People want remote work. I hear this from job seekers, comments on social media, and leaders at technology companies. Everyone wants it and research proves the benefits. But many companies just will not let it happen. What is driving this disconnect?
I was wary at first. My previous company gathered everyone for an all-hands meeting. This was several years back when I was working at a fast-growing software company. About 150 people crammed into a room that was meant for maybe 25. People were practically on top of each other. Disaster ahead?
“I could never work remotely.” A friend of a friend said this to me the other day. We had just met and I was explaining how we run Aha! as a fully distributed team. Despite that declarative statement about “never working remotely,” this person seemed plenty interested in the concept of remote work once I described how we do it at Aha!
I am sure this has happened to you at least once. You are trying to solve a problem at work and need help from a colleague. So you send off a quick chat message. No answer. You follow up with an email. Still nothing. Hello? Is anyone out there?
Product managers are often focused on what is coming next. As you should be, right? And as a busy product manager, it is likely that you do not find much time for self-reflection built into your daily schedule. Still, it is important to occasionally take a step back and consider where you are headed and why.
I studied philosophy. (True.) You know the old cliché about the tree falling in the forest. If no one is there to hear it, did it really make a sound? Well, remote work may seem that way for some. After all, how can you be sure people are actually working if you are not there to witness it?
Have you seen the news? Some companies are calling their remote employees back to the office — a forced, cross-country trek to permanently “co-locate” at HQ. Reading the headlines, you may wonder if companies have fallen out of love with remote work.
I love being outside. Just last week I went snowshoeing with some friends in Yosemite. But when I told a colleague about my trip, she wrinkled her nose. Snowshoeing? No thanks. Curling up indoors with a good novel is her idea of a good time.
I cringe whenever I think about commuting to work. The time spent thinking about actually getting something done. The bumper-to-bumper traffic and pollution. It is depressing to think that millions of people endure so many wasted hours each day. Wasted hours because businesses think work must be done in a maze of cubes.
“The calm before the storm” is a well-worn cliche. But sailors know that this saying is rooted in truth. An approaching storm creates a drop in barometric pressure — and a deceptively tranquil sea.
Imagine this scene: You are packing your suitcase for yet another business trip. You are pumped about the prospect of meeting with a big customer. Then, you start to think about the security lines. Missed connections … cramped seating … babies crying in your ear … lost luggage. (Feel your head starting to pound?) And that is all before you even get to the airport. Read more…
It is rare to sit in the presence of true genius. I had that privilege a few months ago when three recipients of the MacArthur Genius Grants discussed their work at an event held in Washington, DC. An audience member asked one of the fellows, a renowned author, to share how her grant changed the way she works. I was unprepared for her response.
Eight billion. That’s a big number any way you slice it. But it’s even bigger when it denotes what you’ve lost. In this case, eight billion is the number of hours Americans spent commuting to and from work last year. That averages out to 50 hours per driver, or more than a week’s worth of vacation days.
There are plenty of benefits to working remotely: You can work from anywhere you want, spend more time with the kids, save on gas costs, and exercise at a time that works best for you.