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Breaking down if working from home is really here to stay

Bluescape CEO Peter Jackson joined Yahoo Finance to break down the future of the workplace in a post-pandemic world.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: There's been a lot of coverage of late from CEOs who are addressing whether they're going to be a hybrid model post-pandemic of work from home and office and what that means. And some have been critical. For instance, Jamie Dimon saying that work from home employees might not have hustle. Let's bring in to the stream right now Peter Jackson. He is the CEO at Bluescape. And you'd like to point out that statements like that are just totally wrong, that, in fact, the work from home folk and those who want to stay at home are just as ambitious as those that Mr. Dimon may not see on a daily basis. What is he missing?

PETER JACKSON: I mean, I think you're probably going to agree with me on this one because I see where you're at. Look, and I think that if you look at people that talk about the back to the way things were, I think it's pretty simple. When you listen to those people and what they do and what they focus on is generally different than what the world-- what's really happening in the world. And I can get into more granular detail, but if you look at someone like a WeWork coming out and talking about this, first of all, they missed it with their S-1, calling themselves a technology company. And now they're a leadership company when they talk about this. And finally, they're just a real estate company who benefits from going back to work more than real estate.

SEANA SMITH: And Peter, your company is behind a virtual and collaborative whiteboard, so you clearly have a financial interest in people working from home. But when you take a look at what you think the work environment is going to look like, say, a year from now and then looking at even further down the line, I guess how much of it do you think is going to be the sort of hybrid model that we've been hearing more and more about, that some people will be working from home one or two days a week and then in the office the other days?

PETER JACKSON: Well, I mean, I just agree with what you said. I think that it's, obviously, company to company. And it has to be done and led by leaders who understand that they're getting better talent by maybe getting out of the cities a little bit. And maybe they're getting better productivity. I think so much of the way traditional work has been built on has been this 9 to 5 concept and commutes. If it's 26-minute commuting each way, that's three weeks of the year you spend in your car. And now it's all about productivity, when you get stuff done, how it gets done, the quality in which you get things done.

And so leadership is now looking at their company differently and saying, look, we have diversity now. We're getting into towns we couldn't get into to get talent. So I think hybrid is here, not just because we had COVID. I think it's more about, hey, yeah, we're getting a lot more done. Our travel and entertainment budget's down 80%, yet our sales are up 10%.

ADAM SHAPIRO: It's a great point you've just made. But how do companies deal with the fact that at some point, you talk about productivity, employees who used to finish at 5:00 are now-- they go out for dinner. They visit with the family. And then they're back to working. And there's going to be a backlash to that. And then there's the other issue. I mean, everything comes with a caveat. But let's say you hire the person in a state far, far away. It's a whole different tax structure. You have to set up this whole different rigmarole more to deal with 50 different taxing structures now.

PETER JACKSON: Yeah, I know. So I think, look, the benefit-- you talk about tax structures, and we talk about manufacturing. We start pushing everything over to China or Mexico and whatnot. You're starting to just look at the world economy. And you look at our US economy or Canadian economy. You know, we're starting to say, where is the talent? What is the best way for us to make my product and be the most competitive in the world? And so you're going to be subject to the idea that you're going to pay less taxes because you're moving to Reno from San Francisco. Or you may be paying more money because you're in a logistics business, and you need to be in San Francisco and you're expanding.

As far as personnel goes, there are a lot of great schools across the country that are producing great engineering talent that people want to stay in Des Moines, or they want to stay in Nashville, or they want to stay in Florida. They don't want to have to go to these tech communities in order to get these engineering jobs. So yes, you're going to be subject to the change of those labor laws. But that's no different than just trying to say, I'm going to get more bang for my buck.

Now your other question about working afterwards is a mental health related issue. And so I challenge leaders to make sure that when you measure the production of your people, that you don't measure it based on exhausting them and that you're very proactive about making sure that they get plenty of free time.

SEANA SMITH: And Peter, your clients, they range from Fortune 100 companies to the Department of Defense. When you take a look at the companies that have been the most effective at making this change, that have made their employees comfortable, productive, I guess just comfortable overall, in terms of working from home, are you noticing a trend sector wise, or are you noticing it just across all sectors?

PETER JACKSON: Really kind of blowing up more now than I would have thought. I mean, when I took over this role to build a remote based technology nearly four years ago, the concept of remote work was not as predominant as it is today. So it sort of fell into it. But you brought something about the DOD, and we just [INAUDIBLE] with the ATO, which is the Navy, the Army, the Air Force. And the reason I bring that up is that those are the why's in the field that are needing to get critical data, critical information, as they do their jobs.

And that was really the backbone of the first six years of this company, is building a secure platform so that people don't hack, or you're not doing a screen share. And so when we brought that to the commercial market, Ford quickly jumped on it and put their employee base on it to focus on building their new electric cars to compete against people like Tesla. And so they sort of said, hey, we picked Bluescape because they're a white board on steroids.

And so the real platform really started to change the movie industry. You could no longer go to the studios. And now we run just about every movie studio in the United States and also Europe. So that goes from storyboarding to casting, to garment, the clips. And I'll just say that if I put a picture of you in Bluescape, and I spread it, I could spread it infinitely and go miles. And the pixelization stays the same. So every picture that goes into Bluescape stays in its resolution. And any video you put in will run at the same time for everybody, no matter where they are in the world. You can stop it, start it, iterate on it.

ADAM SHAPIRO: All right, we appreciate the insight. Peter Jackson is the CEO from Bluescape. We look forward to you coming back. And we'll be right back after this.