Remote Work Technology - Progressive HR Live with Waikit Lau

Casey Zheng Casey Zheng
Remote Work Technology - Progressive HR Live with Waikit Lau

The Founder of Progressive HR, Coreyne Woodman-Holoubek, interviews RemoteHQ Founder and CEO Waikit Lau on episode 17 of her podcast. Progressive HR is a service that helps HR tech founders connect with decision makers and get them ready to buy. They combine deep knowledge of Progressive HR with proven LinkedIn strategies to help grow your business, optimize your online presence, and better connect with your audience. In this dynamic live interview, Waikit talks about his team's cutting edge Remote Work Technology, his 'why' behind RemoteHQ and give the audience a live demo of the RemoteHQ workspace. Watch on Youtube pt 1 and pt 2.

What is RemoteHQ?

Waikit: RemoteHQ is a collaboration platform at its most basic layer. The way we explain how it works is you can think about all of the video conferencing platforms you’re familiar with, like Zoom, Google meet, Microsoft teams, all you can do on these platforms is primarily video conferencing and screen sharing. How we are different is that we allow you to do so much more than being able to see and hear each other and see each other’s screens. We allow you to be able to bring different apps that you already use into a collaborative session with audio and video embedded. For example, you could be working on a Google slide or Google doc or excel spreadsheet or going over a website, we essentially allow you to bring all those things in and turn them collaborative. There's no download, it's one click - it’s very intuitive and easy. Everything is web based. As a company, we are about 3 years old. When we started the company way before Covid, we decided we were going to be a remote first company. We have employees today around the world.

Where did the idea to build RemoteHQ come from?

Waikit: It’s primarily from my last company. This is my third startup. The last company I started about 15 years ago and we grew to about 500-600 people. We had 12 offices around the world, mostly sales and marketing offices. We found ourselves spending a lot of time and money flying co-workers around so they could meet with their teams and colleagues as well as clients. We took the company public in 2013, and I left shortly after that. When I left the company I looked back at my 8 years of experience building that company and what the main challenges were and the biggest thing I kept coming back to was the best we could do was being able to see each other and see each other's screens. We couldn’t replicate the collaboration modality you and I could have if we were sitting in a room next to each other. I can give you my excel spreadsheet, you can make changes to it, or I'm looking at Kayak flight bookings so you and I can sync our travel plans. But what if you changed your travel plans from this to that, that’s very organic. When you’re remote a lot of those things a lot of those things you have a hard time replicating them. Our mission when we first started was how can we create a platform that allows you to replicate the in person feeling. Whether you are with a colleague or more importantly with a customer. And it turns out, it is one of the big use cases of our platform. Users use us with their customers whether it's in a sales demo, customer support, troubleshooting, or onboarding and training.

Coreyne: So I've used it when i’m helping people optimize their profiles on Linkedin. I like to go and create these different workspaces. You can create a workspace for a number of different people so i create a workspace for each client that i'm working on. And everything is different. I can use google docs and share a url. You can work in tandem and don't have to switch between screens.

What makes RemoteHQ different from other remote team workspaces?

Waikit: A few big differences. Number one is you can do things here collaboratively that you can’t do anywhere else. Second one is something that may come off as cosmetic but it turns out it’s actually a big differentiation that people have told us - when you are in the conference call, you have many different layouts. Zoom has popularized the gallery layout where you see everyone. Google Meets has popularized the active speaker - whoever is speaking in on the main screen. Interestingly enough, when you survey people on what layout they want, you get many different answers. You ask 10 people, you get 10 different answers. So when we built out our platform one of the main things we wanted to do was give control back to the users with their layouts. So on our platform you can configure your layout by dragging and dropping each tile. The third one is the idea of when you do  a meeting today on any video conferencing platform, it’s ephemeral. You’re taking notes on your notebook but whether you’re taking your call on Google or Zoom it doesn’t matter because there's no history after the call. We’ve decided to automate a lot of note taking and what we call capturing of the data exhaust from the meeting. If you were taking notes or typing a message, all these things get captured automatically on the call log. So once the call is over, you can go to the session log and see who the participants are in the session, when they joined and when they left, and here are the things they did. It turns out it's super helpful for colleagues that missed a meeting. Or if you just wanted a refresher on a meeting you had 2 months ago.

Coreyne: And you can jump from room to room is that correct?

Waikit: Yes that is correct.

Coreyne: So if I'm like okay Waikit and I are in one session and marketing is having another session in another room, and I have a question for marketing, I can jump into that room with marketing to ask them the question and then jump back into my room with Waikit.

Waikit: That’s right. Our platform is not just video conferencing, it’s so much more than that. Video conferencing is a small piece of what we do. The best descriptor of our platform is a virtual office. Think of all the things you can do in the physical office, you pull Jim into a meeting room and you collaborate. Jon and Mike could be having another meeting in another conference room. We replicate all of that. The best way to think about our platform is if you are working remotely and you feel like something is missing, we are the platform that becomes the glue that ties different remote workers together.

Zoom allows you to save the chat log from the meeting. How will this save process be different?

Waikit: It’s automatic. By default, anything you do in the RemoteHQ room is saved to the session log. It’s important to note that we take security and privacy very seriously, we spent a lot of time making sure it’s bulletproof. So if you are the host, only you can see the session log. You can share it with a colleague or customer, otherwise they have no access. The session history also saves much more than chat logs - it saves shared files, session video/audio recordings, and audio transcriptions.

Wondering if RemoteHQ will enable such flexibility that parents will be able to retain professional employment while navigating caregiving?

Coreyne: I use this while I’m taking care of my kids, while I'm cleaning my house, and while I'm helping my child with virtual learning.

Waikit: I’m with you. I have two young kids and they do remote learning now. I use our platform on a daily basis with my team. It’s helped us be productive together because a lot of the times I can tell, without being in the room, which of my colleagues are in which rooms, there’s this idea of presence. Going back to the virtual office metaphor, i can glance around the office and see who is meeting with who and if i need to talk to someone i can jump into that room. It gives me a lot more flexibility and visibility.

What features should we talk about more in depth before going into our demo?

Waikit: Our talk to you guys about our crown jewel feature - the one we have invented is Shared Browser. It solves the age old issue of screen share. How often have you screen shared a website and whoever you’re screen sharing it to, you run into a few problems. Number one is the the upstream bandwidth working from home is bad, they can’t even see a clear version of your screenshare it gets pixelated. Problem two is sometimes you want to allow them to edit and touch what you’re screen sharing. Instead of someone telling me to do it or click a cbutton, I can give her control of the website and they can do it. It feels like magic. Think of it like interactive screen sharing. Without having to download anything. Our core technology is the ability to make any website collaborative and multiplayer.

Coreyne: So it’s the power of the Shared Browser where you can have co-control. It’s not just where Waikit is sharing his screen and me being powerless not being able to do anything. It’s him sharing it and me being able to touch the screen and me being able to do it with him.

Another thing I want to touch on is live transcription. You also do live transcription as well. So for people who are hard of hearing or cannot have sound on, you can watch the transcription as it goes by. It gives more flexibility to people as well.

Waikit: Yes, that’s important as well. Thanks for bringing it up. It’s important for a number of use cases and workers. It’s machine transcription so you can run it live so everyone can see it or you can run it in the background. You can choose which way to run the transcription when you start it. So for someone who is hard of hearing and needs to see it, they can have it running. So when I say a sentence, that sentence gets transcribed in real time and shows up half a second later.

What is your target size company for RemoteHQ?

Waikit: Before covid, it generally would be small to medium sized companies using us. This tended to be consulting firms, design firms, tech companies. Since covid, that has essentially become anyone and everyone. Today we still have a lot of SMBs using us. We have teams of 5-10 people all the way to a few hundred, medium sized enterprises. But we also have some large enterprises that depend on our platform right now. One example is Manpower Group. They are a fortune 500 HR software provider consulting services.

Is there a “lock the door” and “knock on the door” feature to avoid interruptions when moving to different rooms?

Waikit: Short answer is there are locks on the room. There are different kinds of locks on the rooms. The first lock is guests and hosts. If we are all members of the workspace, if a guest who is not a member of the workspace but knows the URL of a room, the guest cannot join that room without any members present in the room. It's the same metaphor as the office. If you’re not invited into the office, you can’t get past the security guard or receptionist to get into a conference room. The second question is what about locking out certain colleagues. For example HR could be having salary conversations with an employee, you don’t want someone barging in when having sensitive conversations, so you can create a private room for that. If you’re not on the whitelist of the private room, not invited to the private room, even if you’re a member of the workspace you cannot enter the room.

How does RemoteHQ ensure user privacy and security?

Waikit: The first thing we do is everything is encrypted end to end. All the communications are encrypted, standard high level encryption. All the apps we bring in terms of communication as well as anything we store in the cloud, they are also encrypted.

What happens to data when a room is no longer required?

Waikit: You can delete the room, all the data gets deleted. We don’t store the data. If you don’t delete the room, the data will always be there. Obviously the other question we get asked a lot is, what if i don’t need the workspace anymore? You can just delete the entire workspace and everything in the workspace will get deleted, nothing is stored.

What are you planning next for RemoteHQ?

Waikit: More apps. Canva is one of the ones we’re looking at as well as other apps that are popular and often used. Notion, Coda, Prezi, Asana, etc. We don’t have timing yet. Some of the apps we do have timing for are Salesforce. Given that a lot of our users use us for customer facing items, either sales demos or customer support, they need whatever happens there they need the data to get pushed back into the CRM.

What are your predictions for the rest of 2021 and how will your team and RemoteHQ be there to support organizations?

Waikit: We talked to a lot of folks in remote work, both folks who have done remote work for years and people who have started it in the last 12 months. We asked them when covid is over, what will happen to your work cadence and where will you work? Consistently we’re seeing the common thread - which is if you are a small to medium sized company, you will continue to work from home and have flexible schedules. If you’re a bigger company, what I'm starting to hear is they’re going to turn those offices into something like a WeWork. So you have a floating desk. And when you go into the office 3 days a week, you reserve a desk. People are looking in that direction.

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