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
Wayne Turmell breaks down one of the key ideas in Darlene Derosa’s Book ‘Virtual Team Success’ in this article from Management Issues.
In her very good book, “Virtual Team Success”, Darleen Derosa has a lot to say, but one of the most helpful is her “5 Differentiators for Top Virtual Teams”. It’s based on lots of research but has the added value of being true on a gut level as well.
Here are the five ways great remote teams are probably operating at a higher level than yours and mine:
Nicole Boivin wrote to tell us about simpletelcommute.com: a brand new, telecommute, virtual jobs, work at home and contractor job search engine that features job listings from 40+ major sites and smaller as well. I paid a quick visit and took the engine for a test spin. It seemed to work great and return a healthy number of search results from what appeared to be some of the top trusted legitimate work from home opportunity sites. There also appeared to be a clear organization structure to the categories of jobs to narrow down your search.
I’ll be sure to spend some more time on this site.
If anyone takes a closer look or follows up on any leads through this site I would really like to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment below.
Interesting infographic depicting the evolution of workshifting and remote work.
It’s common practice that most of us spend some time each day working with remote team members and colleagues, but it’s a reality that is very different to 10-15 years ago. The idea for the infographic was to try to show the movement over the past decade from remote work being a rare event to its current status as a common event. It proved more difficult to find numbers that worked together in a coherent way, but I think that the infographic tells the story it needs to tell.
For more about this graphic and these statistics visit Plantronics Blogcentral | The Smarter Office.