If you’re going to be open and transparent with everyone then so should the boss, it shouldn’t just be a one-way relationship.

Liam Martin

About Liam

Liam is a serial entrepreneur who runs ​Time Doctor​ and ​Staff.com​ — one of the most popular time tracking and productivity software platforms in use by top brands today. He is also a co-organizer of the world’s largest remote work conference — ​Running Remote​.

Liam is an avid proponent of remote work and has been published in Forbes, Inc, Mashable, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, The Next Web, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat and many other publications specifically targeting the expansion of remote work. The mission statement that feeds all the products and services that Liam is involved with stem from empowering workers to work wherever they want, whenever they want.

Liam has an undergraduate and graduate degree in Sociology from McGill University. He lives in Canada but travels 3-6 months out of the year due to his ability to work wherever and whenever he likes. He chooses a new place to travel a few times a year but usually spends time in Austin, Las Vegas and Ubud each year and loves to encourage others to work remotely on his travels.

How radical transparency can improve productivity for remote teams

Metrics, transparency, accountability, and employee monitoring are very topical concerns from managers of distributed teams. And in order for remote businesses & freelancers to work together harmoniously, is radical transparency really the answer for increasing worker productivity? How does a time tracking tool increase productivity anyway?

Remote workers were disrupting the 40-hour working week long before the COVID global pandemic. Now, many businesses (who were not previously remote-first) have dramatically shifted their business models to rethink how they work, lead, manage and thrive. By 2025 it is predicted that up to 50% of the (US) workforce will be remote.

Does enabling workers to track their time help them to become more productive? Does productivity equate to greater worker satisfaction? Can business owners relax and rely on metrics to effectively manage their distributed team’s productivity? And how does data transparency impact the employer/employee relationship?

Maddie is joined in this episode by serial entrepreneur Liam Martin. As co-founder of Time Doctor and Staff.com, Liam has created one of the world’s leading time tracking tools for remote teams, by using machine learning to help optimize worker productivity. Liam is also a passionate remote work advocate and organizer of popular remote work conference Running Remote, the largest conference on building and scaling remote teams.

 

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How radical transparency can improve productivity for remote teams

With Liam Martin, Co-founder, Time Doctor & Running Remote

Maddie Duke  00:03

You’re listening to The State Of Work, the podcast by Lano. The State Of Work is about finding your place in the changing world of work as an individual or an organization. In each episode, we’ll dive into some of the benefits and limitations we face when it comes to remote and flexible work. We’ll discuss how we work, how we hire and manage people, and how we live in this increasingly global workplace. I’m your host, Maddie Duke, and in today’s episode, we look at how radical transparency can improve productivity for remote teams. In a remote work environment, how do you measure productivity? How do you know how you and your team are spending time at work? Time tracking and employee monitoring tools can give a realistic picture of how people spend their time on the clock. They allow team leaders to spot dips in motivation and engagement that otherwise might be missed in a remote setting. These tools can also be used to provide data-rich insights that can lead to radical changes in how a business runs, such as rethinking the 40 hour work week. My guest in today’s episode is Liam Martin, serial entrepreneur and creator of Time Doctor, one of the world’s leading time tracking tools for remote teams. Liam is a passionate remote work advocate, and also the organizer of running remote, the world’s largest remote work conference.  The State Of Work is brought to you by Lano, another important tool for building and scaling remote teams. Lano makes it easy to hire the best talent on the planet, wherever they may be. Hi, Liam, and thanks for joining me today on The State Of Work.

Liam Martin  02:05

Thanks for having me. That seems like a weird introduction. But you know what we’re just gonna roll with, I feel like that’s really that’s, that’s the type of week that I’ve had.

Maddie Duke  02:18

Well, let’s just go straight into it. We’re going to talk about a few different things today, but you know, you’re a serial entrepreneur, you’re running a number of businesses and projects, and I know you’re a huge advocate of remote work and the mission to empower people to work wherever and whenever they want. How is it that you first came to be so passionate about remote work?

Liam Martin  02:46

That’s a long story. About 15 years ago, I was teaching, I was a teaching assistant at McGill University, which is in Montreal, and I was pursuing graduate school there ended up taking on my very first class, I had about 300 students in a first year sociology class. And this was kind of like five years of me doing graduate school and finally being given my own lecture. And it was a complete disaster. By the end of the year, we ended up with less than 200 students in the class. And I got some of the worst academic reviews in the history of the department. And I think the department had been in existence for 150 years at that point.

Maddie Duke  03:33

That’s brutal!

Liam Martin  03:34

I went into my supervisor’s office and I said, “I don’t think I’m very good at this”. And he said, “No, you’re not”. And I said, “so, what do you think I should do?” And he said, “Well, if you want to keep doing this teaching thing, you got to do that for the next 20 years before you can actually do anything fun, so either figure out how to get better at that or do something else”. So six weeks later, I threw a master’s thesis under his door, and I was out into the real world. And that actually turned into my very first business, which was an online tutoring company. And  that was pretty good, until I ended up running into another big problem, which was a lot of undue stress. And I remember going into my dentist’s office, because I had chipped a tooth. And they, you know, they put you in the chair and then got the big light on you and opened up my mouth. And my dentist gasped, like, [gasps], and it’s never a good idea when a health professional gasps when they’re looking at you. It’s always, you know, you always jumped to really bad situations.

Maddie Duke  04:44

No, a little bit alarming

Liam Martin  04:44

Yeah. So he said, “Liam, which tooth are you talking about? You’ve chipped all of your teeth”. And they thought that I had stage four pancreatic cancer, because that’s the only time in which endpoint pancreatic cancer, your teeth basically like collapse in on themselves, they just completely fall apart. But it was from me grinding my teeth at night. And from the stress and anxiety of running this business that I was running effectively on my own. And realizing that I had to do something different. So I ended up becoming actually location independent, or what we now call digital, like digital nomad for a while, retooled the business, and one of the biggest problems actually I had inside of that was not being able to measure the amount of hours that a tutor worked with a student. So a tutor would work 10 hours and bill me 10 hours, and then I’d bill the student for 10 hours, and then they’d say, “Well, no, I didn’t actually work with them for 10 hours to work with them for five”, I’d go back to the tutor and I would say, “so, did you work with them for five or 10?” And they’d say, “10, that’s what I billed you for”. I’d end up having to refund the student for five hours and pay the tutor the full 10, which ended up making me lose money. And that was Time Doctor, which is a time tracking tool for remote workers. That’s how that tool was, was effectively born

Maddie Duke  06:12

So you built the tool that you needed, basically?

Liam Martin  06:15

Yeah, I tell anyone that wants to build any type of tech company, it has to be your own itch that you scratch. If it’s someone else’s, it won’t work

Maddie Duke  06:26

Because you’ll be out of touch with the needs..

Liam Martin  06:28

You also just will get bored, or you won’t want to do it or you won’t be passionate about it. This is something that, for me, I like to try to solve, at least in remote work, the boring, pragmatic, backend piping of remote work, which is very much… not many people even now really understand the actual implications of all the things that you have to do. If you don’t know what employment of record means, and you run a remote team, you’re in serious trouble, you’re probably going to be in some pretty serious trouble with some governments. And this is the it’s just one of those things that like those are the pipes of the internet that we need to kind of build in and reinforce, to be able to build up remote work to where it is not just a work from home concept, it is a it is a fully functional, self-sustaining system that’s based on pragmatics, that very large corporations are very happy to implement 

Maddie Duke  07:31

Exactly. We’ve talked a little bit about compliance and employer of record on the podcast. And I think it is really interesting, because particularly over the last 12 months, we’ve seen loads of people move from working in an office to working from home. But that’s not necessarily remote work. And there is a difference.  So coming back to Time Doctor, because this is what I really want to chat to you about today. It’s one of the most popular time tracking and productivity software platforms out there. Can you tell us, for the listeners and people who haven’t heard of it before, what it is and what it does and how it works?

Liam Martin  08:09

Sure. So right now, my task is meeting with Maddie. And that applies to my podcast project. And I’m measuring how long I spend on Squadcast.fm, which is the application that we’re using to be able to record this call. But then also in conjunction with that, how much time did I actually spend on Gmail, preparing this? What happened with Vaishali, who helped us book this call? So, all of those different variables connect into that, and then anyone in my team can be able to see that. So what we do is we have a very radical version of transparency, where everyone can see what everyone else is doing inside of the organization. And then we apply productivity metrics to that. So as an example, how can I make this process more cost efficient? How can I make it more productive, we have a whole bunch of machine learning algorithms that we use to be able to provide effectively, little hints from the AI that… basically what Time Doctor is it’s an AI for work. So it allows you to give you the insights that you need to be able to make actionable changes in your work output.

Maddie Duke  09:27

So, I have to say when I first heard of Time Doctor… I’m a person that struggles to focus, sometimes, maybe more than the average. And I work freelance so I bill my working hours. It’s not like I’m wasting anyone’s time but my own unfortunately, but I went into a bit of like, “Oh, I would not want to be tracked”. You know? I’ve also worked full time in in a couple of different industries, so like I’m familiar with the full time workload and going into the office and if I imagine, or even working full time from home, if I imagine a software tracking my every move and that, like radical transparency, there’s no, there’s a side of me that goes, “I don’t want that”, you know?

Liam Martin  10:10

There’s a whole bunch of people that definitely have that perspective as well. And I totally understand that perspective. But my question to you would be why? Why?

Maddie Duke  10:21

Why? I don’t know. It’s like, I mean, yeah, it’s a good question. Because I haven’t gone into that. I just know, that was my initial thought.

Liam Martin  10:30

I know, you probably don’t have anything to hide. But that’s initially what that’s initially what an employer would think of where it’s like, well, what do you have to hide? You know, if I’m showing you my data, and you’re showing me yours? And we’re all kind of radically transparent together? What are the implications of that? But I totally understand that, that perspective.

Maddie Duke  10:54

I think it’s also the reason an alarm went off for me for that is I think I associated it with micromanagement. So I think of that, and I think, Oh, my gosh, you know, someone’s gonna be trawling through all the data related to what I’m doing, and nitpicking and finding things and inefficiencies. And I’m also just in general, a believer in, like, there are inefficiencies to us as humans. And I think I’m, I’m hesitant to go down the track of like putting a number to our time. And I think that things like creativity need playfulness, time. The thing is, though, to counter my own argument there, is like, presumably, it’s up to whoever, you know, just because you’re tracking the time, it doesn’t mean that every single second has to be spent doing xyz.

Liam Martin  11:49

So, 85% of the Fortune 500, right now has a version of this type of technology installed already. You know, most of the large corporate tech companies have this technology installed. I don’t want to necessarily name names, but any large, even remote company, that’s like, let’s say over 1000 people, the majority of the time, they have this type of technology installed, but the difference is, at least for us is we’re really focused on trying to make people more productive. So one of the big parts is we give the employee the data, and the employer. It’s a both side type of relationship. And you control when you’re starting your workday versus, you know, ending your workday. But I totally understand your perspective. And the reality is, no one really wants to use CRM, customer relationship management software packages, no one really wants to do their taxes. No one really wants to have accountability, fundamentally, right. Like that’s a difficult process.

13:02

It’s confronting

Liam Martin  13:03

It’s confronting, and I think it’s actually another big piece that kind of, and I’ve thought about this very philosophically, for a long time. It does connect to a small degree towards ignorance and actionable ignorance to yourself. So saying, “Well, I think that I’m quite productive, I know what I’m doing”. But being critiqued in that way, is not necessarily a pleasant experience. However, it is, I have the saying, which is the secret to life is being comfortable having uncomfortable conversations. And a tool like Time Doctor can bring up uncomfortable conversations that the moment that you have them, you’re probably thinking, if you’re listening right now, you’re probably thinking of an uncomfortable conversation, or do think to one in your mind, something that you don’t want to do something someone you don’t want to talk to. And you’ve been thinking about it for months, the moment you do it, you will immediately feel better. 

Maddie Duke  14:06

It’s true!

Liam Martin  14:07

Instantaneously, you’ll feel better, but there’s this resistance towards getting to that point. And that’s the thing that we, at least from our perspective, the culture of radical transparency is a way for us to be able to put that all out on the table and be very blunt with everyone, at least internally. Now, would I want everyone that uses our tool to think the same way that I do, absolutely, I would love that. But the reality is, there is a power imbalance which is there, I can’t remember the exact number, about 20 to 30% of our business owners, meaning like the top level owner account, actively use the tool with their employees. That’s something that we find we really want to change that because if you’re going to be open and transparent with everyone, then so should the boss, it shouldn’t just be a one way relationship. But the other part that is maybe not necessarily unfortunate, but just the reality of remote work is if you’re SOC 2, HIPAA or PCI compliant, you must have this type of technology to actually do your job remotely, you cannot not do it, everything has to be, you have to have that documentation in place in order to actually do your job. Even as a freelancer to a large degree. And I don’t know the rules in Germany, but I know the rules in Canada in the United States, you must have documentation of your work hours. And so we just provide a really easy framework for a bunch of those situations to occur. But there are people that can take advantage of that system and not necessarily use it the way that we would necessarily intend them to use it. And that is, that’s unfortunate. But we also, you know, for us, we’re really looking at, as I said, the pragmatics of remote work. Where does remote work look when 4 billion people are doing it on planet Earth? And it’s, you know, it’s not mostly, the vast majority of those people are not people working from MacBook Pros, there are people working from Chromebooks. It’s the, it’s the developing countries where it’s the widget makers, it’s the people that are running the call centers. Those are the people that we’re trying to break out of remote work as we taught when we hear about remote work. It’s mostly tech startups that do it. And that’s an unfortunate-

Maddie Duke  16:49

Especially if you’re talking more long term rather than just in the last year

Liam Martin  16:54

The developers? We got that handled, like 80% of them are already going to work remotely right now. And they get paid $280,000 a year, right? It’s like, that’s good. We’re done. With that group. They’re great. Who are the people that are just like, as I said, the widget makers, the people that work in call centers, the people that don’t even know, they’re working remotely? Right, like, where it’s just, oh, that’s work for me. Those are the people that, you know, when you look at the things I mentioned, employment of record, implementing compliant time tracking, making sure that you have a VPN in place for security incursions. This is all kind of the boring stuff of remote work, that no one really talks about, because it’s boring, but it’s so mission critical to getting to like, going from like millions of people to billions of people working remotely.

Maddie Duke  17:49

Yeah. There are a lot of things that seem boring. But that’s actually part of what we’re we’re trying to do here as well, is to educate people on the more comprehensive areas of- 

Liam Martin  18:03

Let’s kind of sex it up then, let’s find out if we can make employment of record products sexy. I literally was on with Globalization Partners yesterday, and I said, “Listen, the reality is, your product is really boring. And no one really wants to pay attention to, you know, whether I’m compliant in Nigeria, for hiring people, but it’s so critical, particularly for large companies. I mean, when I talk to companies that have like 1000 plus employees, I don’t talk to the HR people, I talk to the lawyers. Because the lawyers are the only, they’re like, “so, we can’t do this legally, convince me otherwise”. And that’s the part that’s just the big piece, that when we talk about the sexiness of location independent work and work in remote work and being distributed. Mostly, it’s companies that don’t have to worry about those problems. And I love it that you’re covering this kind of stuff, because those are the problems that as I said, take us from millions to billions.

Maddie Duke  19:12

Lano makes it easy to hire the best talent on the planet. Companies of any size can hire and pay employees in more than 150 countries. Backed by a network of top employers of record, Lano takes care of compliant contracts, local tax law and international payments. From full time to freelance, the Lano platform has everything you need to grow your global team. Find out more at Lano.io So, something I wanted to ask as well is where trust comes into productivity? So obviously, yes, it’s important for businesses to have tools in place to measure things that make sense to measure and one of the things this time and how people are spending their time. What motivates people to improve productivity?

Liam Martin  20:09

That’s an interesting one, too. I think that that is something that if you’re a widget maker, why should I be more productive when I’m just soldiering on? And my job is to make 27 widgets per hour? And why would I want to make 28? Does that? How does that, you know, is there a profit motive for me, and you hit the nail on the head? This is actually another big problem that I think we necessarily and then we need to solve this with regards to just work in general. When I look at productivity, here’s some interesting insights. What do you think the average work week looks like? What’s the average time spent during a workweek?

Maddie Duke  20:53

Okay, I’m going to base this on a tweet I read recently, where someone admitted to essentially doubling their estimation of like telling their bosses “Yeah, this is going to take me four days,” but it’s actually going to take two. And they spend half the time playing video games. Okay, so I’m going to go with 20 hours. I’m just going to cut it in half.

Liam Martin  21:18

Okay, it’s 27 hours and 32 minutes.

Maddie Duke  21:22

Okay, in what’s supposed to be a 40 hour week?

Liam Martin  21:25

Yeah. So that’s how much time someone who works from their computer does work from their computer that they define is work – on our system,

Maddie Duke  21:34

Right. Yeah, I mean, that’s the thing…

Liam Martin  21:38

Well, so here’s the other thing, when you look at high performance versus low performers, and we have ways of measuring that, but one real easy way that you could measure that is let’s say you’re a salesperson. It’s a very simplistic measure, because you’re probably using HubSpot, or Salesforce or something like that, some type of CRM. So we define productivity, which is another completely separate podcast that we can talk about, as, how much did you sell in one month? or How much do you sell over the year? You sell more, you get more commissions. Everyone’s super aligned, the definition of productivity for salespeople is very simple. As you work more as a salesperson, as you spend more hours as a salesperson, your commissions go down, you make less money. There is a really weird, counterintuitive thing, which is, high performing salespeople work on average way less than low performing salespeople.  Okay, so when you come into it, and you say to yourself, and I sit in a lot of these meetings with very corporate people. I’m like, number one, I think we should all just have a 27 hour workweek, you’re not going to get any output above that. To be completely honest with you. I have millions of users of data that I can show you very clearly, that basically past 27 hours, they’re not actually doing anything productive. So why don’t we all just just do a 27 hour workweek, which is what we do. And they’re like, “nah”. And I’m like “Yeah, but you hired me to really kind of like, improve productivity in your organization. I’m telling you implementing a 27 Hour Workweek, you will have no drop in productivity, and all of your employees will be happier. Yeah, but no. Salespeople? Listen, let’s study the best salespeople. Let’s see what they do. Oh, it looks like they spend less time in their CRM and they spend the vast majority of the time on their phones. Okay, so that means that the more time that they don’t spend in the CRM, and the more time they spend on their phones, the better. Yeah. Okay. So like, you know, how do you bring that to Salesforce, or HubSpot. It’s like, use our tool less, and you’re actually going to be more productive. That’s not good.

Maddie Duke  24:05

Maybe it’s a matter of people who are sales people who are great at relationship management and conversations and selling and closing do the sales. And maybe there are amazing people who love HubSpot and Salesforce and who want to enter the data and do that aspect. You know what I mean? Like, why not split it?

Liam Martin  24:27

Exactly, but how do you know any of that stuff, unless you’re measuring it?

Maddie Duke  24:34

Yeah, well, okay.

Liam Martin  24:36

So that basically is what I’m really focused on, is measuring and understanding the sociology of work. We really try to figure out what are some deep actionable insights into work, and how does that impact people’s outcomes regardless of the political correctness of what we have to say. So, does a 40 hour work week work? I mean, it does right now. That’s what we’re currently doing. But a 27 hour work week, very clearly works better, very clearly. But if you talk to any, you talk to any corporate MBA, they will say no, they will say that doesn’t work, because until 10 years ago — and we were really one of the first people to start to do it at scale — there was no ability to be able to measure the productivity of what someone was doing with their work day, because there were just no data, you go to sociology of work, you know, and I spent a lot of time looking at those studies and trying to understand the pros and cons of all of them. And they don’t know what they’re doing. It’s like that, because they just don’t have the data set. That’s actually one of the reasons why I left sociology. I can do so much bigger experiments with, you know, I can analyze tomorrow, well actually, probably this afternoon, how do people use Slack? How do people use Slack in comparison to Microsoft Teams? Is one better, is one worse for overall productivity and output? It’s a very simple correlation for me of being, well, maybe not me, but our AI guys could go in and say, we run Slack and Microsoft Teams as it applies to sales people, and the outcome is Salesforce commissions. And then we run it through our machine learning algorithm, and we’d be able to see are either of those statistically significantly impacting, you know, their commission structures? So that’s kind of what I’m doing right now is just analyzing how people work at scale.

Maddie Duke  26:53

I wanted to ask as well, have you got any other interesting insights? Like, obviously, you’ve got a lot of access to data that tells us how people work? What other kinds of insights can you gather from that? If someone’s usually really efficient, and there’s a dip, is that something that companies that use Time Doctor can identify? Like, hey, these people seem to be having an off week, or, is it correlated with something?

Liam Martin  27:17

Yeah, I’ll give you an example of someone who had their job completely saved by Time Doctor due to a very serious addiction, actually. This was a developer, they were one of the top developers on the team, you can use apps like Linear B, or a bunch of other tools as well to be able to figure out effectively what Time Doctor does as well. But the course correction time is longer. So like time to commit code, you know, how efficient your code is written that kind of stuff. They look at all of those types of variables. But this developer ended up really dropping off on their productivity, and it was happening over a three month period. And instead of talking, instead of just having that continue for another three to six months, and you probably letting that person go, the manager spoke to this developer, and said, “what’s going on here? Your output is really low, we’re starting to, we’re starting to see cracks in what you’re doing”. And he said, Okay, well, like, what’s the situation here? He said, “it’s pretty bad. My wife’s about to leave me and take our kid” and, you know, this kind of thing. And so what they decided to do was they got him a psychologist, he’s now back up to a top 10th percentile of output in terms of development. And if you hadn’t have had that in there like, early course correction moment, then it results in that’s what you’re trying to figure out before. Before a one to three week trend becomes like a real serious problem. And, and try to solve it. As an example, another counterintuitive kind of component connected to this, my personal data. Tuesday afternoons were horrible. For me, my output was dismal. And I found out over a few months that this was due to, as I was putting all my data points together, it was due to a Tuesday night matinee. So in Canada, there’s half price movie tickets on Tuesdays. And so at around 1pm my wife would call me and say, “Hey, are we going to go see Batman or Superman?” And I tell her, I want to see Batman and you say, “Well, I really want to see Superman, do you think Maddie wants to come?”, “I don’t know”, “Can you call Maddie?” “Okay, I’ll call Maddie. Oh, Maddie wants to come, is it the seven o’clock show or the nine o’clock show?” “I don’t know. Can we-” you know, let’s it was just this constant barrage of interruptions, that was pulling me out of flow state focus. So, counterintuitively, I now take Tuesday, evenings and afternoons off completely, I do not work, which, again is counterintuitive. I’m removing hours from my workweek. And yet my productivity actually went up. I get more work done in less time. Again, these are the kinds of things that you can’t really, you can’t figure them out until you’ve measured them, unfortunately, and

Maddie Duke  30:29

I think this might be the kind of thing that in an in person office space, maybe people can guess or take a stab at, but then they don’t have the data to back it.

Liam Martin  30:42

Yeah, one of the biggest fears for remote is — and this is the question that especially large corporations get is the lawyers — number one, what are we doing from a compliance perspective? So if someone’s stealing data from a whole bunch of computers that are now not on our systems, and they’re out in the wild, ready to bring your own device type of environment, can’t do that, that’s illegal, right? In a lot of cases, it’s illegal, you can’t do it. And then secondarily, it’s like that culture of accountability, which is, because they’re in the seat in the cubicle, they must be working.

Maddie Duke  31:20

Yeah, that’s not the case. They’re not working,

Liam Martin  31:22

The vast majority of them are not working. And let’s just all be open about that ignorance, and put it all down on the table, and just say, “Hey, guys, why don’t we just all be open about it?” We can talk about it and just kind of, say, you were happy with my output before, so nothing’s really gonna change here. But we’re actually just gonna see like, could we have everyone go home at two? If you’re in an office, could we just do 30 hours a week? That would probably be better for everybody. If we just did 30 hours a week. For me personally, I do between 32 and 36 hours per week, dependent upon the week that I’m working at, and that’s a full time job. One of the biggest push backs that we have from employers is actually giving people the averages of how the average workweek looks like the real one. And then everyone’s, oh, well, I’m, I’m killing it. I’m doing 40 hours a week. And first, no, you’re not because you actually might not be actually doing anything for 15 of those hours. But the employer says, “Well, I don’t want them to know that it’s a 27 hour workweek, like, I don’t think I agree with this”. And, yeah, that’s been one of our major kind of push backs, particularly as it applies to the machine learning analytics, because we just need those baselines in order to actually tell you whether or not you’re productive, and how to make you more productive. But  it’s difficult for particularly, it’s just, the larger corporate you go, except for some tech companies that actually do really understand it, which is not many, based off of my current experience of like, let’s really study what productivity means, which as I said before, that could be a completely separate podcast. But if you ask 10 companies their definition of productivity, you’ll get 10 different answers. So you need to really kind of define what that means to you. And then how to measure against that.

Maddie Duke  33:31

Definitely. Time Doctor has the capability to measure things like taking a screenshot of a screen and keystroke, from what I understand. How do you justify that and where is that appropriate?

Liam Martin  33:47

So, we personally don’t use screenshots internally at Time Doctor. We don’t think that it’s a measure that makes the employee more productive. However, when you look at the earlier days of remote work, even 10 years ago, 15 years ago, for me, there were a couple different platforms, there was Elance, oDesk, Freelancer. And then companies like Fiverr, as an example, came later, but those initial platforms were really where the vast majority of remote work came from. And they all had screenshots as a core component of the way that their application ran, and they still do, it’s still the way that the majority of that work is delivered. So it was an issue of us being able to take in that data and say, or well, in the market, could we actually run the application without screenshots? And the answer was no, because of the way the industry was built. But do we actually want people to get the analytics They really need, which is what we wanted to do? And the answer was yes. Now, with regards to keyboard activity, and most movement activity, that’s anonymized. So we don’t know what you’re actually clicking on, we just know that there’s activity. And so the reason why we do that is because it allows us to be able to, as I said, before, pull out those kind of like, machine learning variables that you wouldn’t really be able to get access to, if you didn’t have that. A perfect example is we have a client, that’s quite large. That needs to know, from a legal perspective, that Maddie is Maddie, when she is using her computer, legally, right, you need to have that in place. You could do something like a webcam shot, or you could do something like putting in a special password. But you know, you can tell someone else your password. And we don’t really want the camera shot thing. So what we did instead is, Google actually built a really good algorithm to be able to analyze within about a minute how you interact with your keyboard to confirm that it’s you.

Maddie Duke  36:21

Wow.

Liam Martin  36:22

So, this is what Google uses to be able to confirm all of their data to know that if someone is using like, which of their employees are actually there and is it the same person, is Maddie, Maddie? That’s what Google uses. And then we use that to be able to analyze, okay, is Maddie who Maddie is? Just dependent upon how you use your keys. There’s a fingerprint.

Maddie Duke  36:46

Wow! But not an actual fingerprint?

Liam Martin  36:50

No, not an actual thing. Exactly. It’s a unique way that Maddie types that’s just very unique to Maddie. And within a minute, we can tell you pretty clearly. Yep. That’s Maddie.

Maddie Duke  37:02

That’s amazing Okay. I mean, wow,

Liam Martin  37:07

It is definitely one of those things that it depends on how you use it. And we wish that everyone used it the way that we use it. There is a degree of cost that you pay, from a culture perspective implementing this type of tool. But every single study shows an increase in productivity and output.

Maddie Duke  37:31

My initial resistance has eased, I get it, I get it now.

Liam Martin  37:38

We’ll have you signed into Time Doctor and in a couple months, you’ll be able to do an analysis

Maddie Duke  37:41

I did download it. I actually did. Yeah. All right. Well, before we wrap up, tell me about Running Remote, and what’s happening in 2021, for Running Remote.

Liam Martin  37:52

Oh, lots of things. This pandemic will be over, hopefully we can get back to physical actual conferences, which will be exciting. We’ve been running it as I said, for four years. And our last one was going to be in Austin, it got cancelled, cost us like $250,000 in cancellation fees, which was super depressing. But next one’s mid May. And that one is virtual, which is great, and we’re getting a ton of really fantastic people in there. One of the things that I think I can tell you right now, which is a bit of a spoiler is we’re having Coinbase, join us. And Coinbase is, for the first time in the history of the SEC, a company can now have their headquarters of nowhere. For the first time ever, which is incredibly exciting. And it’s a 113 billion dollar IPO, which will be the largest IPO of 2021. So that’s a really interesting time change, which is the biggest IPO of the year, is going to be remote. And so we’re going to get into that and the details connected to how they switched to remote, you know, their, their methodology, what the implications were, obviously the stressors that they had with going public as it applied to going remote because a lot of people wouldn’t trust big companies going remotely and being efficient. And then we’re going to be talking obviously, about a whole bunch of other stuff connected to that too. And then hopefully, in November, we could go back to having physical events, but that remains to be seen.

Maddie Duke  39:40

Where can people go to if they want to either get a ticket to Running Remote this year or get in touch with you or inquire about Time Doctor?

Liam Martin  39:49

Sure, runningremote.com, best place and just sign up there. You’ll be notified next time we have an event. And if you want to get in touch with me, you can go to YouTube. youtube.com/runningremote. And all of our talks are up there for free. I put up a couple videos there as well. So just put in a, you know, put in a comment, and I will respond.

Maddie Duke  40:13

Awesome. Thanks so much, Liam. It’s been a really interesting and thought provoking discussion. And I look forward to you look forward to-

Liam Martin  40:22

You look forward to seeing me in the future at a physical version of Running Remote, thanks for having me!

Maddie Duke  40:33

The State Of Work is available wherever you listen to podcasts. Find us on Instagram or Twitter by searching for the state of work, we’d love to hear from you. Be sure to check out our show notes at podcast.lano.io for more information on Time Doctor or Running Remote or anything else we talked about in this episode. Thanks for listening and see you next time on The State Of Work.

Berlin, 08.04.2021