39 - Jeffry Hesse of Sonatype on the Collaboration Superpowers podcast

JEFFRY HESSE is an Agile coach at Sonatype in Alaska, USA. He works with a distributed software development team of approximately forty people. He loves his work, mountain climbing, photography, and spending time with his grandmother. Because he can work from anywhere, Jeffry combines his passions by working while traveling.



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His tips for working remotely:

  • When working in different time zones, be accommodating.
  • Work at your maximum sustainable pace.
  • Push the ball forward every day.
  • If you’re going to be a remote team, be completely remote.
  • Remember that we’re human.

If you want to get specifics on Jeffry’s set up in Argentina, read:

  1. How Remote Is Remote? Working from Argentina
  2. How Remote Is Remote? More Argentino Than Human (Part 2)


Podcast production by Podcast Monster

Graphic design by Alfred Boland


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Original transcript

Lisette: Great and we’re live. So welcome everybody to this remote interview and I’m excited today to be interviewing Jeffry Hesse. Did I say your name right?

Jeffry: You got it.

Lisette: Okay great. And Jeffry it says on your Twitter profile agile dude, photographer, cyclist, nerd and beer. So we have to meet. Those all sound really good. So I’ll start by asking what does your anywhere office looked like?

Jeffry: It kind of depends on where I’m at. Right now I’m in Washington D.C. I’m at my home office which is kind of ironic because I’ve only been inside this office like three or four weeks since I lived in this house. This office is awesome. I got this nice old 1960s desk, pictures of mountains behind me, like, things that just kind make me feel great.  In front of me I’ve got a washer and drier.

Lisette: So it makes you feel great?

Jeffry: Yeah. I’ve got stuff around me that like, I’ve got a picture of my grandma right here. Just things that make me feel awesome. Because when you work in a basement alone all day long, you have to have things that you like to look around and you’re like, that’s awesome. That’s an awesome thing but the office has been as interesting as…when I was in Argentina earlier this year I was inside of co-working spots or like in my friend’s place with his kids and it just kind of all varies. That’s why it feels funny being here because I’m hardly ever right there.

Lisette: How funny. So your actual home office is not where you’re commonly at. You’re travelling it sounds like a lot.

Jeffry: Yeah I’m taking full advantage of being remote and trying to set up anywhere. Two weeks I leave D.C and go to California and Alaska for three months. So my office will be next to a lake for a while.

Lisette: Sound ideal. So now you said that there are 40 people on your team. On the engineering team that you worked with and that everybody is remote. Did I get that right?

Jeffry: That’s 100% right.

Lisette: And when you’re travelling like this, how does it affect the team or how do you…how does that work?

Jeffry: So the short of it is it doesn’t. We basically are all remote so if I’m another location and as long as the internet is fine, as long as the phone quality is fine, then it’s perfect. And when I was in Argentina I kind of did this great test. I went down there for a month and didn’t tell anyone. Nobody had any idea that I was I Argentina and people kept asking me like, how are you doing with the snow in D.C. or you know, it’s horrible. I can imagine like I said, like…and I had to fly to Florida for a course with Mark Kelby and I got there and I was like, oh man a flight down from D.C. is going to be pretty cool. It’s like a short one, it’s like on a 12 hour flight from Argentina all the way to Florida. And I get in, he’s like, how was the flight? I was like, I got a secret to tell you and they all went wow. They were like, we had no clue that you were there. And was kind of like, the calculus. It’s like I wanted to do this to see how effective I could be from somewhere anywhere. And it was not even skipping a beat.

Lisette: Okay so how far the difference is in time zone is Argentina from that East Coast?

Jeffry: It’s one or two depending on the time of the year. Daylight Saving Time.

Lisette: Okay so it’s not that far.

Jeffry: No. It works out really well because the team I worked with has people in Europe. We’ve got a guy in London, we’ve got a guy in Transylvania which is awesome. Guys are…like, people everywhere and then people on the West Coast of America. And so when I was kind of in that time slot especially when it was two hours off in the East Coast it was like I could talk to the people in Europe a lot easier. I can also talk to people in the West Coast because Argentine culture is like, we eat dinner at midnight.

Lisette: Oh right, okay. Interesting

Jeffry: It was ideal.

Lisette: So how did you make it work? I mean I know that when people are travelling, that it’s hard to find good internet and I don’t know about how the internet is in Argentina. But maybe it’s…you [inaudible – 0:04:36.8] on us and great everywhere. I’m not sure but whether…it’s not, okay. So how did you make this work? As a programmer this is really important.

Jeffry: So again, in Argentina I had to really kind of dig and I was kind of naïve when I went down there. Down there I works at the National Geographic Prier and we go there a lot for trips to meet other people on our teams. And so the internet down there is I was face to face with the people I was working with, it was substantial like we’re okay to talk to people back in America, that type of deal. But when you’re all remote you’re using VOIP, you’re completely relying on these things where you need fast speed is been at Argentina is horrible, absolutely horrible and I kind of have to play around once and a while. I went to a few co-working spots where they have like what they called Corporate Internet which is basically like the slowest internet you can get in America but it’s nice enough.

Lisette: It was good enough. So we’re you doing video calls or…okay just enough for video.

Jeffry: Yeah it worked enough for video, for VOIP, me being an agile coach is like I don’t have to push code as often or download massive amounts of things. So it’s a little bit easier for me. It’s like okay I’m just on VOIP, on calls, on video, that type of deal. It took a minute to find it and especially Spanish is not my preferred language, it’s something that I’m getting better at but it’s difficult in a country where they pretty much speak Spanish. They speak a very weird accent of Spanish. It’s like trying to find a good internet isn’t like, wow. You spend a while looking.

Lisette: Okay. But you still, it was seamless.

Jeffry: Yeah.

Lisette: So you pulled it off?

Jeffry: Somehow pulled it off. There was a really funny moments in one of the apartments that I was at. That the router there I couldn’t hook up…I forgot to bring an Ethernet cord from my laptop and on WIFI it was horrible like the VOIP was like just not good. And so it was like oh my god how am I going to figure this out. I had my zip phone, this VOIP phone with me plugged into the router via Ethernet but it would somehow not register with the network but I was able to call numbers that were like external numbers and then dial in from there. And so there’s very interesting setup but when you have the zip phone hooked up to the router, it functioned as a bridge and from there your laptop was continuously losing WIFI connections. So I was on these meetings and I was like, oh god!

Lisette:  [inaudible – 0:07:30.9] on the edge of…

Jeffry: Yeah I was like, oh no this really stinks right now but we made it worked and a lot of the guys, we have internet issues is like, some days like your internet here at home could be beautiful. So it was like…if that’s happening like once every couple of week or something like that then people don’t freak out as much. They do however [inaudible – 0:07:58.6] hey man fix that.

[Cross Talking – 0:08:01.4]

Jeffry: No, no go for it.

Lisette: I was just going to ask about the…well what’s challenging the  about the team even if they’re not travelling they’re still working with people all over the world which, I mean, it’s got its difficulties, so what is it that you guys struggle with?

Jeffry: We struggle with a lot of things as one would…we struggle with time to put our pants on during that day.

Lisette: Of course.

Jeffry: It’s tough because you’re not face to face with people sometimes, especially if you’re just on the phone or on video you can’t see somebody’s tone. You can’t see their body language, that type of thing. And a lot of the guys on the team that I’m on prefer only phone. They don’t…no video because video takes a lot of bandwidth, it takes up a lot of resources on the computer and they’re like probably running like, bills at the same time. So the VOIP works out much better for them. So you know, you just can’t see like, hey that guy was smiling as we set that. They made a joke.

And so you lose a little bit of that and you’ve got to kind of compensate a little bit. You kind of got to kind of search out the jokes or make jokes like really really apparent jokes, not just like solo ones. Because I think some things can come off as like pseudo passive aggressive and somebody won’t even mean it like that. Like you’re missing that body language and it’s very interesting.

Lisette: Well also across countries because the cultures in each country are very different and people have very different expressions for things I’ve noticed.

Jeffry: Oh yeah.

Lisette: So it’s interesting. I really encourage people. It’s one of the main things that I encourage with working remotely is to use the video and a lot of people hesitate with using the video. I hear it a lot but I think you miss it so much when you don’t use it.

Jeffry: I agree.

Lisette: Yeah.

Jeffry: Some of us do…there’s certain meetings that we use like Google Hangouts for and it’s funny, it’s mostly like the agile coaches and like the people that I like more, like, yeah we should be doing that. Maybe it could be that we’re less…it could be that we’re not introverted, we’re extrovert people. Mark and I are certainly extroverted to some degree and other people on your team are going to be introverted and like, no I don’t want to be on video. I don’t even want to talk. And it’s finding the mixed for all that stuff to add up to awesome work.

Lisette: And what about time zones? Is that something?

Jeffry: It’s funny, everybody asks about that because we’re kind of notorious that the Nexus team is split across gigantic amount of time zones. We got people on the west coast of America and we’ve got people in Romania. And they’re on the same team. How do we make it work and the answer is I don’t know. We kind of time slide. Some of those guys work later, the culture seems kind of more okay with that. Then America is like a 9 to 5 place comparably anyways to like somewhere in Europe or especially like Argentina would be a good example. We don’t work with anybody in Argentina but they definitely slide there like, oh our day starts at noon, ends at 10. That type of deal. And so after this which will be 2:30 PM EST we have a daily scrum where the entire team is on. We do that every day and it’s about I’m back 8 or 9 for you I think.

Lisette: Yeah it’s 7:30 now, right now.

Jeffry: Yeah.

Lisette: 12:30 there for you.

Jeffry: And so for Allen…Allen the guy in Transylvania it’s going to be very late but these are…he dowels in, tells people this is what I did today, tomorrow I’m finding to do this. And so we figure out ways to also create thin diagrams within the team. Is we organized meetings such that like the west and the east coast have a meeting and we have a meeting with the east coast and Europe and the UK are on together. And what we do, we kind of spread the knowledge like this.

We have conversations that kind of flow and we try as we get into something…we’ll pick like a captain of the topic. It’s like, hey Stewart do you think you can lead the conversation on doc or Allen can you do that? Alright, and then when you have somebody like that, they’re kind of pushing it forward. It’s not necessarily that you need everybody.

Lisette: Right. So you assigning roles specifically to people who will then take the responsibility of making sure that they go down the path that needs to go down.

Jeffry: Yeah well less assigning. They’re more like asking. Hey guys, who has the interest in pushing this forward? It’s like we try and self-organize and not have people work on things that they’re interested in. And that’s what kind of make it worked too.

Lisette: Okay. And what kind of tools do you guys use?

Jeffry: Basically for the meetings and stuff we…the standard toolkit. It’s like, we use Hit Chat for a synchronous conversation. We use VOIP on sit for call ins, we use Join Me for screen shares and stuff like that. We use Geera for writing stories, for planning everything related to kind of the agile process. And a lot of other little neat tiny things. It’s like, the guys…our open source developer so they probably written a million tools for things here and there.

Lisette: And how do people get to choose the tools that they want to sue themselves or is it a set that the company uses and then everybody uses that set or…

Jeffry: Like some of the stuff, like we all use Hit Chat and if somebody wanted to use Slack, it could be like, why, we already use Hit Chat and stuff like that. We use Get Hub for our code and it’s not so much the company of being like, this is what we use. It’s just like it kind of evolved through that, like the entire organization just uses that stuff. In terms of coding we could completely have standards. It’s like, okay you use IDE or Eclipse and if you’re using it you have to follow these coding guidelines and there’s style guides and stuff like that.

Lisette: Right and that makes defense of course.

Jeffry: Yeah.

Lisette: Okay. So you mentioned something interesting earlier which was the culture. You named it Culture Calculus and I’ve read it down because I love that. I just totally love that. But you mentioned that a lot of the people that you worked with are friends. People that you’ve known and bringing people in and I get a lot of questions about hiring on a virtual team. So I wanted to dive into this a little bit with you. What’s the process like?

Jeffry: So the process with me was my boss, Mike Hansen [inaudible – 0:15:43.8] that I’ve worked previously at him in my past and he was like, we’ve been talking and I was telling him, yeah I’m going to leave National Geographic and he was like, hold on, we’re going to interview you, we’re going to approach you, like that type of thing. I was like, okay. So the interview process for me it was like, I have a pretty quick conversations with everybody but like my quiz was this is the guy. This is that we want. So it fairly smoothly.

For other interviews where it’s like maybe we’ve got somebody from staffing agency or something like that. We’ve said, hey we need a really awesome Java Developers. It can be different and the interviews kind of change depending on who we’re talking to. Like, who gets called into the interview like I haven’t been in one yet like interviewing anybody in the organization. Because we’re hiring mainly developers right now and we’re hiring developers for other teams, not so much the Nexus team which is the one I work on.

So I completely speak to it but it’s a very neat process at least with the conversations I have, I talked to Mark Kelby, he’s part of the interview process and he was asking me more questions about who I was and how I function as a person and kind of like agile in general. I think that’s the culture calculus. It’s like people are asking is this guy going to work out, is this lady going to work out because they’re easy to talk to. They’re not a complete jerk. That type of thing. Yeah we’re trying to preserve that culture. It’s not that we want utopia. It’s that we just want people to work well together.

Lisette: Right. And that’s hard to do and also I’ve notice there’s some people that worked better remotely than others. When I’ve done some hiring on teams, people always say oh yeah I’ve never done it but I’m sure it can’t be that hard and then when they get on the team I’ve noticed, well actually it’s harder than you would have thought it was. I mean if you don’t have the skills, it seems like developers don’t have the skills from the get go. They’ve come from the open source environment and other people may not…might not be so natural to them.

Jeffry: I think that that’s an important point. People that I’ve worked in like a cube farm and maybe like just massive enterprises and when they switch over to something like this, it’s going to feel real weird. But a lot of developers that have come out of the open source community that were working from home and contributing to like, his massive projects like a lot of the guys at soma type or Apache people. Brian Fox worked on [inaudible – 0:18:40.1]. The previous CEO I think he was one of the creators of [inaudible – 0:18:44.2] as it were and this guy on the team Jason who’s on the Nexus team, he worked on Geronimo. I got all these guys from Apache and it’s like they already knew how to work like this.

Lisette: Right. So it came natural to them.

Jeffry: Yeah they were working with people to spread all across the world. They will accomplish some goal. And so it’s the exact same thing now. They just worked for a company.

Lisette: Right. And when they come on a team I always recommend for people to create a team agreement amongst each other. What are the core hours going to be, what are the expectations? Is that something that you guys do?

Jeffry: Not so much. I mean, we probably talked about it in the past. I’m fairly new. I think that it’s just like the kind of the Ethus and Mike Hansen is my boss is awesome. He kind of puts it down. He said work at your maximum sustainable pace. He just tells people that…and so for me, my core hours splitting across this team is some days I might be up at 6 AM. If I wanted to talk to somebody in Europe for a longer time, some days I might be up until 10 PM and talking to one of the other guys in San Jose and we just kind of make it work. We shift as necessary. One of the guys have families too and so they’re picking up their kids midway through the day and stuff like that.

Lisette: Right. All the normal stuff. Staying home for the plumber or whatever people have to do for that.

Jeffry: Yes except you’re always are here for the plumber.

Lisette: That’s the best part. They can come between 9 and 5 whenever they…and then, so I’m wondering also about management. The management of teams because most of the people that come to me are managers and I’m trying to really pin down and I’m having a hard time doing this after even 50 interviews but what are the specific skills that make for good virtual team management? What is a good leader in this aspect?

Jeffry: So SONA types are remarkable organization and that we’re flat. There aren’t really any bosses except for one boss, Mike Hansen. So there aren’t really any managers. It’s an organization that’s build around self-organization. Built around, you know, leadership just being an emergent property. And so what I can tell you about Mike is that he gets out of the way. Because Mike ask us what do I got to do to make you successful and what do I got to do to get out of the way? He basically does that and it’s awesome. Because it allows that type of culture to kind of happen. Leadership is like not a sign. It’s like, okay who’s going to lead on this? There we go.

Lisette: And somebody step forward.

Jeffry: Yeah like somebody is really passionate about code quality or somebody is very passionate about Nexus’s next product. If somebody is very passionate about this it just kind of emerges and it’s awesome. People…

Lisette: Sorry.

[Cross Talking – 0:21:58.3]

Lisette: So I apologize, but I’m wondering and it sounds like he sets the boundaries and said okay I need this done by this date. I’m not sure if even that comes in to it and it doesn’t. So how does work get assigned?

Jeffry: So basically we’ve got our product manager and a couple of product donors and we have teams that just kind of crank on like what we’re trying to get done as an organization. It comes down more to like which team works on what product. We’ve got a team that works on Nexus which is my team and then we have another team that works on what used to called CLM, now it’s called Nexus Life Cycle and they…if it’s work for that they work on it, if it’s work on this data pipeline another team will work on it. It’s not so much assigned, it’s just based on product.

Lisette: And it sounds like clearly you guys are using agile methodologies so that it helped a lot so then the teams can be self-organizing in that respect because you know the work that needs to get done and you know how much you’re going to have to get done in that week or that sprint whatever your sprint is. Okay. Oh interesting, so when you say that it gets out of the way, what does that looked like?

Jeffry: I’ve worked for some bosses in that past that arbitrarily just assign things and you questioned about that thing, is as a person like why am I creating this scan chart. Nobody reads this thing. Why am I creating this? And Mike is very good at…he’s basically not doing anything like that. He’s like, in fact he wants everyone to work on the highest value things at any given time and he recognizes a person. He doesn’t know what all those things are all the time. He knows that we do. He kind of puts the responsibility with us and he knows that we’re going to work on that and if we’re not, it will become fairly evident. When you work in a transparent organization, it’s like if somebody’s not stepping up, it’s pretty quick. You find out pretty quick and people know. And in that case you talk to that person like, hey what’s going on. And it’s pretty neat. He’s a really good coach. Every now and then we’ll pop in and kind of mentor him and stuff like that. But only when absolutely necessary. Mike just kind of sitting there on the sidelines like, alright, okay. He’s an incredible coach.

Lisette: Okay, interesting. How do you guys give each other feedback?

Jeffry: We’ve been having a kind of an experiment internally recently with our new…what we called Purer View Process and what it was is you suck out basically four or five people that you wanted feedback from and you have like kind of some pre-canned questions. It was not meant to be like this massive exercise but it’s like, hey what do you think my job is? What do you think I do? I know what I think I do but what do you think I do? And beyond that, like asking how am I doing it? Am I getting my job done? And they were asking a few other questions like, if there is one thing that I do really well, what is it? If there’s something I can improve, what is it? And so we went out and we found people that we were genuinely interested in getting feedback from. Not so much like Mike, he’s like, I wanted feedback from Mike too because I work with him a lot. But if you didn’t work with him a lot like you might want somebody else on your team to give you that feedback. And it doesn’t…none of this figures into this getting a raise or anything like that but figures into like I was improving and becoming better.

Lisette: Nice. You have retrospectives to being an agile team so then you get also feedback in that sense.

Jeffry: Sometimes we actually don’t do the retrospectives too often. We’ve kind of put them as on demand. Like when the team feels like when there’s a need to get together and inspect and adapt. Because they’re actually fairly good at doing that daily. They have a pretty open culture and people will talk about things and figure the way pass the problem.

So we only really call it retrospective when we feel like alright let’s get everybody together and especially with the time zone challenge because that’s kind of nice in general. It’s like every two weeks if we’re not burning an hour but if we’re getting together for an hour, it’s like an hour we could have spent talking about like architectural decisions and stuff like that. And we don’t mean to diminish the value of a retrospective, we just kind of place it when we need it. When we feel we need it.

Lisette: It sounds like the comradery of the team is really good and I’m curious what’s the magic…what’s your magic on this because it sounds like a lovely place to work. From everything I’ve read. I mean, I was saying before the blog, when I read the blog it just sounds like there’s something there. You can feel it in the atmosphere of the blog. Maybe it’s just me and…I don’t know but it sounds like the comradery is good.

Jeffry: It’s great. Every now and then people have conflict with somebody else but we generally work it out and everybody is kind of…we know…like what people are into. Mark has been doing a virtual lean coffees for the entire team and so we get together and yesterday we were talking about like our favorite beers and stuff like that. We do stuff like that that kind of lets us know that we’re human. Not just like people on the team, that type of deal. It’s our version of the water cooler.

Lisette: So just the lean coffees that…

Jeffry: Yeah we those as people can show up and talk about anything that they want to. We’ve been joking about doing a virtual happy hours and stuff like that and like, alright we’ll get together and we’ll scrap beers on video.

Lisette: Yeah but I mean those things are surprisingly fun. We have a virtual dance party with the team once and it was shockingly fun. I have to…I was surprised. Even I was like, huh! But of course I have to go through with it. These things…you can be very creative and I think that’s where the fun and the playfulness can come in.

Jeffry: Yeah and everybody that we worked with is pretty low key. They’re just…we don’t have a lot of crazy personalities or anything like that. Most people have a family and they’re really even keel. It’s cool. The culture is kind of like that in general. There’s a few younger people, I’m one of the young people I think and then one of my co-worker, this guy Justin Young, he’s on one of the other teams but he’s another younger type like him and I are constantly riding bikes and doing real weird stuff and the rest of the guys or like, well I’ll just pick up my kids. Well it’s a fun conversation like going back and forth.

Lisette: So I was going to ask you about this, we’re near into the end of the time but I definitely want to ask you about the climbing and productivity and it just seem so, you’ve got the pictures of the mountains behind you. So clearly you’re into it, you’re into the climbing and you mentioned before we started recording that this job allowed you to pursue these passions and I want to speak to that.

Jeffry: Yeah so I’m a big hippie at heart and I find myself happiest when I’m in nature, when I’m in the mountains. That type of thing and since I can be anywhere, it means like okay, I can go to Argentina for two months and I can go be close to Patagonians. And on weekends I can escape to Patagonians [inaudible – 0:30:14.8]. I can go to [inaudible – 0:30:16.9], I can go to Punta Reynas, I can go all these places. You’re so much closer, you’re access is greater and what it let me do is like since December when I joined I spend a month in Alaska with my grandma, I got back for a week and included Chile and climb some mountains. Went to Patagonia for a week, trek around, saw a bunch of penguins on an island and I’m back here. In about two weeks I fly to California and I climb…I was here in Nevada with my brothers over a memorial day and then I’m going to go to Alaska for three months and climb on glaciers and actually over the summer I’m working with two colleagues to film a documentary and sword spec glaciers.

Lisette: Wow!

Jeffry: Yeah it’s like I couldn’t do that if I was working in the office. The amount of time that I saved not commuting, the amount of flexibility that we get is kind of incredible. We still work really hard, we get everything done but we kind of shift things and make it convenient to do other stuff in our lives. Which is really cool. The people with families, my passion is climbing but a lot of the people at the company are like, they loved their kids and they just want to be around them all the time. And that’s what really rules about this whole working remote thing. It’s like you can balance work and life really easily.

Lisette: And do you ever…does it ever, I mean, I know with work life balance when you love what you do and you also loved the hobbies, I mean is there…do you ever…it sounds like remote workers worked too much. Do you suffer from that also? That’s what I’m trying to ask.

Jeffry: I got really good at that really years ago. When I was working in an office I would not switch off. My personality back then… I would find myself in the office until at 9:00 or so at night and Mike Hansen is one the people that taught me, it’s like, look, just push the ball forward every day. You don’t have to get it all the way there. Because there are other people that aren’t getting it all the way there either and you’re going to need them. Just push it forward, keep pushing it forward and don’t bring yourself out because I was definitely burning out when I was younger and he kind of taught me a lot about that. So generally everyday like at some point I just switch off. Alright I’m not going to look at my phone. I’m going to go ride my bike for three hours. I’m going to go and just get my brain kind of out of the zone.

Lisette: Right. And get sort of a mental space for new thoughts, new connections, new innovations.

Jeffry: Yeah and that’s important. It’s like when you do that stuff is like you actually get your creativity back. You get the total innovative moments like oh my god, oh man, alright, Eureka I found it.

Lisette: Right. No to self, quick, don’t forget when I get back from the biker. Well it sounds awesome. And if you have advice to give to a set team starting out, what would you tell them?

Jeffry: A virtual team like remote team is, you know, try and get together. That’s…the other thing is trying at least get together and see people face to face if you can. I know going down and seeing Mark Kelby in person and every now and then I get lunch with Mike Hansen and since he’s in this area is trying still get some face time with people. Because there’s no substitute for that. Working remote is awesome but getting this face time with people and like actually like talking to them a little bit, you build…you start to understand body mechanics like body language and things like that. You can tell when somebody’s really mad or you can tell when they’re overjoyed and you get to know a lot about them. I met Mark’s family when I was down in Florida. And so I know a lot about Mark.

As a person like, I know he an awesome couple of kids like his daughter…his wife works for [inaudible – 0:34:41.9]. You learn these things and it creates better connections with you. It could be that Mark and I are agile coaches and we’re all about like, humans are important. I really believed that creating these bonds with people is like if you’re working remote trying to get together. We do…SONA type has once a year where we get everybody in engineering together. It’s the single biggest item in our travel budget. We bring people from Europe, Canada, everywhere into one place and it hasn’t happened yet anybody but each year you get together and you’ve learned who these people are.

Lisette: Right. Or really speaks to the importance that the company places on it in order to get people together. That really says something and I’ve heard it a lot from other as well that the face to face…there’s nothing that can replace it but it doesn’t have to be every day.

Jeffry: Yeah. Absolutely it doesn’t have to be every day. It’s nice to build those things, build connections with other people. I think…I was reading, there’s a fantastic blog entry by the organization that built goes in you like WordPress B Type platform and they talk about that too. They’re like, we go together. Every organization that works completely remote is we still get together. We still do that. We’re humans, we’re social creatures in building better social ties always a good thing. I think a lot of the agile ideas as it were around that like why they were suggesting that people at work are located because they were like, it’s easier to talk to people. And so we function pretty well as a remote team. The other important thing that I’d say is if you’re going to be remote team, be completely remote. Don’t have a portion of the team that’s all in one room and then three people that are remote. Because you’re having this conversation over there in one room and those people are isolated from it. And it just doesn’t seem to work. I’ve been on some teams that made it work and it was difficult. It was like we spend a lot of the day just catching people up. Oh we have this conversation over here. Yeah it’s like, go fully remote, have fun.

Lisette: Right. I’ve also heard that before and that’s why I think that’s a really good advice because you can’t separate, there’s an us versus them somehow and you really have to work hard to overcome that because you’re sitting in the same room. So that’s…I mean you just say, hey Bob what do you think about…that’s super easy.

Jeffry: Yeah keep everybody remote and like a great example is National Geographic. We work with people in Argentina, is if you’re that person working with them, go work from home. Work from home as you’re working for that team because you’re going to realize what it’s like for them. It’s like, they don’t have access to people in the office and neither should you. Set the barriers appropriately so that you understand them and you can then do something about them. Say alright, yeah it’s very difficult for them to get information like we need to figure out a better pathway for that type of thing as well.

Lisette: Right. Well great advice. Really great advice. So final question which is if people want to get in touch with you and learn more, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Jeffry: There’s a gazillion ways. I’m all over the internet. My Twitter handle is wordupwith8used…

Lisette: Yeah I was going to ask that because I every time I see it I think Word Up.

Jeffry: It’s old skit on SNL with Tracy Morgan. It’s the Napster Trials and it comes in as Camio and they just keep asking them like what’s the song that your hear about everywhere Word Up. He say it over and over so it’s been like an inside joke between a couple of friends and I for a while but just to stuck…but you can get at me Twitter, I’m on the SONA TYPE blog, you can reach out through there, the Nexus as it were, community blog and we fairly…we write pretty frequently on there. So I think that if you go on there like it’s got links to LinkedIn and everything that connects with me. That type of deal.

Lisette: Great. I’ll put it in the show notes.

Jeffry: Awesome.

Lisette: So I want to thank you for taking the time and telling your story about your team. I found it really interesting. I learned a few things so I really appreciate it.

Lisette: Yeah thank you. It’s great. I’m really pumped on just this idea in general. It’s like taking about this type of stuff. When I got back from Argentina like Mike, he got to write about it. You’ve got to tell the story of this thing because it speaks to what we’re trying to accomplish and this culture working from home and everything. So it’s nice…

Lisette: While working from the mountains.

Jeffry: Yeah working from Penguin Island.

Lisette: Right. It’s the work life fusion that I find so fascinating about this and what are people doing with the freedom they’ve got.

Jeffry: Remembering that we’re human. I think that’s what we’re doing.

Lisette: Indeed. I’m going to write that down. Alright then, well until next time everybody. Be powerful.



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