Meet Nakul Patel, mmhmm’s Head of Revenue. Nakul, a recent convert to the out-of-office lifestyle, moved from his longtime home in the Bay Area to Honolulu, Hawaii. Learn more about how Nakul is embracing asynchronous communication, why he moved to Hawaii, and why he’s all-in on remote work.
Why did you move to Hawaii?
We spent the better part of the last decade in San Francisco. We felt anchored to the Bay Area because of our jobs. Hawaii has always been our family’s happy place, but we never entertained moving here until after I joined mmhmm. As Phil says, “Live where you can have the best life and work where you can have the best job.”
What made you decide to move?
I joined mmhmm in April of last year and was inspired by how geographically-distributed our team is. I was also inspired by other colleagues who had taken Phil’s mantra to heart and relocated to new locations to improve their lives. It caused me to start thinking about where my family could have the best life. We spent 6 weeks in Hawaii earlier this year, and it clicked for us that we could actually live and work here. I mentioned it to Phil in passing and he seemed to think it was a great idea too. A few days later I saw that Phil referenced my Hawaii trip in an interview with Fortune – that made us chuckle, but it also triggered us to commit to the move. No better time than the present!
Is this your first remote position?
Sort of. My prior company was in-person until the pandemic, but that’s quite different than being a fully-distributed company from the start. The pandemic forced the company to allow remote work, but it was still very synchronous-heavy.
It was the worst of both worlds because I was tethered to my desk with back-to-back virtual meetings. It was very taxing and had no time for serendipitous in-person connection or water cooler chatter. I found it completely exhausting.
The biggest shock to me when I joined mmhmm was how few meetings there are on the calendar generally. It was so encouraging to see how people parsed up their day in different ways. Inci, an HR manager, has her lunch block. People have time blocked to go out and exercise. People have chunked up their days in very different and surprising ways.
How would you say your life has changed or improved, in terms of work balance?
It's forced me to be more deliberate about how I chunk up my day. This is something I think a lot of people at the company are very good at.
In Hawaii, I have a limited number of hours in the early morning that overlap with the people I primarily need to talk to synchronously.
The first half of my day is reserved for live, synchronous calls. The second half of my day ends up being for uninterrupted focus blocks, or work that doesn’t require synchronous interaction.
You mentioned being hesitant to leave your in-person job. Do you have any advice for people who may be interested in remote work but also don’t want to leave the office behind?
Do your due diligence on how the company thinks about remote work or distributed work, and don't assume all remote work is equal.
If you want a remote role where it's hours of Zoom calls and then you forget about work entirely, seek that out.
But you might prefer a work environment like what we have at mmhmm and All Turtles. It’s up to the individual to determine how to structure their day, how to get their work done, and even what they should be working on. We try to hire self-starters who can figure that out on their own and don't need a ton of day-to-day direction from their manager or someone else at the company.
I think there are many shades and flavors of remote work. I'm just so grateful that my eyes were opened to the way of working that we embrace here.
What’s your favorite way to use mmhmm?
First, I love being able to consume asynchronous videos created by my colleagues. I find that it's a great way to gain context about what other teams are working on, as well as hear updates from my team.
I also like creating these videos, but it takes a lot of mental capacity and energy for me, to be honest. But I also love, I love using mmhmm on Zoom calls because it makes it so easy to impress people. It always ‘turns heads,’ as our marketing team likes to say!
Finally, what’s one thing you think everyone should know about mmhmm?
We are far and away the best tool for explaining things in a clear and expressive way over video. There is no comparison; so many other tools just allow users to stick a circular frame of their face talking over their drab slide content. I think people grok this when they see the videos put out by our team or by our community members – we want to teach everyone how to make videos that are just as good!