Starting Y
Starting Y

Episode 6 · 1 year ago

S1 E6 - Back to the office or remote work forever?


Our Intro is based on Quantum Jazz’s piece “Orbiting a distant planet”, published under Creative Commons

“The speed of the internet connection may be as important for your real estate value, as is a good train or highway connection” Joern Menninger, Starting Y

The Hosts:

· Michelle, a radio, and podcast host based in Silicon Valley. She is a lawyer by training and has been working in and with many startups, especially fintech and blockchain. Currently she is working for several non-profit organizations and startups. Michelle is the host of the Stanford Radio Show “Laptop Radio (Wednesdays 2-4 PM)”, which is also available as a podcast ( You can learn more about Michelle here:

· Jörn is a podcaster, startup scout and entrepreneur, who is based in Frankfurt, Germany. He has a background of more than 12 years of management consulting, with a focus on financial services and capital markets, mainly in Europe. He hosts an English startup podcast, covering the German startup scene ( You can learn more about Jörn “Joe” here:

· Hint: Here is his “Cook Instagram Account”

“I am not sure if the remote work will have a lasting impact on the real estate values in the Silicon Valley” Michelle Tsing, Starting Y

As an entrepreneur you need to think ahead. Keep in mind privacy laws and data protection.

Don’t forget physical and cybersecurity!

You can suggest questions here, use #startingy

Twitter Michelle:

Twitter Jörn:

Or sent us a message via Anchor:

This is a starting why podcast. Here we ask entrepreneurs, actors, investors in the dative and hardist on the why why they are doing what they are doing, what motivates and drive them and why can't they stop? We will start in five, four, three, two one. Welcome to starting why. John and I are here and really excited to talk about getting back to work. Hello, first I have to say Hello Sunshine, and very happy to get back to record with you another podcast episode. Yeah, and so we're excited. Yeah, it's going to be awesome. And, by the way, good evening here from Germany, because at the time we were recording, it's morning for you and it's evening for me. I think we cover most of the world. Yes, totally. We want to talk about getting back to the office and from what I've seen, we do. We do regular update cost but I've seen from time to time that you are already back to the office. How does it feel and is it the norm into Silicon Valley right now? An, I think you know, the office M in. We basically support the infast lecture. So certain people could go back to the office, but no, I don't think everyone could yet and for me I think it was a big impact at the beginning because I think you know they're just randomly. One day we were told that there is a lockdown or you can't go out in the house, while you can go to work. So you know, I have all my computers in the you know there's and then I was actually meeting at a deadline or a timeline and then all set and I basically couldn't ask us to the office. So I was working for poem from then and you know, I didn't have zoom backgrounds. I didn't. I wasn't really prepare for it right because I didn't have an office set up at home. I love your priorities. No Laptop at home, but your first concern, oh, I didn't have assumed background. Bang it. Yeah, that was my first concern. I mean it was my back. I don't know if you see my office. I actually have a set up, a recording set up in the office, you know. So I have a giant studio that is set up on the back of my window, like near my windows, so it blocks the sun and you know I also serve as a background. He went out at the office. So when so at home, but I don't have official office right I mean I basically just kind of a word randomly at different places, you know. So it was such a big change for me. So I was very excited to be able to go back to the office and, you know, be able to be in front of the computer in a more comfortable way, I would say. I see for me it was a little bit different. As our audience already know, I started out as entrepreneur on January first but admittedly, already back a few years ago when we moved into this appointment, we had one dedicated office, studied guest room, and that's basically where I'm working for, I do believe, more than a year now. Many people listening to the audio recordings of this podcast and my other podcast will notice that I worked really, really hard on improving the sound quality and I hope it's getting better. But actually,...

I have to admit it, it makes you a little bit miss going outside, Miss the office with I miss especially is the opportunity to go somewhere work with colleagues and stuff like this, and I right now don't have the option because I'm a single opera ner. It's it's just myself, but I do believe it will get better pretty soon. On the other hand, it's also much more flexible if you work from home. So basically, you can start as early easy want, you can work as light as you want, you can take breaks every time. You don't have any like online meeting, online recording scheduled. I actually like that more. You can adjust it more to the needs of your life, basically bringing the kids in the morning to the kindergarten, making lunch, preparing dinner, stuff like this, also if you, on the other hand, have to work later. But but it actually turned out I liked it. It also turns out you move around much less. You do much less walking, much less cycling, much less of everything. So I do believe everybody gained weight during Corona, right, and that's also something I miss. Yeah, and and the change of scenery is change of scenery would be great, but I do believe I'll only get it like next year. I think I've heard stories at the workplace of different people who've gotten corona. So I think that it could be really dangerous if your co workers or someone else has the virus. So you know, and maybe it is a positive that people get to work, you know, at home, because there's always you know, that risk in Germany, corona actually really forced working from home, the Home Office, to go mainstream. Before that, people could work from home if they're not like required to be there to work, like a fireman's nurses, people working in retail, you know, they had to be there. And everybody who could work remote, they just had to start working remote. The people just had to start organizing remote and I think that is something that'll stick. And for many companies in Germany they could not require people to come to the office. Is Over. My understanding is right now not many companies are actually forcing their people to come to the office and I have not heard about any company which is forcing the employees to come to your office like five days a week. If they're meeting at the office, it's like, my team is here Tuesday, okay, my team is here Wednesday, my team is here, DA, Da, DA, Dada. That is currently the arrangements I'm hearing about, which is not too bad. You get to meet your coworkers, hopefully in a safe manner, everybody vaccinated and so on. It's a fourth but at least you get some more social interaction than just sue meetings. Yeah, that's true. It kind of missed people, since you haven't seen a lot of people and I think it was a little bit different to you. I am used to working remotely wherever I am, like I work sometimes and at airports waiting for flights, you know, at hotels and whatnot, so I'm kind of used to that. Right. I think the fact that you can't talk to different people and have that life interaction is really different, especially if you know if your work involves meeting people ourselves. You know that involves it. justsical interaction is a lot better. And then over zoo. Yeah, I think so a middlely. I used to beeak consult before and when I moved in here that was... the first time in a few years that I had like something like a permanent desk where I could work. Before that it was always there, there their project in the office. You just take the next free space, the next free desk, and basically there was the first time I could really have my own desk and I really enjoyed that piece of Home Office. Being grounded corrects like being home all the time, being grounded, not having to travel from one place to another. I think the stories of traveling is a youtube video in itself. Meeting you know, sometimes you're in the middle of nowhere, you don't really know the plays that well, but you're catching buses transportation from one place to another plane. I mean I had situations where buses would there's no route, so buses would buy me to certain places a cash flights in the middle of the night. I mean it's pretty adventurous, I guess. Yeah, I actually had some very funny incidents also when traveling, traveling internationally, traveling for work. That is a little bit part that I miss, but I do believe I'm starting two thousand and twenty two, life will slowly get back to normal and people who start traveling again even maybe at one point it will become normal again to just travel internationally as it used to be before corona. Yeah, I guess better. I mean it sounds like there are different tients of viruses and there is coming up or showing up, and you know that are worse and before. So really don't really know how the state of it is going to be. But if you're going to the office or if people are going back to work, what are some of the considerations they should think about? Well, first for me would be yet vaccinated. I've done it completely vaccinated, check be safe, keep your distance. Were mask when you're in closed rooms, no shaking hands, no be cuddling, wash your hands, stuff like that. That would be something I would have on my list. This infect your hands, something like that. That would have on my list. How about offices? You know, like I know that there are certain companies who have offices that are not offices, but they're like cubes and they're low cues right us, with like little no walls. What do you think about going back to work with offices that are structure that way? It's just basically a room and everyone is in there with no walls, you know, like they're not tubes even, right. They're just designed that the walls in the cube are low so that you can kind of see them. What was supposed to encourage collaboration between people, but yet it has no privacy and now it coronaze even worse, right, because people are just really sitting right next to you with no walls or anything. Right. So what are your suggestions for that type of environment? That's pretty tough to say. I know here in Germany, you, as an employer have to make sure to minimize the risk for you employees like given the face masks, keeping the distance, getting those see through walls up everywhere and stuff like this. If an employer that'sn't react like this, not to show what you do. It really depends on your standing with the boss on the legal framework you're living in. In Germany, in Europe, in UK, in the US and Canada, always different rule is not really sure if there's a general ants or... Okay, just wondering. I mean I just want it super interesting. What will be you thoughts about that? Well, if I were an employer and I have tubes with low laws or no walls, I would just encourage the employees to stay at home because it's a liability. Especially in the US. There may be workers compensation laws. And imagine if you're employees or you know, contract the virus when they're at work. So I think this is better that your employees day at home. I mean, it's not legal advice, but you know, I think it's just common sense, right. Yeah, I think everybody has to take care of themselves and the employees that they are as safe as possible. How and we tension is really important in the United States. You know, there are statistics that show that a lot of employees we sign from their jobs because the whole incident basically made us we think about our life and our purpose in our life and a lot of people basically we sign and say hey, this is not what I wanted to do. So, you know, I think if you're an employer, it's really time to pay attention to the people that work for you, because they're your talent and your company is good as the talent that you know in your workforce. Talking about that, I was wondering what do you think about the new rules of some tech and set up companies in the US that want to pay differently if you work remote, only from different places, and you salary should depend on the place where you're living? Yeah, I you know in the US, if you're from the check and valley, home prices are really, really expensive. You know, however, there are other states that are more cost effective in terms of, you know, castle living. That's a very different, you know, very difficult situation right because you know, people are really paid based on their joll location and where they live. So if you know, does it mean that everyone is going to pay the same world, you know, nationwide, or even world? Why? I don't really have any opinion about that? I just think that that's going to be in a really interesting I don't know, to think too if you're important. You know what. I do believe that will be a step the companies have to take back, for at least the very high performing employees, because they'll basically relocate to wherever in the Midwest. Well, they have a cheap cost of living, maybe they're originally from there, they move back to their family, to the friends and so on, and when they settle there, they basically hop round drops until they get their old salary or even more. Yeah, I completely agree that it's just a little and in a lot of people forced to go visit their family, to because of, you know, pandemic reason, right, which makes sense, because where were you want to isolate or hibernate? You know what? You hibernate alone, at a place where you don't really know anyone or rent is high, or you hybernate, you know, at a with your love ones, you know, at a place where things aren't so costly. So yeah, I understand. Have you ever thought about what will be the medium to long term impact of that? What I'm thinking about is basically a lot of companies now can work or can hire a lot...

...more people without to have them in one place, in one building or scattered across several buildings in one area. You think that will have a significant impact on something like the real estate market? So but I think will. State market has always been right, because I think there's enough people in the slhime malley like if your think about Scon Malley, we have enough Google and face book workers to keep health prices out for some reason. And the positive side of that is that that companies could retain talent everywhere in the world. So it just really doesn't have to be one particular play. So if you're probably is based in the West or example, right, you can have talent from sultime value in other parts of the world. You know the companies, you have to pay, you know taxes though, for their employees wherever they are located. So you know that's a different story. You know, but I think you know it's almost you know, that Gig economy where people can kind of work anywhere they are. I've always work in environments where the team is more decentralized, though I'm used to that kind of arrangement. Yeah, I give it some thought, and actually at one point people been talking about the warfore talent. I think after Corona, after business picks up again, they'll go on global scale. Right now, at least subjectively speaking, if you're in the big cities here in Germany, like Frankfort, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich Cologne, then you already have a lot of job offers to choose from and I think they'll spread a little bit more digitally across the country. So important will be not necessarily you location, but the speed of your Internet connection. Yeah, true, that can influence real estate prices as much as a good train connection, I do believe, or maybe even more true. I've seen a few articles here. Google is redesigning their offices for remote work and I do believe we already talked about the pay cuts. Also like facebook and twitter, and I realized in another fort article that many places in the ass like Portland Maine or boulder in Colorado are becoming way more popular. Even places in Oklahoma they becoming more popular for remote workers. Would you relocate to Maine? No, so sorry for everybody from Maine. I've never been there, but I actually want to go there. I heard not think about the yeah, relocation and visiting. It's really different, right. I mean I live in California and California's beautiful. The weather is always really nice and I don't know anyone in Maine. I don't know how the situation is. COLPOINT is really diverse. I'm not sure whether I would be killed if I were to go to may have an Asian American, so that's differ it. And also the weather. I heard that, you know, the colors are really beautiful their in Maine. So it's just it's a place where I would visit. I don't know if I would live there in the long term. That's what I meant when I say no, right, because when you live in California you're used to the weather, use the diversity and with diversity have different kinds of culture as well. So there's different events. Hold it by the city that embraces diversity and activities and culture and all that kind of stuff that you...

...kind of want to live in an environment, you know, the I personal would like to live in environment you know, that basically celebrate everyone, right. So I'm not sure how Maine is in terms of that, and not to say that it wouldn't, just I just don't know much about it either, do i? But I'm just checking something very important here. I would be good to move to Portland in Maine, because they do have an no broad check. Yeah, yeah, Portland, I love. I've visited Portland. I loved it, you know, and Portland has and it's close to Washington, is close to a lot of parts. It's awful. Whatever's the food is really good. So I do like Portland. I just have no like, no experience with Maine, I guess. I've also seen that other places are pretty good for remote workers. There was a block post are found from far and whitecom is. Some of the places are really surprising, like Midian in Colombia, Pargue in the Czech Republic, Lubisiana in Slovenia. Sorry for butchering the name. The city's called team. We's Swaja in Romania. Is Istanbul in Turkey. See Billy and Georgia and stuff like this. So you can actually relocate all across the planet. And there was one of my personal favorites on the Lisbon and Portugal. It's really amazing. been their love that really really wants place. I needed as it. Listen, yeah, that it's on side it's bedding get Toga. It's really beautiful. It has a lot of very beautifully restorated old houses, it's built on seven hills like rope and it also has Chris Ray that you of Christ watching over the city on the other side of the River Tajo. Very, very nice. Loved it awesome. Yeah, I was also thinking about the implications, what people, our audience could do right now to think ahead meeting, not necessarily look where you can relocate, but as an entrepreneur, think about the implications like the privacy laws, the data protection and, of course, like always, as physical security and cybersecurity. So, basically, when you have an all remote team, there is like a completely different set of topics you have to think about if you're running this company, if you own this company. Let me ask your question. Do you think that employee should be required to show their vaccination in order to be able to go back to the workplace office? That depends if they're really in physical contact. Yes, it's safer for everybody if they work remotely. I'm not too sure about that, because you basically not endangering your coworkers and then depends on your environment. But don't get me wrong, I'm totally in favor of getting vaccinated. I'm completely vaccinated on my whole family, except for the children, is as well. Yeah, I'm just wondering because, like, if you go out today, especially in the United States, some of the places do require that you're vaccinated. So you have to bring your vaccination cards to different places so to show it to them, you know. So you basically go to concerts, you those are require. If you go to hospitals, they do require to see that in order to enter, you know. So I'm just wondering, you know, should workplaces require vaccination cards? Here in Germany, it will be soon like this.

If you want to go somewhere like inside of restaurants, like concert venues or something, you'll either have to show your certificate of Vacca nation, you have to show a certificate that you have corona and then you're healthy again, or you have to have a very recent test, Corona test that chose you're not a in fact it and those tests used to be completely free of charge under circumstances taked by the government. But this paying for tests is also running out in the fall here. Oh Wow, well, here's free. Yeah, it it used to be that way here, as well, but that will end in fall. I think a few weeks after the government was very sure they could offer everybody vaccination and the people who don't want to have a vaccination, then, I think, was the logic. Then they have to pay for the tests. Got It. Got It, but it do believe it was. The recordings already a little bit longer than we thought. And do you have, like, any closing thoughts, wishes, ideas, whatever. Yeah, I just hope that if we want to have a smooth transition to the workplace, if you're required to go back to the workplace, and I do hope that you would take care of US yourself first, even before they employer like. If you don't feel safe about it, ask questions and wear your masks and protect yourself, because your health is going to be the most important thing. Yes, totally to Michelle. It was again a plisure talking to you, with you about the future of the world, and let's meet again for another recording soon. By gentle by,.

In-Stream Audio Search


Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (23)