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Remote: Office Not Required

Remote: Office Not Required

High Level Benefits of Remote Work

  • Remote work allows “deep work” to happen

    • The modern office is filled with distractions that prevent deep, uninterrupted thinking. Remote work allows the worker to be alone with their thoughts where creative and complicated work can take place.
  • Removing a commute is give time and money back to the employee and is better for the environment (less CO2)

  • Remote work necessitates asynchronous communication patterns which unlocks flexible time schedules

  • Remote work untethers the employee from specific location constraints (e.g.┬ábeing tied to a city when they want to be in the rural mountains)

  • Remote work saves employers the cost of real estate

Remote work requires a transition from synchronous to asynchronous communication

  • Spreading across time zones necessitates this shift

The office can be focused on a theatre for outside meetings (clients) rather than a place “where work happens”

  • How often do you email/IM people who are in the same physical location as you?

High Level Costs of Remote Work

  • Loss of face-to-face contact with manager and organic brainstorming
  • Loss of regime, this shifts the burden to the individual to develop a working regime
  • Potential for family to be as disruptive to “work” as coworkers

Counterpoints to Common Remote questions

Loss of organic brain storming

  • How many “bright ideas” can we reasonably work on?

    • Work is the process of burning down the backlog, rarely building the backlog
  • Face-to-face brainstorming really only needs to occur a few times a year to generate ideas

  • Organic interactions and thoughts can be captured in writing or bounced off another over V/C

Loss of control or control of productivity

  • People are just as capable of being unproductive in an office as they are at home
  • “if you can’t let your employees work from home out of fear they’ll slack off without your supervision, you’re a babysitter, not a manager”
  • “To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision” - https://www.virgin.com/richard-branson/give-people-the-freedom-of-where-to-work

The office removes distractions to working

  • This can be true, but it can easily be re-created by reserving a space at home for work
    • Or going out to work

Loss of customer service hours

  • It may be necessary to structure hours to meet client needs in smaller companies, but larger companies do not need to dictate hour schedule equality for those not fulfilling these 9-5 needs.

Loss of culture

  • Culture is not predicated on social outings, culture is the defining aspects and values of an organization

Loss of immediate response

  • Ability to interrupt people for immediate answers will diminish
    • This is a positive, by matching need to medium, (increasing real need with synchronicity) of medium allows the other side to get more work done

Loss of control

  • Loss of physical visibility does not mean losing control of your team

Office is paid for already

  • Sunk Cost

Doesn’t work in our industry / scale

  • Remote work can be found across a range of industries (government, legal, advertising) and size (<1000 - 10,000+)

(Remote) Work should be divided into creative and execution

  • “Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, they warn us—when we feel ourselves regularly succumbing to them—that our work is not well defined, or our tasks are menial, or the whole project we’re engaged in is fundamentally pointless”

Excerpt From: Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson. “Remote.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/remote/id625981856

  • I don’t know if I buy this idea, not all work is creative or stimulating. This is one of the reasons you are paid.

Working with clients remotely

  • Be upfront about the distance
  • Provide references
  • Communicate early and often, show your work
  • Be available (phone/email/messages)

Tactical

  • There must be overlap in working hours for collaboration

  • Use screen sharing to work on visual items (e.g.┬ácollaborating on a document)

  • Make as much information accessible to the broadest audience possible. This means calendars, working documents, chat logs, meeting notes.

    • Obviously there are things that can’t be shared widely, but reducing the barriers to access banal, but essential, information is a key component to successful remote work
  • Slack and other chat programs can provide a “virtual water cooler” and much needed social cohesion

  • Ergonomics are important and structuring a specific workstation for remote work is needed when in the long term.

  • Establish a check in and check out procedure to avoid overwork/burnout

  • Proper exercise and movement become an even bigger problem for workers who don’t have to move for their commute or around the office.

    • Use saved commute time to exercise

Management

  • Encourage healthy work boundaries and check in / check out procedures
  • Remote needs to occur in units, not individuals. Disconnecting a single person is a recipe for issues
  • It’s important to bring workers together to put a face to screen names, build camaraderie, and brain storm
  • Level the playing field: managers should work once in awhile remotely so they “experience the pain” and are motivated to level the field
  • Empower people with information and the ability to make decisions

Self routine

  • Demarcate work and homelife with clothing, tech used, and venue changes (coffee shop, hybird models)

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