Tracy Hawkins: Talent, Twitter, People Perching | Work 20XX #09

Jeff Frick
January 19, 2023
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Tracy Hawkins, former VP, Head of Real Estate & Work Transformation, Twitter was well into the hybrid / remote work transformation before Covid thrust the concept on the rest of us. Moving from the London and Dublin offices to Twitter Headquarters in Downtown San Francisco, she and her team had already expanded their thinking from a purely real-estate-centric focus on leases and occupancy, to how they could use the tools at hand to build and support the broader employee experience, culture development, and taking a more human-centric, activity based approach to how her team could enable Tweeps to do their best work, regardless of location.

Covid certainly accelerated this, and Tracy’s team formally moved from the finance team to the people train in 2020. Tracy has executive support as she and team focused on the details, everything from formally institutionalizing, training, and promoting behaviors,  norms or ‘etiquettes’ around asynchronous communication, fewer meetings, no-meeting Fridays, Perching, and more. Compete with Senior executive support and modeling of desired behaviors.

As for space, the goal was choice, giving people a variety of environments to choose from, when they want to come in to accomplish something, be it heavily eam collaborative work, culture building and team bonding, or isolated focus work, Tracy and the team focused on providing options.Welcome to Work20XX, a show focused on the transitioning world of work, where we bring you the best minds in the business to provide insight, direction, and specific actions that leaders, line managers, and individual contributors can use as we experiment our way forward.

In this far-ranging conversation, we cover these topics and more including the role of data, and a number of no-cost ways you can begin to better support all the people in the organization.

Without further delay, a conversation with Tracy Hawkins

Episode Transcript

Jeff - Got your water?

Tracy - I haven't, actually. I should have done that, shouldn't I? Yeah.

Jeff - Go get water real quick. So I'll just kind of sit down and we will go. Three, two, one. Hey, welcome back, everybody. Jeff, Rick here. Coming to you from the home Office and really excited because we're kicking off season two of work. 20 x x. It's a new year. It's a new season. And who better to have on than probably one of the preeminent workplace experts She's been right in the middle of of a lot of the revolution.

She's had the good fortune of being in some progressive situations with some budget. And we're really excited to have her on to kick off the season. So joining us through the magic of the Internet all the way from San Francisco, she's Tracy Hawkins, the former VP of Real estate and work Transformation at Twitter. Tracy, great to see you today.

Tracy - Great to see you, too, Jeff, And thanks for staying for me because I am looking for my next gig. Yes.

Jeff - Yes. Well, unfortunately, there is a number of people that have been impacted by the recent layoffs. So you're not alone. But I'm sure with your skill set, it will not be a long journey. So maybe take advantage of a little bit of a break with the family before you jump back in with those feet. But let's let's go into it because you were at Twitter for a long, long time.

You've really been writing kind of this transformation of workplace. So let's step back a little bit because you came out of it come from the real estate side. So kind of how did you get into the real estate side of it? And then what was that kind of transformation from real estate into this more kind of general purpose workplace.

Tracy - At Twitter or just in general.

Jeff - In general? And then we'll get we'll get to Twitter.

Tracy - And one clarification, I actually left Twitter of my own volition. So whilst a lot of my colleagues were impacted and there's been a, you know, an interesting and challenging time, it was a decision that, you know, was right for me. So the real estate side of things, you know, I've had such an amazing journey at Twitter. I was actually based in London when I first got my role at Twitter and I moved to Dublin in Ireland to look after everything for them internationally.

00;02;02;24 - 00;02;27;21

Speaker 1

And I was doing pretty much the whole gambit of real estate. Zero leasing and transactions, the facilities management side of things, workplace operations and also the design and construction side. So when I joined in 2013, it was a real hypergrowth time and we were building tons of spaces around the world. It was very much an office centric culture like a lot of, you know, a lot of our peers, a lot of other companies were.

00;02;27;29 - 00;02;50;01

Speaker 1

And through that time we really, really grew is a fantastic time to learn a lot about the real estate side of things. When I joined the Real estate facilities team, we were in the finance team and we actually moved over in 2020 to the people team and even 18 months before that, we were working really closely with the People team because we were decentralizing.

00;02;50;13 - 00;03;06;23

Speaker 1

We didn't want the base of power to be an asset. If we wanted to be more of a global company, we wanted to be able to attract and retain talent all around the world. So that then prompted our transition into the people team where we took on more people related work and also all the future of work type of remit as well.

00;03;07;09 - 00;03;21;25

Speaker 1

So it was a really exciting time for us and that's how we took on more of the remote work and looking at hybrid work even before the pandemic kind of prompted us into or many other companies were kind of forced into the we were already going down that route. So I kind of practiced really well.

00;03;22;07 - 00;03;37;27

Speaker 2

So let's talk about kind of the the 2018 ish timeframe when you're, you know, heads down in hypergrowth. And I think you said one of your quotes is that, you know, kind of the office is kind of the manifestation, the physical manifestation of the culture. And I just love how everybody, you know, has a lens through which they see it.

00;03;37;27 - 00;04;08;07

Speaker 2

And you came at it from the real estate and you talked about it being very office centric. And in fact, early days of COVID getting ready for this. You were even saying, you know, I'm sure we're going to get back because it's such an important part of the culture. So before we talk about kind of where we are today, I wonder if you could share how, you know, you were able to kind of use the tools of real estate in the office to to instill culture and to make it more than just, you know, a sea of beige cubes and to really, you know, use those tools at your disposal to drive culture.

00;04;08;25 - 00;04;47;16

Speaker 1

Yeah. So I think what's really important when we were looking at our spaces back then was to really work with the local site leaders and the local teams there. And so although we infuse a feeling of the brand, you know, consistency and the logo and all of that usual stuff, it was really important for us when we did a new space to not maybe have an international vendor who was the architect for all of our spaces, all the project manager for all of our spaces, but, but to work very closely with local vendors, local companies, so that we really understood that local flavor, but also work with site leaders and folks who were just interested

00;04;47;16 - 00;05;12;18

Speaker 1

in space, understand where they hung out after work and where they took clients and, you know, their interests and what was important to them in the space and how they used it as a business. So really, for me, even before I got into projects or new offices, what I did when I very first joined Twitter was just sit down with all of the site leads, whether it was virtually or in person to understand what was important to them, because that varied from culture to culture.

00;05;12;18 - 00;05;32;12

Speaker 1

And then that really informed us as we build out spaces or refresh them or look for new ones. That, number one, it was a partnership approach, but it really helped us think about like how they saw Twitter in their country or in their city. I mean, how they interacted with sales partners and clients. And then we built a space that reflected that.

00;05;32;12 - 00;05;52;18

Speaker 1

So for me, that was our approach. And then naturally, as people came in and used those spaces, they were really proud of that. I mean, it was a space that not only did they bring in like clients, clients and partners, but also, you know, folks that we would do philanthropy type efforts with, you know, within the local community or family members and friends.

00;05;52;18 - 00;06;12;21

Speaker 1

They would bring them in as well because they'd be really proud of the spaces. So that was really our approach. It took a lot longer to build, you know, to in that upfront stage. And we worked very closely with our sourcing and procurement partners as well. That's an important partnership there. But it really meant that we were able to build spaces that had that good balance of a local flavor, but also the feel of Twitter.

00;06;12;21 - 00;06;31;11

Speaker 1

And also when you work closely with folks who are actually in that office, you get less of that kind of cliched, Oh, here's what I think a London office should look like with black taxi meeting rooms and red phone boxes everywhere you get actually what they want to see and not something that's, you know, ball pits and slides in the office.

00;06;31;11 - 00;06;33;15

Speaker 1

It feels like a space they can be proud of.

00;06;33;16 - 00;06;51;18

Speaker 2

Right. Right. And so, I mean, I love that you've mentioned it in a bunch of talks, you know, that people I can be proud of so they can bring not only their their work associates, but their family and friends and, you know, other people. But I'm curious, were you starting to move into kind of activity based spaces, even at that time?

00;06;51;18 - 00;07;15;03

Speaker 2

Right. I mean, there's a great study by Ryan Anderson, you know, talking about where the office really excels in. The three things that they highlighted in that study are, you know, culture and collaboration. Right. Or culture and social bonding building. The team too, is heavy collab work. And then three, I think the one that catches a lot of people by surprise is the library, the isolation, You know, for people that don't have the space or opportunity where you kind of moving that way.

00;07;15;15 - 00;07;22;21

Speaker 2

Yeah, ready away from the ugly, open, loud office. Everybody's got headphones and can't concentrate. Anyway.

00;07;23;00 - 00;07;53;04

Speaker 1

I think we were trying to give folks choice, you know, trying to provide lots of different types of spaces. So we were leaning into more of like the residential feel as well. So you could have a team area where it was more open plan. But we also tried to balance that with a lot of different types of meeting rooms around it, whether it was rooms with soft seating or rooms that were more kind of your standard set up smaller rooms for one person so you could have a choice in your immediate area and you weren't tracking all over the building.

00;07;53;12 - 00;08;22;03

Speaker 1

We also did, I think, while back in 2013, started to build more library type spaces. So those were really kind of quiet spaces or teams could use them to get gather in them as well, and kind of more Drop-In spaces as well. A coffee bar type of environments, cafe spaces, just different types. So we were already thinking, you know, the choice and, and what do people want to use that space for that day?

00;08;22;10 - 00;08;42;09

Speaker 1

And really we came to that conclusion again by the upfront programing of the space, sitting down with the teams that use them and understanding like, how do you use space, what do you come into the office to do? And that helped us program the space and provide these different types of environment because everyone's different, right? Even for a similar piece of work, they might want to try a different type of space.

00;08;42;16 - 00;08;45;20

Speaker 1

So it was really just about giving our employees choice, Right?

00;08;45;21 - 00;09;00;21

Speaker 2

Right. I mean, it's such a great piece. The Wall Street Journal did a piece on LinkedIn building one, and I think they said they had 75 different types of of seating areas and different, you know, kind of arrangements areas. And it's pretty interesting. Then I think was Capital one was the first one to have that bank commercial that looked like a coffee shop.

00;09;00;21 - 00;09;17;04

Speaker 2

And the first time you saw a copy like that, it doesn't look like a bank. But, you know, again, kind of progressive thinking really to take it. But I'm curious, again, kind of pre-pandemic, what were you seeing in terms of the utilization in the sensors? Because, you know, there's a lot of it kind of just returned to offices.

00;09;17;16 - 00;09;39;10

Speaker 2

There's nostalgia of what was right with that. We tend to stylize things that are in the past. But a lot of the people are saying that, you know, people were already working from home. People are at conferences, they're traveling to clients. So what were you seeing and were you getting any kind of premonition from the data in terms of utilization or you kind of staying ahead of it based on the activities that the people were asking for?

00;09;39;11 - 00;09;57;16

Speaker 1

I mean, we were really looking and trying to study. We didn't have sensors at the time, but we had like bodge data and we were really trying to understand how many people coming in. And like you say, folks were out at conferences, people were on leave or, you know, on vacation. And most days it would only be about 40% occupied.

00;09;57;23 - 00;10;20;23

Speaker 1

Now, that was our desks and maybe some of those folks were in meeting rooms as well. Meeting rooms. But we have salespeople who might be out the office or working from home. And we definitely did have folks kind of informally working from home. We didn't have so much of a policy around it, but we definitely did see that the office was somewhat underutilized and it was quiet walking through the spaces.

00;10;20;23 - 00;10;40;11

Speaker 1

So I agree with you. I think there is some of this nostalgia about how it was like super bustling and busy before the pandemic, and certainly there were days when it was or you would have offsite some people coming to visit and then a lot people would be drawn in. But day to day, I think we kind of, you know, really look back with rose tinted glasses, maybe a little bit.

00;10;40;11 - 00;11;08;03

Speaker 2

Just a little bit. That's all right. But but it's just it's interesting to think back. So but you guys were ahead of the curve. So again, kind of pre-COVID. But post, you know, the way things were, you guys were already starting to think about enabling not as much remote for remote sake, but it sounds like really opening up your your TAM, your total available market of people that you could employ and really starting to think beyond, you know, do they live in San Francisco so they can work out of this office or other office?

00;11;08;03 - 00;11;26;02

Speaker 2

And I think at one point you said you counted up the bodies and there were more people remote than there were in any single location. So how did that come about? How are you getting a little bit progressive and thinking, you know, how do we expand the TAM of our of our hiring population and space is a big piece of that.

00;11;26;16 - 00;11;52;03

Speaker 1

Yeah, no, definitely. I think, you know, aside from attracting new talent, you know, we would lose people just because we didn't have an office in a specific location. People have to move sometimes because of things happen in life support and a spouse or, you know, they need to go home to wherever that family's from. And we had really great people who had all this institutional knowledge about Twitter, really loved working at the company, didn't want to leave.

00;11;52;19 - 00;12;11;11

Speaker 1

But it has to because we kind of had a policy of, you know, you had to live near an office and come into the office and it just seemed really, really crazy. And then you layer on top of that all of these, you know, potential talent out there who would be amazing employees for the company, but because they don't live near an office, same thing.

00;12;11;16 - 00;12;34;17

Speaker 1

I'm sorry. We started really thinking about what can we do that will enable us to keep these folks or attract these folks in. And obviously the logical of that was just trying to open up the world a little bit more. Now as we did that, you know, initially we would like work from anywhere, well, employ anybody, anywhere. And I mean, I think most people know once they've gone down that route, it's not as easy as it looks as to the tax implications.

00;12;34;17 - 00;12;59;01

Speaker 1

That is kind of security. Sometimes implication is, and obviously it varies from company to company around risk tolerance and all of that. But we really start in an idealistic place and then I think we came somewhere in the middle of, Right, okay, we can open up some more, but we also need to make sure entities are set up and that type of thing, which is a lot of work, a lot of partnering with internal partners in finance and tax and legal and the people team.

00;12;59;01 - 00;13;17;04

Speaker 1

And so we definitely did open up a lot more. And I think we really laid the foundations around behaviors as well. You know, we said, no, we don't necessarily need to be in the office every single day. And if you're back to back in meetings, what does it matter if they're especially if they're global and you're working with partners or colleagues all around the world?

00;13;17;11 - 00;13;37;20

Speaker 1

And we started thinking about behaviors around more asynchronous work because folks had always complained about having just so many meetings anyway. So it's like, what could we do to document more? What could we do to involve all the folks that we have working for Twitter? Not just because you're in San Francisco, you don't just have the best ideas because you're at the HQ.

00;13;37;29 - 00;14;04;17

Speaker 1

How do we involve sites from all the regions? And I think because, you know, I'm not from California, you can hear from the UK. Originally I had that experience of reporting and to U.S. companies and somewhat feeling a bit of a second class citizen. And so I was able to like think about the behaviors and, and how now that I'm in the U.S., how can we change that and how can we kind of lay the foundations for something that was a little bit more inclusive as well?

00;14;04;19 - 00;14;22;29

Speaker 1

Right. I'm also thinking about, you know, neurodiversity, diversity and inclusion, some folks don't want to participate as much on camera or they're not just inclined to speak up as much. And so as we think about more asynchronous work and being more globally inclusive, that also, you know, supports those folks, too.

00;14;23;29 - 00;14;43;25

Speaker 2

Tracey touched on about 20 of my bullet points here, so we have a lot to go through. So let's I love it. So let's start with with with first First off, I haven't really heard anyone talk about you know embracing embrace remote so that you can retain your best talent when they go through some life change that's forcing them to change geographies.

00;14;43;25 - 00;15;02;23

Speaker 2

I think that is super insightful. But let's talk about async. The best practices because as I mentioned in the intro, you were fortunate to have have some good support and some good resources. So I want to kind of share some best practices with people that maybe weren't so. And I and I think async is the most important piece of all.

00;15;02;23 - 00;15;21;08

Speaker 2

You know, I started this journey with Darren Murphy years ago and you know he just pounded that and async is an effective communication thing because as you said, people aren't at you know, all these companies now are global and distributed and no one is in the same office anyway. And even if you're in the same city, you're often not in the same office.

00;15;21;08 - 00;15;43;00

Speaker 2

And even if you're in the same office, you might not be on the same floor or even in the same cube at that moment of time. So let's talk about async kind of how did you know your adoption of async and really more importantly, how did you help kind of roll that out within the culture to increase the adoption of kind of effective async communication to, to make up for the fact that we're not all together all the time?

00;15;43;17 - 00;16;08;02

Speaker 1

Yeah. I mean, I think that one of the most important things about asynchronous work is the creating the time and space to be able to do it. So one of the things we rolled out at Twitter was something and you have to forgive us because everything is bird related at Twitter or was. And so we had purge time every day and time was basically an hour cleared from the calendar.

00;16;08;02 - 00;16;26;07

Speaker 1

And that was really important because, you know, if you're going to lean into asynchronous work, that means more docs and you don't want to have a bunch of me. And then also on top of that, have the docs to work on more. So we're using Slack and using email and it's easy to get, you know, suddenly overwhelmed in even more work.

00;16;26;15 - 00;16;55;19

Speaker 1

I'm sorry, the our perch time was really for us to be able to go through any asynchronous docs we've been tagged into and it gave us that time and space too to really focus on that work. Also, some teams within the company did I did know meetings Fridays with my teams too, which also allowed us to work on that type of thing and clear the decks before the weekend, go in, not feeling stressed and like be prepped and organize for the next week.

00;16;55;26 - 00;17;30;22

Speaker 1

So I think if you're going to adopt more asynchronous work, you also have to create the time and block it out and have leaders modeling that behavior and using the async docs as well for it to be successful. Otherwise it just becomes more overwhelming. Additional work to do on top of meetings as well. We also would acknowledge that people are very busy, so when we went into a meeting which had a dock attached to it, we would give a few minutes at the store for folks just to skim over again, just in case they haven't had the time.

00;17;31;04 - 00;17;53;27

Speaker 1

But it was something that we adopted as a company. We had it in manager trainings. We had, you know, information about it in nature. So when we rolled it out, my team stood up in front of the company. We had what we called our big all hands one team meetings and we walked through house. Asynchronous work was now a part of the fabric of the company.

00;17;53;27 - 00;18;17;19

Speaker 1

Everyone would be adopting it. It was great because it made us more global and more inclusive and it freed them up meeting time because sometimes you wouldn't even need to have a meeting to like, talk it through. You could achieve your objective just through having that async doc, Right? So it was something that was like a commonly adopted behavior across the company and something you would learn about from day one of being at Twitter.

00;18;17;20 - 00;18;18;01

Speaker 1


00;18;18;01 - 00;18;44;23

Speaker 2

Right. So you mixed it in, but I want to call it out specifically, and that's meetings because I think they're they deserve their own category. And so you mentioned a couple of things. So you and your team had no meeting Friday. Were there other kind of best meeting practices that you guys adopted, either through formal training or formal kind of rules of engagement or, you know, I was at Intel early in my career and they had the meeting rules, you know, on every wall you've talked about, you know, etiquette.

00;18;44;23 - 00;18;56;20

Speaker 2

And, you know, I can see that that's kind of, you know, what are the rules of of communication. So what were some of the specific things around meetings that you helped people, you know, have as as our friend Darren likes to say, make them harder to have?

00;18;57;05 - 00;19;28;28

Speaker 1

Yeah. I mean, I every meeting had to have an agenda to start with so everybody knew why they were there. That was really important. So that you knew it was actually a meeting. Worthwhile topic to meet for. We also had a great approach, which our CFO Ned Segal put in place, which was the design model. So when you were working on a topic or a project, you had to drive a prove and you can only have one of each consulted folks informed and then next steps.

00;19;29;02 - 00;19;57;24

Speaker 1

So any meeting was super productive because you knew who owned it, you knew it was driving it. And then you know what your role was in that meeting. We did have etiquette on the screens in the office, so you know that if you're in the office and somebody was dialing in, then you dialed in through your laptop. You use the audio of the room, but you used the kind of visual video component of your laptop and then you're all the same size on the screen.

00;19;57;24 - 00;20;25;22

Speaker 1

And it kind of feels, you know, level playing field equality. And we had, you know, information on the tables as well to remind folks to do that. Just little problems around the space, The big screens that we had in our hallways talked about how we adopted asynchronous work and but also around meetings. And if you know, there's ten of you in the meeting and seven from your team, do all seven need to be there as well, or can one person or two people be there?

00;20;25;22 - 00;20;46;25

Speaker 1

So it was like giving permission that if you turned up to a meeting and was a whole bunch of your team there to actually reassess and say, Hey, do we all need to be here or can some of us go away and work on something else? Right? And then having really good hygiene around your calendar, you know, very much looking at it on a regular basis and saying, do all these meetings still make sense?

00;20;46;28 - 00;21;09;13

Speaker 1

Should I be getting rid of some of these? Can they be replaced by asynchronous work? Definitely. There are times when you're building relationships, sprinting on projects, or you have something that is just not coming across in either email, Slack or an asynchronous doorway. It's just easier to have a conversation. But there are definitely things now that have transitioned to work that you can do offline as well.

00;21;09;21 - 00;21;17;18

Speaker 1

So I think this is that unspoken agreement as well around just having the permission to reassess who's in the room and do we all still need to be here.

00;21;18;01 - 00;21;39;07

Speaker 2

Well, I'm curious because, you know, a big theme that that's happening now with, you know, the increase of hybrid work is that a lot of the current managing class were not trained to operate in a way where they can't see people or they can't look over their shoulder in a lot of the traditional indicators of of is weren't getting done and are people getting what I'm trying to get them to do.

00;21;39;07 - 00;22;00;04

Speaker 2

You know, you don't have those. So there's a you know, there's this call for training to help people. So how did you, you know, kind of keep on going formal training with, you know, managers who were at the front lines of this thing to help them and make sure that they're continuing to invest in the tools, in the time in the best practices, because, you know, their bosses probably didn't live it well.

00;22;00;04 - 00;22;01;18

Speaker 2

We know they didn't live in this world.

00;22;02;03 - 00;22;26;10

Speaker 1

Right? I mean, this is why the partnership with the h.r. And people team is so crucial. Every few weeks we would have a meeting with managers called managers assemble. And that was a time when we would remind around the arctic cats and welcome feedback from them as well as to how is it going with your team? What are the problems you're seeing around hybrid work of folks working remotely?

00;22;26;16 - 00;22;48;02

Speaker 1

And that is how we had the evolution around here. Some of the things that we think are important to meet for in-person, like we talked about just now around relationship building or sprints or, you know, if you have an issue, is something getting together really quickly and not letting it fester? And then here's the things that we think work really well asynchronously, but I think the most important thing is not working in a vacuum on this stuff.

00;22;48;02 - 00;23;05;21

Speaker 1

All managers know when we presented on collaborate with them that this was a work in progress for us. You know, this was almost like an ongoing pilot. We've been in a pandemic for two and a bit years, and it's going to take a year or two for us to work out and find our stride and what our new behaviors are.

00;23;05;21 - 00;23;27;02

Speaker 1

And what works at Twitter was not necessarily going to work everywhere else, but it was definitely a collaboration with the managers. And then also, you know, three positive surveys and through us just talking to leadership at Twitter, we were able to give feedback to them around the modeling of the behavior that we needed to see from them. The feedback that we were hearing from the managers.

00;23;27;02 - 00;23;45;21

Speaker 1

And so it really was the communication side is just so important. And the relationship between the real estate or whoever's driving future of work or hybrid work and the people team and the rest of the company and leadership is just so important. You can't do this work in a vacuum and assume that people will just join the dots themselves.

00;23;45;21 - 00;23;47;10

Speaker 1

You really have to help them with that.

00;23;47;14 - 00;24;07;15

Speaker 2

Right? Right. But I'm curious, as you change from from the real estate team and kind of under the CFO in measuring efficiency and, you know, kind of those traditional metrics versus being part of the h.R. Team and looking at retention and productivity, also efficiency, a different kind of efficiency. How did the metrics change that you guys were using to measure success?

00;24;07;15 - 00;24;22;02

Speaker 2

How did you help managers, you know, kind of focus on the right things and avoid, you know, some of the common problems we know with presenteeism and, you know, having a silicon camera monitor system that knows how long you've been in Zoom all day, I mean, all these silly things.

00;24;22;10 - 00;24;44;16

Speaker 1

Yeah. I mean, yeah, well, I think when we moved, I like to say we kept a full in the finance team and in the people team because that fiscal responsibility, the level of trust, the foundation of that trust with the finance team is so important, right? The real estate team spend a lot of money. Even if we're looking at less space now and all that, we still spend a lot of money.

00;24;44;16 - 00;25;14;18

Speaker 1

And so to have that trust is so important. And the folks in our finance team was super creative and we valued their input. So we made sure we really nurtured that relationship. Moving to the people team, you know, they were we were able to have the benefit that of like everything was evolving, so we were getting density sense as we were evolving our business intelligence tool, which allowed us to input how many people were remote and integrate our systems and have a feed into that of accepted, not start it.

00;25;14;18 - 00;25;38;02

Speaker 1

And how many people are leaving and then also we were able to grow our relationship with the People Insights team because I was part of that leadership team and worked with that person too. So they then helped us analyzed things like pulse data, exit interview data. And so I feel like we were able to build on the data in the metrics that we had just by being a part of that team.

00;25;38;17 - 00;26;13;16

Speaker 1

But it was something that was very timely and maybe we wouldn't have had access to that as part of the finance team because it just, you know, it wasn't existing at the time. We were we were kind of growing our approach to and and having sensors come along and growing our robin system. So, you know, we used Robin for the conference rooms before the pandemic, but then we also partnered with them to add on the desks so that as we went from a team kind of area model, so people being able to work wherever they wanted to based on the activity they did that day, we were then able to pull the metrics on the

00;26;13;16 - 00;26;36;28

Speaker 1

type of space they were booking. So we zoned our offices to from collaborative, social and focus areas. And so then we could see the utilization of those areas. So it was more of an evolution. And then we partnered with the people team to really look at like, how do we analyze this? And we can work with talent acquisition and we can work with learning and development to see how we then evolved our approach.

00;26;36;28 - 00;26;55;10

Speaker 1

So it was more of a growth over time rather than, Oh, here's some new insight is just because we're in the people team and then we also kept a very close relationship with the CFO, so we would speak to him every few months and report on how we were using our space and all the new metrics, and we would do a couple for our Chief people.

00;26;55;10 - 00;27;17;04

Speaker 1

Officer So I really do think that credibility piece is important. The facts and figures piece is important along with the hearts and minds piece which people think traditionally behaviors around like the hearts and minds and people experience, but also a super, super data driven with our people insights team and pulse data and all sorts of things. And there was a lot of cross-pollination between the two orgs.

00;27;17;05 - 00;27;36;21

Speaker 2

Yeah, I was going to ask you, you know, with the rise of the systems like Slack and I think you said you used Google Workplace at Twitter, you know that you do have so much more data sets and you just went through, you know, kind of a laundry list of different data inputs. And you said it really wasn't evolutionary, but just more and continuous.

00;27;36;21 - 00;27;45;26

Speaker 2

I mean, did it change over time? Were there any big surprises? Were there any kind of conventional wisdom that just got turned upside down when she started digging into some of this data? Yeah.

00;27;46;06 - 00;28;04;22

Speaker 1

I mean, one of the big surprises to me was, you know, when we went to work from home completely during the pandemic, I think the first few months everyone was like, remote works. Amazing. I could focus and take my dog to the vet and like get my package and have my house redone and like, do all my work.

00;28;04;27 - 00;28;22;25

Speaker 1

And it was and people were loving work from home. And then we got like six months in and everyone was climbing the walls because of work from home and remote work was getting a bad rep because remote workers now, you know, they go to coffee shops, they work in a, you know, a co-working space. They don't just are imprisoned in their houses.

00;28;22;25 - 00;28;42;24

Speaker 1

And so it wasn't the best experience of remote work for everyone. And then folks were craving that in-person time and seeing their colleagues and was really missing and having so many more meetings and all of that. But I think one of the things that I really learned from our data insights and from all, you know, pulse information was people use space for different things.

00;28;42;24 - 00;29;01;12

Speaker 1

So I used to think that, you know, everyone's at home because they love focusing and everyone comes into the office because they love socializing and seeing other people. But actually we had like a decent amount of our folks who really appreciated that separation of like my home is from my personal life and my office as well, like work and where I get things done.

00;29;01;12 - 00;29;19;25

Speaker 1

And maybe they feel more inspired by that because they're immersed in the brand and then seeing other people. And so we saw, you know, quite a lot of folks who would come in to do focused work rather than, you know, not just because it was distractions at home. They might not have been any distractions at home. They just wanted to be in the office I'm in.

00;29;19;26 - 00;29;40;14

Speaker 1

So, you know, the office meant different things to different folks and not just that kind of social running into other people, but some people really like it because the tools are there, their app works really well. We took on AB during the pandemic as well because it was all part of the people experience and we launched Zoom and did a bunch of other things, enhancements like that.

00;29;40;21 - 00;30;09;05

Speaker 1

And so folks really likes coming in the office because they knew what the setup was going to be like. They knew the wi fi was going to be stable, and so they were guaranteed a really good experience. They also love to come in, you know, host people as well for that really great experience. So one of the insights for me that was that was really interesting to me because I was just expecting everybody to be like, Oh, I work from home because the focus pace is just so much better than being in the office after, you know, all the feedback over the years of I hate the open plan and I hate waiting for a

00;30;09;05 - 00;30;20;23

Speaker 1

meeting room and having to book things, I think there there is some element of people now appreciate those things so much more, but they appreciate it when it's part of choice and they're not forced.

00;30;20;23 - 00;30;41;18

Speaker 2

Right. So I'm curious, you know, we started this out and you come from your real estate background and you talked about, you know, the office and real estate as kind of the physical manifestation of culture. Well, now suddenly you don't have that necessarily for everyone. How did you transition, you know, to think about, you know, kind of infusing culture without that?

00;30;42;02 - 00;30;48;25

Speaker 2

I mean, you still have the office for the people that are in. But but using other tools to still accomplish that very, very important goal.

00;30;49;12 - 00;31;04;14

Speaker 1

Yeah, it's like you say, like the office is one tool is one piece of the pie for the culture. So it's still available to folks and they still got that great experience when they come in. And quite often I see folks when they were coming in, they'd be like, Wow, I forgot how great it was to come in.

00;31;04;14 - 00;31;28;17

Speaker 1

And it is a great reminder. But I think that culture is more about the people and the etiquette, how folks feel involved. As we started thinking about creating a more level playing field, we were thinking, you know, the whole gambit. So the career experience, the access to great work and feeling equally a part of the culture and that's very much around that level playing field aspect.

00;31;28;17 - 00;31;51;04

Speaker 1

So when we were in the pandemic, we moved from doing what we called our big one team, all hands me, and they used to be, you know, dialing. If you're not in S.F., you see the sea of bodies in S.F. and a dot on the stage presenting. And then during the pandemic we went to everybody just dialed in and then you could ask questions and collaborate over Slack.

00;31;51;28 - 00;32;07;18

Speaker 1

Everyone was the same size on the screen and it was, you know, fun. You got to see all these people dialing in from all around the world. We did it at different times of the day, so it was friendly to Ipac one time, friendly to the US and to me or another time. And I think that's more about building culture.

00;32;07;18 - 00;32;29;25

Speaker 1

We thought about how we supported our employees during the pandemic and we did what we called Camp Twitter, which was we worked without school online. There was 30,000 different classes live on demand classes that parents desperately needed during that time when they were trying to work and entertain kids and educate the kids. We helped folks with their at home set up.

00;32;30;15 - 00;32;55;14

Speaker 1

We help them connect online, but also in-person in their local cities. And, you know, not in the office in some kind of what we call twee pops, where they met and just socialized. And I think those are the things that build culture. You know, if you know, you're supported and your company cares about you and you have choice and you feel like as much a part of the team when you dial into a meeting because everybody's the same size.

00;32;55;25 - 00;33;18;08

Speaker 1

And then one day you start to go into the office and you get yourself, feel whatever you want with the bird in the comments, like those are all different pieces of the big pie that makes up culture. It's not just one thing. And I think not feeling part of a culture is when you feel excluded, right? When you don't feel like you know your voice is heard or your voice is counted, which is where asynchronous work comes in because it's very inclusive.

00;33;18;28 - 00;33;34;17

Speaker 1

And so I think as we look to our new practices and evolve through the pandemic and beyond, we were always putting that lens on it of like how would this bill as hybrid work, how would this fail as a remote work? And that's what builds the culture, not like bricks and mortar and A.I., you.

00;33;34;18 - 00;33;54;16

Speaker 2

Know, Right. It's interesting. I listen to Les Deux podcast through the day with Andrew George, and she talked about, you know, the thing that she one of the things she valued most for experience is having worked in lots of different countries and had international experience, like you said, your your accent tips that you didn't grow up down the street from Twitter headquarters in San Francisco with your international experience.

00;33;54;16 - 00;33;58;03

Speaker 2

You know, how do you think that's really helped you be more successful?

00;33;58;28 - 00;34;26;07

Speaker 1

You know, I, I didn't realize how important it was actually, until I moved here. I moved to San Francisco in 2014 for a more senior position. And yet my days felt easier and shorter because I could have those casual interactions with leadership that if you are outside of S.F., might take weeks to get on the books, but I could just run into them or have the elevator conversation with them.

00;34;26;07 - 00;34;52;02

Speaker 1

And those folks were within the time zone where I was as well. So I didn't have the extended long days that when I worked in Dublin and London I could. And I was lucky then because I, you know, I didn't have a daughter at that point, so I wasn't doing school run and I wasn't trying to fit in and be present for her, which I don't know how folks internationally, when they have to deal with really long days on a regular basis, that's really tough.

00;34;52;26 - 00;35;11;07

Speaker 1

But I would go into a Dublin at 7 a.m. because I was looking at folks in Singapore, but then also folks in London, you know, all around the outside of the US. And I could be that, you know, next time I look at my watch, it's like 8 p.m. at night and I'm like, Wow, that's the entire day gone, you know?

00;35;11;07 - 00;35;41;05

Speaker 1

So when I moved to the States, I was already thinking, What are the things that annoys the hell out of me around the US hobbies when I'm an international and how can I help make that An easier, a nicer experience. And you know, it's the little things like I'd be sat there at 6:00 at night and someone would come in to meet with me 10 minutes late with that breakfast cereal, you know, or someone would send me an email and it would start from the U.S. and it would say, you know, I need this by close of business today.

00;35;41;05 - 00;35;57;01

Speaker 1

And it was like 5 p.m. already. And I was like, well, as my clothes business already and you're already after this. And so I don't think there was no malice in it. You know, Twitter was a great place to work. I just think there was just maybe in the early days of just a lack of just understanding how it works internationally.

00;35;57;05 - 00;36;17;07

Speaker 1

Everyone's just trying to get work done really quickly. So one of the things I think I bought when I got to the States was just the being more inclusive and being more considerate of folks who are around the world rotating the time that we did things and allowing them enabling and empowering them to say, Do I need to be in this meeting?

00;36;17;10 - 00;36;38;28

Speaker 1

You know, is there something we can put in a dock and share with them? A lot of the times I would want to be there. Obviously because they want to have face time. They want to be part of it and be in the brainstorming as well. I'm but definitely when I moved to the US, I was always thinking about my experience outside the U.S. and trying to have those folks speak up, trying to have them give ideas.

00;36;39;03 - 00;36;53;26

Speaker 1

Because just because you're in the the right time zone doesn't mean to say that you have all the best ideas, the right times being, you know, the one why the meeting is happening. And so, yeah, I was always thinking about that. And I still do think about it. I think it's really important we've always been a global company since I joined.

00;36;53;29 - 00;36;57;19

Speaker 1

We just didn't have the right behaviors and etiquettes in place initially, Right?

00;36;57;19 - 00;37;02;25

Speaker 2

So. So were you able to get some of those things codified at a much broader scale?

00;37;03;11 - 00;37;33;17

Speaker 1

Yeah, I think when when I first moved over, there was a lot of folks moving over from different regions as well. So I think it just became a common practice that we rotated meetings and we documented a lot more. And so that set us up, you know, for when we really thought about decentralization and diversifying more. But definitely, as we saw more international folks move to S.F. and New York, we saw more of these behaviors that were inclusive with our with our global colleagues.

00;37;33;17 - 00;37;58;26

Speaker 2

Right. Right. So one of the the things that I've been asked about, you know, remote work versus in-person and you just mentioned that things were a lot easier for a lot of reasons when you came over the time zone in the snap. But you also mentioned, you know, kind of the serendipitous exchange and interaction. How have you seen that get replaced in terms of the effectiveness and what it delivers when people aren't together?

00;37;59;02 - 00;38;04;06

Speaker 2

Things like the the the classic, you know, run into each other in the halls and magic happens.

00;38;05;00 - 00;38;27;26

Speaker 1

Yeah. I still think that's an area where there's a challenge. You know, I'm we did not have slack initially so I think Slack has been helpful because we've been able to say, you know, who's online and I'm quite willing to drop someone senior and know. But then, you know, I was a VP at a company, so I had no issues about just hitting someone up and saying, let's have a coffee, let's have a chat.

00;38;28;02 - 00;38;54;28

Speaker 1

I think that is more challenging for more junior folks. And that for me is why the balance is important. That's why having guidelines around when meeting in person is more effective and how often you should meet in person and making sure that leaders are a part of that so that folks who aren't in offices or who are, you know, here in where the leaders are based, I'm get to have that face time as well.

00;38;54;28 - 00;39;21;13

Speaker 1

So it's very intentional. I also think that creating teams that are intact around the world. So, for example, you know, having a team in London with a leader there who's empowered to make decisions, that's something that companies need to think about more, having more leaders dispersed around the world. But I think what's happening right now is folks are just thinking about how can we be more intentional around bringing people together, How can we have overlap of different organizations?

00;39;21;13 - 00;39;38;16

Speaker 1

So we get to cross-pollinate and share ideas and, you know, work on those KPIs and okay, also at the start of the year so that we share them and can execute them together and give people real solid time with leaders that, you know, they're not getting as much off if they're working remotely.

00;39;38;16 - 00;39;39;08

Speaker 2

Right, Right.

00;39;39;10 - 00;39;40;11

Speaker 1

In a location.

00;39;40;25 - 00;39;56;21

Speaker 2

So a couple of things there I want to follow in. They're kind of diametrically opposed, but they're kind of the same. And one is kind of onboarding and the other one is kind of mentoring because you've talked about leaders and leaders getting together. How did you see, I can say present company excluded because things are very different there than they were when you were there.

00;39;56;21 - 00;40;27;24

Speaker 2

But in terms of leaders, leaders modeling the behavior in which you were trying to encourage a and then again, kind of the the specific onboarding challenges with remote and trying to drive this, you know, intense culture. And then finally, you know, this increased importance of communication with these distributed teams. How did that kind of play out? You know, kind of with the maturity of the process as we as we worked through, actually, you guys are pre 20, 20, but 20, 20, 20, 21, 2022.

00;40;28;19 - 00;40;53;08

Speaker 1

Yeah. So, all right. So I remained virtual, so there was that level playing aspect and we were very I'm, we were very clear around the asynchronous work and you know, how we were planning to gather together and the behaviors right from day one. And so I think that piece is really important from the start. Our leadership also would come into nature.

00;40;53;08 - 00;41;14;17

Speaker 1

I know Jack would present nature, and he was very passionate around, you know, choice and giving folks access to the office or being able to work remotely or in a hybrid fashion. As we rolled out more behaviors and etiquette, the first thing I would do is we would meet with our C-suite and walk them through what we were planning to do.

00;41;14;20 - 00;41;37;04

Speaker 1

But we would also work with our teams and the folks, you know, a layer below them in their teams to understand how anything we were thinking about would translate into their day to day work here. The pushback you know, pivot a little bit if we needed to. So, for example, an example of us pivoting was initially we were going completely free, a dress in our offices for the desks, you could say anywhere, do anything.

00;41;37;20 - 00;41;59;21

Speaker 1

And folks were were a little bit worried about when they came in, if they chose to come in, not running into people from their teams. And so for our bigger offices, we went to you can sit anywhere you want, but that's an engineering floor. If you want to go sit with that and you can do. But like we we were really as we were going through the process, taking the feedback, pivoting, trying to hear best practices from other companies because everyone was trying to work out.

00;41;59;21 - 00;42;17;00

Speaker 1

So all leadership were very, very receptive and we worked with them on I think docs as well as we were rolling out new processes it would be in and I think Doug and they would go through and put their comments in and if we came to something where there was an impasse or a question that was hard to answer, then we would meet with them in person.

00;42;17;05 - 00;42;46;15

Speaker 1

But we were already doing that behavior with them. They were doing that with their teams as well. And so it was something that was just like this big experiment at Twitter where we were all working through it together. And you can imagine just so much happens on a platform like Twitter, It moves so fast that adopting the asynchronous work just helped us be more efficient as well, so we could really save those in-person or, you know, video calls, but things where we really needed to get to set decisions.

00;42;46;15 - 00;43;21;02

Speaker 2

Right, Right. So this has been fantastic. Tracy and I could keep you all day, but I won't. But as we head towards the end, I'm just, you know, there's a lot of work place professionals. You were in a really fortunate position for a while that, you know, you have some resources and some really supportive management. I mean, where do you see kind of the best are a why aren't an a private just, you know, where people kind of get the best return of investment of their time and energy and then, you know, maybe what are some of the kind of the secrets to success that that are maybe not that complicated, but maybe just a

00;43;21;02 - 00;43;23;06

Speaker 2

little bit below the surface that people can focus on?

00;43;23;29 - 00;43;44;11

Speaker 1

Yeah, I mean, I think we definitely did have resources. Twitter was a lot leaner than the peers that we're put in the same category and conversations with. So we were always really conscious of being careful with the dollars. But I do think there are things that that folks can do where they don't need to by technology, they don't need to bring in new systems and completely rip out their space.

00;43;44;11 - 00;44;00;07

Speaker 1

We didn't rip up our space and, you know, convert it all to coffee shops. The first thing that we did was, you know, change an existing system to be able to design own spaces and to be, you know, build on something that we had in place already, one, so we didn't have to invest in a brand new tool, too.

00;44;00;07 - 00;44;20;17

Speaker 1

So it was something our employees were used to using as well. They were already very familiar with it. So I think that that's something that's important as we go through layering on new tools or new etiquette to be able to build on something that you have in place already. Folks are much more comfortable with that. Things that we did that we're actually didn't cost anything, but people really appreciated.

00;44;20;17 - 00;44;54;29

Speaker 1

Was that blocking out of time, you know, agreeing as a company, we would do that perch time for an hour every single day. And if you saw that on someone's calendar, we tried to do it the same time in the different, you know, countries or time zones. You didn't work for it. You know, that time was sacred and it allowed them to do the I think ducks the no means Fridays, again, didn't cost any money to implement that but freed up so much time and you know, stress for folks allowed them to go into their weekends unburdened or you know with that checklist done And so those are things that are you kind of adopt

00;44;55;21 - 00;45;25;27

Speaker 1

and folks do really appreciate it and see the benefit from it. Simple things I would say even from the start of being in real estate, you know, before all of this going into decentralization, going into the pandemic, having that foundation of really good relationships with your stakeholders and your partners, that's what's going to set you up for success, understanding how they work, what their goals are, not going into meetings, talking about square footage and leases.

00;45;25;27 - 00;45;49;26

Speaker 1

That's like boring is how for your end users who don't really care about it, but going in there to listen intentionally to understand their world and then being able to join the dots for them around how your work supports, That's I mean, that's something that's important for teams too. I have worked with so many real estate teams I've got in and initially they just don't know how their work ladders up to the importance of the company, and it's actually foundational.

00;45;49;29 - 00;46;13;01

Speaker 1

That experience the pride of working for a company. Well, quite often the cultural ambassadors this period that we're in is such an amazing time for us to be able to grow our Skype, grow the skill set of workplace professionals, futureproof them. So now it's not just about the four walls of the office, but it's also about just the whole employee experience and the partnership with h.r.

00;46;13;01 - 00;46;35;00

Speaker 1

And finance. And it just opens up so much for us. I just feel like there's been a group of us who have been kind of really reticent and scared of the change when we actually should be super excited about this is growing our future and our scope and the amount of influence that we can have in a company like we now have a seat at the table for how people work moving forward.

00;46;35;07 - 00;46;44;22

Speaker 1

And so I would say be excited about it, really understand your end user and always have that growth mindset. That's going to be the thing that stands us in good stead for the next few years.

00;46;44;25 - 00;47;04;13

Speaker 2

I love it. And you and everyone who I talked to this in this space is really excited about the future. It's you know, kind of the tethering of the of the four walls is the and tethering of the network infrastructure that used to kind of define so much as the untethered ring of this geographic restriction that that holds you back on whether you can keep people or get new people.

00;47;04;13 - 00;47;21;10

Speaker 2

So you know Adrian Rose, she's another workplace professional. She's like so excited and it's a great it's a great final message. You know, embrace the opportunities that this affords. Don't whine and cry and complain of the world that probably didn't exist. The way you remember it anyway.

00;47;22;07 - 00;47;23;01

Speaker 1


00;47;23;20 - 00;47;44;16

Speaker 2

All right. Well, Traci, thank you very much for your time. I'm sure the phone will be ringing off the hook because this is a very, very important thing. And like you said, it's really all about employee experience. It's about employee retention and doing engagement. And the war for talent is not going to get any easier any time soon.

00;47;45;05 - 00;47;48;08

Speaker 1

Exactly. Thank you, Jeff. I've really enjoyed chatting with you.

00;47;48;09 - 00;48;01;06

Speaker 2

Thank you. And thank you, everybody for listed for another episode of work 20 x x. Listen in and watch it on YouTube and listen on the podcast. We'll see you next time. Take care. We are clear. Awesome.

00;48;02;08 - 00;48;03;02

Speaker 1

Thank you.

00;48;03;04 - 00;48;24;14

Speaker 2

Thank you. That was great.

Links and References

Tracy Hawkins - Former VP, Head of Real Estate & Work Transformation, Twitter

Twitter Profile 

LinkedIn Profile 


Selection of referenced podcast segment segments 

30. Transforming work w/ Tracy Hawkins, Twitter, Remote First Podcast, with Daphnee Laforest, Feb 8, 2022

How Twitter’s Office Portfolio Supports WFA, #WorkBold Podcast, with Caleb Parker, E4S6, Dec 21, 2021,

Tracy Hawkins on embracing a growth mindset to lead work transformation, The Workplace Leader Podcast, with Sabine Ehm & Tracy Hawkins, Ep36, Nov 5, 2021   

Are Physical Offices Dead? With Tracy Hawkins, Twitter, The Office Chronicles Podcast with Kursty Groves, Ep01, December 31, 2020 - 

Interview with Tracy Hawkins, Global Head of Real Estate & Workplace, Ari Kepnes, Density YouTube, Sept 10, 2018 


Other Links and Resources 

Twitter is scrapping employees’ meal allowances, following rumors that lavish lunches would be scaled back - but office snacks and coffee will remain, report says, Kate Duffy, Business Insider India, Jan 5, 2023 

Inside the final days of Twitter 1.0: How Elon Musk razed us to the ground, Io Dodds, The Independent via Yahoo News, Dec 14, 2022

Elon Musk claims free staff lunches at Twitter cost $400 each: gets fact-checked by former employee, ET Digital, Nov 14, 2022

Julie Whelan: Flexible, Responsive, Social Real Estate, Work 20XX with Jeff Frick, Aug 24, 2022

Inside LinkedIn’s New Hybrid Office With More Than 75 Seating Types | Open Office | WSJ, Wall Street Journal YouTube, Jul 2022 -

Designing a better tomorrow, MillerKnoll, Apr 1, 2022

Ryan Anderson: Bürolandschaft, Activity-Based, Design, Neighborhoods, Work 20XX with Jeff Frick Podcast, Mar 9, 2022 - 

When people talk about being really communicators, they often talk about speaking. They don’t focus on listening. And listening is a tremendously important skill - David Pottruck. Jeff Frick LinkedIn, Sep 11, 2021 

Give the customer permission to be comfortable being critical - David Pottruck, Jeff Frick LinkedIn Post, Sep 11, 2021

Conan Visits Intel's Headquarters | Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Conan Classics YouTube, Original air Date - May 2007

Individuals Mentioned

Jack Dorsey, Founder, Twitter 

Anu George, Client Experience Digital Transformation Leader, AIG

Ned Segal, Former CFO, Twitter

Companies Mentioned 

Outschool - Learning resources 

Robin Conference Room Solution 

Abbreviations and terms  

DACI - DACI Decision-making framework, Driver, Approver, Contributor, Informed

KPI - Kep Performance Indicators 

NHO - New Hire Orientation 

OKR - Objectives and Key Results

Pulse Survey - A survey containing a few short questions, intended to gather employee feedback, on a specific topic, over the course of a certain period of time. (short and frequent, vs annual surveys)

TAM - Total Available Market 


Disclaimer and Discloser 

All products, product names, companies, logos, names, brands, service names, trademarks, registered trademarks, and registered trademarks (collectively, *identifiers) are the property of their respective owners. All *identifiers used are for identification purposes only. Use of these *identifiers does not imply endorsement. Other trademarks are trade names that may be used in this document to refer to either the entities claiming the marks and/or names of their products and are the property of their respective owners. 

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 © Copyright 2023 Menlo Creek Media, LLC, All Rights Reserved 

Jeff Frick
Founder and Principal,
Menlo Creek Media

Jeff Frick has helped literally tens of thousands of executives share their stories. In his latest show, Work 20XX, Jeff is sharpening the focus on the future of work, and all that it entails.