Designing the Future of Work

Archive for the ‘Mobile Work’ Category

WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO MOVE TO THE MOTHERSHIP?

The Mother Ship

Recently two colleagues shared their tales of woe when they were forced to relocate to the Mothership of their companies. One had recently moved to a new company and the other had received a promotion to a global role.

 

Rarely is the location of the Mothership a desirable option, either because the location quite frankly sucks, or the existence of the Mothership has made property prices astronomical. In both cases, these were technology companies that should have known better. Why would you force people to uproot their lives when technology allows people, and the global world we live in requires people, to work from anywhere.

“Teleconferencing and other advances in communications technology make it easier to split up a workforce among several locations”

GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt in GE is huge, but its future headquarters will be anything but..

I have had my own tumultuous experiences with location dependent management.

While working at a technology law firm’s Palo Alto office (literally on Stanford’s campus) I was forced to commute on three of the busiest freeways in the area. Exhausted by the stress of it, I asked my partner (who by the way, although right down the hall, only came into my office once a week) if I could start working from our San Francisco office. He responded, “I don’t believe in telecommuting.” This was doubly ironic because our clients rarely came into our offices. All of our work, including deal closings, was done online or on the phone.

Later I worked for a biotechnology company that was obsessed with facetime. People spent at least an hour a day on shuttles going from building to building for meetings. When a senior leader, who had been performing brilliantly, failed to uproot his family and move to San Francisco within the deadline he’d been given the company let him go. “Seriously?” I asked, incredulous. I didn’t last there long  either.

Basecamp founder David Heinemeier Hansson, a hero of remote workers, made fun of Reddit’s 2014 decision to force remote workers to relocate to the pricey San Francisco Bay area or face termination.

Basecamp Tweet

Employees Don’t Want to Move

According to a survey done by the Worldwide ERC there are many reasons employees are reluctant to relocate:

  • 91% say it is because of slowed real estate appreciation and depressed housing market in old location
  • 86% say their old location is in negative equity
  • 28% say they and their family are resistant to the move
  • 28% blame high housing cost in the new location
  • 20% say their spouse is reluctant to leave their job
  • 17% cite the high cost of living in the new location
  • 13% say the new location is undesirable

There are far more Cons than Pros to forced relocation to the Mothership. Let’s take a look.

Pros

  • Build Trust – facetime allows you to build trust more quickly.

    Apple 2 Campus

    Future Apple Mothership

  • Spontaneous Innovation – co-location increases the likelihood that you will have impromptu meetings with partners and stakeholders

(think Steve Jobs’ circular building design – he was obsessed with this concept and moved the bathrooms as far away as possible to make employees walk about).

Cons

  • Productivity Loss – most corporate headquarters have multiple buildings and massive campuses which means that increasing facetime requires significant shuttle time. You’ll get to know the van drivers by name. A massive loss of productivity.
  • Lower Engagement – the reality of two career couples and the impact of employees having to uproot children makes this requirement especially painful. Engagement has to take a hit here.
  • Expensive and Complicated – relocation is complicated and expensive, especially if companies are in a place where the location of several Motherships has priced common folk out of the market. Examples, Seattle/Redman, San Francisco Bay area, Boston, New York.
  • Lost Opportunity to Build Critical Skill – your senior leaders are managing people all over the globe. Why do they need to do that from home office? Everyone needs to learn how to use technology to lead, manage and collaborate.
  • Limits Your Talent Pool – the company limits its options because the high performing talent may not want to relocate. See statistics cited above.

Teach the Global Mobile Way

There are lots of resources to improve the way you work remotely. I’ve shared several in this blog and here is one more from my buddies at Hubstaff. So, don’t move your leaders – upskill them and the rest of your team to be prepared for the Global Mobile Workforce.

How to Run a Remote Meeting

 

 

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STILL GLOBAL, STILL MOBILE, JUST NO LONGER A FREELANCER

Employed

Dear Readers

I hope you’ve missed me while I was transitioning to a new life. Gone are the lazy days of working at the kitchen table for a couple of hours before I even brushed my teeth. Afternoons at co-working spaces with a random collection of digital nomads. I have transitioned into the world of the employed.

9 to 5

It doesn’t mean I am in the world of 9 to 5 or that I am no longer global and mobile. I’ve taken on a role with a team that is spread across the globe. Our tiny team of three supports people in Europe and North America. One of my teammates is in Seattle and two of us are here in Prague.

 

The technology has improved dramatically since I began writing this blog. Video-conferencing technology was either clunky or state-of-the art (like Cisco’s visionary telepresence), but very expensive and often guarded as a resource like the gold in Fort Knox (sorry Europeans, maybe a better reference is the Central Bank). My company has made the video-conferencing technology fairly seamless, and I spent the last week in team meetings with my colleague in Seattle via video conference. Ergo, the lack of 9 to 5. What technology can’t change is time zones. So, my teammate has early mornings and I have late evenings, and we make it work across oceans and continents.

time zones

While my company relies heavily on distributed teams, they still have anchor locations, like Seattle in the U.S. and Luxembourg in Europe. Other companies have taken a more radical stance and have done away with offices altogether, relying on collaborative tools like Slack and Dropbox.

Flexjobs started out with a small list of just 26 “virtual”companies in 2013. By 2014 the number of remote or telecommuting job listings on the site rose 26 percent, with companies like Basecamp, Mozilla, Zapier, and FlexJobs itself, that operate either mostly or entirely virtually.

Distributed Workforce

The Things a Company Can Do with Global Mobile Workers

Here are some notable examples from FlexJobs.

Acceleration Partners

Acceleration Partners is a digital marketing agency and all of the job listings on Acceleration Partners’ site offer remote work options. In addition, its full-time employee benefits include “work from home or flex offices” and “work/life balance for all employees.” We think those are pretty great benefits!

appendTo Describing itself as “100% distributed,” appendTo does have an office in Illinois, but “everyone in the company has the freedom to work from wherever they feel makes them the most productive.” In fact, the ability to work from anywhere is one of the company’s core values. Virtual companies are finding that when people are comfortable in their personal work environment, they are more productive and efficient in their jobs.

Articulate
Articulate develops award-winning web, mobile, and desktop applications for the rapidly growing online learning space. Every one of its 150 employees works from home 100 percent of the time. Executive Vice President of Brand Lucy Suros says, “We’ve always been fully distributed, so it’s in our DNA. Because working remotely requires a lot of trust, you have to put people front and center. Ours are smart, kind, fun, and results-oriented, which makes Articulate a pretty magical place to work.”

Automattic
At posting time, web services company Automattic Inc., has 312 Automatticians working in 26 countries, 174 cities, and 36 U.S. states—all working from home. It also offers flexible schedules and staffers can set their own hours so they can work when they’re most productive.

Basecamp  “Basecamp is a company spread out across 26 different cities around the world. Our office is in Chicago, but everyone at Basecamp is free to live and work wherever they want.”

The Cheat Sheet
The Cheat Sheet aims to distill the day’s news for readers to quickly peruse and digest, and its model clearly resonates with its 15 million unique visitors a month. Though based in Asheville, North Carolina, The Cheat Sheet’s staff is completely distributed and “welcome to work from anywhere: your home, a coffee shop, or even the beach! We care more about high-quality results than your location in space-time while you create things our readers love.”

Chef
This IT automation company proclaims its support of “having a life outside of work” right from the get-go on its careers page, and says, “We’ve worked hard to create a remote-friendly culture and believe you can have a big impact no matter where you live.” In addition to telecommuting, Chef offers

Codebusters
“Codebusters is a hardworking team of passionate health information specialists. We love working with healthcare providers to capture accurate and meaningful patient data. We work as a distributed team, openly collaborating to solve problems, from documentation to coding to claim review.” It also offers interview and resume tips on its careers page for anyone interested in applying to work at Codebusters.

Elastic
Elastic is a distributed team with two hubs, one in the Netherlands and one in San Francisco. But it stresses, “we also have colleagues in Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Spain, the UK and Romania—to name but a few. We care deeply about the quality of the team, which is infinitely more important to us than where you’re based.” Plus, they purport to offer salary packages that may be well above the industry average—not a bad combination!

Equation Research
The team at FlexJobs can certainly relate to Equation Research’s reasoning for being a distributed company: “When we launched back in 2000, we set out to build and grow a company that NEVER HAD AN OFFICE. It was not a fear of the old food in the back of the refrigerator that drove us—it was the inspiration of building a different kind of experience for the people that shared in this adventure. It was part of the innovation we craved.”

Fire Engine Red (2nd Year) 
This marketing and technology company loves working virtually, and it offers perks like a virtual walking group, a virtual book club, and bring-your-pet-to-work day every day, because everyone works from home!

The Ghost Foundation
A nonprofit blogging platform committed to publishing—that’s Ghost. To add to its uniqueness, it says of its work environment, “Our headquarters is the Internet. If you have a wifi connection, we have an office near you. We’re a distributed team working online from all corners of the planet. We don’t care about counting the number of hours you spend in a chair at a desk in a small room each week. You can live wherever you want, and work however you like. As long as you’re online, you can be ‘at work.’”

GitHub
A well-known marketplace for development work, GitHub is also a distributed team, with over 260 people working across the world. As “a remote and flexible workplace,” GitHub says, “Work/life balance is important to us, which is why we offer flexible work schedules and unlimited PTO. We believe that if a job allows for it, people should work wherever they’re happiest.”

Greenback Expat Tax Services
Providing a specific and unique service to thousands of clients in over 140 countries makes working virtually a no-brainer. In fact, in this company’s FAQ section, when asked how it’s able to keep prices so low, it responded that being virtual is a big part of the answer! “Because we are a virtual team, we do not have the additional hefty cost of offices, commutes, etc. This allows us to spend money where it matters: On ensuring our customers have a reason to return every year.”

Kato.im
Kato’s aim is to fix business communication by offering a one-stop portal for all organizational communication. And it’s also virtual: “Work from Nome? Work from Rome? Work from home? Kato is a fully distributed organization headquartered in Oakland, California. We’re looking for engineers, marketers, and writers passionate about the business communication business.”

MomsRising
We couldn’t say it better ourselves: “Our core team of paid staff and volunteers work collaboratively to develop our strategies and campaigns. As a virtual organization, we use conference calls, IM, and email extensively to communicate, to create, and to care for each other. Our team enjoys a results oriented work environment where the challenges and joys of balancing work, family, and personal time are understood.”

Mozilla 

The maker of Firefox, Mozilla is a nonprofit organization with a distributed team and a lot of remote workers around the world. As the company says, “We have 13 global offices and people working in more than 30 countries. If you work best from home, that’s not a problem. We can support you anywhere.” Most of the open jobs on the company’s career page right now are remote positions.

OnTheGoSystems
As the makers of a well-known WordPress multilingual plugin, OnTheGoSystems is the perfect company to use a distributed team. Sixty full-time staff members work from 6 continents, 32 countries, and 53 cities, with a headquarters in Hong Kong. The one main qualification across all jobs? Being able to “coomunicate in English.” Bah-dum ching!

PeopleG2 A very unique addition to this list, PeopleG2 started out as an office-based company but made the switch to a virtual company in 2008. “Chris Dyer, PeopleG2’s founder and chief executive, initially made the switch because his expanding workforce was bursting out of the company’s existing office space, but also to weather financial pressures caused by the recession. Operating as a virtual business worked so well, he never looked back.” Virtual companies such as PeopleG2 have discovered the benefits of virtual teams and are operating successfully in the online world.

ProofHQ
While ProofHQ, a company that supports marketing teams in the online proofing process, is technically based in Dallas, Texas, and asks many of its hires to be based in the Dallas area, it also says that, “All our roles are remote working, so you can be based anywhere and work from your home office, the garden shed, the beach, the slopes, or local coffee shop. We don’t care as long as you deliver and get the job done!”

ScrapingHub
The team at this web crawling platform company is completely distributed, with 90 people working from around the world in areas like professional services, sales, support, and more. The company looks for people who “thrive in an environment where you can operate autonomously…and have great communication skills.”

Sqwiggle 

The makers of online collaboration software for virtual teams, Sqwiggle practices what it preaches. “Building a fun and social culture within a remote team can sometimes seem impossible.” Sqwiggle aims to make the impossible possible.

TeamGantt
Citing long, uninterrupted stretches of focused work as one of its main reasons for being a remote company, TeamGantt says, “We all know what it’s like to work in an office. While it can be a lot of fun, there are meetings to attend and countless interruptions from coworkers with questions, small talk, etc.” And Nathan Gilmore, a co-founder of the company, says, “I think that some employees who work from home could get more done in one highly focused, uninterrupted two-hour stretch of work then some people would be able to get done in 8+ hours working in an interruption filled office.”

TeamSnap 
The founding members of this team management company includes “social scientists and an improv comedian,” and while it’s not shy about cracking jokes throughout its website, it is serious about helping people better manage team sports and groups. About its distributed environment, TeamSnap says, “Some people work in our headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, while many others work remotely from all corners of the USA as well as a few in Canada, UK, Australia and Croatia. In the US, we’ve got people in Portland, Raleigh/Durham, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Austin and San Diego, just to name drop some cities.”

Universal Mind
On its careers page, Universal Mind touts its remote and distributed team: “Our team members are located across the United States and around the globe. We hire the best of the best regardless of geographic location.” And when explaining why people would want to work at Universal Mind, it says, “Our workforce was virtual before virtual was cool. Whether we work in our company office, on our dining room tables, or at a hip coworking loft, we believe in individuality and autonomy—not set hours or corporate face time.”

Ushahidi
Ushahidi has a unique goal—to gather crisis information from the public during real-time events happening around the globe. To do this difficult and important work, the company says, “We are first and foremost a virtual organization, with team members hailing from across the globe.”

Varsity Tutors 
This private academic tutoring and test prep company offers tutoring services online, in-home, at libraries, or wherever is convenient for its students. All of its employees work from home in remote positions, which it points out, means “no commuting time!”

VLP Law Group
This group, formerly “Virtual Law Partners,” has really embraced the benefits employers receive from telecommuting work arrangements. It is one of FlexJobs’ virtual companies that has “invested in technology rather than expensive offices. We work in a lean, low-overhead environment.” And, “Where and when you work is entirely up to you and your clients. Most of us work from home or at our clients’ offices, allowing us to better coordinate work and personal commitments.”

The Wirecutter
The Wirecutter is a resource that helps people locate the best gadgets based on its research, testing, and editorial content. “The Wirecutter is a 100% remote organization and as such applicants should feel comfortable (and preferably have a good deal of experience) with this arrangement. You should feel comfortable conducting a majority of your correspondence with the team over the phone, team chat, IM and video calls.”

Yarnee
Acknowledging that building a company with a distributed team comes with its own rulebook, Yarnee has written blog posts on how it runs a happily distributed team, and the17 tools and services it couldn’t live without. Great reading for anyone either working for, or managing a distributed team!




Flexjobs 100

Flexjobs list is now up to 100 companies, and even my new company is on the list.

FlexJobs has a Guide to the Best Companies for Flexible Jobs, a searchable database of over 30,000 pre-screened, legitimate employers that embrace and offer telecommuting and other flexible work options.

Going to work every day with my new employee badge around my neck hasn’t changed my belief that Digital Nomads, Distributed Work Teams and Mobile Workers are the wave of the future. And, I’m not the only one who continues to chant the mantra. Here are some other great places to explore and celebrate the world of the Global Mobile Worker.

Winning with Remote Work

Check out the Top Companies Winning at Remote Work.

To Learn more about the rapidly expanding world of Global Mobile Workers here are some other great blogs:

remote.co

sqwiggle.com Blog

Toptal.com Blog

Zapier Blog

Future Work Report

Sococo.com Blog

Remote Nation

 

 

 

Can I Get Some Collaboration Up in Here?

Collaboration in the Cloud is What It’s All About

The second most important word in corporate culture – Collaboration – gets its power from it’s role in the most important word – Innovation. Hard enough to accomplish with everyone in the same place, it can overwhelm companies who need to make it happen across the globe. Collaboration geniuses like Steve Jobs couldn’t even grasp the possibility. He built his concept of collaboration on people bumping into each other on the way to the bathroom, then designed an entire building around it.

The reality lost on Jobs and hundreds of other tech leaders is that even if you hire people from all over the world, once you put them together in one place you lose the perspective they could bring to a business challenge if they lived in another country. Companies large and small search for the Holy Grail, the collaboration tool that will make their teams productive, efficient and happy.

As workers try to balance work and family, who can now text you their urgent needs while you are in a meeting, even teams in the same town need help. The need to work from anywhere has intensified.

Things Have Changed Since I Started This Journey

When I first started my global mobile journey my technology challenged team had finally begun to feel comfortable with ÜberConference.   We used the call record feature to start meetings on time and hold late joiners accountable to listen to what they missed later. Poor call quality on cellphones ended the relationship, and the lack of interactive screensharing (which they have since address). Back then (only 2013) I was an early Cloud adopter. Now the whole world has joined me in the clouds. See How Can I Call You In The Virtual World?

Too Many to Choose From

What hasn’t changed is the overwhelming number of companies in the space. No two best of reviews list the same ten companies, or five.

It’s a tough job and one I tackled recently with Prague based art and finance startup ARTSTAQ. Team members, including the CVO and CEO, were either heavy on tech skills or heavy on art or finance industry knowledge. All sides needed to understand the other ‘s work, and quickly. Only the tech guys had run virtual teams, and the level of comfort with technology varied widely.

What My Experience Taught Me

I added three new apps to my experience databank with the Czech-based startup team, Trello, Podio, InVision, and took my Dropbox and Google Drive skills to the next level. I learned a great deal about how teams adopt technology – the biggest risk with a collaboration tool.

Trello Tragedy

TrelloWe started with Trello, which I had used successfully with another team. It was a disaster. The CEO struggled to translate his GANTT chart into an action focused structure.  Even our small team of ten people didn’t find it useful to keep track progress or communicate quickly. The problem, of course, wasn’t Trello. The problem was not being able to translate the project architecture of the startup to Trello.

So, I was sent in search of something better.

Podio Disaster

PodioI did an exhaustive search for a product management tool. We also needed a CRM, and would eventually need a knowledge management tool. Oh, and because we were pre-funded it had to be free.

I made a presentation to the team where everyone agreed that technically Podio was the best product to address both our product design and CRM needs, and I got a Startup deal from Podio that allowed us to add the entire team as users. The launch fell flat.

At the same time the tech team introduced SLACK, a crowd favorite. Nobody wanted to put the time into Podio setup, shared Podio how-to-videos, pleaded with the team. It just wasn’t intuitive. I spent hours learning the product.  Out of frustration I had to create the project architecture for the data, web and business development teams to hand over a turnkey Podio platform. That increased the group adoption rate by one, me. When I left, CRM was still done on excel spreadsheets.

The SLACK Success Story

SlackOn the other hand, Slack was a huge success. Practically idiot proof, people enjoyed real-time communication and moved projects forward faster. We used the random channel to share silly jokes. SLACK was really a bonding experience, with the less technically savvy excited and confident to use the app. But, without a real organizational tool our weekly team meetings suggested we could move faster with more coordination. The team felt a little lost and overwhelmed in face to face meetings. The experience highlighted for me the challenge of collaboration, even when people work in the same town.

SLACK is not really a project management tool – it is about communication and sharing; ideas, documents, video. You can’t track progress or assign to-do’s. Stay tuned. SLACK had a big presence at Web Summit 2015, and the team seemed buoyant. They can quickly build on functionality based on feedback from their community. Slack does support all of your communication in one place, instantly searchable, available on mobile. And it integrates with Dropbox, Asana, Hangouts, and ZenDesk.

Shout Out for Basecamp

BasecampBasecamp (formerly 37Signals), a company I’ve talked about before, but because they are an example of a company built with and for remote workers, is a product I’ve used and enjoyed. The challenge is always to get the team to channel all activity through the portal. It worked really well for the team located in six cities. Basecamp felt well organized and fairly easy to use, and offered collaboration advantages for both internal teams and our external client teams.

So How to Choose?

I did spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations to help my team understand the option. I looked at how the team worked and if the collaboration tool integrated with other apps we valued. But, given the dynamic nature of the industry these are really feeble evaluation tools for the long-term. Companies pivot or explode every day.

Since there is overwhelming data that companies with greater gender balance are more successful it may be strong predictor of the best long-term bet. We invested a lot of time when we set up and use these products. I applied this approach once before to pick a cloud storage tool.

Now the consumer cloud storage market has been disrupted by Amazon, OneDrive and GoogleDrive. My fan favorite in Dropbox vs. Box, with decent gender balance at 15%, survived the tidal wave (Box went corporate and JustCloud is just hanging in there). Here are Dropbox numbers from 2014: 34 percent female, 4 percent Hispanic and 1 percent black.

When I first did an analysis like this you could find at least the leadership team on the company’s website. Companies seemed to be less likely to post their employees photos and titles online – possibly because of the increased backlash against companies in tech for the lack of diversity. I was able to get some data.

Company Men % Woman % Total
Basecamp 35 76% 11 24% 46*
           
Podio (owned by Citrix) 8 89% 1 11% 9**
           
SLACK 14 74% 5 26% 19***
           
Trello 6 50% 6 50% 12+
Citrix Executive Team

Citrix Leadership Team

*This is all of the employees of Basecamp

** Executive Leadership Team Only

*** This is all the employees listed on CrunchBase – the Leadership Team is six guys

+This was the leadership team on CrunchBase

Both Dropbox and Slack were recently listed in Textio Top Ten: Tech Companies with the Most Gender-Neutral Job Listings. This is a sign that the desire for gender partnership is strong, given the numbers and the fact they even pay attention to gender bias in job descriptions.

The Trello numbers are unlikely current, so I can’t give them a fair assessment. Basecamp numbers look good, and they are leaders in remote work, an important factor for a company that builds collaboration tools.  That said my vote of confidence goes to SLACK. I trust that they will be able to build on their success and offer us the COLLABORATION product we crave in the Global Mobile World.

 

 

The Global Mobile Worker – A Solution to the Talent Gap

War for TalentA consistent theme at #WebSummit 2015 was the war for talent. Every co-founder cited getting good talent in the door as one of their greatest challenges, and one most didn’t expect.

What Founders learned was talent is not just about developers. It takes a range of skills to build a company.

These Founders thought there would be talent knocking down the doors of the hottest, hippest new thing. Sorry. There are a lot of shiny objects being flashed in the faces of Digital Natives.

Global Mobile Workers are the Solution

Everyone wants MillenialsPerhaps a new perspective on talent is required. Because startups still operate on the same paradigm as larger, older companies. Everyone wants Millennials and they want them geographically located at headquarters or a satellite office.

I mentioned in my last post that I was disappointed by this outdated way of thinking about talent, the internet makes geographic distance simply a state of mind. After all, this was the largest “technology summit in Europe.”

Remote workers more complex work testimonialStrategy, user experience, marketing, sales, back office operations, customer experience; remote talent can be a solution for all of these needs. Talent that is living in a city they love, and in more affordable conditions than the traditional headquarter cities of San Francisco, New York, London or Berlin.

Besides, these cities are swept up in a highly inefficient game of talent swap.talent-changing-jobs

Despite a decade of talk about flexible work arrangements and telecommuting, the idea of leading a remote workforce still seems as exotic as SpaceX.

There has been some progress. Almost 50% of managers in the US, UK and Germany are allowed to work remotely. And, the trend is global, the percentage of managers who work remotely in many developing countries has risen to between 10 and 20 percent.

It’s not just millennials driving the movement. Every generation has expressed a desire for remote work options. In their book Making Telework Work, Offstein and Morwick, found that workers nearing retirement also prefer to work remotely in order to spend more time with their families and to have a more flexible schedule.

Yet, companies are still struggling with the concept. When I worked as a corporate lawyer in the Palo Alto office of a global technology focused law firm, I asked my partner if I could work from our San Francisco office because the commute was crushing me. He said he “didn’t believe in telecommuting.” I later learned one of my colleagues had moved with his family to North Carolina without telling anyone. It had been two years, no one seemed to notice, and he was enjoying a more family friendly lifestyle in Raleigh/Durham.

So what’s the problem?

Many of the greatest companies in the 21st century, including Virgin, 37signals, and IBM have built successful businesses providing people the freedom to work where they want, when they want, and how they want.

People criticize working remotely because they find it difficult to measure the number of hours their employees are working. What they forget is that going into the office does not equal productive work.

“Office workers are interrupted—or self-interrupted—roughly every three minutes.” The Wall Street Journal

I once worked at a Silicon Valley life sciences icon that had built a sprawling campus on the Bay. It took 10 to 15 minutes to get around campus and meetings were a constant. Everything had to be face-to-face. I spent hours every day shuttling around campus to share my face. The company struggled to get people to even read the flexible work policy because nobody believed you could succeed without riding the campus shuttle several times a day. Most people ended up doing their real work at home at night, and large segments of the population were living in burnout.

Then, what does it take to promote remote work? What is required is a culture of trust and respect, empowering your employees; which, guess what, has also been shown to increase engagement, productivity, and company loyalty.

Managers have to get better at understanding and focusing on results

Focusing on output forces everyone to prioritize tasks that will have the biggest impact. It forces managers to better define the tasks, even repetitive tasks or what is required to oversee a process. Employees will have a clear understanding of expectations, another driver of engagement and productivity. This chart keeps it simple.

Results oriented approach

Systems such as ROWE (Results Only Work Environment) are being introduced to promote output work cultures, where employees are evaluated on performance, not presence. It has been implemented in companies such as Best Buy and Gap, where they’ve seen: 20% improvement in productivity, 90% decrease in turnover rates, and increased customer satisfaction.

Who has done it successfully?

Education startup Citelighter has workers scattered around the world, from developers in Romania to account executives in Northern California, and another group in Baltimore. The company recently shared with Fast Company how it successfully manages it dispersed workforce.

Citelighter goes beyond online communication tools, they designate certain people as communication leaders, who are expected to know the answer no matter what. If, for some reason, those people aren’t available, there is a backup person. Distributed knowledge in action.

“I’m not just left in the dark because our developers are in Romania,” said Co-founder Jokl. “That expectation eliminates a lot of the risk.”

Founders of companies like Zapier, built with a distributed workforce, evangelize the movement. Zapier published The Ultimate Guide to Remote Work. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson from 37Signals, whose Basecamp product is designed to support teams (I’ve used it – it’s intuitive and fairly robust), wrote Amazon Bestseller Remote – Office Not Required.Remote Amazon Bestseller

You can speed your rate of growth by having a diverse team from the start, not the same 20-something demographic that is shaping every other startup in your town. Having a geographically and demographically diverse team from the start can be your “blue ocean” competitive advantage.

Managers and talent leaders may fear the thought of managing a virtualized workforce – terrified of losing the ability to track employee progress. Yet, there are success stories and the future global workforce is inevitable.

Top 10 companies winning at remote work culture and their secrets

100 Top Companies with Remote Jobs in 2015

76 Virtual Companies and Distributed Teams

50 Best Companies Hiring Remotely

By establishing core values, like clear and frequent communication, with a strong onboarding program and embedded collaboration tools, you will be streaming workflow seamlessly between on-site and remote employees. The bonus, you create a company that organically seeks to bridge differences and be inclusive.

Now Hiring Remote Workers

Next – Finding employees that “fit” and global mobile workers being found are the two ends of a market as inefficient and equally hated by both sides as any that’s ripe for disruption. Not Ready for the Global Mobile Worker – Talent Sourcing is Broken.

 

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