Superhost Spotlight: Ken Newby on the future (and present) of remote work

image of author Antonia HellmanAntonia Hellman

2021.07.23

3 min read

We keep hearing people talk about “remote work” and “hybrid models” of work, but for many, it can be difficult to envision what that means. But Ken Newby and the Vision RE team have cracked the code. They have figured out a way to emulate their in-person office feel online with, you guessed it, Toucan.

This past year has forced many companies around the world to rethink not only how they do work, but how they engage and connect their teams. Community and togetherness has become more of a conscious priority than ever before, and that’s what brought Ken and his colleagues to Toucan in the first place.

Building an office

Vision RE is a safety company based in Alberta, Canada, and that’s where their office was. Having worked together in person for quite a while, they had developed an implicit office etiquette tailored to their work style. When they could no longer work together in person, they went off in search of a platform that would support that same office etiquette, thus allowing everyone to work and interact in, essentially, the same way that they did before.

Ken Newby describes the Vision RE office space as including several “pods,” with 3 people in an office space - but with 4 desks, just in case someone from a different pod needs to pop in and collaborate. Having 3 people in a pod is perfect because it allows anyone that needs help to simply turn around and get outside input. They have been able to recreate this fluid, collaborative environment using Toucan. In their Vision RE Toucan Space, all they have to do is create Meeting Spots for each respective “pod.” That way, everyone knows exactly where to go.

Setting a status

In an in-person office, each individual can also have their own personal space to work. This can be done on Toucan as well. Ken describes how, within the company’s Space, each team member has their own designated Meeting Spot, which serves as their personal “office.” And part of the Vision RE remote office etiquette is that, whenever anyone uses their own “office,” they provide a status: “Door open,” “Door ajar,” and “Door closed.” The first means that they are inviting others to come in at any time. The second means that they are busy but can be interrupted for time-sensitive matters. The third means that they cannot be disrupted at all. This system mimics the physical signals that one would observe in their in-person office.

Conveying what they’re all about

Vision RE does not have just one, but two Toucan Spaces. One for their office space, and one called “Connections,” where they invite people from outside their company to meet. This can be clients, and it could be potential hires. Regardless of who it is, they always come away with the same reaction: “Wow.” It’s always so easy bringing new folks onto the platform, and the casual environment speaks volumes about Vision RE’s values. Seeing the freedom that Toucan affords you instantly conveys a company culture of inclusivity, kindness, respect, and trust.

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About author

image of author Antonia Hellman

Antonia Hellman

Antonia Hellman is a co-founder and CEO of Toucan.

She is a senior at Stanford University studying political science, economics, and management science & engineering.

Prior to Toucan, her career experience has been in data science and political campaigning.

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