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An Interview with Ph.D. Matthew Clancy regarding The Case for Remote Work

Transcription of interview with Ph.D.Matthew Clancy, Assistant Teaching Professor Iowa State University of Science and Technology - Department of Economics, USA.

Research and Development Department

Victoria Gálvez, Senior Project Manager,

Flavia Cáceres, Project Coordinator,

Pablo López, Research Coordinator,

Andres Delgado, Research Coordinator,

(August 11, 2021)

00:23 Pablo Lopez: Hello, my name is Pablo. On behalf of our team, we would like to thank you for taking the time to join us here today. We appreciate it. Today we would like to discuss some topics related to remote working and global virtual teams, and to do that, we crafted questions to guide our conversation. Before we start, please be sure that your insights are of great value for us. The information obtained here will be studied, analyzed, and used to create further knowledge based on your experience and expertise to support organizations and to help them work better remotely. So, having said that, let's start with the first question. As Flavia mentioned, we are Annexbox, and we are a remote team too. We know from experience that remote teams face different problems compared to those of an on-site team. For example, some people mention that communication is one of the main challenges that remote teams have. But we would like to know, in your experience, what have you identified to be the main or the biggest problems and challenges that teams experience while working remotely?

01:54 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: So, you guys know my background, I'm an economist and I've kind of approached this from the academic perspective. I've read a lot of the studies and tried to synthesize a lot of the findings. The big thing that I have been emphasizing as a challenge that remote work needs to figure out is how to form initial working relationships between people who are working remotely. There are a lot of reasons to think that remote work is pretty effective with modern tools among people who already know each other and can collaborate. This probably also works for people who haven't met in person. What we need to replace, or what I think we know less about, is how well people can form new relationships. That's not such a big problem when you need to work with somebody, and there's sort of one obvious person that you need to contact or to meet. But there are lots of other situations where you may not realize that somebody else might be the right person for you to work with because you've never met them before, so you don't think to reach out to them with an email or anything like that. Creating a way for people to meet each other in a low-cost way is important because a lot of times you meet most of the people in your office or your industry, and you probably won't end up working with them, so it never seems that valuable for you to put a lot of effort into getting to know them. But, every once in a while, one of these people is important to get to know, and you can never predict which one. Microsoft has done some studies of how its workers were doing during the pandemic, and they report these problems for new hires. People who are new don't already have an existing group that they can turn to for advice, they had a harder time dealing with the pandemic than more experienced employees, who sort of already knew everybody from being in the office. In academia, where I work, most academic research is jointly produced by people who live and work in different universities that are quite far away from each other, and that works pretty well. But most of the time people form an initial connection, like half the time or more, they form an initial connection because at one point they were working in the same department and then one of them moved away and that friendship endured, but it had to be formed in that space. I think this is an old way of doing things, and the pandemic has revealed that if you take that out of the equation because it's only been a year and people still know each other, then remote work is now mature enough that lots of jobs can be done effectively. We don't know if we go, say 10 more years like this, how it's going to work when people need to build a network. It's not hopeless, I just think it needs a solution. It’s the thing that we have to look at and try to solve, whether that's scheduling meetings remotely, instead of just letting them happen naturally in the cafeteria or when people bump into each other. It could be as simple as that. We may need to have people having more fly-outs and more frequent work retreats, maybe people will mingle on some kind of online social network. But, whatever the case is, I think we can't just assume that it'll take care of itself. So that's what I would highlight.

06:29 Pablo Lopez: Definitely. That is a very current topic when talking about challenges while working remotely, the creation of mutual bonds, the social interaction that is still missing while working remotely. We can see each other through the screen, but it may not be the same as being face to face, that's something that is still missing.

06:48 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: And there is something else missing. We, to some extent, are okay because we're seeing each other through the screen. But, if you knew somebody down the hallway who would be just right for this, you could easily bring them in, or somebody who walks by and knows me from somewhere, these kinds of lucky things that you can't plan for, are a little bit hard. I think they take some forethought to replace. You guys reached out to me, which was great, but are there other people that you would have ran into if you were all working in the office or having lunch with people who are all in the office? We don't know if we're missing those connections or not. That's how I think about it. Another solution could be just people getting comfortable cold emailing each other and saying, “We should have a chat,” like you guys do.

07:48 Pablo Lopez: Yeah. So, networking in general, that's what you mean. It does make sense because it also happens to us. We talk from experience.

08:00 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah, I think that a lot of companies seem to be adopting a hybrid approach right now, which makes sense because before COVID most companies were in the office. COVID showed everybody that you can do a lot of things remotely, but they kind of have their DNA from being in the office. So, it's hard for them to make the complete remote transition compared to companies that were set up from day one as remote. And I think those companies may not have these problems. If they coordinate the hybrid, you could still see each other and it may not be important that you're not in the office every day. You just have to be in occasionally to not have these problems, but hybrid has its problems, as I'm sure you know. As for full-time remote, they can't necessarily count on that.

08:48 Pablo Lopez: Definitely. And in that same vein, related to these problems with social bond and connections, we would like to move on to the next question, which is exactly related to that. Have you identified any main solution to the issue of networking and social bonding between remote workers?

09:12 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yes, so I'll focus most of this on the question of networking because there are lots of ways that technology has improved remote work in general, things as simple as Dropbox, Google Docs or SEM (Search Engine Marketing), all that kind of stuff. Let's focus on the networking side of it because that's more uncertain. With Zoom, face-to-face meetings are not that important. They feel better, and maybe they feel better to people who aren't used to that, so we're conflating that with them being better, but they're just fine for a professional relationship. You wouldn't necessarily want to have a Zoom relationship with your spouse, but with coworkers, it's okay. I do think, after reading a bunch of this stuff, that there does seem to be certain things that are hard to do remotely. One of them is meeting new people who you don't necessarily know you want to meet. People have cited things like brainstorming on a whiteboard as being more challenging or planning the overall trajectory of a major project. People have said it works better if you bring the team together and they figure it all out, and then they can all go off and work very productively remotely. So, I think that one solution is just to use the very old-fashioned way of getting everybody together in person, but not needing an office because it's not going to be every day, it's just going to be once a quarter or once a year. I don’t know what the right amount is. My main point is that in a world where more people work remotely, we might actually see more use of conferences or work travel rather than less, but maybe that's not necessarily true. There are some jobs where previously somebody flew out there and now they can do it remotely. But I think this other role of networking that we used to do in the office, we'll now have to do online. So, that's one way to do it. Another thing, is there an extent to which you can schedule or just basically create a space to force these meetings to occur? Companies can just say, “Every Friday you're going to have a 20-minute coffee with somebody who's a remote worker and this algorithm is going to match you with somebody who you don't know”. It has to be low cost because most of the time, these meetings are not going to be that valuable, but you want them to occur because every once in a while they will be. Other people have talked about these platforms, like, which allows groups to meet in the same place and have a little bit more of an organic feeling of socializing and creating side conversations, so that might be another way. This last one I use myself. What I have found to be the best tool to network with people remotely has been online social networks like Twitter, which among academic economists, there's sort of a professional group that does this and it's not just for fun, it is professionally valuable. If we had more communities like that online, I think that would be another way. In an industry where lots of people work remotely and you don't have all the workers in the same downtown, maybe that will be another way to do it. And then the last thing is that you can combine all of these things. If you go to a conference or a work retreat, it's a lot easier to form relationships and then maintain them because now you have access to social media to keep up with each other.

13:33 Pablo Lopez: Definitely. And it's really interesting because that's something that a lot of people have pointed out. Most people underestimate the value of relationships between coworkers, the trust that you need to build, which is actually important to create something successful. We might underestimate that, but doing these types of meetings, or even some organizations do a trip every year, for example, for all their workers, this could be a solution.

14:05 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yes, and there are other things. I've read Stripe. They have an all-remote hub, and they've written about experimenting with team-building games, like simulations where you're trying to land a satellite or a starship, and different people have different roles and they can all participate over Zoom. In general, online gaming seems like it could also be a role, but you have to do something that everybody likes doing. In the office you always had this problem where people would go to bars or something, but not everybody likes that, so they were kind of just left out. So it's a similar problem with remote if you're going to rely on that kind of thing.

14:52 Pablo Lopez: Okay. So, I think we can move on to the next question, which is related to culture. Culture in the company is crucial, and when working remotely, organizations can sometimes struggle with communicating their organizational culture to their employees. And it's difficult because culture helps us in general to maintain productivity, to keep the team and everyone in the same mindset, and to reach our general goals. So, that's why we want to ask you, what have you identified to be the main aspects that maintain and or enhance the team’s culture in a remote environment?

15:42 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah. I'm afraid I don't have a good answer on this one. From what I've read, I haven't really seen a good answer. I've heard of people trying things like having lunch together or having managers have a more formal schedule to meet with people instead of just sort of waiting for there to be a problem before they have a meeting, but I don't really know. This is just stuff I've sort of heard. There might be literature out there, but I don't think economics is that good at studying culture, so we haven't got great answers for that, even though I agree it’s an important problem.

16:36 Pablo Lopez: Yeah, in general, even in the office environment, culture is always challenging.

16:47 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah. One thing we do know is that different firms, even in the same industry or even different sections of the same firm, will have vastly different productivities, even though they look the same on paper. There are these different practices that are within one or the other. I think finding ways to communicate what people find that works is going to be important. Previously we might have been able to assume that this information would flow through people chatting over lunch or at industry parties, where they're all in the same place. But if they're not all out there, if they're not all meeting in person somewhere because they all live in the same city or work in the same city center, then sharing all this information needs to take place differently, whether that's people writing documentation or something else.

17:57 Pablo Lopez: Definitely. At the end of the day, it's a tradeoff. People usually try to figure out if it's the management who should be doing this, or if it's the employees who should be building the company culture. So, that's something that is still confusing at the end of the day.

18:20 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: I agree.

18:22 Pablo Lopez: Well, great. Let's move on to the next question. Now let's talk about motivation and engagement. As we mentioned before, even in a conventional office environment, motivation and engagement are challenging. In remote work, there has also been this discussion whether it’s the management, as I mentioned before, the one in charge of motivating and engaging their team, or if it's something that you should be doing on your own. So, we want to ask you, what have you identified to be the main aspects that keep teams motivated and engaged in a remote setting?

19:06 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: I don't know of anything better than just engaging work, but regarding motivation, there's this fear that people have talked about, like burnout. It seems like one mistake or one bad way to run an organization, one danger of remote work is the creep of work outside of normal work hours and to work at all hours of life. People have highlighted this as a thing where they get emails and requests for calls or meetings outside of their normal nine-to-five boundary because people assume that everyone is available at any time, whereas before it was only when they were in the office. And I think that seems to be a thing that you would want to try to avoid for keeping everybody motivated and so on. You don’t want people to burn out. One of the big advantages of remote work is that you can, in theory, have long blocks of time to be very focused. You’re not distracted by the office noise, and you can set your setting up exactly how you want it. So, if you have a free for all office communication, where people can email you or Slack you at any moment and expect an answer, that can get interrupted and you can lose one of the advantages of remote work. There’s this study of a large IT company in Asia, and this company used a data analytics software that tracked what everybody was doing all the time and how they were using their computers. They found that people had fewer long blocks of time in this company to do just engaged work. Everything was cut up with a lot more emails, Zoom meetings, and Slack, and it seems like finding a way to organize that chaos could also be valuable, so that you can retain some of those advantages. The main advantage or one of the main advantages of remote work is that remote work is, by nature, solitary in some sense, compared to just being all there together. Letting people have the freedom to just focus on their task and giving them some time to do that is another valuable thing that people can do.

21:53 Pablo Lopez: Yeah. And that's also a very repeated topic when talking about remote work. It's kind of sad because when you talk about remote work, it’s usually related to burnou. We always think about how we’re going to receive emails the whole day, I'm going to be distracted, I'm not going to differentiate my working hours from my house hours or my personal hours. So, it usually happens, and you don't even notice that. You're just working and working, then you realize you have spent two more hours than you were expected to spend, and it's something that is still hard to fix.

22:32 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah, I think another potential advantage of full-time remote work is that, if you're full-time remote, then you can live wherever you want, to some degree. Maybe there are time zone issues, but you can live in a community and a social group that you want to be in. I'm an example of this. I moved out of DC. It wasn't for remote work, but now I'm much closer to my family, my brother lives in the same city and his kids and so on. So I think that if you can separate work time, then basically one of the advantages of remote work is that people may have the opportunity to have these very fulfilling lives outside of their work. So, you need to give them that space to do that to some degree, for them to sort of realize that advantage.

23:27 Pablo Lopez: Definitely. That makes sense.

23:28 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: And then keep them motivated in liking their position because they have this sort of well-rounded life.

23:35 Pablo Lopez: If you want the advantage, let me have the advantage, right?

23:40 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah. Correct.

23:43 Pablo Lopez: Okay, great. That's interesting. Let's move on to the next question.

23:47 Victoria Galvez: I just had a quick question. I found this lack of time blocks to focus on one thing very interesting. So, something that came to mind was also, you know how organizations usually want to have an edge in terms of having the latest technologies, which also helps with communication, but at the same time, when we have a lot of channels that are giving us information, that doesn’t allow us to focus on certain tasks. So, I wanted to know what your suggestions would be in terms of finding the right balance. You know, we may be getting information from Slack, from Miro, from Google Drive.

24:39 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah. I think it's really important that there are these multiple channels to communicate because one of the problems with remote work, prior to the last 10 years, was that it was hard to have low stakes, informal communication. In the office you can go talk to somebody just on the hallway and just ask a simple, quick question. You might feel a little hesitant to send them an email or schedule a Zoom call, but you don't feel that way about just sending them a text or Slack message or something. But in terms of preventing the overload, the problem is that people can't see when someone is working and it’s best to ask them later. So, one simple thing is just letting software be designed so that there's an integrated profile, maybe like, “This is my 9 to 12, there's some kind of priority queuing and I won't be bothered by information unless somebody says this is worth interrupting deep work time to discuss it". A lot of these programs probably have systems like that built-in, but that might be one of those things that people who are not used to working remotely need to have as part of their training or just part of the orientation. If you just don't coordinate this, it can end up as a free for all, where everybody just communicates whenever they want because that's what everybody else is doing, but you can also set an expectation. You can figure out your schedule and set your email not to notify you. Maybe there are ways to do that, get your Slack to show that you're busy for the moment, and you could say something like, “If it's really important, leave one communication channel open". I'm kind of spitballing, but that's one way I would think about dealing with it.

26:50 Victoria Galvez: No, it actually makes a lot of sense. When you give the training, you usually focus on: “Okay, this is how you do it, and click here or click there”. But you sometimes don't go deeper into the best practices.

27:04 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Right. So, obviously you want to leave some time for people to catch up on things, but maybe just setting an expectation that people should plan on picking some time that will not interrupt deep work, even if it changes week to week.

28:11 Pablo Lopez: Well, having said that, let's now talk about skills. That's another question we wanted to ask you. There are people that say there are some skills that are needed to work remotely. For example, some people mention cultural intelligence is a critical skill because when you work in a remote or global environment, you need people that are culturally open, people that understand and see the differences and opportunities. But, we would like to know, in your experience, what have you identified to be the critical skills for remote teams to work effectively?

29:36 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah, obviously it's going to vary for every type of industry and firm. I guess one just general, not that useful piece of information but still something that’s found, is that working remotely well seems to be a skill that people do learn. People who have more experience working remotely, like in the study of Microsoft, when you look at the data, they were less adversely impacted by coronavirus than people who had to make that switch. This just shows that people should expect, if they haven't done it before, that there's probably a period of adaptation and learning on how to do this position remotely and effectively. Now, what are those specific skills? Again, I don't know if I have anything that specific to say, but I would guess, for example, in a lot of organizations, if more of your communication is going to come through writing rather than talking, then writing well becomes more important, whether it's on the company Slack, memos, emails or whatever. I could see that, and I totally agree with what you said. In a very distributed international team, for example, cultural sensitivity becomes really important. I think one thing that people have often thought about is that there's an introvert-extrovert divide. This economist, Adam Ozimek, who works at Upwork, often talks about how offices really favored kind of extroverted personalities. Those are the people who kind of rose to the top, and now they're the ones that aren't sure of making the decisions about how an office will be organized. In a remote setting, it might be that these introverts are able to shine a little bit more, so maybe they will be the ones who begin to rise up and set the agenda. I'm trying to think if there's anything else to say about that, something might come back to me, but that's the little bit I can think of. Oh, I remember now. Just the ability to work autonomously without somebody over your shoulder, that's a good skill to cultivate, being able to work without needing the social pressure of people. Although I say that, but there's this other economist who's been talking about how he's been working on this pair programming stuff. So, normally we think of programming like a very solitary thing, but he does his programming with somebody else, who is not even working on the same project, but they’re both in the same Zoom or gathered platform at the same time, with each other muted, but checking in on each other every half hour. It helps both of them focus on their work because they know there's somebody else working at the same time, so they're going to be informally accountable too. They don't even work for the same organization, but he says, “It's amazing how much more effective I am when I have this". I mean, these are the kinds of things that I think people will experiment with, and maybe they'll work for some people or maybe they won't. But, these are the kinds of practices that we need to communicate out and share because we might not find out about them just hanging out at parties anymore.

32:00 Pablo Lopez: Yeah, and I think it's interesting what you've mentioned. Being in the same call, muted and checking in every 30 minutes or 15 minutes sounds like a really good idea that we're definitely going to try. I also liked that you mentioned the ability to know how to work without someone breathing over your shoulders. I think that's something related to soft skills, you can self-motivate, you are able to self-work. I would like to ask you if you think about that as soft skills for remote working?

32:36 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: I think, like you said, being self-motivated is important, but I think that also figuring out how to communicate remotely is just a different skill set. They always say it’s a lot harder to read the intentions and the body language behind something like a text message. So, figuring out how to effectively communicate and read people's communications. If you're used to the other way, I think you can train yourself and get used to communicating via a lot more texts, but it might be sort of a soft skill that hasn't been that important before but will become more important in a remote setting. In some studies, where they were using older technologies than the ones available today is that if you don't communicate enough with your team or if you're in the same office and you see somebody comes in every day and maybe you don't work with them or communicate, but you do see that they're at their office and they seem to be working, and then their project results are late or there's some other problem, people who are in the office were more likely to be willing to accept external factors, like explanations that are not that person's fault. When you don’t communicate with the person and you’re working remotely, these older studies suggest whenever there was a problem, people were more quick to blame just the person themselves. That person didn’t do what I expect them to do. So, figuring out how you can communicate enough comes down to that trust and maintaining that trust among coworkers, that's another soft skill that is probably going to be more important.

34:49 Pablo Lopez: Yeah. And I think that's something that we can all agree on. When working remotely, you become used to working alone and you just don't miss working with people, which is kind of bad because it's always good to know that there's a team for you to work with, that you're not alone in the organization, that you should, if you have any questions, you can contact management or you can call somebody else.

35:18 Victoria Galvez: So, I also found the Microsoft example interesting and how perhaps it was easier for them to transition to remote work because of their direct previous experience with technology.

35:39 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah, I was saying that Microsoft has workers who had previously been remote, and then they had some who hadn't and went remote. When coronavirus happened, the ones with previous experience adapted much more easily than the ones who had to make the change. Just to clarify if that was unclear.

35:58 Victoria Galvez: Great, so this led me to think about something that I wanted to ask you. From your point of view, do you think that there’s a relationship between generations? How younger people are more exposed to technology and therefore are faster at learning than the baby boomer generation, for example, and how they may have struggled more into these transitions.

36:28 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah, so I think that there’s a couple of things to say about that. That's one thing that I've heard a lot too, but I don't think people have studied it because remote work has only become super common in the last two years. But I’ve heard people express exactly this idea that younger people are, especially a generation that has always been online and is used to socializing online, maybe they will have an easier time networking at a distance. That's the hypothesis. But, what I can say, pointing to academic studies, is that it’s sort of an interesting paradox where I think previously, before COVID, it tended to be older people who worked remotely more often, which is maybe a little bit surprising, but the reason is that they were the type of people who often had a skill-set that is hard to replace. So, a company might be more open to letting them work remotely, especially in the era before coronavirus, when it was uncommon. My mom is an example of this. Towards the end of her career, my dad had to move for his own work, and rather than lose her, the company let her work remotely at a different office. And then the second is, older workers tend to have more of these “ties”. They might have to move because of a spouse, they might be unable to move with a company because of children, they might want to move out of an expensive city to somewhere where they can raise a family, and all of these reasons. In the past, companies wanted to keep them because of the skills that these workers had, so you tended to find remote workers a little bit more common among older workers. But in terms of who wants to work remotely, that is the opposite. In surveys, younger workers prior to COVID were more interested in working remotely than older workers, and younger hiring managers were more open to hiring fully remote people than older hiring managers. I don't know if that will change. Maybe it won't be as strong, maybe it will as strong, now that everybody has sort of had to work remotely for a year or more. But that's kind of what I can say about that.

39:00 Pablo Lopez: All right. We just have a couple of questions left. Our next question is related to productivity. That is something that is really controversial right now, because now that we are all working remotely, people have been discussing whether we actually work less or we work more. That's why we wanted to ask you if you have identified any strategies to enhance your team's productivity while working remotely.

39:37 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: I don't know. Again, it's one of those things that probably is going to depend on the position. I think one of them is the things we've kind of already said before, one of the studies that found people work more remotely in order to achieve the same outcome. It’s the same study of these IT professionals in Asia, where they had their days cut up a lot due to lots of communication and they had a decrease in the amount of time that they had available due to frustrated focused work. So I think that's something that I would just sort of reiterate, making sure that you're taking advantage of the power of remote work and let people focus on a project at the same time. There was a study before Covid of how Google worked with distributed teams, and they talked about how important it was or how useful it was to get everybody together at the beginning of a project, get the team together in one place, figure out the game plan and the trajectory, and build that trust, figure out what everybody's going to do. That prevented directionless and mistakes of what people should be working on, so those are the two things that I can think of off the top of my head.

41:11 Pablo Lopez: This also relates to what you mentioned about burnout, and I'm sure you have heard of this. It's usually said that one thing is to be productive and another thing to be busy. It’s two completely different things. So, yeah, when receiving a lot of emails, when receiving lots of communication through Slack, it's usually impossible to be a hundred percent productive.

42:26 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah. I think another thing about burnout that you just reminded me of, one thing we have to watch out for, is that maybe people were more willing to work late during COVID because what else were they going to do? There’s nowhere to go and so on. If you get an email at five-thirty or six, maybe some people are just going to answer it because they don't have to go anywhere else. And once COVID ends or if it ends, people will go back to those sort of normal social lives. Maybe there will be less of that, but you have to make sure that the habit or the expectation that people will answer at weird hours, you don’t want that habit to get stuck. Maybe it was kind of set during coronavirus for weird reasons.

42:48 Pablo Lopez: Yeah. It's dangerous. I would say not even when coronavirus ends, but in general in your life, you cannot be combining both of them. It's not good.

42:49 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah. It can lead to burnout.

42:57 Pablo Lopez: All right. So, we just have one question left that is related to your work. We would like to ask you, what suggestions do you have for people that want to continue your research?

43:08 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah, so, “The Case for Remote Work” was a synthesis of all of the work that had been done about remote work before and mostly leading up to coronavirus. So, I think there's a lot of people working on this stuff now because it's no longer a niche topic. The big questions that we have not gotten good answers to relate to networking and finding ways for people to form relationships in all remote settings. Especially industries, as it’s not just a firm that's all remote, but the industry is largely remote, so there's not necessarily a cluster of this industry expertise. And another thing that I think will open up after coronavirus that will be useful is that some people just don't like being alone all the time. Is a co-working space the solution for these kinds of people in fully remote companies? They may not be with other people in their firm, but just being around other people and having a place to go could help. That's another advantage of remote work, not one size fits all. People are different and remote work lets people take more agency in how they decide to do their work, like at their home, at a coffee shop, at a coworking space, or something like that. And then I think the other thing that we don't know much about, which is a question for economists is what the big effects are when lots of people go remote. When an individual company does that, that's one thing, but when lots of people start going remote all at once, that has all these larger knock-on effects. What does it do to the cities? What does it do to people’s living patterns? Where do people choose to reside? There are these potential benefits that when you have a critical mass of people working remotely, you start to have companies maybe like yourselves. I don't know when you guys started that pop-up that is designed to cater to remote work and solve problems related to remote work. These kinds of companies might not exist when remote work is just the super-niche little activity that’s not done by many people. Is it easier to match people who want to work remotely to firms that want to hire them? So that's kind of what I'm interested in as an economist. I think organizations like business schools will have a world of stuff to study also about what are the best practices for individual firms to answer a lot of these questions that we've talked about. We don't have super-rich evidence-based at this point. We have sort of informed guess work.

45:31 Pablo Lopez: I find that interesting because working remotely definitely has had an economic impact. I mean, that's one of the main reasons why organizations go remote, to save money. So it must have an economic impact.

46:41 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Yeah. I mean, that's why I got interested in it in the first place. I live in a part of the United States that’s not near the coasts, and it doesn't have access to the tech jobs. It's very agricultural, but what are the new economic sectors for this kind of state? And I started getting interested in this, remote work might be an option for states that are not close to- like Silicon Valley. So, can you reduce any economic inequality when people all over the country or all over the world can access similar jobs?

47:32 Pablo Lopez: Yeah. That's a really interesting approach. That's something that we haven't heard yet. I think that with this we can wrap up our interview. Again, thank you so much for your time and for joining us today. We hope we can see you some other time. Thank you again for joining us today.

48:24 Ph.D. Matthew Clancy: Thanks for the invite.

—End of Interview—


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