Do you have remote employees or team members? Or, do you have franchisees or multi-locations in your business?
Our guest today is Reza Farahani, who shares with us insights and practical suggestions for improving remote employee and remote location communications.
In remote setting, there is no cultural absorption through observation.
LINKS FROM THE EPISODE:
- Link to the improv episode #151: https://www.multiplyyoursuccesspodcast.com/1001167/12643415-151-having-fun-at-work-with-improv-erin-diehl-improv-edutainer-improve-it
- You can visit our guest’s website at: https://www.wfhomie.com/
- Attend our Franchise Sales Training Workshop:
- If you are ready to franchise your business or take it to the next level: CLICK HERE.
ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Reza Farahani is a serial entrepreneur and data science consultant who most recently Co-Founded and exited WFHomie, a people analytics tool helping companies embrace data to make decisions that’ll enable them to improve the employee experience and create productive environments, whether they’re remote, hybrid, or on-site.
Reza’s experience has positioned him well to speak on all aspects of the startup environment, from ideation to exit, and as a visionary in the “future of work” sector.
ABOUT BIG SKY FRANCHISE TEAM:
This episode is powered by Big Sky Franchise Team. If you are ready to talk about franchising your business you can schedule your free, no-obligation, franchise consultation online at: https://bigskyfranchiseteam.com/ or by calling Big Sky Franchise Team at: 855-824-4759.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. And as we open today, I’m wondering if you have remote employees or remote team members, or do you have franchisees in your network, or multi-locations, multi-site business? Well, our guest today is Reza Farahani, who shares with us insights and practical suggestions for improving remote employee and remote location communications.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:37):
Now, Reza is a serial entrepreneur and data science consultant who most recently co-founded and exited from WFHomie People Analytics Tool, helping companies embrace data to make decisions that will enable them to improve the employee experience and create productive environments, whether they’re remote, hybrid, or on site. Reza’s experience has positioned him well to speak on all aspects of startup, from ideation to exit, and as a visionary in the future of work sector. So you’re going to love this interview with Reza. Let’s go ahead and jump right into it.
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (01:10):
I’m Reza Farahani. I was the ex-founder of Work from Homie, and now working on a new product. Yeah, happy to be here.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:19):
Thank you so much for being here, really looking forward to our conversation. And one of the things that was of interest to us and led us to wanting to have you on the show was really talking about adding remote employees to your organization. It’s something in today’s world that is top of mind. Leaders and organizations are adding remote employees regularly, and companies that maybe did not have remote employees in the past are now considering it or have gone that direction. I would love for you to share a little bit about your experience and insight on how you can effectively add remote employees to your team.
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (01:59):
Yeah. When you talk about adding a remote employee to your team, everyone talks about different stuff, like visibility, culture. You go around, there’s a lot of words thrown around, but I think if you track down all of these, it comes down to communication. It’s how well you’re communicating. You talk about culture, you talk about performance, you talk about a learning curve of the employees learning [inaudible 00:02:26], it grows one by one. It’s like, “Okay, what’s really behind this?” It’s the communication. I think I’m just giving you the answer at the start of the show, but we can start exploring, and you can see it just goes around and it comes back to the communication at the end.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (02:43):
So when you talk about communication, whether it’s remote, or in-person staff or team members, how do you communicate? What kinds of things might you do to help increase the effectiveness of remote team or remote staff?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (02:59):
That’s the part that there’s no one rule to. For every organization where you fall short and you want to know how to improve it, that would be a new method of communication. I just put it like… Think about this one: If you are not remote, you go join a company, you start seeing how people act. You just start learning by copying someone beside you, or how people do stuff. When people come to office, when they leave. Is it a nine to five situation, or a 10 to six situation, or it’s a 10 to midnight situation? You don’t know. You start picking up everyone’s habit and just mix it to create your own, based on your expectations. So now that we’re going remote, that doesn’t exist.
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (03:48):
I don’t have that bandwidth of communication that is visually picking up the clue. So for every aspect of it, you need to bring that back to your team. We talk about what is a lateral communication, tops down and bottoms up. So it’s like, “Hey, if I’m a manager, how can I see my team works in [inaudible 00:04:07].” That’s a bottoms up communication. It’s like, “Hey, I’m a manager, but I want to tell my team what’s the culture that I want to sell to the company,” that become top downs communication. It’s like, “Hey, I want to see how my coworker works,” and that becomes lateral communication. It’s just very simple, but then you start thinking about where you fall short, and where you can build these bridges to make sure that that pipeline of communication opens up all the way through.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (04:34):
As you’re identifying some of these needs, from bottom up, top down, this lateral communication as you described, how do you assess this or sort through this? I’ve met with enough organizational leaders and founders and CEOs of companies, and sometimes it’s hard to identify where these communication gaps might be when you are in the middle of it, where you might unknowingly be the problem in the communication chain, especially when you’re the leader of the organization. So are there some techniques, or strategies, or things someone might be able to implement to help identify where some of those gaps might be?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (05:15):
Definitely. One thing is that you don’t need to go… We don’t call it the monitoring, but you need to have data. Non-specifically, how exactly what person works is the data about how your organization works. A simple example would be your meetings. If you have a sales team, you can take a look at meeting stuff. If that person, or a person in your organization, has enough meeting with their team, if there’s a one-on-one meeting between someone and their manager. Or you can go through even more silos, like if your sales team talks to the marketing sales team, talk to the customer success sales team. So you can start creating a map of what’s happening in your organization by just looking at the metadata of your organization. The good thing about going remote, we talk about a lot of this stuff that goes down, is that all of this metadata comes to the surface. So before, I was like, “Hey, we are in the same office. Tom, I need some information. Do you mind if we go grab a Starbucks?”
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (06:22):
That is not being recorded anymore. It’s just off the book, off the thing, so we don’t know if the team is doing well. On the other side, I could have seen that as a director or an executive in the organization and say, “Oh, my teams are going for the coffee.” So I could see it, but there was no record of it. Now, there is a record, there is a lot more information about how your team will talk to each other. Now everything is either email, or Slack, or Google, or Microsoft Teams, or all the meetings are on Zoom or something. You have an influx of data that you can look at and see how your organizations operate. And at the end of the day, it’s just like, “Hey, where I’m going wrong and where I need to cover.” We can go to the recommendation. That’s where we build at the end of the situation, where you fall short and what you should do, but that’s kind of the initial hint of how your organization operates.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (07:17):
How about suggestions or ideas that you’ve seen implemented? So maybe someone goes through an initial assessment, they analyze things internally, and now they say, “Okay, we’re ready to start implementing or making some changes.” Do you have any common implementation or suggestions that you see other companies or people you’ve worked with implement to improve that communication? Are there some common things you see?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (07:46):
One thing that applies across the board, as we say, we saw people are falling short, is documentation. You could be in different location, but more importantly, that could hurt your company, would be in a different time zone. If you have someone in Europe, someone in East Coast, West Coast, and that’s the level of communication dropped significantly. So how you make sure you are having flow of the information across your organization, that would be the documentation. Now you need to clearly state everything about your organization; what has been done, what’s your plan for the future, so people can not rely on me grabbing Tom for a second. It would be like, “Hey, I’ll go to where the documentation is and start looking for it.”
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (08:33):
I mean, these days, with the merge of ChatGPT or IS-LM model, now you can also make it even better. If you have the documentation, if you have everything, you can open up a channel that your team just asks ChatGPT, “Look at this document and tell me what should I do at this moment, or what happened yesterday?” Or all of these questions. So number one is having documentation and that would cover lateral, tops down, and bottoms up. There are way more options. I can go through it, like frequent meetings across the organization hierarchy. That’s another thing. Another thing that would be making sure there is informal meetings happen between the organization. There are a lot more we can get to, but the main thing that I would recommend, having the very, very… If you’re remote, that’s number one. You need to have good documentation of what’s happening inside your organization.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (09:32):
That makes a lot of sense. And really, what it sounds like you’re describing is asynchronous learning or asynchronous communication, which allows for your remote team and staff to have access to tools and resources, if a manager or company leader or someone with that information is not available. That they can problem-solve independently to find a lot of this information.
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (09:56):
Yeah, exactly. Because one of the things that can hurt your organization is creating bottlenecks. It’s like, “I cannot do this job until I figure out what just happened here.” So you want to make sure, if you’re not available or don’t have access to that person at the moment, that person can have enough information to make a decision and remove the bottleneck and move forward. So as you mentioned, that we call the art of async-communication. It’s really important.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:30):
That makes a lot of sense. Reza, this is a great time in the show where we make a little transition to ask you the same four questions we ask every guest. And the first question we ask every guest is have you had a miss or two in your career, and something you learned from it?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (10:46):
So when I started the company, it was a remote company. I was doing a lot of the things you can imagine, from products, sales, accounting. And one thing that I did is I overestimated how much time availability I have. So in some pieces, specifically when we were remote, I start hiring not senior people. I was like, “Hey, I have a junior person. I can help him to make right decision. And I save money here by hiring a junior.” I think that was one of the big mistakes that I made and it just maybe push us back a few months of launch. And we regrouped, we brought someone senior right away to make sure it cleared the gap. Because I didn’t have the bandwidth, or just being remote, you’re going to have to train my junior people. So if you are alone, if you are running a company at first, don’t try to see… Either you do it, or don’t rely on junior team members to carry any burden. I mean, they’re not equipped to doing, and you don’t have the time to train them at first.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (11:57):
Yeah, yeah. Great lesson learned. How about a “make” or a success or two that you’d like to share with us?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (12:05):
That’s a good question. Probably Work From Homie, and everyone talks about it. It’s like, “Hey, listen to your customer, listen to your customer. It’s what they want and that’s what they buy.” And one of these times, literally a customer of ours who’s a C level in one of the big FinTech, they literally described the product. It was like, “If you have that, we’ll buy it.” And we’re kind like, “Oh, that’s a good.” And we start talking to people who’s like, “Definitely, I’ll buy it.” And we made that product. It was a simple product, it’s a peer-to-peer appreciation, Kudos. If you do something on a Slack team, WhatsApp, whatever, it’s just like, “Hey, thank you Tom for doing that.” And that created a culture of appreciating, bringing actually more information that was very aligned with what we’re doing. And that’s become one of the most successful products we launched, just by listening to the customer. So it works. I would say, if everyone says, “Listen to the customer,” do it. It’s not a hoax. It works.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:06):
I love that, I love that. Great story. Well, let’s talk about a multiplier. Have you used a multiplier to grow yourself, personally or professionally, or grow a business that you’ve started?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (13:17):
Yeah, definitely. One thing is you really need to know the value of your time and what’s your added value. So when you do that, it’s like, “Hey, I’m a really good person to take ideas from zero to 80. I’m really good at X, y, z, but I’m not really good at operation.” The amount of time you put on operation, for me, it was so costly on me that I couldn’t do what I’m really good at. And I just came to the conclusion. Actually, that idea come from one of our investors. He was like, “Hey, find out what you’re really bad at and hire for that role,” and that was such a great idea.
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (13:57):
Because I’m not good at operation, we hired someone. She was really, really amazing at operation, and that just freed us up so much time from me mentally and energy-wise, more than the unit of time. It just kind of multiplied my output after doing that. And even now, even for smaller things, it’s like, “Hey, think about what you are not good at, think about what’s your strength, and create a situation that you’re pumping output day after day on what you’re good at.” Because that’s where the multiplier comes from.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (14:36):
That’s excellent. And Reza, the final question we ask every guest, is what does success mean to you?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (14:43):
If someone says it’s not money, there is always money there, but just having success, more freedom financially. But I headed my startup, I sold my startup, I worked in high paying roles as a management consultant. But honestly, what I look back and brings me the most joy is when I make something and people start using it, and now I define my success like that. It’s like, if I create something and people find added value at it, and people use it, that makes me feel I am creating something that can add value in a way that I personally, as a person, could add. So I cannot do that for everyone, but now I build a product that that product helps so many people, that’s my definition of success. Create products that touch as many people as possible, and that is what I want to do in my next journey.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (15:45):
And Reza, before we go, is there anything you were maybe hoping to share or get across that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Reza Farahani, Entrepreneur (15:51):
No. Honestly, the only thing is right now I’m working on my next journey, it’s very focused on AI. And the reason is because I think AI, specifically GenAI, would be the piece that has the most impact in society and that will very well align with what I define as success, as you would say. So just working on that, and hopefully we’ll launch a product in the next few months.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:18):
Reza, thank you so much for a fantastic interview, and let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when Reza said that in a remote setting, there is no cultural absorption through observation. I thought that was fantastic. And he gave an example where, previously in an office, and I remember doing this many times, you might go out to lunch or go out for coffee and meet with team members and end up talking about things, whatever it might be, for business related topics that you might be reviewing. And today, in a remote setting or even a hybrid setting, it just doesn’t happen as often.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:00):
Takeaway number two is that documentation is critical to ensure the flow of information in a remote setting. And it makes me think about franchising as kind of the original form of doing this as an early on, 100 years ago form of the remote team member scenario. And it also makes you think about asynchronous communication and information for learning. So when you have remote and hybrid staff, what kind of asynchronous communication and learning are you setting up? Takeaway number three came from the make that Reza shared. I thought it was fantastic when he said, “Listen to the customer. It works.” I thought that was amazing when he shared with us how it really worked for him.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:42):
And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win is really acknowledging and recognizing that in a remote setting or hybrid setting, there is little or no cultural absorption through observation. And the win-win here is, number one, acknowledging and recognizing that. And I know we talked about this in takeaway number one. And the reason it’s important to recognize it and acknowledge it, is because then you can do something about it. So recognize it and do something fun.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:19):
And one of our guests a few episodes ago, she does improv, and said that lots of hybrid teams and remote teams were engaging with her firm to hire them to do improv over Zoom and do something collectively together. So I think that an idea like that, or many other options like that, just to get your mind thinking. We linked her episode in the show notes here as well. So that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure to subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise their business or take their franchise companies to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in and we look forward to having you back next week.