Daphnée Laforest

What do nearly all leading remote work companies have in common?

10 Dec 2021   |   Digital Workplace Leadership Remote Teams

Daphnée Laforest

What do nearly all leading remote work companies have in common?

10 Dec 2021   |   Digital Workplace Leadership Remote Teams

Daphnée Laforest has been in the remote world long enough to see how we got to where we are.

While sharing an appreciation for Matt Mullenweg’s ideas of the 5 Levels of remote work, Daphnée pointed out that most of the companies that are leading the discussion about distributed work have something in common.

They have a deeply distributed bias.

Automattic, GitLab, Elastic, and many others were initially open-source projects that later formalized into companies. When a company has its origins in a decentralized and distributed community, it makes sense that they would also bring those principles to building a remote, or distributed company.

And they’ve succeeded as distributed companies in large part because of their foundational principles. By pushing trust out to the margins and embracing asynchronous work (out of necessity often), they found a system that worked great.

However, when a company doesn’t have the same foundations and tries to shift to remote work, they often run into issues. Remote work is not the hard part. The difficulty is the years of practice in asynchronous communication, decentralized authority, and building digital culture.


Leadership in the digital age

Daphnée specializes in leadership and how it has changed in a digital age. She says that leaders, “have to relearn, or unlearn habits they had before and become new types of leaders…You now have to be able to read social cues in a virtual environment, where I see you in your rectangle, and I need to be able to try to understand how you’re doing today.”

Daphnée says the shift to digital work has revealed a big lack of awareness and increased the need for team leaders to have deeper emotional intelligence.

“Leaders today need to be very, very thoughtful, have a lot of empathy, not micromanage. They need to give a lot of autonomy to their team and also give a sense of purpose to their team of why are we doing this, and get people motivated on the kind of work they’re doing.”

It’s not that it’s something that is new. It’s always been like this anyway, being digital or not digital.


The future of VR and work

Daphnée is also thinking into the future. She has experimented with VR headsets and seen what could soon be possible for how we interact with each other. The skills that it will take to be a successful digital leader in that world, won’t change, but the technology will.



Daphnée on LinkedIn

The Remote First Podcast


Welcome everyone back to The Digital Workplace podcast. Today is a wonderful day. Today we have Daphnee Laforest. She is a Distributed Workplace Consultant and host of the Remote First Podcast. Welcome to the show, Daphnee. How are you today?

Thank you. I’m very good today. How are you doing?


I’m excited. We are recording this in early December here in Indiana and we actually have clear skies and it’s nice outside. So, we’re getting ready for the holiday season. So, it’s just a fun, fun time. What about you?

Yeah. I’m sitting in Berlin, Germany, right now, and it’s very cold. I was really looking forward to starting to travel for the winter. And you know with all the new things that came in it’s a bit sad that I may not be able to go to the warm countries, which I was very excited about. But it’s nice and cozy now back in Berlin as well.


Good. So, we’re going to ask a little check-in question. We’ve talked before so I’m pretty sure you’re a real human, but just in case, we do our captcha question to prove your humanity. Your question is, what do you wish people took more seriously, or less seriously? You can choose.

I can say for both. I think well, more seriously, like in the remote workplace or in general?


Just in life.

Oh, in life! Oh my God, that’s a big one. I mean, I don’t know because I was thinking funnily enough this morning, all these surveys that happen on LinkedIn just in general at the moment with, you know, like, ‘Okay, clap if you want 100% office, or 50-50, or like one day a week’, and I was getting so tired of these surveys. Like, this is not the point of this whole pandemic. We didn’t go through this whole pandemic to go through LinkedIn surveys after surveys and polls to know how we’re going to choose if we go to the office. So, this is something I’m actually thinking people need to take less seriously, this whole, “we need to vote to know what the employee wants”. I think many companies are just not understanding that people just want flexibility at the moment. They don’t want a quota or ratio of how they need to go to the office. So anyway, I think that I got annoyed at that recently, and I was like, ‘This is just annoying. This is not serious.’ 


I just got on LinkedIn and took my poll down to make sure that it’s not there.

Okay. You sent a poll to yourself? Did you do it?


No, I didn’t do that one. I do other ones. But not that one. I do feel that’s a great example of something people take way too seriously and also not seriously enough. Like we overthink the things that don’t matter, like you said, like the exact ratio of days to weeks, and everything that needs to be there. But then we don’t plan for the big stuff and the stuff that really needs to happen about how to do remote work well. Good, good. That qualifies you. You seem to be a legitimate human. 

I’m a legitimate human. 


Excellent. Cool. Well, let’s kick off with something that was inspiring to both of us actually. I remember this vividly. So, I obviously like podcasting, and like this, and I tend to associate being in a certain place when I hear a book or a podcast or some kind of audio thing. And I remember mowing my lawn in the front yard and hearing this podcast with Matt Mullenweg and Sam Harris, when they were talking about the five levels of autonomy in digital work. And it just clicked something in my head, and all of a sudden, I realized that, wow, this is a long journey. This is not just one step that everything has been. Obviously, Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic. They’ve been remote since the beginning, over 1000 employees now. But since the beginning still means, you know, maybe 15 years old. So, it’s relatively a young company. So, tell me your interaction, because when I brought that up, you also said you had resonated with that idea.

Yeah. I mean, I come from a background of WordPress actually so I kind of know well the whole culture of Automattic because when I actually worked as a corporate, a remote worker, we used to call that in the past before the pandemic, the company I used to work for was really clearly close to how Automattic works. So, we were all about asynchronous work trying to rethink, really be intentional in how we are designing the way we work to be able to be more efficient. So, when I say that, the five levels, basically what you’re talking about is, for those who don’t know, level one is when you just work in an office and you don’t do anything and then level five is you’re fully asynchronous, you think about everything about mental health, you’re out there in the best employee experience in a remote world, remote or distributed workplace. I’m not sure exactly what you want me to say about these five levels. Do you want me to think about if I think it makes sense to see it that way?


I mean do you ever talk about it with clients you’re working with or do you use that framework or is it more like just helpful for you internally? Because I’ve built an additional framework that’s based totally on this and when I talk about it with people, it helps them to realize that, oh, this is a long journey and what you did back in March and April of 2020 was step one, or step two. There’s probably like a 1000 step journey, and there’s a long way to go, and we’re going to look for people that can help us with this. So, how do you use it? 

Yeah. I mean, of course, most of the people that in the last two years now, unfortunately, it’s been already almost two years that we are stuck in this storm, people have just basically been, at the beginning, just really recreating the office in a digital world and then slowly realizing that they actually need to really rethink all their processes and all of their way of work to be able to succeed that way and to continue to scale that way. 

Many of the companies have discovered that they actually like the idea of working remotely, or not just remotely but provide flexibility to their team. And they realize that this is not just about telling you to take your laptop and go to work at home. It’s much more in terms of the process operations. There’s a lot of work to be done there. And this is where I think this pyramid that Matt Mullenweg is talking about, is mostly about that, if you want to attain the level of being able to do that long term, you will need to implement specific things in the company to succeed. So, be it asynchronous communication. 

And we have a process for everything, really ‘work in the open’. Like Automattic is really good in the ‘work in the open’ because WordPress at its core is an open source software. And I always say that the word open source is a really good example of what it is to work remotely and what is to work efficiently remotely. 

It’s pushing people to be a bit more transparent, pushing people to really think through. When they want to say something, they will take their time to really write their comments in the software tool that they’re using for contributing to the software. They will take their time to answer their comments. And afterwards, once it’s in the world, it’s like public. Anybody can access it at any time they want. 

So, there’s a lot to learn from open source. And I just think that Matt is just representing a bit of that practice. As for you, how do you use it when you are working with your clients and you’re using the five steps? Like how do you show it to them?


Well, there’s two things you said that I’d like to emphasize. One is when you talked about reaching that stage when you realize you need to reimagine, rebuild a concept. And it’s really not until you get into some of those later steps that it becomes clear that, oh, everything we were building on before, we need to start from the ground up. But you have to hit that level. You can’t just start there because you have to really think about, okay, how do we approach leadership from a brand-new angle? How do we approach collaboration from a random angle? So, I think that’s really important. But then the other thing you said that’s very interesting is the fact that most of the companies that have been doing remote distributed work for a long time had at their core this belief in open source, in agile thinking, and how that has shaped what we view in terms of what makes good remote work right now. But it’s almost very fortuitous for us that those were the companies that already had that as a part of their DNA, that were thinking about that, that made it work in those ways about open communication and things. And wow! What if it had been a different company or a different industry that had been in there, we might be thinking about it in a different way.

And for a while, it’s been Automattic. It has been the company that people have talked about as an example of good remote work. And then the new one that came in recently is GitLab. It’s another open source software. It’s another open source company that is for open source software. So, it’s interesting to see that actually these companies are those who are the most outspoken and thought leaders in that. 

Another one is Elastic. People don’t really talk much about them because they’re not that vocal about their way of working, but Elastic was also in the open source work setup. And they are a fully hybrid company that has offices as well as remote employees. They love their remote employees and they grew to like, I don’t know how many employees, like over 2000 plus. And they’ve always been remote first. And this is pre-pandemic. Wherever you are in the office, or you are remote, or you visit Mountain View office or the Amsterdam office, you always go to your computer, the office is designed so that you can connect your computer to a monitor, and everything is a hot desk everywhere. And it’s been like this for years, before everything. 

Right now, we were talking about it as like it’s a novelty. But there have been companies that have been doing this for many years. And it’s just interesting to see that it always comes back to people who actually understand open source. I don’t know, I’m very passionate about open source and this topic. 


Yeah. And I love that you brought that out, the fact that open source was at the heart of the distributed revolution. That’s great. Well, I want to get into one of your specialties and try to get in deep in some of this stuff. So, when we talk about rebuilding digital work on this show, we talk about things like collaboration and productivity and culture and technology. But one area that has become really and desperately in need of reinvention and rebuilding in the digital age is leadership, and how we think about that. And it’s one of these concepts, just like you said, once you get to a certain place you realize, ‘Oh, everything we thought about leadership needs to be totally brought down and rebuilt in that way.’ So, tell us a little bit about what you do and why leadership has stuck out for you.

To me, a big part of when you are transforming a company to become remote-first, a lot comes from those who will influence the company, those who will put in place a strategy to completely go through a behavioral shift in the company. So, being a leader there, it’s very important. It can be the leadership executive team or also being a leader as maybe as a team leader, or a leader of your own department, there’s a lot of work to be done there in the influence you’ll have on your team. 

There is also a lot of shift to be done, as a leader themselves. Like many people who used to be leaders in-person, they used to be very good at getting the vibe from people in-person and being able to sense within their team, sense if somebody is not doing too well, sense that maybe I could be more present with that person, be a bit more with that person, not shadowing, but basically be there for them. And they lost that when they went remote, for many people. 

So, they have to relearn how to change their habits. So, they basically have to relearn, or unlearn habits they had before and become new types of leaders. Now, the leaders that we see are succeeding are leaders that used to be very introverted, and are very good at written communication. You now have to be able to read social cues in a virtual environment, where I see you in your rectangle, and I need to be able to try to understand how you’re doing today. Whereas many people before you could see somebody running in the office and be like, ‘Oh, it feels like they’re going through something difficult today’, but you won’t have that. There’s a big lack of awareness in a remote environment. So, there’s a lot of things around empathy, about emotional intelligence. A lot of things, of course, are more structural and organizational strategy and things like that, but there’s a lot of work to be done there. 

And what I’ve seen is that many companies have different needs, but what I do is that I design workshops with leaders or team leaders of their own departments, to assess the different pain points that they are seeing in their company, as their company or as a leader, to afterwards design a way to better assess the different difficulties. 

So usually, it’s just seeing, for example, drop points in an employee journey, that I call them. For example, you have a customer journey. So, you have seen employees as customers of the experience of working there and then see where there are actually drop points because of the remote or distributed experience and then assess what needs to be changed there. This is more of an organizational way. But it can also be an emotional way or a way of how you are as a leader. So, this is a bit like how I am doing there. Of course, there’s still a lot to do there. 

So, there are specific workshops that have been designed specifically for different stories, but it just always evolves. So, this is really exciting just to see how the workforce has evolved in the past two years. I myself was blown away by how everything has been transforming, in just two years. 


Yeah, totally. When it comes to leadership, I think an exaggerated form of what we had before was that a leader meant you’re the person that has to get people to work. Essentially, that industrial age mindset says, workers are basically stupid and devious and they will work as little as possible unless there’s somebody forcing them to do it. Now, most people I don’t think actively have that in their head when they’re leading a team. But there’s some deep level assumptions that are there, and you put a manager, you put a leader in charge of folks to make sure they get their job done. As we move into this digital age, we’re recognizing, okay, that doesn’t work very well. It’s not a humane approach to work. So, if you were to summarize, what is the new role of a leader? What does that basic assumption you feel like people should have of what they expect out of somebody in a leadership role?

Well, there’s a lot, I mean, just in a digital world. And there’s a lot that has to be done around your relationship with your team, and really having a good sense of your team and basically creating that relationship of trust. It’s very hard to do. It’s not because you work with someone that automatically you can say, ‘You need to trust your employees. That’s all you need to do’. Building trust takes time. You would never trust someone that you’ve never met anyway. You know that you’ve never met in-person. It’s a natural instinct to not trust. So, there’s a lot of work to be done there in trying to build more trust with your team. 

I’m just trying to think about a way to pull that together to make it clear. So, when you’re a leader of a remote team, not only there’s a lot of work around the person that you’re working with, but also with the tools and the environment that you’re creating for your teams for them to do their best work. There is this but there’s also, do you give a sense of autonomy to your team? Do you give a lot of independence to your team? Are you someone who used to be very micromanaging and you’re in the office basically just very present? Or are you giving a way for your team to do their work on their own? 

There’s something with remote work that you need to develop that skill of coaching your team to be very autonomous. Like you won’t be able to do a lockdown if you’re not able to have a team that can be autonomous. Otherwise, you get in a place where you’re always on, always doing back and forth, back and forth with your team and this is just not productive. 

So, I think the leaders today need to be very, very thoughtful, have a lot of empathy, not micromanage. So basically, like giving a lot of autonomy to their team and also giving a sense of purpose to their team of why are we doing this, and get people motivated on the kind of work they’re doing. It’s not that it’s something that is new. It’s always been like this anyway, being digital or not digital. 

We’re talking now of trying to build momentum with a team that is not in the same place all the time. They all have different environments. So, there’s a lot there to be done to make sure that you are creating that synchronicity or that synergy, synergy is the word I’m looking for, that synergy of keeping your team together even if you’re all in five different locations. What do you think about that?


I feel, especially when you talk about micromanaging, if remote work is exhausting for you as a leader, that’s a clue that you don’t have the right necessary perspective. Because no one’s going to admit to being a micromanager, right? So, one clue that you were in the office is if your Slack or Microsoft Teams or whatever you’re using is just lit up with, ‘Hey, what’s going on with this?’ ‘Hey, give me an update on this.’ ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ ‘Hey’, different types of things. If you need those constant reminders of what other people are doing to show that they’re working to see the results, that’s a big clue. And that’s an exhausting way to work and not one that’s very helpful. I feel in most situations, and just speaking of strictly getting the work done or productivity, if you require more than 10 minutes of some kind of check-in with people to see how things are going or what’s going on, that’s probably another clue. Now, there’s obviously time for collaboration, time to remove roadblocks, you do need to get maybe synchronously together every once in a while, to make sure that’s there. But if your day is just spent in meetings all day long, that’s another clue that maybe there’s some trust issues, maybe there’s some micromanaging issues that are there. So, I feel the remote is revealing those things. 

Yeah. But I think that you know the meeting part, for example, many leaders just don’t know how to do otherwise. There is some feeling that being on a call or a meeting is more efficient. And it seems also that there’s an expectation for leadership teams to be more on calls. Because this is the people who are moving the pieces and kind of overseeing what’s going on. It’s expected that my role will have a lot of calls. But, maybe not. Maybe there is a way that you can rethink exactly how you are collaborating with everyone so that you can reduce the amount of meetings, and use other media or mediums to be able to have this kind of follow up on how everything is going. 

There is that sense of feedback. Like when we are talking together on a call right now, I can have more feedback. I can feel like I’m being understood. Whereas when you are in written communication, it’s like, ‘Did they get what I said?’ ‘Are they getting what I mean?’ I struggle with this as well. It’s understandable that there is an overload of meetings for leaders. But there are ways to eliminate the number of meetings by rethinking the whole structure of how we’re working. 


That feedback is so central too, because what you just told me would have been like maybe two, three or four paragraphs of text that would be there. And I could have just given a thumbs up, and be like, okay, or I just type out, okay. And that could be interpreted in so many different ways, which leads me back to a point you were saying before, which is, we’re expecting people to be or leaders to be much more emotionally intelligent, we’re expecting them to have a lot more empathy, we’re expecting them to be able to pick up on cues better, and we’re removing all the signals that they’re used to, which is all this in-person energy, getting to be able to pick up on things. Now, they have to learn how to do that in a totally new environment too. That seems like a big challenge. How are you helping people with that?

Well, there’s a lot to do there. Of course, you guys can reach out to me if you want to hear more on what I do there. I won’t go through my whole list of services. But definitely there’s a lot of work to be done there. And all I want to say is, it is possible to embrace this change and to make it work. It won’t be a flip of a coin that’s going to take a week to change. It’s a behavioral shift. So, it takes time but we can get there, and then teams can get there. And it just depends on how much energy you want to put into it and how much you care about it. It changes from company to company. Not every company or every individual has the same needs of what they want to achieve.


I was talking with a team leader recently, and I really admire this person. She is at the end of her career. She was probably only about two, three years away from retirement, and then the pandemic hit. And her team was totally used to just being in office, always together. They had a really tight culture, everything was great. And now she’s having to figure out, how do I do this? She feels she can’t just leave the team and be like, well, see you. I’m just going to do what I want to do for a while and then retire. She really wants to leave it well. But everything we’re talking about right now is totally foreign. It’s a new thing. She recognizes it and knows that needs to happen but it’s really tough. And I really have a lot of empathy for people like that. In that stage of their career, they’re not used to all these things. They’re recognizing that they have to figure it out but it is tough for sure.

And the world is changing so fast. I myself saw so much stuff changing where I did have experience of like 10 years of remote work experience, and to see the world evolving so fast that I myself am learning so much about how to do work better. And in the past two years, we’ve seen companies like this, if you’ve been working for 40-50 years in a specific way and then suddenly, we’re telling you, ‘No, now you can’t do any of this. You have to rethink everything about how you do your work’, it’s a huge change. We’re talking of people asking questions like, do I need to provide a printer to all my employees at home? They’re very basic things like, do I need to recreate a whole office at home? I don’t necessarily think that every single company will necessarily have to change. I think the industry will change. 

I was having a discussion a few weeks ago with lawyers talking about the fact that law has always been very paper based and you would never see remote work in a law firm, for example. But in the last year, we’ve seen that. I’ve sold my house online, virtually, done notary virtually, and signed documents, legal documents virtually. We will slowly see, as we see health apps now where we have doctors that are giving consultation online on an app, we will slowly see lawyers definitely giving law advice, and some of this already exists, law advice over the phone or over a video call, having courts virtually. Actually, I think we’ve seen that, courts happening virtually, which is kind of like a special thing. I think the whole industry is changing. 

And this is how slowly we will have maybe office space getting a bit more obsolete. It’s just because the way we work and the way we are expecting our services to be, is evolving. I don’t know if I’m going too far there, but have you tried the VR? Recently, there’s the new VR Oculus Quest 2 that was out in the Workroom and everything. Have you tried it out? 


I actually have not. I need to, just because of the nature of my work, just explore with it. By nature, I’m a little bit of a slow adopter of some of those emerging technologies, but it’s something I’m interested in. I feel it’s going to happen probably mostly just because of how much Facebook is pushing it, that forces us all to be there one way or another. But what about you? Have you experimented with it?

Yeah. So, I’m just discovering now, Neil. We just got one. My partner and I were really geeking out on this and we’re both remote workers. So, we got the Oculus Quest 2 recently. And I used the VR two years ago, the one that had cables. So, the new one has no cables at all. It’s completely Wi Fi. And I tried the Workroom, which is another Facebook product, and it’s quite impressive. Just to think that this is just the beginning. It’s not perfect. Like, you know there’s a glitch, sometimes it doesn’t respond properly, you know, whatever. But it’s very high quality for where we are. 

I’m just thinking just three years from now, if my son works, how’s it going to be if right now I can do this. So, you put the headset on the Workroom, for example, and you can invite guests. So, for example, we will be on a call right now. Instead of being in a Zoom meeting, which is, you’re in front of me, and I’m behind you or in front of you, but we are in 2D. You could be in the virtual room with me, and the sound the way I hear it in my ears, depending on where you are in the virtual room, I will hear you in spatial audio, just like if you were next to me. 

This is making it much more tangible. It feels like you’re really there. And just the thing, that we are in different countries, like you’re on the other side of the ocean, and I can feel like you’re right next to me, you can definitely create more sense of feeling. It is a bit weird, the whole avatar thing, a lot like a fake person says like, ‘Yes, hello’. I know it’s a bit weird but at the same time I feel like the more it’s going to evolve, maybe you will be able to have a 3D thing done of you where you actually see a hologram. 

I’m a bit geeking out on this but, you know, the whole thing of being able to do a presentation and then use a whiteboard in-person or draw with someone. You know I was a product manager as a professional before and a lot of the product management I did was remotely. And the different design sprints I’ve done or workshops I’ve done where I would have liked where you draw something then you show it using a Miro board. 

But imagine if you’re actually feeling like you’re right next to me, and I’m writing down on a desk and you can be right next to me on that desk. So, there is a lot, a lot, a lot that’s going to happen I think in the next few years. I think the reason why Facebook is investing so much is I think they really want to be able to give it a big push. The same way we’ve seen that with electric cars, I think with Tesla, and you get a very big push in investment. And then the industry follows. I’m really looking forward to seeing it. 

Just the glasses though, the casting, it’s so uncomfortable. I cannot wear that for more than one hour. Like it’s so painful on your head. So, there’s a lot of work to be done there. But I don’t know I’m excited by this. I think there’s so much to do there.


It’s fun. Because like you said it, if you tried it right now, you’d probably be underwhelmed. It’d be like, oh, okay, this is not there. But when you see the possibilities of what’s going to happen with this as it just continues to get better, it is very exciting to see that.

I mean, I was a child and I was thinking, ‘Ah, one day we’ll be able to have video calls.’ I remember being like 8 years old and thinking that, or like, one day, I would be able to watch TV on the bus. But thinking today, you’re like, yeah, duh, this is just a simple thing. You know, like, where will my son that was three years old now have a work life as an adult? I’m very excited.


Yeah, it is very exciting. Well, good Daphnee, we’re going to close this out. My last question for you is more just like, are you leaning on the optimist side or the pessimist side, when it comes to how individuals adapt? The technology is going to move forward, but will there be a lot of companies that just be like, ‘Oh, we’re not really going to put in the amount of work that’s required, especially in the area of leadership, to go through?’ Or are you more optimistic that says, ‘We’re going to figure this out. Work is going to continue to evolve and to get better.’ Where do you fall on it?

Oh, it’s a good question. I think in general humans adapt very fast. And I feel like this is what we’ve seen with the pandemic, is that we could have thought it would have been just a complete chaos, and then like, job loss and everything. But in the end, it actually created a big movement where people adapted, created tools, company changes, there is a big great resignation, those who are not happy anymore know that they can go somewhere else. People or their whole workplace evolved. 

So, I think, no matter the companies that don’t want to, let’s say, I’m going back to the office as soon as possible and everything, there will be a shift where the demand and everything, their talent and more will just make the whole, mostly knowledge worker industry, change, and have a big shift. So, I’m quite optimistic. To be honest, it’s such a dream for me to see this happening. 

You know, six years ago, I was doing a corporate remote work conference called ‘Out of Office’, where we had the remote work companies, remote companies coming to talk about how they do work. And I always dreamt to see and wanted to see the workplace change where you can create more and more remote jobs and have more and more people have access to flexible work, do what they love. Like I was prone to have life before work and for me, this whole workplace change is just what I always dreamt of, in the workplace. So, I’m super happy to see that happening. Be positive. I’m optimistic. I really want this to keep going because it’s too good, too good.


Yeah, I feel optimistic in many ways. I feel the companies that are leading the way, like we talked about earlier, are going to continue to lead the way and do a great job, and are going to push us further into great stuff. I feel the companies and leaders right now who recognize that this is a big change, they haven’t quite figured out yet how to do it, are going to fall into that adaptation side. They will figure it out. It’ll be tough. It’ll be difficult. But people like you are there to help them along the way, so they will do it. I do feel there will be that kind of holdout of the old guard, the people who really just want to hold on to the power they have. 

But isn’t that human nature? 



To just resist change. 


Yeah. That could be anyone, or anything. It does not have to be remote work. And that will happen. But I think the one thing we all need to be aware of is, like you said, this is knowledge work. People who are doing work like us, it’s going to be great. We’re all going to have wonderful work life balance, it’s going to be fun.

I mean, that’s not true. When I used to give talks about remote work back in 2016-17, it was quite negative. I was like, here on the dark side of remote work, challenges and everything. And there is a lot of challenges. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows.


But when you compare it to what my father went through with his career. Like, every time I take what I have in the challenges I have versus what he had, and that, so 100% there. But then when we think about it, knowledge work is still just a fraction of what people do for a living and for wages in our world and recognizing that it’s not the same for everybody else and we should also be thinking about how to make that equitable across the board.

Definitely. That’s a good point.


Cool. All right, Daphnee, this has been great. I feel we could just talk all day.

Yeah, it’s amazing to discuss with you.


It’s fun. Tell people where they can go. Obviously, you have your own podcast. So, tell us about that and other things you do.

Yes. So, you can also come and ping me on LinkedIn. You can follow the Remote First Podcast, where I talk about all things remote-first, with different leaders of companies, like large companies like Slack. We had HubSpot, Dropbox, all just coming about, talking about the way they transformed their company. Yeah, it’s super nice to have you, Neil, also. Thank you for hosting this discussion.


Yeah, it’s fun. This will be the start of a long conversation hopefully that spans many years as we continue to check in with you and see what you’re doing. So, we’ll put all those links to your stuff in our show notes. We’re kind of cross posting this too, so we’re excited to continue to collaborate together. 



Daphnée is a Distributed Workplace Consultant on a mission to help executives, people ops and team leaders drive a company-wide shift toward remote-first ways of working. Within 10 years of experience in fully distributed companies, she played key roles in establishing scalable workflows for growth, facilitating business decisions remotely and building internal products dedicated to digital-first teams.

As an early advocate of remote work, she previously led the first online conference about remote work as a business strategy with over 1500 live attendees. Recently, she launched the Remote First Podcast where every week she chats with leaders from large companies (Shopify, Slack, Elastic ) about their experience at scaling a digital-first culture.

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