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The future, quite literally, belongs to those who get it. Do you think today’s teenagers, raised on Facebook and texting, will be sentimental about the old days of all-hands-on-deck Monday meetings?
The big transition with a distributed workforce is going from synchronous collaboration to asynchronous collaboration. Not only do we not have to be in the same spot to work together, we also don’t have to work at the same time to work together.
The city is the original talent hub. Traditionally, those who ran the engines of capitalism thought: “Let’s gather a large number of people in a small geographical area where they must live on top of each other in tight quarters, and we will be able to find plenty of able bodies to man our factories”.
The new luxury is to shed the shackles of deferred living, to pursue your passions NOW, while you are still living. What’s the point in wasting time daydreaming about how great it will be when you finally quit?
If you are struggling with trust issues, it means we made a poor hiring decision. If a team member is non producing good results or can’t manage their own schedule and workload, we aren’t going to continue with that person, as simple as that. We employ team members who are skilled professionals, capable of managing their own schedules and making a valuable contribution to the organization. We have no desire to be babysitters during the day.
Most people WANT to work, as long as it is stimulating and fulfilling. And if you are stuck in a dead-end-job that has no prospects of being either, then you don’t just need the remote position, you need a new job.
American Fidelity Assurance (AFA) cited the ability to continue helping customers even during disasters as a key reason they are sticking with remote work. When they needed to close their headquarters in Oklahoma City for inclement weather, their remote workers all worked from home and customers never knew the difference.
Meetings are major distractions. They require multiple people to drop whatever it is they are doing and instead do something else. If you are calling a meeting, you better be sure pulling seven people away from their work for an hour is worth seven hours of lost productivity.
How often can you say that a given meeting was worth it ? Remember, there is no such thing as a one hour meeting. If you are in a room with five people for an hour, it’s a five-hour meeting.
Meeting prospective hires in person: We usually let the candidate go out for lunch with their potential team coworkers instead of their manager. The prospective hire is going to be working with their teammates a lot more than their manager, so it is important that the team get a good feel for this person.
We have created a number of ways to eradicate roadblocks. First, everyone gets a company credit card and is told to “spend wisely”. There is no begging to spend money on needed equipment to get work done, and there are no expense reports to fill out ( just forward the receipts to an internal email address in case of an audit).
Second, workers don’t need to ask permission to go on vacation or specify how much time they will take. We tell them: just be reasonable, put it on the calendar and coordinate with your coworkers. If you let them, humans have an amazing power to live up to your high expectations of reasonableness and responsibility.
They gray line between work and play can be hard to see on the best of days, but almost impossible when you use the same computer for both. Sure, you could quit your programs for chat and email when you are off the clock, but you won’t do it. That sort of discipline is not for mere mortals.
A more plausible, human strategy is to separate the two completely by using different devices: simple reserve one computer for work and another for fun.
“In thirty years time, as technology moves forward even further, people are going to look back and wonder why offices ever existed” – Richard Branson