Co-living: The Latest Remote Work Trend with David Abraham

David Abraham is the co-founder and CEO at Outpost, a next-generation travel, and hospitality brand designed to meet the needs of remote professionals and digital nomads. He is also the author of The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age, for which he is the winner of the 2016 Excellence in Journalism award, given by the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation. He’s been a research fellow at the University of Tokyo, served at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and has the CEO of Clearwater Initiative, where he helped devise long-term solutions to clean water needs in rural African villages.

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Luis:

Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to another episode of the DistantJob podcast. I am your host, Luis, in this podcast that’s all about building and leading awesome remote teams. With me today is David Abraham. David is the co-founder and CEO at Outpost, a next generation travel and hospitality brand, designed to meet the needs of remote professionals and digital nomads seeking to live, work, travel and explore the world. He is also the author of The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age, for which he is the winner of the 2016 Excellence in Journalism award, given by the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation. He’s been a research fellow at the University of Tokyo, served at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and has the CEO of Clearwater Initiative, where he helped devise long-term solutions to clean water needs in rural African villages. You are quite the globe trotter, David.

David Abraham:

Yeah, it’s been awhile since I’ve heard the full introduction of what I’ve done. It seemed like a lifetime ago. But it’s lucky to be back. I think I’ve always enjoyed the experience of living and working in different cultures. And so whether it was in Washington DC, or Uganda, or Indonesia, international life has always appealed to me.

Luis:

And working all the time, right? I don’t see a lot of tourism in this bio.

David Abraham:

In some ways, we’re all tourists. It’s really soaking up locations that we’re in, and working with people is a great way to understand their worldview. So yeah, I just got back from Bangkok. And actually, I just moved to Bangkok about three months ago. And enjoy working in another Asian culture. It’s a fabulous experience.

Luis:

So let’s jump into your business, and obviously it probably has … Your current business probably has a lot to do with your history of working all around the world. But I want to ask specifically about remote work. How has remote work made your business possible?

David Abraham:

The ability to work upon a laptop, and everyone’s job is really becoming a tech job, that it can be done on this three pound plastic tool makes work untethered from a physical office. The fact that you can bring it with us is a drastic change over the past two decades. That everyone uses the same tool, and everyone can bring that tool with them wherever they are. And in some cases, it’s made people unable to get away from work. And for other people, it’s freed them up to work where they want to work. And obviously, ubiquitous internet adds to that. So remote work is a function of how our lives and our work tools have changed.

Luis:

So yeah, definitely. I mean, technology is, depending on how you use it, both a blessing and a curse. Though, I must sat that, to me, it’s by and large been a blessing because as you say, it’s completely shifted the way that that works. So you had, like I said from your bio, you had quite a journey. And I mean hopefully that journey is still ongoing. But what brings you to the current stage? I was introduced to you due to your Outpost initiative, next generation travel and hospitality. And you got there after working on stuff that I would say that changes the perception of geopolitics, let’s say. And after working to help improve the quality of life in Africa and all of that, how did that path lead you to this?

David Abraham:

It’s a great question, Luis. Remember about 2013, I was traveling around and working from various locations, writing my book and doing some consulting. So I was in Sao Paulo or Estonia. And I remember sitting in a café in Japan. And I was working there because I had nowhere to work. I didn’t live there at the time. And I saw these other people there, and they too were working. And I wondered, why were they there? Could they not be in the office? Did they not want to be in the office. And then by extension, well, if they could be there, in a coffee shop, in Tokyo, why couldn’t they be further away from their office? Why couldn’t they be in a location like Bali? And Bali was always a place that I loved, so I set up Outpost with my partner, Ryan, because we wanted be able to work and live from an idyllic location. So Outpost was a side project.

Luis:

Okay. Eventually it grew into something bigger. So I want to ask, because clearly you need to have boots on the ground, right? It’s a physical location after all, but you also need to manage it, just to your lifestyle. You need to manage it from all around the world. And I consider myself lucky because my businesses, they’re fully digital. I don’t deal in physical products. So in that case, I’m lucky. In your case, it’s a bit more complicated. So how do you manage that? What are the biggest challenges in managing remotely a business that still needs to be tethered to the physical world in some ways?

David Abraham:

I look at it as an opportunity. Hospitality is really about connecting with other people and providing the services that they need. And to do in a digital forum doesn’t, for me, present the same opportunity that it does when you’re able to make eye contact, the smiles that you can engender. Hospitality is very different to do virtually. And so for us, yes, it’s a challenge to physically manage a property, something physically. You need to send someone there when the roof is leaking.

Luis:

Yeah, exactly.

David Abraham:

You don’t have that same type of physical roof. But at the same time, I think that we’re one of the oldest businesses around, providing comfort for travelers. And so for me, it’s a rewarding aspect of it. But there’s no doubt that there are more challenges that come about when you’re cooking a meal, or when you’re making sure that the electricity stays on, or all of those things present an opportunity for a stronger relationship with our members. So I feel that we can have a more dynamic relationship, a more engaged relationship with our members because of that physical aspect.

David Abraham:

When we go back to our childhood, or even our early 20s, the interactions that we had with people that we remember most happened in-person. I don’t remember that text that I sent 15 years ago to my sister. But I can tell you I remember the meals that we had together as a family. So there’s downsides, the leaky roof, but then there are upsides that are well beyond that and help us create a strong relationship with a friend.

Luis:

Yeah. That’s actually an interesting point because people have come to me, asking me or pondering if one of the big disadvantages of the world going remote is that people become more isolated because, I mean, we’re not getting together every day with other people to work. But, I mean, I think that’s not necessarily the case, because when have that kind of mobility, you can be working in one minute and then be having lunch with your sister. As you said, it truly is about you being able to curate better the people that are around you while you work, and don’t necessarily need to be family. You can go to a co-working space and bond with the people there.

David Abraham:

I think that’s the opportunity. I think that there are societies, especially in the US, where I happen to be seated right now. We’ve kind of gotten rid of a lot of the common cultural interactions that we had before. What I mean by that is that people aren’t going to churches as often on a Sunday. There’s not town square that people go to to talk politics in a cordial manner. You get rid of the workplace, and then the only place left where people are actually getting together are schools and around their children’s schooling. And so that really pushes society further apart because people aren’t interacting on a day-to-day basis.

David Abraham:

So I think there are opportunities for institutions like Outpost to really create forums where people can meet if they’re not going into the office. Because I personally don’t want to live in a world where I’m not interacting with people, or that I’m only interacting on a deliberate manner. Those serendipitous interactions with people, they’re meaningful for us. And I think psychology tells us that when we’re able to help people, even in small ways, they have a profound impact on us all. And so you can only do those things if you’re running into people and you’re meeting them.

Luis:

Tell me the story. I mean, you already told me what gave you the light … The story of the light bulb moment in Japan that led you to create Outpost. But as someone that started a couple of businesses, I know that one thing is the light bulb moment where we have the idea for the business, but the other moment is the time where it all fits together and you’re a few months into the business, hopefully only a few months. And it all kind of clicks and you figure out, “Yeah, this is it. This is the kind of stories that I want my business to be able to enable.” Can you tell me one of those stories? What was an event that happened after you started running Outpost that maybe you think that, “Yes, I’m on the right path. Yes, this business is providing value for people.”

David Abraham:

I think you’re right, when you start a business, it’s just you and it doesn’t have momentum. And then all of a sudden, you start getting phone calls, and you’re responding people. And then all of a sudden, it kind of has its own volition and there’s more people getting involved. And one story I remember was a company called Publishizer. It came out to Bali. And it was the first time that we had sold our packages. Remotely, we sell live work packages for people who are coming out to our location in Bali and Cambodia.

David Abraham:

And they had come out and they had pre-booked their package to use the workspace. And it was a team. It was a startup, and they left, I believe, California, to come out to Bali to save a little bit of capital, to really bring the team together, and to take the company to the next level. And to see them with us for a few months, and then them go off to an incubator in the Netherlands, really was kind of a defining moment to me that we were able to target the market that we expected to. They came out and used the services. And when they were ready, they went back on to their next stage of growth. And so those stories are very rewarding to us.

Luis:

Yeah. It sounds like it. It sounds like it. So I do have to ask, because are just … I mean, the stage where we’re at is, some people argue, but I would like to think that we are exiting a global pandemic let’s say. And when the pandemic was in its starting point, in its early stages, I famously went kind of bearish on coworking spaces. I that, “Okay, this is going to be a plus for remote work, but it’s not going to be great for coworking spaces.” Yet, you seem to be doing quite fine. So how did you manage? How did the business manage during the pandemic and what were your strategies for that?

David Abraham:

Just fine … I’d love to say just fine. We weathered this. And most of our operations are in Asia. We were kind of the first into the pandemic. In January of 2020, we had already started to begun our steps to make sure we had supplies and focus on what the potential externalities could be. And so now we’re what? Now we’re almost 18 months away from that moment as we speak. And we weathered. And for us, we see the moment of yes, people don’t want to be very close to each other because of COVID. But I think that over time, that’s going to go away. We need that human connection. And we’re going to hunger for it even more.

David Abraham:

And so there’s a lot of push to make sure that the properties and so forth, that they’re sterilized and cleaned. And that’s important. But there are also people who are trying to get the human element away from hospitality. And for me, I look at it as a tragic error. We’re going to need more connection. They’re going to want to speak to others. It doesn’t mean they want to be held up in bureaucracy and have to do paperwork, but the smile of a person and that type of interaction. So during this pandemic, we’ve tried to look at, obviously, ways that we can clean our protocols, if you will. We’re certified by the governments that we operate in that our protocols are strong for safety. But we have not shied away from being able to have a human as part of the process of welcoming people and engaging with people when they’re at home, deciding to come out. That engagement is something that’s important.

David Abraham:

So yes, we weathered. And we’re weathered because we’re really optimistic about how things will develop in the months ahead. And we’ve seen the tremendous pick up in business for later this year, sold out a couple of our properties. So that’s fabulous to see because Indonesia is a little bit … I wouldn’t say closed, but I’d say a little complex to get into at the moment where most of our operations are.

Luis:

All right, so couple of things that come from that. We’ve talked about coworking, and maybe I misinformed here, but the person who told me to reach out to you, it was Sara Magnabosco from Hacker Paradise. She actually told me to ask you about something that I hadn’t heard before, which is co-living. Would you like to go through the concept of co-living? Because I mean I’ve talked to several people about coworking, but you’re the first person that comes, that is directed to me with co-living tagging along.

David Abraham:

Yes. For us, people are coming all the way around the world, and they’re bringing their job in tow. They’re excited to meet other folks. They have this global mindset. They want to dig into a culture. They want to be able to continue their job working remotely. And where do they go? They get an Airbnb, where they’re often isolated. They could get a room at a hotel. There are many places people can go for the physical space, but where do you go for the atmosphere that you’re looking for? Where do you go that you can know you can plug in, you can get your job done, you can meet fascinating people, and you got a bed waiting for you at the end of the night?

David Abraham:

And really, that’s what we provide. We provide an option for that communal atmosphere, that communal living atmosphere. People come to us for weeks or months. Some try for a couple days to see what the atmosphere is like. But for me, it’s always been reminiscent of the hostel that I used to go to when I was in my late teens and early 20s. A place where I could go easily meet people, travel and see things with them, and truly go through these international experiences and have thoughts and share them with those folks. Because doing it and seeing the world was great. But doing it and seeing it with someone else is more rewarding. And so we create that same type of social atmosphere that you are familiar with in a hostel, but in a more private space, and really focusing around entrepreneurship, remote work, really focusing around cultural experiences.

Luis:

Nice. Nice. So that kind of reminds me of … There’s this restaurant somewhere in Italy. I’m not sure where it is, the exact place escapes me. But they created this new concept based on the person who founded the restaurant, his family used to meet around the big table and bond together. And he decided that his restaurant was going to be like that. So the restaurant only has one big table, and people from all around the world travel there and try the restaurant. And they end up forging life-long friendships just because at that meal, they sat at that table at random. So that’s definitely a very interesting concept. And I can imagine people forging life-long friendships after working in that situation.

David Abraham:

Exactly. Luis, there are two things that restaurant has. One you mentioned was the big table. And obviously, being able to be forced to sit next to someone and have a conversation is critical to having conversations. But two, it also gives people the expectation and the license to talk to someone else. Because if you have a big table and you’re at a random coffee shop, you’re still not talking to the person next to you. But when the expectation is there, that this is a social space, and you can speak to someone on your own, that you don’t have to meet them on the internet first, that that license is critical. And I even say more so than the actual physical one table to create that conversation. And that spark is something that we continually try to encourage at Outpost. And it’s there when people come.

Luis:

Nice. All right, so let’s talk more about the operational side of the business. What does your team look like? How is your team distributed?

David Abraham:

We have a corporate team. And the corporate team is mostly in Bangkok. These are your marketing folks, are accounting folks, although they happen to be in Indonesia. But most of the folks are in Bangkok. Our operational teams at each property, they have to be on the property, as we alluded to in the beginning of the conversation.

Luis:

Yes. Someone needs to fix those leaking roofs.

David Abraham:

Correct. Correct. And so therefore, they’re on the property. And then it depends on the size of the property how many are there.

Luis:

All right, so now that we’re seeing suddenly a lot of businesses went remote because of the pandemic, now we’re seeing a certain resistance to going back to the office. Most businesses are compromising and creating some sort of a hybrid work week where people work remotely for some time, and then work in office for other time. And some people actually have teams that some people work completely remotely, and others just work in office remotely. And all of these circumstances present some very specific challenges. How do you make it so that the people who are obviously working on those locations feel part of the same general team as the people that are working from home, apparently permanently?

David Abraham:

There’s, even with our own organization, the folks who are further afield often felt out of the conversation, even if they were in the conversation, even if they were in all of the decision making meetings. They still felt out of the conversation because they didn’t know what they were missing. And I don’t know how you get beyond that. There has to be some recognition that when people are working remotely, that they’re not going to get all of the same information because there are body clues. So therefore the argument should be made that everyone should work remotely, because then everyone feels that everyone else isn’t getting the same amount of information.

Luis:

That’s the ideal solution, but people still need to fix those roofs, right?

David Abraham:

Right. And so that’s … Here’s the secret. There’s no ideal situation. There’s only kind of gradations of what is acceptable and what works best for each company. And I think there are certain things that will … And each culture for sure. Do I have a solution as to does it make sense that everyone should be off Wednesday and Friday from the office, and then the other three days they go into the office? Or that individuals should be able to select which three days off they have a week and could work remotely?

David Abraham:

It’s going to have to come down to each company. I mean, I’m a believer that kind of everyone’s in or everyone’s out on certain days. But when people are out, some people don’t have a good place to work from. My staff in Indonesia has a very different work environment than the staff in Bangkok, or the US, or elsewhere. So there are a lot of individual challenges that people have to address when they’re working remotely. A mother of a family of three who lives in a two-room house is very different than a single male who has a two bedroom apartment. And you have to be able to understand that they’re going to be performing differently based on where they are. Yeah, there are no silver bullets.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So tell me a bit about … I mean, obviously you have a big team distributed all around the world, and need to work at the location, some can work remotely. So what’s the managing structure like? Let’s say you’re at the … I mean, as the CEO, you’re at the top, so what does your day look like managing all these people?

David Abraham:

I think operationally, it’s the cleanest, because the operation teams are on each location and it’s more of a traditional structure. But for the most part, I don’t work with the operational staff at a particular location on a day-to-day basis. So we have team-wide meetings once a month where we meet everybody. Then in terms of the remote staff, which is mostly the corporate staff, we have regular standout meetings, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that allow those who are either in the US or in Asia to meet. Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with Europe. So we can either have mornings and evenings being alternating on each side of the ocean.

David Abraham:

But the day-to-day hasn’t … The team isn’t that large, and we’re able to consistently meet whoever we want to meet. I think the one challenge that I try to introduce to people is the value of the phone app on the phone. I think we forget that when things start to get a little complex on Slack, that the answer isn’t more Slack. The answer is a conversation. And that conversation doesn’t have to always be on video. That the phone actually is a good way to work through challenges. So yes, we use Slack. I use Slack and WhatsApp if something is more immediate. And then conversations with people actually picking up the phone and talking to them is able to resolve and push an organization forward, I think.

Luis:

Got it. How do you handle hiring? Because I imagine that it’s a very different process, whether you’re hiring for operations, you probably want or need to be in location, or have someone representing you in location. And then for corporate, it’s probably a completely different business, right? But specifically for the people working remotely, I found, maybe you agree, maybe you disagree, I don’t know, look forward to knowing. But I found that even people that are traditionally very good and very skilled at their job, they might fail at it remotely. So there’s a certain extra, additional stack of skills that make someone who is generally good at their job also be good at their job remotely. So how does this factor into your hiring approach, your approach to hiring, if at all?

David Abraham:

Runners, I find, stick to a routine and they’re good at remote work. It’s that rigor, that constant … People who are good with routine can be very good with remote work. And if you’re not good with routine, it’s not that you can’t be good with remote work, it just takes more effort because you have to be able to put in systems in place to limit the amount of time that you spend at work, and then also to really get things done.

David Abraham:

I think that the initial challenge for us, going back years ago, was the people that we would meet would come to me with their needs. And what I meant by that is people would come to me, say, “Hey, I’m interested in remote work. I want to work for you.” And to be honest, I was more interested in the last part of that sentence for you, than, “I want to work remotely.” Because that does not matter to me. And so people came to us looking for a lifestyle, and then how could Outpost fit within that lifestyle, and those people I wasn’t interested in.

David Abraham:

The people I was interested in were excited about the mission and empowering people to work wherever, or those who came from a hospitality background who were really interested in a new way in an old industry. Those were the people who were interesting to me, and then the lifestyle came second.

Luis:

Oh yeah, absolutely. I have some videos on YouTube approaching the subject from an employee point of view, basically telling people what they should and shouldn’t do to be good at remote work. One of the things that I say, if you’re looking for a remote job because you want specifically a job that’s remote, then don’t do it, because it’s not going to end well. It’s not going to end … If you don’t find a business, a company to work for that you’re passionate about, either the business or the product, it’s going to be a mess. Just the fact that it’s remote is not going enough to make you engaged at your work.

David Abraham:

Right. And most of our jobs aren’t remote. And people would write to me and say, “I’d like to work in Bali or. And I would say that’s great. I want to know who is coming to join and who wants to come to be on the team at Outpost. But the least interesting part about it is that you like Bali.

Luis:

Yeah, exactly.

David Abraham:

If you have a passion for helping people achieve their work goals, anything about it. If you like collecting stamps and somehow that relates to Outpost, great, tell me that story. Now give me some insight into you. But the only insight I really don’t care, and actually is a negative, is that you want to work in Bali, or you want to work in a fabulous location, or you want to work remotely. Because that’s a turnoff.

Luis:

Yeah. I was once interviewing someone, a salesperson, and I’m like … I just point blank asked the question, “Why do you want to work here?” And he was very honest. He told me, “I need the paycheck.” So good on him for being honest, but that’s not necessarily what I was looking for.

David Abraham:

I can’t tell you. We get interns coming out all the time, and if one intern were to say, “Hey, I want to work for you because,” and then stated things about the company, I would be impressed. Just everyone talks literally about wanting to work remotely, or something about the location. It amazes me how uninformed job seekers can be about the most basic interest of a company. The most basic interest of a company is a company.

Luis:

Exactly.

David Abraham:

And how your interests and enthusiasms will add to the company.

Luis:

Preach on, because I’m surprised why this isn’t common knowledge. I’ve made a decent amount of videos about that. For some reason, people don’t get it, for some reason. I don’t know. Hopefully, this section of the podcast and the videos that I put out there will make a small percentage of people actually care about the place they’re applying to.

David Abraham:

I mean, it’s like I couldn’t imagine you go out on a date, and you sit down, and the first thing you say is, “Well, I’m looking for someone who’s 170 cm tall, maybe 178, they have brown eyes, originally from Spain but they’re living outside the country.” And then how does the person across the table going to imagine that when they’re 145, 150 cm. You just don’t do that. And so why are we doing that for people who are looking for jobs. I don’t get it.

Luis:

Yeah. So yeah, all right, so let’s shift gears a little bit and talk a bit more about your work setup. And this is what I like to call the rapid fire questions, but the questions only are rapid fire. The answers don’t need to be. Please elaborate as much as you like. So you sit down at your computer in the morning. What are the browser tabs that you have open? So what’s your virtual office, so to say?

David Abraham:

WhatsApp, Slack, Facebook more than I would like it to be.

Luis:

Really?

David Abraham:

That’s a research tool. Most of my … To understand what’s happening in other nomad communities around the world. So that’s why that is there.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah, I feel that as well. It’s kind of like a two-edged sword because I do need, just for research, as you say, to be on Facebook and LinkedIn a lot. And it brings me a lot of benefit. But at the same time, it’s super distracting.

David Abraham:

Oh, fortunately, I don’t post and I don’t sit on it. But you talk about in the morning and be able to glance. I use it is I used to use the Wall Street Journal when I worked in finance. I would look at it at one point during the day, in the morning, and then I would move on for my day is how I look at it.

Luis:

Yeah, that’s a good rule. Okay, so if you had $100 to spend with each person working for you, what would you give them? And obviously some rules. You can’t give them cash or cash equivalent, like a gift card. And you can’t ask each person what they want. You need to buy in bulk, so to say. But it can be anything, an experience, a tool, an app, whatever.

David Abraham:

Well, it has been money because of this time in COVID. That’s been important for what we’ve done in the past. For us, it would either be a group event where the team comes together, because I think that’s critically important. Or it would be on education, on something that is meaningful for them, that’s hopefully related to work, but does not have to be, something that stimulates people’s thoughts.

Luis:

Got it. Got it. So what about yourself? What purchase has made your work life easier, or more productive, in the past year?

David Abraham:

What’s made it more productive in the past year? Wow. To me, I try to reduce tools as opposed to add them. More productive or useful, you got more podcasts and videos. I’ve gotten lights to add lighting to the room. I haven’t bought much recently. That would be it. Facilitate conversations that are happening virtually, a better camera and lighting to facilitate conversations that used to be happening face to face that are now happening virtually.

Luis:

Well, I have to say that my answer is actually the same. So that’s a good answer.

David Abraham:

As someone who’s always on the microphone. But again, important to have. So if you caught me in another week, I would have a better microphone.

Luis:

Yeah. So the microphone was one year ago. That was the game-changer, especially good the fact that it cancels the noise coming from the computer, so I don’t need to use headphones. It really feels good. But this for video … So right now, this is an audio-only podcast. We’re not using video. So I don’t have it on. But for general video work, this year I got a little webcam with a tripod so I don’t need to put it on top of the computer. And I can just talk. I have my notes, but then I talk looking at the camera, and it just looks so much better. So I’m definitely supporting better audio and video equipment. Even if you don’t, even if you don’t media work, just the way it makes communication with you more pleasant is a win.

David Abraham:

If I were to say this from the beginning, it’s the equivalent of wearing a nicer shirt, or cleaner clothes, to a meeting. If you’ve got a crisper video, a strong sound system, you’ve come to play.

Luis:

Exactly.

David Abraham:

So because I’m doing a lot more, like everybody, on video and audio, I thought that would be a more important spend.

Luis:

Certainly. Certainly. Okay, so let’s talk a bit about books. Do you enjoy gifting books? Are you a book gifting person?

David Abraham:

Am I a book gifting person?

Luis:

Yeah.

David Abraham:

Occasionally.

Luis:

Apart from you own book, of course.

David Abraham:

My own, which I’m still trying to pawn off. Do I give books? When there’s some message that’s either in the title for someone I know who’s not going to read it, or if it’s something deeper within the book. Yeah, so but I pass ideas off to teams about books that I’ve read and things that I’ve liked within them that I think that they should read.

Luis:

So what are your most gifted, or most recommended, if you prefer, books?

David Abraham:

There was a book called Subscribed, and the author is escaping right at the moment, that talks about … That looks at the membership model. And as we look at loyalty within Outpost, and keeping people, or providing people with services that they need, that are related to the lifestyle, that’s very important. So we look at membership as a key aspect that we provide. And so that book Subscribed was very influential.

Luis:

Interesting.

David Abraham:

But there are other books that I was reading. I think it’s Ideas Factory, the name’s escaping me, about Bell Labs, so the labs in the US, around World War II, that were influential, and before that, who were influential to developing the technology sector in the US, was fascinating. Basically how ideas come about. We have this notion that there’s this certain ecosystem that has to form. But that ecosystem has evolved over time. And to me, that was a fascinating read.

Luis:

Nice. Nice, those sound like great recommendations. All right, so final question. This one is a bit longer setup, but let’s imagine that you are going to be able to sit at that big restaurant table. Let’s imagine that soon, it’s going to be working again. We can go. We can travel around the world and we can sit together for a meal. And you’re organizing a dinner. And in attendance, there are going to be the top tech execs from all around the world. And you’re going to have a round table about remote work. So the twist is that the dinner happens at a Chinese restaurant. And as the host, you get to pick the message that goes inside the Chinese fortune cookie. So what is your message?

David Abraham:

What is my message? It would be change comes fast in ways you don’t expect.

Luis:

That sounds like it would fit a fortune cookie perfectly. So good, congratulations. You have passed the fortune cookie trial.

David Abraham:

I think what happens is we all … I remember at the beginning of the pandemic, I mean, it was just [crosstalk 00:43:31] and people were saying, “Great things come out of a crisis.” Looking back to … I used to work at Lehman Brothers in 2008. People are like, “Oh, all these things came out after the financial crisis.” I was thinking, “Yeah, they came out in 2009, 2010. They didn’t come out September 30th.”

Luis:

Exactly. You need to survive.

David Abraham:

Like, how do we maximize this time? And I’m thinking, “My God, we’re in a pandemic that we haven’t seen. Let’s take a little bit of break here.” And so we all have our ideas of how things are playing out. I remember last year thinking we’d never have the handshake again because people just wouldn’t want to do that. I came back to Singapore from the US in August of last year, and people were already handshaking again. And handshake is coming back in the US. Let’s not be too overconfident in what changes, because a lot of things are sticky. But at the same time, things can change dramatically quickly, and we just got to be ready for it.

Luis:

Yeah, absolutely. Here, we’re still doing the elbow bump that I found incredibly annoying. But I’ll be happy if we get the fist bump back. I’m okay with the fist bump.

David Abraham:

But is everyone? Does everyone know that they’re doing the elbow bump? Or is it

Luis:

You know, I haven’t had a proper handshake in many months. And I have to admit, it bothers me more than I thought it would.

David Abraham:

Yeah, well it feels like when you’re giving someone a handshake here, in the US, it’s kind of like a fight against the COVID saying you haven’t won. I’m going to give someone a handshake.

Luis:

Yeah. Before doing this, I was actually a dental surgeon, and I was also simultaneously a big fan of video games. So I went to a lot of video game conventions. And if there’s something that I learned from those two very different experiences was to always keep hand sanitizer at hand, to say, and to practice impeccable hand hygiene. So I always felt very safe in my handshake policy.

David Abraham:

Well equipped for this.

Luis:

Exactly. Exactly. But I do miss them. But hopefully we’ll recover them in due time. All right, so, David, this was an absolute pleasure. And I would like to ask you. When our listeners want to continue the conversation with you, to learn more about your business, more about Outpost, or just get in touch with you, how can they do that?

David Abraham:

Come to our website at DestinationOutpost.co. They can find me on LinkedIn, David S. Abraham. So yeah, those are the best ways to reach us. And wherever you may be, whether you’re in Europe and things are a little bit tight, they do get better. If you’re in the US, where things are getting better, we haven’t seen anything yet. So there are good things to come. We’re excited to welcome you at Outpost when you make it out to Asia and have time for weeks or months to work and live remotely. We’re happy to have you.

Luis:

That’s a great way to end, I think. So ladies and gentleman, this was the Distant Job podcast, the podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. And with me, my guest today was David Abraham from Outpost. See you next week.

David Abraham:

Thank you, Luis.

Luis:

And so we close another episode of the Distant Job podcast. And if you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That would be great. It’s how we reach more listeners. And the more listeners we have, the more awesome guests I can get in touch and convince to participate in these conversations that are a joy to have for me, and I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well.

Luis:

You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to more listeners. Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to DistantJob.com/blog/podcast. Click on your favorite episode, any episode really, and subscribe. By subscribing, you will get a notification whenever a new episode is up, and whenever we get the transcripts of the episode up, so you can actually peruse the conversations in text form.

Luis:

And of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, a great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just look to hire locally, not just look to hire in your country. Look around the whole world, because that’s the talent pool that contains the best talent. And to help you with that, again, DistantJob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who you need, and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate, 40% faster than the industry standard. And with that, I bid you adieu. See you next week on the next episode of the Distant Job podcast.

 

More ways to listen:

Working remotely was already a thing before the pandemic. Digital nomads enjoyed the perks of diving into new cultures while working at the same time. Now that remote work has become the norm; there are new trends taking place in the global digital nomad agenda, like co-living.

During this podcast episode, David Abraham shares how he came up with the Outpost concept while working in a café in Japan and realizing that people enjoyed working outside the office. He also reveals one of the latest trends in the remote working world: co-living.

 

Highlights:

  • The importance of bonding with remote team members
  • What is co-living?
  • Insights about how Outpost was born
  • Tips for building a hybrid company
  • Scanning your company to see what model (remote-hybrid-onsite) works best

Book Recommendations:

 

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you won’t miss all of the other interesting episodes that we have coming up in the next few weeks!