There’s a lot of talk about the benefits of transitioning into a remote workplace. But there are also challenges that come with it. In this episode, Elizabeth Bachman chats with Shiran Weitzman about handling misconduct in a remote set-up where communication and interaction are confined to the digital. Shiran is the CEO and co-founder at Shield, a regulatory technology software company specializing in eComms record-keeping and compliance data analytics. He shares how their software aids business owners in dealing with online harassment and cyberbullying before it gets out of hand. Tune in to learn more about it.
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
The Hidden Challenges Of Remote Work: Handling Misconduct With Shiran Weitzman
Improving Digital Communications
This is the show where we talk with experts from around the world about leadership, communication, challenges, visibility, and international communications especially. I have an interesting discussion about communication challenges with Shiran Weitzman. Shiran is based in Tel Aviv, Israel and his company Shield monitors electronic communications within corporations to help people behave better to make sure that there isn’t any harassment. This is an issue that I’ve dealt with in person, but I haven’t dealt with on a digital side. I thought it would be interesting to bring Shiran in here. He’s a very smart and interesting guy.
The official bio is that Shiran Weitzman is the CEO and Cofounder at Shield, which is a regulatory software company specializing in eComms record-keeping and compliance data analytics. Shield helps organizations reduce the risks associated with electronic communications and uncover hidden insights such as insight dealing, unlawful behavior, and privacy matters, all of which result in greater operational efficiency and reduced costs.
Shield is being used in top-tier banks, leading tech companies, and large organizations with promising and successful results. Shiran has many years of technology and management expertise, mainly in the financial services vertical. He was previously the Head of Sales at TM Group, where he was in charge of the company’s primary Tier 1 bank accounts. Shiran brings to Shield many years of experience as a trusted advisor and subject matter expert in the financial compliance market.
Another testament to his expertise in the field is when he joined the Forbes Finance Council as a member in 2020. He holds an MBA from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a BA in Computer Science from IDC Herzliya. With his deep experience in financial services and electronic communications in the workplace, Shiran is ready to extend a helping hand and inspire your audience. We had a very inspiring and interesting conversation. I have a feeling that we only scratched the surface. Here comes the interview.
Shiran Weitzman, welcome so much to the show.
Thank you very much, Elizabeth. I’m happy to be here.
I love being able to interview people about communication because, fundamentally, communication is what my whole business is about and what this whole show is about, especially around leadership. You have some interesting things and areas that we haven’t discovered yet. The cool thing about being a host is I get to learn from smart people. I’m happy. Before I get into the many questions I have for you, let me ask you who would be your dream interview. If you were to interview someone who’s no longer with us, who would it be, what would you ask them and who should be listening?
I would love to have the opportunity to have a chat or an interview with Steve Jobs and ask him so many questions about decisions, entrepreneurship, innovation, how to drive and not to drive innovation and so many things. He’s such an inspiration. We have some challenges. He’s no longer with us.
I would like to interview Steve Jobs about what it was like when he was a known person. He was big and famous and then suddenly, he was out and then he came back. I would be curious to hear what it was like for him not to be the man in demand and then turn around and bring it back.
You can also go to the early days. How was it to fight everyone there against all odds and establish something like he did? How is it to be a frontrunner? How is it to be someone that almost needs to prove or create a category from scratch? That’s something that we want a little bit to do in the future, but it’s still far from the big Steve Jobs.
That leads me to my next question. You are the Founder and CEO of ShieldFC.com. You have, to a certain extent, invented something completely new. Tell us, especially the people who don’t live and breathe software and my readers who aren’t software types, what is Shield and why was there a need?
Shield is a software company established years ago here in Tel Aviv, Israel. Our goal from the beginning, and we have implemented it, was to create a platform that will help firms focus on financial affairs, manage their overall challenges from one side and insights coming out of their workspace or workplace electronic communications. We are looking at two sides of the equation. We are looking at risks in the workplace and insights. For financial institutes, electronic communications are considered risks that require monitoring to prevent market manipulation or help the regulators to further investigate.
Any two persons or more exchanging ideas over a communication platform is also a potential way to exchange ideas that can lead to some bad actors, colluding, and market manipulation or on the other hand, some harassment and fraud potential. It can be a video or collaboration platform like this or via email, social media, WhatsApp, or even a financial chat. Any means of human communication via audio, texts, or chats is a potential fundamental of business in modern communication and our day-to-day life.
In the digital market, things are not visible in the transaction, but many of the things we are doing daily are happening in our communications. That’s unstructured. The definition of something unstructured is it’s almost impossible to put in an equation. It requires human behavior analysis. It’s called behavioral analysis, the study. The behavioral analysis is to understand if something that we or someone else was communicating about is outside the norm, the policy, or what your organization allows or is against the law.Thirty-eight percent of employees or workers are still experiencing harassment in the workplace. They have simply been done remotely. Click To Tweet
The first question that comes to mind is this. Isn’t that spying?
The quick answer is absolutely not. It’s the opposite if you think about it. Let’s define spying. Spying is looking without the other person knowing to gain knowledge. It can be espionage or business knowledge. It doesn’t matter. It’s to gain knowledge without someone else knowing. What we are doing is helping the firm, let’s say it’s a bank, to enforce regulation. The regulation goes to the bottom of it. The regulation is there and requiresryone in the organization to maintain transparency in the market because they understand that they have the potential to influence the stabmarket’s stability
At the end of the day, we are helping to prevent financial crime and help against illegal activities that can happen based on employees’ activities or someone else’s activities. That’s the course of what we are doing. Unlike espionage or anything else, we are not monitoring something that the employee is not aware of or the firm is not allowing. It’s all working according to the policies of the firm. That’s the difference.
It’s like all those emails you get down in the signature, “This is a communication that may be monitored.” We take it for granted, but I figured I should raise that question here because we do take for granted that there are cameras everywhere and that people are listening everywhere. Sometimes it’s a good thing. Sometimes it’s not.
We have often been asked by investors, not by customers. Customers fully understand what we are doing. Investors are asking us, but people know that they’re monitored. Why do you think that you will be able to catch something? First of all, this is the fundamental and baseline human behaviors. Humans are always going back to what is straightforward for us, what we know, and what’s easy for us. If I have a specific channel, I will do that. I’m forgetting after a week that I’m monitored.
Even if I do not forget not always something that I’m doing, I’m thinking on purpose, “I’m going to commit a crime.” If someone thinks that he’s going to commit a crime, he’s doing something much wider. The fundamental of what we are looking at is not people looking to do a crime. It’s people that are a little bit shortcutting things. You need to straighten them. It’s only from time to time you see cases where you see criminal activities, but in most cases, people are trying to cut corners and get a little bit of advantage.
They don’t see themselves as criminals. They don’t see themselves as doing something wrong or thinking structurally, “I’m going to do the Ponzi scam of the century.” That’s not what most of them do. There are that are criminal-minded that we need to catch as well, but most of the things are on the edges. Edges are also problematic, but they are on the edges. They also need to be straightened to create a culture of straight work.
I have so many questions for you. Let me start with, over the years, we have been working from home a lot and digitally around the world. I talk to people around the world every week. Let’s say good behavior or bad behavior. Has it made it better or worse?
First of all, you’re right. We are in the age of remote work or hybrid work as we want to be because we want people to come back to the office. I pulled out some statistics. To put things in perspective, it appears that remote working is a deal-breaker for almost 50% of the population these days. That’s one thing. The second thing is that you would assume that working digitally or remotely will make some behaviors redundant. It’s very fresh. It was presented on CNBC. Thirty-eight percent of employees or workers are still experiencing harassment in the workplace. They have simply been done remotely.
Therefore, we see. It’s apart from the conclusion because we need much more data to reach it. People haven’t changed the way they behave because of the move to remote work. If I have to guess, it made everything a little bit more eccentric. People behaving on the edge of harassment allow themselves to be a little bit more harassing when they are remote because, in the comfort of the home office, they don’t have colleagues that are looking at them and making them feel uncomfortable.
When they are not in a social environment, people are a little bit looser. There are many other things that happen, including all sorts of mistakes or people dressed up differently. It makes the challenges of what we are dealing with even much more present in our work. This is here to stay in this environment. We are discussing with our employees, investors, and customers mainly internally. Microsoft released the numbers. The difference from March 20 to March 22, 2022, is 200 times more communication via Microsoft Teams as a single chat or collaboration platform. 200X is the ratio.
One way to think of it is I live half the year or two seasons a year in a small village in Austria in the mountains. Everybody knows everybody. People pay attention to what the front of their house looks like because the neighbors all know. If you’re not cutting your grass, someone is going to pay attention. Whereas living in a big city, which is the other half of the year, I live in a big city, if you don’t know your neighbors, then people will drop their garbage off on the streets because nobody knows them. They don’t know them. There’s that big city anonymity. That’s an interesting metaphor for how we have been working when we’re working remotely instead of in the office where people can see.
You would think that harassment or sexual harassment wouldn’t take place on a chat platform. I was certain that I would not reach something like that, but then we have seen it. It happens. They allow themselves much more when they are in front of their Zoom. It says a lot about adopting technology and what can be achieved. We think that this is something that would still need to be developed around the world. People’s communications are evolving all the time as well.
There are new channels of communication and methods of communication. I don’t know if it will happen or not, but in the future of the metaverse and people communicating in the virtual environment and having a discussion or an interaction that can be all sorts of interaction with visuals, smell, and touch or via all sorts of sensors brings with it challenges as well. People are people. We are not able to program them all to behave because then, first of all, it would be less fun. It won’t happen.People haven't changed the way they behave because of the move to remote work. Click To Tweet
If you are a leader, since this show is here to support leaders, what can you do in your organization as a leader and a C-level? How can you handle workplace misconduct in our digital world?
First of all, most of the organizations, I’m talking 99.99%, are not handling it at the moment because it’s still early, but I’m saying to leaders, “First of all, know what’s happening inside the organization.” Get a visual of what’s happening. Everyone is investing heavily in cyber because they want to know. It’s for the single issue that will happen and can create damage.
By cyber, you’re talking about cybersecurity.
We are putting fences, defenses, and active and passive defenses to protect our customers and our environment from a single attempt to steal or do damage. That’s happening in cyber. We need to treat our virtual workplaces in a similar way. We need, first of all, to protect our employees from the bad actors and know what’s happening. I’m always telling people, “I want to know if something bad is happening in my office.” I’m giving people all sorts of capabilities. We are providing them a laptop, communication channels, and flight tickets to go to customers and all sorts.
We want to know if something happens during the job and if something happened to them. Why shouldn’t we want to know if something happened in the virtual work as well? For us, there are two days a week when they are communicating in the organization. In most organizations, it’s probably between 2 to 5 days a week when they are working fully remotely. How do they know what’s happening in these huge organizations that they have? The organization can be twenty or thousands of employees. They have no idea what’s happening there.
Suddenly, someone can get a claim. I’m going to the risk, but there are also positive sides that we can get out of it. It’s not the conduct, but we’re talking about productivity in the age of remote work without spying on employees. It’s a challenge. It hasn’t been resolved yet, but how can we reflect the management and the employee as himself, “We trust you. Work from wherever you want.” At least in Israel, there is a thing now that our employees want to be able to work from anywhere in the world that they want. Trust us. We are working based on KPIs. How can you measure this?
What does your system do?
We are looking at risk factors and helping managers in the area of conduct because we also work with financial crime and market manipulation. When we’re talking about conduct, we are able to flag employees and specific communications that may lead to or are reflecting employee conduct or some sort of conduct. It can be fraud, bad language, harassment, bullying in the workplace, or gifts and entertainment if it’s not allowed. You have a policy in the organization. This is a way to enforce it without spying.
I would like to prepare some red lights for the organization so they can decide the thresholds. Some can say, “I don’t care. Let people get freedom. They can curse and do whatever they want.” In my organization, I’m fine with it, but when something bad happens. I want to know on the spot because then it can be dangerous and an illegal exposure to me as an organization or it can be dangerous for the person that was abused.
It’s often not a big deliberate crime. It’s the little things that add up. Where do you draw the line? Where do you say, “This is not good enough?” Here’s a question. Is it different for different organizations or industries?
I have to be honest and say that we don’t know yet because it’s so early in the day. Few are implementing these. I believe it’s the new normal. We will start to get much more standardized in the future years ahead. I don’t think that there is a difference between organizations because everyone is communicating. Something happened. Talking about scandals, there is an organization here in Israel that is very feminist. It’s endorsing flashing out sexual harassment. It’s all active in this domain.
Someone senior in this organization sexually harassed another person in this organization. Everything happened via WhatsApp. That got published. The brand, first of all, and reputation of this organization are crushed. My heart is with them, but it will be difficult to fix it. Second of all, if something happens once, it probably happens additional times. Nothing is singular. A set of behaviors of an individual can and will happen again.
If I was the CEO of this organization, I would like to know. It’s impossible to stop people from doing all sorts of things, but I would like to be able to do the maximum in my power. My power is limited. My power as the CEO of an organization is just saying, “Internally, please communicate via X, Y, and Z. Please note that while you are communicating, we are here to maintain the order, sanity, manners, and integrity of this organization and communication.”
Think about it. This is culture. It’s not only technology. If something happens, this is what I’m doing as an organization. I’m here. I’m providing you tools, but I’m also helping you, everyone else, and me to maintain the integrity of these tools and the culture of my organization. If something happened to you in unmonitored channels, please report back because this is a cultural thing.People are people. We are not able to program them all to behave. Click To Tweet
If a process, system, or culture like this would take place in that organization, I cannot promise you that it won’t happen, but the chances are that it would be dramatically reduced because there is a culture, “We don’t tolerate these kinds of things,” rather than, “It’s a Wild West.” We have predators and all sorts of behaviors that we know happen and are happening. It’s the bad behavior of people, but people are people. We are not going to change people. It’s impossible to screen people and do this deep analysis of who they are and what their secrets are.
Times have changed too. Things that used to be a little joke and then someone would say, “What’s the matter? Can’t you take a joke?” when they have said something hurtful. It’s learning that indeed is hurtful and also learning to speak up. I think about times in my younger years and some of the terrible bosses I’ve worked with when I and those around me put our heads down and tried to get the project finished and get through this. Now I would speak up, but I wasn’t as sure of myself in my younger years. I was dependent on those people for my income. I would not be challenging them. That’s also a very female thing. It’s having been trained to not make a fuss and be the nice girl.
Thankfully, this is changing but not enough. I’m sure that it’s still happening. We can take it even further and talk about the political gaps and the communication level between people and within social media that can easily go and flow into the workplace. It’s a whole can of worms they can open up. It creates all sorts of other challenges.
If you were a leader and wanted to learn more about the sorts of things you’re talking about, where does one start? What is one thing the readers could do when?
First of all, I’m welcoming everyone to reach out if they want and have a chat. It’s a new domain because everything is changing so fast. It accelerated dramatically by the pandemic. There aren’t a lot of available resources and researchers around it. We have picked it up and created a new website called The New Normal. We are trying to upload as much information as possible that is related to this domain and subdomains.
I can promise that we will keep developing it and try to bring some thought leadership and thought ideas into the market. We’re not educating the market. We are too small and humble to educate the market, but we try to influence a little bit, bring some innovation, and show that there is something that can be done. There is a price or a cost for something but things can be done to create a more relaxed way.
People feel more secure in their work and what they are doing. They know that they are being heard. They know that if someone is doing something, there is evidence. There are all sorts of new phrases and terms these days, like gaslighting. At the end of the day, the good thing about the digital world is we can create evidence for everything. We’re not trying to spy, but we’re trying to create a normal organization for people to collaborate and feel safe within.
You’re creating an environment where people can feel safe in their communications and do that. I heard something about how if you make a mistake, don’t explain and just apologize, “How can I make it right?” Move on, which I thought was excellent advice. Certainly, I’ve made all the mistakes myself. I’ve been there. Shiran Weitzman, thank you so very much for joining us on the show. I have a feeling I’m going to come back to you in a couple of months and ask you some more questions because we’re in a time where things are evolving. We don’t have a new normal yet. The new normal is still being created. Thank you so much.
Thank you very much, Elizabeth, for having me. It was wonderful.
Let me remind you that if you’re curious about how your presentation skills are doing, you can take our free quiz at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where, in about four minutes, you could find out where your presentation skills are strong and where perhaps a little bit of support could get you the results you need and the recognition you deserve. If you score high enough, you can have a free conversation with me to discuss these results and what the next steps might be. I’ll see you at the next one.