I was very excited last week when this short video from 37 Signals showed up in my inbox promoting their new book REMOTE – Office Not Required. Take a few minutes and watch it as they talk about all the things I’ve long championed as the advantages of embracing and working in The Anywhere Office® – especially with regards to lifestyle compatibility and productivity.
If you’ve read the articles I post on this blog it should come as no surprise to you that I loved the NY Times Bestseller REWORK written by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37 Signals (the company that created the popular online collaboration and project management software Basecamp). In REWORK they challenge the usual thoughts and paradigm about work, meetings and what you need to run a successful company. It really changes the way you think about running a business in today’s world of work.
Well it looks like Jason and David have done it again this week with the release of their new book called REMOTE – Office Not Required. This book speaks more directly to the concept of The Anywhere Office® that we discuss and celebrate here on this blog. This short blurb about their book says it all:
As an employer, restricting your hiring to a small geographic region means you’re not getting the best people you can. As an employee, restricting your job search to companies within a reasonable commute means you’re not working for the best company you can. REMOTE, the new book by 37signals, shows both employers and employees how they can work together, remotely, from any desk, in any space, in any place, anytime, anywhere.
You may have heard in the news this past week about Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer and her no work-at-home policy. She helped usher Yahoo back into the stone age when they made it clear that any Yahoo employee that currently works from home has until June to report to an office to work or look for work elsewhere.
According to an internal memo Yahoo believes:
“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home.”
While I agree it’s helpful to work side-by-side with coworkers, this decision reaks of the knee-jerk, backward, “can’t do” thinking I see so many companies suffer from. They’re struggling with virtual teamwork and remote collaboration so they think they should just scrap the whole thing.
As a consultant helping companies make the shift to The Anywhere Office®, I can tell you first hand that virtual teams can be MORE effective and productive than co-located teams when instituted properly, and that “speed and quality” can be unsurpassed. But it doesn’t happen by accident; it requires a strategy and training.
When I consult with companies I walk them through a process to take a step back and define team and communication guideline. We also take a look at what kind of tools they have in place already, to determine if they are the right tools, and if they are being thoughtfully applied. Even these simple exercises have helped teams transform into lean, mean collaborating machines.
The punchline of the Yahoo situation is that Ms. Mayer talks about wanting the company to be the “best place to work,” but in the same breathe she announces they are taking away the ability to have a flexible work agreement. Workplace flexibility is highly valued by today’s smart young professionals; closing the door on it at Yahoo will ensure the best and brightest will look for work elsewhere. And don’t even get me started on the litany of other benefits virtual work provides: increased productivity, cost savings, environmental benefits, disaster preparedness….
I should be thanking Yahoo’s new CEO
In an interesting article I read in Fast Company they explained why Marissa Mayer and Yahoo actually did us a big favor:
“Over the years, I’ve seen many leaders and organizations follow the same path even though employees value the ability to work remotely, and there’s a solid argument that telework actually benefits the business.The difference is that those leaders don’t have a high profile and aren’t under the same public scrutiny as Mayer; therefore, their decisions go unnoticed and unchallenged. Rather than singling out and criticizing Mayer, we should thank her for raising the veil. Yahoo’s decision gives us the opportunity to expose and challenge the misguided, faulty reasoning many leaders follow when they decide to revoke their support for flexible work.”
That’s a very valid point and I’m delighted that the decision has generated so much discussion about telework, remote collaboration, and virtual leadership. The thing that really strikes me is Mayer’s claim they need to have everyone in the same physical location to communicate and collaborate effectively – this coming from a technology leader that produces a number of tools (such as mail, calendar,Yahoo Messenger, Yahoo Groups, etc.) that are designed to help people work together regardless of time or distance! Read more
Very proud of the United States Postal Service for thinking ‘in-the-box’ and rolling out some great new services that have particular appeal to anyone working in The Anywhere Office.
By now you have probably seen the USPS ad campaign for their new flat rate boxes and envelopes: ‘if it fits it ships’. Well, taking measuring and weighing packages out of the equation and making the shipping fee a flat rate has allowed the post office to make some great strides in door-to-door service offerings. I mean, think about it – they already visit your house and/or office every day.
A friend told me that I could now pay for my postage online and have a package picked up at my door. I went to the USPS website to see for myself and sure enough they were encouraging me to ‘schedule a pickup.’ I saw the possibility to reduce the time suck of yet another dull errand: trips to the post office.
I tested the process and it worked near flawlessly. I entered my address, told them which type of flat rate package I had, chose a day and time for the package to be picked up by my carrier during their regular route, and even got to choose if I wanted to leave the package by the dorr, in the mailbox, or have the carrier knock.
I paid for my shipping right there by credit card and I received a confirmation email Read more
Do you have a messy, disorganized and cluttered workspace? If so then I have great news for you – your solution is at hand thanks to an eBook titled How to Design the ULTIMATE Home Office and it’s sure to help you whip your office into shape!
This book was written by Hassan Osman who writes a blog called TheCouchManager.com about working remotely. Being we share a passion for mobile work he sent me a copy of his book to review and I was very impressed with his approach and envious of the photos of his very organized home office.
He normally sells this book for $19.95 but he generously offered to make it available free for one week to members of The Anywhere Office tribe.
How to Design the ULTIMATE Home Office is a downloadable ebook that will help you transform your home office into a highly efficient space. It contains over 40 pictures that show you what organizers and tools to use and where to best position them for maximum impact.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Where to put all that clutter that’s been lingering around
- What types of budget-friendly organizers to use for your reference files and documents
- How to position everything on your desk to save you time and increase your productivity
- Examples of applying the GTD principles on organizing all your “offline” stuff
To get your free copy visit this link and sign up for his “Managing Virtual Teams” newsletter and you’ll receive 2 FREE ebooks:
- “How To Design the ULTIMATE Home Office” ($19.95 value) – a GTD-friendly guide with over 40 pictures that will help you clear up your office clutter and create a more productive workspace
- “Time Zone Meeting Coordination in 7 Easy Steps” – a free guide that will help you schedule virtual team meetings across different time zones without losing your hair (includes a downloadable Excel spreadsheet)
This is a limited-time offer exclusively for The Anywhere Office tribe, so make sure you sign up and download the books before Friday, Aug 17 at 9pm PST!
Melanie Slaugh, a reader of our blog and host of MyISPFinder, recently published a great article examining some of the real challenges of telecommuting or working remotely from the office.
Being aware that issues like this exist allows you to plan for how to address them. It is also important that remote workers and their managers and principles are able to have open communication about how and where they are struggling so that the distributed work or virtual team process can be improved and refined over time.
Are there other universal disadvantages any one else has experienced while working remotely? Leave your comments below.