in your projects?

0:53:00.4 DS: Absolutely, so we do a lot of labor analytics, we do a lot of drive time analysis, we do a lot of serving around that, I mean, a lot of resistance to return to work is, I’m not gonna commute ever again, I’m not gonna be in a car for two hours a day. My quality of life has fundamentally changed during COVID, and I’m not going to the other side. That’s not true for everybody, but that’s predominantly more true than not, because we’re seeing this. Again, not a lot of people are rushing to go get back into the office. At least on the United States were pretty open now, I think they just dropped the airline restrictions on mask wearing, I think that just happened yesterday. And in Georgia, in Atlanta, Georgia, we’re wide open, so basically you can go anywhere without any restrictions. So is the office full? Nope. So you’re absolutely right. Logistics and your location and your personal opinion will change. So we try to gather as much of that data as we can and then sift it as much as that we can to figure out, okay, well, it turns out that a lot of people in this particular population are gonna want to do X. So we need an environment that does Y.

0:54:07.8 DS: So if we’re in a place like Manila, where we’re gonna probably see a lot less people coming in to the office, even if people live near to the office because they just don’t wanna go in, or we need to do the FOMO, the fear of missing out. We wanna create an environment or an event or an activity or something where we are wanting to go in, and again, that’s curated experience, it’s orchestrated, that is creating culture, that’s creating those bump-in moments that you can’t get in a virtual world or at home. We want to encourage that, we have to do that strategically, so we have to be able to get people in the office, which means we have to support that commute that create that flexibility. And create that environment that is, Hey, this is a cool thing I don’t wanna miss out, all my colleagues are there, all my friends are there, all of my like-minded people are there, and that’s how we start to change it. But choice becomes the big big word. I can choose within a framework, it’s not a free for all, but choice is an important distinction now in the new world of post-COVID world of where does work fit in my life? I don’t wanna be locked into 9:00-5:00, five days a week. It doesn’t work for me. It didn’t work before, it doesn’t work now.

0:55:14.9 DS: I want the choice, and I’m gonna find the organization that gives me the choice and recognizes some amount of individuality, some ability to choose my way through my work day, as long as I’m still effective and working. This old model of command and control, I hear it all the time from executives, “Well, if you’re not in the office, you’re not working, you’re goofing off.” Okay. Well, let me tell you something, first of all, I can be in a cubicle booting off and I’m lying…

0:55:41.3 MK: Totally. I’m very good at that.

0:55:42.9 DS: I’ll do that a lot. [chuckle] You know, don’t cheat yourself. Anyone could goof off if they want. And first of all, what does it say about you, executive, that you’re in hiring employees that goof off? In other words, this is about trust, trust in your workforce to do the work, and work is not a place, it’s an activity, right? So it’s not, if I’m at this office, I’m working, I can work anywhere, I can work on the airplane, I can work at Starbucks, I can work in the office, I can work in my living room on the couch. So those days are gone. This command and control model that we had for decades is over. The technology, again, holding up the cell phone, the technology has allowed us to work anywhere, so we have to kinda break that fundamental barrier of being in the office means I’m somehow an important person, I have a big corner office and I’m working. No, no, and no. And that’s all not true. And again, COVID has proven that. And it’s interesting to watch executives kinda go, “Yeah, I miss those days, ’cause that’s what I grew up with.”

0:56:41.0 DS: I get it, but your younger generations and your mid-level executives, they’re not gonna understand any of that and it doesn’t serve their needs, and it doesn’t serve the need of your company, which is your people. So if your people are unhappy, you have a fundamental problem, and that’s, again, the great resignation, this shift in, Where am I going and Where am I gonna find a place and a company that I feel I’m best at? And that’s where we’re at right now. And so you’re seeing this panic around keeping good employees and attracting and retaining, and this idea of, “We’re flexible, we got it, we can offer that.” That’s the new perk that is almost the minimum requirement, and that’s what we’re seeing.

0:57:19.1 TW: Has the job title, workplace concierge started to pop up? Because it sounds like on-demand curated experiences, it’s like companies need a concierge service for workplace experience.

0:57:31.3 DS: Completely.

0:57:32.9 TW: I’m just curious if that’s being talked about as a job or a department within companies, ’cause it just seems like that’s sort of what you’re describing to me, it’s like my credit card tries to give me these things, which of course never works ’cause I don’t live in New York or whatever, but yeah, your company is sort of like, Oh yeah, use the technology to recommend things that are of your interest. And we have an artist coming in this Friday, and you’ve attended these events before and really enjoyed them through our surveys. So, we’re gonna make sure you get that invite and so on and so forth. It just seems like that’s sort of what you’re talking about in a lot of senses, is sort of like, okay, building these experiences and things like that, which also just seems like a lot of work. [laughter] Not to complain, but that’s gotta be somebody’s full-time set of jobs, where I don’t think people have spent their time working on that, a lot of companies haven’t.

0:58:29.3 DS: Yeah, when we look at this new hybrid model, this kind of use on-demand space, this kind of as-needed, the sharing and caring model, we definitely need much more support services, we need not only the technology, but people. So we need rooms reset. If you’re sharing a desk and you spill your soda and you walk away, who picks it up? So we do need a level of cleaning, a level of care, we need a level of reset, we need technology that is user-friendly and easy, we need someone to be there to make sure that if there’s any problems, that it’s taken care of. You’re absolutely right, we have to have a different level of concierge service, and we actually see concierge service.

0:59:09.2 MK: You also just need people to not be assholes. [laughter] We actually… But we had someone…

0:59:16.4 DS: Good luck with that.


0:59:19.5 TW: Easy there.

0:59:21.2 MK: We had someone on our vibe team yesterday, it was actually pretty amazing, they went through the land fill rubbish bin at work, and then they re-sorted all the rubbish into the correct bins: What should have gone into the compost? What should have gone into paper recycling? And all that sort of stuff, and basically demonstrated, “Yo, stop being a lazy asshole and put stuff in the right bin, so it doesn’t go into landfill.” And I hate that someone went through a rubbish bin to make that point, but it’s about What can you do to make people accountable to each other? And if you spill a drink, you wipe it up.

0:59:51.4 DS: Wow, that was true before COVID, but it sounds like that person who’s sorting trash has a lot of free time, so that’s a fundamental issue now. [laughter] No, I feel like you’re right. There’s always the little sign over the sink, that says, please put your dishes in the dishwasher. That was true before COVID.

1:00:11.4 TW: Your mother doesn’t work here.

1:00:13.6 DS: Your mother doesn’t work here. Yeah, we’ve all seen that before. I mean, that’s culture, that’s creating from habit and from instruction and from the way we do things here when the boss isn’t around. That is built in and that’s why we need to do that in person. We build culture communally and physically together, you can’t really do that in a virtual world, ’cause you don’t sense it, experience it, sit down on the sticky desk because someone didn’t pick up the Coke that they spilled, so we need that kind of built-in part of it, and that’s also part of concierge service, so you have to have a different way of thinking, but we’re also thinking about storage in different ways, you know, lockers instead of filing cabinets. I don’t need a filing cabinet, I just need a place to put my gym bag, my purse or my serial bowl when I wanna use it. So I need a cubby, and a need a sign, and now we’re doing it all digitally and we can track these things and all of that’s done automatically and much more clever.

1:01:07.5 DS: What really gets me frustrated is the technology itself, there are lots of different reservation systems and APIs that help us pull data together and all these great systems, but there’s none that I know of that really integrates audiovisual reservation systems and the social metric analysis that we are looking at, where are people doing? There are individual companies that kind of do that, they don’t actually talk to each other yet, but I think that’s coming. Some of the things that are coming out of Boston, out of MIT, they’re doing these socio-metric badges, which is the ID badge, there’s a microphone on it, and a chip in it. Not only does it know where you are in the building, but it also understands who you’re talking to and how long and what’s the language going on, so they can sense what’s happening. Now, that sounds a little creepy, that’s a lot of tracking. But once again, I hold up my cell phone, guess who’s doing the same thing? Apple. [laughter] So everything is tracked, but what we’re starting to see is technologies that really not only understand, “I’m in the building and I’m here for this amount of time, and I’m using these spaces,” but who am I talking to and how long, and where are my engagements? So, do I think my groups are talking to the right people? And if not, I have the data that says, “No, shift the way, either the policy or the environment to compensate.”

1:02:28.2 DS: So we’re starting to get this level of data that gets pretty exciting, but there’s a lot of resistance to privacy. There’s a privacy resistance, I don’t wanna be tracked, I don’t want someone reading or microphone in my conversations, but this is the level of detail that we’re starting to see. We just don’t see it all beautifully integrated yet, and it’s frustrating for me, we have to hobble it together. I think audio visual companies go out of their way to make things complicated because it keeps them in business. Heaven forbid, we keep it simple where you just push a button and everything works. So we’re starting to see some of that happening, but it’s not all pulled together. Someone’s gonna figure out eventually, a beautiful hybrid work technology framework structure that puts it all together in one package where you can do all of it in one shot and get all the analytics and be able to change the environment and change the dynamics, because you’re getting real world data every single day. Data is really powerful. I think that’s the fundamental lesson of what we are at. We can really tailor and create customized experiences if we understand how things work, and we can’t do that with our thoughts, we have to do that with the data point.

1:03:36.4 TW: I think you just named Elon Musk’s next venture.

1:03:39.7 DS: Could be. It could be, it could be.

1:03:42.1 MH: Well, we do have to start to wrap up, but this is an amazing conversation and definitely relevant for pretty much all of our listeners. So thank you so much, David, for coming on and sharing with us. So one thing we do is call the last call. We go around the horn and share something of interest that might be of interest to our listeners. David, you’re our guest, do you have a last call you’d like to share?

1:04:03.2 DS: I do. I want to refer to a TED talk that was done in March of 2011 by a researcher out of MIT, called Deb Roy, and he did a really interesting study regarding the power of data. And so I’m a designer by background, so visualizing data for me is really important, but I really like this particular TED talk, ’cause it talks about how his son developed the word for water, and he put cameras in his apartment, and they were able to track the movements along with the development of language and be able to see the relationships of physical environment and data points. And what I like about this particular TED talk by Deb Roy is that it helps you to see the power around AI and machine learning and data points, and I think it’s a wonderful way to kinda get a brain or a leadership person who’s just not getting why it’s important. Look at this 20-minute TED talk and you can see how wonderful what we can learn so quickly from just these masses amounts of data and all the new patterns and structures that we’ve never conceived before. And that’s the power of the data. So that’s a little tidbit that I think is really fun, it’s called The Birth of a Word by Deb Roy.

1:05:16.9 TW: Sounds great. Awesome, what about you, Moe? What’s your last call?

1:05:21.9 MK: So I’ve been reading an interesting book, I actually got pressured into reading it because the data leads have a book club, and then I turned up to discuss the book and only me and one other person had read it, and the other like five people hadn’t. It’s called Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager by Michael Lopp. It’s quite long, but it’s really interesting. I had picked up a few things, but the funniest thing was that during our discussion, everyone’s like, “So tell me what the book was about.” And we’re kind of like, “Well, go through these and these… ” And then I started Googling, and I found this GitHub page where someone has basically put notes for hundreds of tech and work books, and so then everyone in my book club’s like, Maybe we should just start going through the notes of some of the really interesting books on this list, instead of actually reading them. But I will share both links in the show notes, because actually the GitHub book notes thing was actually pretty cool.

1:06:22.2 DS: What’s the service that advertises a lot that does like the summary?

1:06:26.8 TW: Blinkist?

1:06:27.0 DS: Blinkist, yeah.

1:06:29.0 MK: I’ve never used Blinkist. I’d be happy to hear feedback.

1:06:32.2 TW: I’ve heard good feedback from some people who’ve used it, I’ve never been organized enough to really feel like I’d do it justice.

1:06:39.9 DS: Blinkist sounds awfully Silicon Valley, but give me a good GitHub cliffs notes…

1:06:42.9 TW: Yeah, there you go.

1:06:45.4 MH: Alright, Tim…

1:06:46.8 DS: Pulling that repo, yeah.

1:06:48.5 TW: What’s your last call?

1:06:50.7 DS: So I can keep running the list of last calls and some never actually get used as last calls, and amusingly, I found one. I’ve been keeping it long enough that I had a last call that I didn’t use that was a McKinsey article called How The Houston Astros Are Winning Through Advanced Analytics, back in June of 2018, so that one did not age well, so I’m glad I did not use it since for anybody who’s not a follower of baseball, it turned out the Astros were cheating. It based the analytics in a garbage can lid. [chuckle]

1:07:18.7 TW: It turns out Advanced Analytics has shown us that we could use a garbage can lid. [chuckle]

1:07:24.2 DS: Yeah. Good, we can…

1:07:26.6 TW: It’s like we’ll take…

1:07:27.8 DS: How do you work? But no, one that I do not know how I got signed up for this newsletter, e-newsletter, it’s 7wdata.be, and it’s an aggregator newsletter of analytics articles. But it actually seems pretty good. They may upset people somewhat, but when you click through on their link, they’ve done a pretty robust summary, if not straight up lifting from the original article, but they then link back to the article. And I’ve been just surprised, I don’t know how I signed up for it, I’m pretty sure it was not deliberate, but I’ve also not un-subscribed from it, it’s turned out to have some pretty good articles in it. And when you follow them on Twitter, I think they’ve got a little agent that immediately DMs you and thanks you for following them. So that’s a little annoying, but I think their content curation is actually pretty good for analytics and AI and data management stuff.

1:08:27.1 TW: What about you, Michael?

1:08:31.0 MH: Well, as you probably know, the three of us, co-host of the Analytic Power Hour are going to be meeting up in person later on in June at the Marketing Analytics Summit, so I wanted to talk about it a little bit. So June 20th through the 23rd in sunny Las Vegas. But wait, there’s more. The location is not the draw, David, I saw the permit.

1:09:00.2 TW: It’s the heat. [laughter] Good luck. [laughter]

1:09:02.6 MH: It’s the heat. But more importantly, hanging out with some of your best analytics friends, finally in person is gonna be super exciting, and if you’re a listener, you can actually use a code APH15 to get 15% off the price, which instantly takes you back to the regular price instead of the slightly increased price that we’re in right now. So, take advantage of that, come see us, we’re doing a live recording of the show there, and so we’re super excited. There’s gonna be a lot of fun things going on. And so, come and join us. APH15 is the discount code when you register. Alright, well, once again, as you’ve been listening, you probably think to yourself, Why can’t my company do cool things like David is talking about? Or you’ve got ideas for workplace solutions that you’d like to share. We would love to hear from you, and the best way to do that is through the Measure Slack group or our Twitter, or on our LinkedIn page. So you can reach us in any of those ways, we’d love to hear from you and hear your comments and questions. Of course, no show would be complete if we didn’t talk a little bit about our wonderful producer, Josh Crowhurst, who makes all of this possible with all of his hard work behind the scenes. Thank you very much, Josh.

1:10:22.6 MH: And David, thank you once again, it’s been a pleasure, such a relevant topic, and I love your approach for it. When we first met, I was like, We’ve gotta have you on the podcast ’cause not enough companies are delving into this level of thinking, and it’s super duper necessary to know that, Hey, this is possible to do better, we can all do better here. So, that’s awesome, thank you. And I know I speak for both of my co-hosts, Tim and Moe, when I say regardless of your office set-up: Hybrid, remote, virtual, Metaverse, whatever it is, remember, keep analyzing.


1:11:07.4 Announcer: Thanks for listening. Let’s keep the conversation going with your comments, suggestions and questions on Twitter at @AnalyticsHour, on the web at analyticshour.io, our LinkedIn group and the Measure chat Slack group. Music for the podcast by Josh Crowhurst.

1:11:25.9 Charles Barkley: So smart guys want to fit in, so they made up a term called analytics. Analytics don’t work.

1:11:31.9 Tom Hammerschmidt: Analytics, oh my God, what the fuck does that even mean?

1:11:40.9 MK: Someone recently told me that Atlanta is becoming like the new Austin, that it’s becoming really cool.

1:11:45.3 MH: It’s incredible.

1:11:48.5 TW: It’s always been cool. So let’s get that out of the way, right out of the gate. I’m only a recent transplant too, but Austin is so pretentious for what it is.

1:11:57.9 MH: Easy there.

1:12:00.3 TW: And it’s ridiculously hot, even hotter than Atlanta in the summer time.

1:12:03.3 MH: Yeah, and it’s quite small. It’s really small compared to Atlanta.

1:12:07.0 MK: Atlanta is pretty small.

1:12:08.4 MH: It has six and a half million people.

1:12:10.9 TW: Yeah, but it is really greater than Atlanta, is pretty big, yeah.

1:12:13.2 MH: I feel like David should know that I lived in Austin for 13 years, and was raised in Texas and it is still my spiritual home.

1:12:26.5 TW: Oh, we encourage profanity, we are an exclusive podcast, so that’s welcomed.

1:12:33.7 MH: What if names of companies, or… Do we censor that out?

1:12:38.9 TW: Oh, whatever you feel comfortable saying, you can say, but use your best judgement. It’s like, “this person at this company is a terrible person and you should never work with them, yeah? I don’t know about that.


1:12:53.4 MH: I don’t think I’ll say that.

1:12:54.3 TW: Yeah, but I didn’t get that vibe from you.

1:12:55.4 MK: Even Tim often says stuff like that.

1:12:58.3 MH: Yeah, Tim will say it, but everybody understands Tim and his relationship to humanity generally.

1:13:06.8 TW: Rock flag and meetings in the Metaverse.

1:13:09.7 MH: Tim just can’t wait to throw things at people in the Metaverse.


1:13:13.7 TW: In my mind, it was a playful…

1:13:15.7 MH: Yeah, oh okay. I immediately went to like Ellen Degeneres…

1:13:20.2 TW: Totally came out, it’s like the coffee mug, and yeah.

1:13:23.3 MH: Yeah, it’s like…

1:13:24.3 TW: When did the sensors get where it actually…

1:13:29.1 MH: Violence in the Metaverse…

1:13:30.3 TW: The haptic feedback in your mask is like…


1:13:35.2 TW: I concussed a co-worker, and we weren’t even in the same physical space.

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