[03:07] John Riordan starts in investment banking but quickly pivots to sales and marketing.
[03:49] John moves to the US loving the accent of positivity of personal marketing.
[04:55] The sheer size of American companies and amplification of scale quickly teaches John to be more structured and rigorous in his thinking and execution.
[07:14] John steps up to join Virgin Atlantic as VP of Sales and Marketing leading a much larger than at US Airways, spread across nine US cities.
[09:17] John is challenged to deliver on Marketing’s promises and transition to be VP Customer Service.
[10:40] John spends valuable time in the call centers and airports learning to empathize with customers.
[12:40] Humility as a leader comes with recognizing reliance on the team and the importance of choosing team members well.
[13:57] John learns from the staff what real empathy is.
[14:25] A seismic shift in outsourcing customer service happens post 9/11.
[15:53] In 2006, Apple calls researching how to create a remote-based customer service operations for the first iPhone launch.
[17:48] Why a remote-only call center was Apple’s sustainable option.
[18:55] The challenges of the very beginnings of remote work: teleworking or telecommuting.
Remote working was a small percentage of workdays in 2006.
[20:35] John starts selling remote services and finds a general lack of acceptance.
[21:33] The fully-remote services company originally started to serve underemployed and under-resourced workers.
[22:46] Fully-remote-served customer service was an important niche market.
[23:36] Key points of resistance to fully-remote services—especially “I don’t think I could do it myself”.
[24:30] Mavericks made the leap, but John sees the inflection point as happening in March 2020.
[25:09] The next move, with Apple, is fully on-site—a tough transition for John.
[22:55] The points of resistance from companies are easily managed, except for one.
[25:08] From consulting for remote work with Apple to working for Apple back home in Ireland, but in a traditional brick-and-mortar call center.
[26:22] Without knowing John’s a remote pioneer, Shopify calls about a fully remote leadership role.
[27:38] Ecommerce requires 24/7 support, but local coverage leads to constant churn out of the night shift.
[28:48] Shopify becomes 40% remote (customer service) and 60% office-based pre-pandemic.
[30:44] Learnings from a major office move helped prepare Shopify to go remote in 2020.
[32:40] John has to readjust to remote working—eg self-discipline. He tunes into team members who excel at remote working.
[34:12] Painful personal experiences teach John what does NOT work in hybrid meetings.
[35:30] Pre-pandemic, office-based leaders start staying at home to participate equitably in meetings.
[37:44] 24/7 coverage teaches asynchronous, well-documented hand-offs and timing adjustments to wait for local contributions.
[39:55] John leads the company-wide initiative to remote in March 2020, as decentralized communication is humanized and normalized.
[42:50] The three most important areas to focus on that ensured emergency remote working success.
[44:55] The HR department had already compiled a “how to” book of the customer service department’s remote work experiences which became very useful for the whole company.
[45:31] The biggest challenge Shopify faced was for people to embrace their own vulnerability.
[47:10] John’s seemingly ageist concern about the irrelevance of using a 2015 approach to solve a 2023 problem.
[49:09] The future is about communities, not companies, especially to reduce the isolation that often accompanies remote working.
[51:12] How remote workers need to proactively design their work weeks, including nurturing non-work activities and setting boundaries.
[51:35] IMMEDIATE ACTION TIP: To reduce feelings of isolation, encourage remote working employees to connect with people regularly—virtually and in person in their local area—supporting humans’ need for community.
[53:25] How John identifies people who have good work-life balance—he uncovers their passion!