Episode #
004

The Future of Remote Workers: More Efficient for All with Liam Martin

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Episode Summary

Listen to Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski as they interview Liam Martin, founder of a time and productivity tracking software company, and explore the effects of remote work to companies and how sustainable it can be.

The laptop lifestyle is not new. In fact, it has been a thriving setup for decades now. With the right tools and innovative mindset, companies can benefit immensely in their transition from their physical office to being headquartered NOWHERE in efficiency and productivity. So grab a pen and be ready to take down notes as there are nuggets of information in this episode that might be useful if you want to adapt to the work-from-anywhere lifestyle.

From the episode

What You'll Learn

Timestamps

[4:15] Why companies are choosing an office, hybrid, or remote set ups

[5:49] The history of nine-to-five work hours?

[10:35] How all paradigms of life will change because of remote work

[13:57] The economic benefits of digital nomadism to countries

[23:34] The pros and cons of remote work from a company perspective

[32:20] Time Doctor - one of the tools in tracking productivity in a work from anywhere setup

Show Transcript

Allen

And we'll start. Welcome to The New Nomad. We have a great guest today. Liam Martin will join us who will share his stories, ideas and perspectives on the remote worker and Nomad lifestyle. Just a reminder, The New Nomad is not just a podcast is a community of people, ideas and spirit, helping you take advantage of the cross border lifestyle. Please welcome my co host, Andrew Jernigan, who himself has been a new Nomad. Hello, Andrew, and what is on your mind today? Well,

Andrew  

Hi, there, everyone. It is a great day in this world. As you know, we've seen so much take place in this season of change. I'm glad to be on this episode with you. Thanks for tuning in. And let's see what earth-shattering ideas come about through our conversations today. You know, the remote work force is not new. It's been around for decades from those who jumped in, in those old fashioned yachts and conquered new lands and said, Let's work from there. All the way to those who said let's flee our war torn land and move to West Africa and open a grocery store. So many people are viewing it for the first time that they can leave their modern culture and go work on a farm or leave the suburban life and go work in the inner city and in Asia, just for the fun of it. So this this new labor that we've seen, how does it hit you today, Allen?

Allen  

Well, you know, it's kind of interesting, as we were talking about remote work today, it's a really interesting article, Ford Motor Company, would you were you not what you would not consider to be the most, you know, leading actually announced today that 86,000 of their workers can work at home permanently. Now, that's a real endorsement of the remote work lifestyle. And I know, there's been a lot of debates on the efficiency of remote work. But I've seen a lot of studies recently, it seemed to indicate that everybody is served better by it, the individual, you know, doesn't have to travel, the taxes are probably better because they don't have to pay wage taxes. They have a lifestyle that's more amenable to them. And now the employer is starting to see that they get dividends too. And I think today when we talk to Liam, we're gonna get a lot of the pragmatic answers there. I'm certainly in the past, Andrew, did you get the feeling that people thought, Well, if people work from home, they'll be doing all their their household errands. And I think the pandemic disabused people of that notion?

Andrew  

Yes, I do think so. And employers probably had that, that feeling as well. They didn't know how to deal with tracking hours. They didn't know how, what software to use. They didn't know how to, you know, they didn't know how to do it. And we we were born a remote company before the pandemic, a globally dispersed distributed company with that mentality that this is good. This I mean, Allen, you've worked remotely for years I have from different places around the world, you've probably hit 140 countries.

Allen  

Seems like

Andrew  

Yeah, it's it's more sorry. But so let's say it is. It's an exciting time, as we see companies grasp the reality that this is possible, that solutions are out there. So that for benefits, or the necessary tools, software, it's all there. And it's totally okay. You don't even have to go hybrid, you can go remote. And so it's brought about the forefront of digital nomadism. And, you know, we need to we need to bring Liam into this.

Allen  

Yeah, let's do that. Liam, Liam Martin, please join us. Welcome aboard.

Liam  

Hello

Allen  

What do you what do you think about the latest news on the remote worker world and your perspectives on that?

Liam  

So first off, I've got to look at the article and analyze it in a bit of a deeper way. I'm wondering if they're saying hybrid or if they're saying remote like work from anywhere, because right now, there's an interesting movement. That's everyone's gonna have to make this decision effectively in the next 12 months. Are you staying in the office? Are you going remote? Or are you going hybrid? We've internally pulled our customers and out of I think 900 responses we have which is pretty statistically significant. We saw 50% of those people saying they're going to stay remote 40% of those people saying they're going to go hybrid in 10% of those people going back to the office. The hybrid part is the interesting one and hybrid, you know, you can declare yourself remote without really going remote, like a lot of these guys say, Oh, well, well, we're going to go we're going to go remote. But you are, but you have to be in the office Mondays and Fridays. Well, why? Because we don't want people having long weekends. Right? Like, yep, stuff like that. It's just sort of that the broken system, you know, when you think about where remote work and work came from, you're seeing the version that we currently have, is really the version that was built out of the Industrial Revolution. Right? So like, I don't know, if you guys know this, why do we have a nine to five?

Allen  

That's, that's a great question

Liam  

Why is not 8-4? Why is it not, you know, 11 to six. Any of you guys know, I

Allen  

Really don't know. That's, that's an interesting one to share with us.

Liam  

Okay, so we have a nine to five, because in in London, it was there was natural light from nine to 5pm. And after those hours, it wasn't safe to work in the factory, because there was no electric lighting. So people just work from a nine to five, because those were the waking hours that you could have enough light in order to actually run like a loom as an example, or a printing press. And after those hours, it became incredibly dangerous to be able to work in those types of environments. And so no one's really asking those assumptive questions like, why do we do it this way.

And when you actually figure out the history of it, it's pretty stupid. The vast majority of the time, the average workweek, as an example, inside of our system, is about three and a half hours right now. So people spend about three and a half hours doing work on their computers on Time Doctor is a time tracking tool for remote teams, we've been running it for about 10 years now. And that is a real eye opener, when you look at where work is done. Now, we personally, we kind of say, listen, if you get more in our numbers are a little bit different. If you can get four hours of focused work done per day, that's really all we asked for is that and we've recognized that there is a diminishing return every other extra hour that you add on to that work day.

So no one's really been able to analyze that because no one's had a data set like we've had before. But it's really interesting. And I think we're just coming up on this perspective of like, Okay, well, is the if you see the person, then you know they're working is a bad correlation to really have to really have long term and and the way that you solve that is actually by using some type of asynchronous and this is like, we're getting into the pragmatics as well, which is what I actually have been chatting with Andrew about all the time.

It's like how you get this to billions of people, right? Right now we've seen pre pandemic, we're at four and a half percent of the remote workforce working remotely. Now, at the sorry, at the peak, we were at 46% of the US working remotely 80% of people that use a computer working remotely. At that time, now we're probably going to see, I would say 30 ish percent, that's my educated guess when this all kind of like when the dust settles and the pandemic is over. That's huge, right? Number one, that's a complete change of the way that that labor works. But also pragmatically, how do you actually like deploy those many people in this new way of working? Right?

Location dependence is a huge piece, it's going to add into that, how many of those people and you're four times more likely to be working remotely, you can make more than 100 grand, that's another big variable that kind of works out into this. So you have a whole bunch of six figure workers that have just been freed from their locations. So they can be location independent, they can work wherever they want, are they really gonna stay in San Francisco or New York or Toronto or London? Or are they gonna start moving around, right, to start doing things that are really fun? I mean, I've been remotely for 15 years. And this is, you know, because I didn't have a particular location. I work. I work, you know, nomadically, I guess you could call it but six months out of the year, and this is what I see everyone else being able to do, quite literally in the next 12 months, and no one's really prepping for it.

Andrew  

Yeah, it's interesting yesterday, just in a conversation with a new team member with our company. It was one of those shockers to a degree of where are you based? Okay. You're going to relocate, okay. It doesn't really affect us where you're going to live except for for taxes. Where we pay our withholding taxes, things like that, and we'll just adjust as you relocate. But, yes, it's benefits. So many times health insurance is restricted on where that network of that particular provider is based. So if someone's only going to be located in the region for three months, and then they're going to be moved to another province, another state, another country, whether it's, you know, within, within the region, everything shifts.

And so that means, like you've said, previously, we've got to rethink all paradigms of life. Whether it's education with our kids, our school systems, to have a more uniform set and system in place that is more global that is more flexible. And, you know, healthcare has got to change, finances have to change, banking, governments visas, it, just the dominoes keep falling. What are some of them?

Liam  

You literally went through when you hear the whole list right there, man. So banking, healthcare, employment law. Uh, what were the other ones that you mentioned? education, that education, education care? Yeah,

Andrew  

I've got kids. We'll write those. Yeah.

Liam  

So So imagine if we were able to create a location independent education system in which people can, you can have one semester in one country, you can move to another country do the second semester, and there's a perfect sync, because it's the same, it's the same system. employment of record companies, there are ton of them that are coming up right now. And that space is completely exploding? How do you actually make sure that you're paying people legally, because in a lot of cases, for the digital nomad community, and I love them, and I am one of them? The vast majority of those guys are not legal, when they're when they're when they're working as digital nomad, when they're working from different locations.

These is right, how do you actually deploy effective visa systems so that you can say, yeah, alright, I'm going to pay you $10,000, or I'm going to put $20,000 in escrow with some type of government. And then I can work in and live in a country for a year, and then I'll just take that money back after the fact. And then also healthcare, right. When you think about the ability to be you're so intimately entwined, at least in the United States, with your employer and your insurance. That's a bad correlation. And if you can free yourself from that, it's just it's so much easier to be able to move around inside the United States, or something like insured nomads, where I can literally go wherever I want on planet Earth. And I know I'm going to have at least some level of health care and protection from wherever I go. I mean, all of these things need to happen and need to be at scale before digital nomadism really becomes something that a couple million people I looked at the numbers just yesterday. And again, my basic Googling is saying there's about 5 million digital nomads on planet Earth. How do you get to 500 million? How do you get to a billion, you've got to overcome all of these barriers to entry And as of right now, boy, we're we're kind of in the first inning.

Allen  

Liam is the digital nomad visas that some of the countries are rolling out, obviously, that will accelerate things. What's your perspective on that? And and why are some countries so energetic and taking the lead? And I think some other countries seem to be ignoring the opportunity that they've been presented with work?

Liam  

Well, so let me just take it from the context of the government. I'm going to have someone that comes into my country that's wealthier than the vast majority of my population, effectively a one percenter in my country, they're going to come into this country, they're not going to consume any government services whatsoever. They're going to inject basically, you know, they're going to go out to restaurants, they're going to get a nice, they're going to get a nice apartment, they're going to have fun, they're going to go do all of the things that a tourist would do for a week, but they're going to do it for six months. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. Yes, yes. You've got really long term reliable income from that segmentation.

So there are a ton of countries right now that are approaching this very, very aggressively. There are other countries that are not I think that they have a as I was talking about before the Industrial Revolution-esk type of mindset as it applies to, you know, the movement of labor and the movement of digital nomads in general. And I think that they're fundamentally going to get left behind. Very, very soon, you're going to see very quickly within the next year, you're going to see $220,000 executives, or VPS, from Twitter, or from Facebook, that are going to be living and working in Bali.

And it is going to completely change the face of digital nomadism, I talked about this a lot on the YouTube channel that I that I work on, which is, I have this concept of like rich dumb nomads, I think that 2022 is going to be the year of rich dumb nomads, there's going to be people that just have so much more money than the previous generation, and they're going to come in and they're not going to want to kind of stay at a $20 a night co live co workspace, right, they're going to want to actually get a really nice Villa somewhere because they have the money to be able to do it. They're going to want to educate their kids, they're going to want reliable insurance, right? That is that. So they're not going to get caught somewhere in a car accident and have to pay $25,000 out of pocket. All of these things I think are inevitable. I don't exactly know when they're going to happen. But they're definitely going to happen within 24 months of today.

Allen  

Well, we could only hope so and you know what's interesting, did you get the feeling that COVID accelerated this product, this process, maybe by even by a decade, I mean, it seems like for the first time, people that that we've all worked with, who really did not know how to use the computer as efficiently like we'd all hopped on a plane to go shake some hands. And now people realized it's pretty efficient to be able to meet. And that sit on an airplane for 16 hours for an hour lunch and meeting. Get to talk a little bit about how you think that change is happened and how people's whole paradigm is just changed on remote work. Because here I saw people being really digging their heels in on I will never work from home, I don't want to be on zoom calls. And now all of a sudden, you know what, I think this makes some sense.

Liam  

I was out for a coffee with a guy who runs a multi billion dollar tech company. And if I told you the name of the tech company, you would know exactly who it is instantly. And this was like the greatest moment that I think I've experienced the entire pandemic. He said, Liam, you were right, I was totally against remote work. You've been talking about this stuff for the past 10 years. And it's like, you know, this, this company shut down all their offices, they are remote first. And they're going to continue to be a embracing work from anywhere type of mindset.

And the reason why they're doing it is for a couple reasons. Number one, their employees are demanding it. And a lot of these employees are very high performers. And they're recognizing now the genie is out of the bottle, remote work is table stakes. So if you are a remote worker that let's say makes more than $100,000 a year and your employer is having you back go back to the office, you can probably find another job that will pay you as much money to do the type of work that you're doing. So they're they're terrified in that context.

But the other aspect of this is it is way more efficient. I don't know if you guys had seen the news this week. Coinbase. And this is something that I've wanted to announce for a while because we were able to, to chat with Coinbase a lot about this. So Coinbase just did $113 billion IPO. Largest IPO of 2021. And Coinbase is basically like a digital wallet for cryptocurrency. For the first time in the history of the SEC, they have been able to declare their headquarters as nowhere. That is the biggest company of this year. IPO it is a remote company, I believe in the next five years, half of the IPOs that you see going public by what is this 24 by 2026 are going to be remote companies, not because they want to be a remote company, which is what we were doing before the pandemic but because there's no other choice. The only way to build a hyper growth company is with a remote work process in place and also somewhat of an asynchronous process. But that's this that's for another podcast. It's just I'm starting to see all these pieces come together and yeah, it's it's kind of a push and pull but it's happening at breakneck speed. Yeah, you

Andrew  

know it's it's such a such a wild thing when you go to your platforms such as LinkedIn, and you have to type a location for your company on your LinkedIn company page, it will only accept a city, it will not allow you mobile or remote. Because it's still not in people's perception. This is possible that you can have a remote company. And to the average person, they think that this is reactionary to the pandemic, when this is for myself, I've, you know, this is something that's been decades in my life, working around the world and for many people. But there's so much going back

Liam  

to the data set that I put together 50% are staying remote 40% are going hybrid 10% are going back to the office. Now, that's a very interesting end, which is people that were already interested in remote work before we started. But there's other studies that I'm seeing that are pretty darn close, I'm seeing maximum 20% of people saying they're going back to the office, and the 40% of hybrid is remaining, effectively the same remote is kind of dropping off a little bit. So when you see that type of data come out, it's just like, no one's talking about the office leases, right, that are all going to come due in the next 30-60 days. And we're not talking billions, we're talking trillions and trillions of dollars that are sitting there for institutional investors that have been doing this for the past 50-60-70-80 years that are all in hedge funds. Right? And it's like, this is a ticking time bomb that we're not even recognizing is come and obviously 2020 has been a bit of a crazy year. Right? So one impossible problem at a time. But man, I just don't, you know, I don't see this. I don't see 2022 being a year of growth, fundamentally, I see it being a year of change, right. And I see those two things is quite different.

Allen  

Well, you know, you'd hate to almost be a mayor of a city that most of its revenue is based upon the workers that come in to that city. With this, it's going to be really interesting to see how that plays, because it's back to your real estate idea. It's Yeah, what do you do with all the empty real estate? We actually have a building right near me, that used to have four floors of people that would just pay claims. And that's been closed for the whole pandemic, everyone's at home. And I spoke with a friend of mine who said, we're not coming back, we might have one floor, that becomes a housing area, maybe for visits or something. It's gonna change everything. And and I know you've been working a lot, looking at remote worker efficiency, etc. Have you seen any study that indicates that this is not good for the company? Because I have not.

Liam  

It's not an issue of good or bad it is. So there's a push and pull issue that I've been talking about constantly, which is employee say, this is table stakes, genie's out of the bottle going to work remotely. Employers say, Hey, this is the largest line item cost above staff is your office space. On your p&l, right? If you look at any p&l, it's like, people office, right real estate, and then it's all of these other costs that you have down below it. On average, it's 30%, cheaper to be able to run a remote first company.

Now there are a couple drops when it comes down to collaboration. And that is that it's very, very true. You look at any of those studies that say that remote teams are bad at collaboration, and they are all correct. They're not using an asynchronous communication methodology, which again, is a separate podcast that we probably shouldn't get into right now. They're not they don't know how to work efficiently as a remote team. But if you work all of those things out, you're going to recognize very quickly, I can't open an office. Like it's not something that I can even do. Because I'm out of business. If I try to even even move in that direction, and I think it's like Daron Murph, who is the remote work advocate at GetLab, put this very, very well. He believes something like the Coinbase moment is a tide shift in it is a moment where the first Model T rolled off the production line. And everyone recognizes that like, wow, there's this new technology that allows you to produce a car much cheaper than the other methods. When the Model T rolled off the line 96% of cars were not made with the production line. Five years later, they were all made with production lines, right? It was the reverse.

So it's like I think we're seeing that moment. And the entire market is just sort of in shock right now and reacting to it. But if you're a business owner at this point, you need to really figure out as quickly as humanly possible, how can I take advantage of this, and move down this line as quickly as it as quickly as you can, because there is a lot of opportunity space in there. For us, we've been doing this for 10 years, our secret weapon has been hiring remotely, because it's much more efficient. That efficiency is actually getting sliced down almost monthly, that we see it right. The the labor kind of demands that we're getting from markets are just going through the roof, because a lot of large corporate are saying, Well, why would I want to hire in San Francisco when I can hire remotely, and they're doing it right now. And I'm driving up prices everywhere else. So that's only good for developing countries, right to be able to get access to that type of income, and that labor and also keeping that talent in their local locations, but it's going to probably pretty bad for people like me, or are really kind of like G20. countries, they're probably going to see the reverse occur a little bit of a not necessarily brain drain, but a cash strain.

Allen

Wow. You know, it's, it's really is a time of transition. It's amazing. Some of the thoughts you brought to mind, you can almost feel like, you know, the last pandemic was the 1920s. And then we had the roaring 20s. And so many things changed this year at the 2020s. And you can see the same type of change that might be happening to society. It's amazing, kind of To that end, we'd love to ask you a more broad based question that we've asked many of our guests before. Because you're certainly a person is that many unique experiences. So could you share with our group, what might be one overlooked person, place or experience that you would suggest that our listeners discover, because you put so many great ideas out there today, I'm sure people will want to look deeper for something unique. And I know you've been somebody who brought a lot of unique ideas to this podcast today.

Liam  

I'm going to choose a place. And I don't know if you guys have been there. But I spent about a month and a half in Egypt about two years ago. And that was really a fantastic experience. So number one, I'm a huge history nut, and just seeing the pyramids, you never in I knew how tall the pyramids were academically. But then when you see those types of things, it's like, it's, it's awe inspiring. That's all I can really say it's just, it's just completely blows your mind. I actually was I have a photo of that my wife took of me, of me working in front of the pyramids, and we literally were able to work from there for about a month, because it's also very cheap right now. Tourism got got hit quite hard about 10 years ago. And the cost of having a what I really described as a once in a lifetime experience is about 20% of what it was before the revolution. So I would highly suggest people go down there, see if you can inject a couple dollars into the economy there because they're really hurting. And it's just, it is, in my opinion, probably one of the most awe inspiring things that I've seen in my travels.

Allen  

You know, it's it's amazing, you brought that up Liam, because I've been to the pyramids, and I had the exact same experience that you did. And the other thing that's amazing about the pyramids, and not just to see them in person and understand the scale. But how the city just seems to stop. Just right at the pyramids, though, if you look one way, you have a massive metropolis. And if you look the other way, you have a desert with the Sphinx and the pyramids ahead of you. And it's a surreal situation and almost you need to see to believe, did you have that same experience? Yeah, we

Liam  

would sit in our hotel and we had a beautiful rooftop, about five or six storeys overlooking the pyramids. And every night and I'm talking every night, I would just sit and watch the sunset over the pyramids, and it was a it was a it was a religious experience as close as I could possibly get to something like that. I've never been that moved by by something by inanimate objects. So it's just like the history there is huge. Now the internet's pretty bad for anyone who's going down there. The secret is never trust the wired internet. Always just get yourself a sim, and the sims are dirt cheap. We're talking I think I bought six 60 gigs a month for like 20 bucks. And it's really, really Oh, fantastic 4g. Yeah, it's very, very cheap. So that's the cheat code there, I was going to different co working spaces trying to get meetings done. And I could never get into good wired internet. And then just a local told me was like, well, we never actually do meetings through wired internet, we always do it through our 4g, because it's just so much easier to be able to do it that way. So that would be the big cheat code. And then outside of that just eating the food is a little bit dangerous, you know, more dangerous than I would say other places. But as long as you have your wits about you, I wouldn't say this should be like, country one. This should probably be like country six or seven, to just kind of get your understanding of the environment. But yeah, awe-inspiring experience, I would definitely suggest you go check it out.

Andrew  

Well, Ian, Liam, this has been so good. And I know that folks want that need to hear the episodes where you talk more in detail about some of the subjects that we've covered today. I follow your videos have for a long time. I know there's a conference this year, a little bit associated with that is coming up soon. Would you tell us a bit about that? Where can everyone find you and I know that your company is one that some of these company owners and other resourceful folks should be telling people about. So tell us your links, and other ways people can find out about you.

Liam  

Sure. So if you want to take a Time Doctor go to timedoctor.com If you want to check out our conference, which is called Running Remote, which is the largest conference on building and scaling remote teams, you can go to runningremote.com. And if you want to check out our YouTube videos, it's youtube.com/runningremote. Also, all of our talks are available on that YouTube channel. Our philosophy is everyone should have access to this information, particularly during this time. So if you want to just check out any of our talks, they're all available@youtube.com slash trainerroad.

Andrew  

You said something Time Doctor there, what is Time Doctor?

Liam  

Time Doctor is the time tracking tool for remote teams that I also run as well. So we've been running that business for about 10 years. And we have about 10,000 you know, companies that that work with us to really make sure to effectively what time doctor does is it analyzes your work time and tells you how efficiently you are working. So that's why I can give you statistics like the average work day is three hours and 30 minutes. It's not about how hard you work or how long you work. It's about what you do with your time. And that's what Time Doctor analyzes.

Allen

Fantastic. Well, I really appreciate you joining us today. Be honest with you. I learned an awful lot and I love some of the not only the metrics that you provided. But really, I perspective on the future. Andrew, thoughts today. I think that was an amazing conversation by Liam just a really, you know, first off now I know what nine to five really came from. That's the basics. But we've got some really interesting metrics on the the workers that tend to make more than 100k tend to be the folks that tend to be, you know, very remote, work oriented. What's your thoughts on today's conversation as we take it away?

Andrew  

I think this is one of those episodes that if you're listening, you probably need to go back and listen again, grab a pen, and choose one of those topics, whether it's education reform, or banking, some of those major things and start your next business around making it easier for the next season of the world's workforce. Because there's some nuggets here that we kind of pull the curtain back a little bit and said okay, this needs needs adjustment for the world to apply these principles. But somebody out there needs to go ahead and and start the next Global Education Reform Movement. Because kids have seen remote schooling as possible. Governments have seen that they can change immigration policy. So many of these things. So listen through this again and grab your notebook and decide how you're going to make a difference in this world because we need people who are ready to innovate. That's that's my takeaway is that we skimmed over some of these things a little too fast and some of you listeners are powerful and you can come up with something that's going to change the world. We thank you for joining us today.

Allen  

So thank you for joining us. Please subscribe to The New Nomad podcast and leave a great view review if you enjoyed our discussions. It really helps our community find this podcast. You can also find us at thenewnomad.net or insurednomads.com. Stay well keep sharing with others keep traveling, and we look forward to hearing you again in the future. Enjoy.

The Future of Remote Workers: More Efficient for All with Liam Martin

About the Guest

Liam Martin