Thursday, July 22, 2021

#WorkingFromHome Is A Battlefield




I received this message in my LinkedIn box, a few weeks ago:
"Thank you for pressing the #WorkFromHome influencing messaging. Many of us out here can't say it and don't react to your posts because we're afraid our companies will see us advocating for something that can be construed as self-interest rather than company interest. Makes us targets if we do. You're blazing the trail for all of us.  KEEP IT UP PLEASE”
Pretty cool, eh?  I've been remote for just over a decade, outside sales is conducive to working at Starbucks, and parking lots - it was the beginning of work from anywhere.  Indeed,  I was cold calling businesses, on my Nextel, from the beach in SoCali back in 2003.

Consider this rudimentary timeline:
  • Data(files) were always at the office; everyone had to be under one roof just to be 'on the same page'
  • Fax machines allowed us to send copies around the world
  • Email helped us share bigger documents with prospects and clients 
  • Laptops made us more mobile; I could now bring my files home to work on over the weekend
  • Pink phone message notes were the standard until numeric and alpha-numeric pagers became the rage
  • Cell phones replaced pagers
  • Smartphones let us connect to email from the palm of our hand
  • Ubiquitous WiFi gave us the ability to conduct online meetings from hotel lobbies and poolsides
  • Today, with data in the cloud and apps on phones, the CEO can track revenue, sales reps can monitor delivery schedules from the 9th tee or pontoon.
Who wouldn't want to be free to work from anywhere?


Here's why the establishment doesn't want you working from home:

Economics

Gas stations, parking lots, parking meters, bars, restaurants, car dealerships, toll roads, bus lines, subways, delivery services, logistic companies, commercial real estate firms,  entertainment establishments, hotels, and coffee shops all derive taxable revenue from the 9 to 5 world.

This 9 to 5 infrastructure is huge and financed by big institutions, which is why you're seeing most banking concerns forcing employees back to the cube.

Ego - the Old Way

I compare current cube farms with the cotton fields of history - mid and upper management act like plantation owners, standing on the porch watching work progress in the fields. 

Mid to upper management has always believed "out of sight" equals zero accountability.  Of course, this is incorrect. Also, decreased productivity, one of the biggest fears associated with work from home, proved to be baseless as productivity rose during the lockdowns.  

The status quo includes Casual Fridays, company BBQs, walk-around management, cube farms, fruitless meetings, and 2.5% pay increases.  Working from your den, with a view of your backyard, is better than 1,000 Casual Fridays.

Middle Managers

This is the killer app of Work from anywhere: When we work from home, we don't need managers.  

The Work for Anywhere environment is about outcomes, not adherence to policy.  Is one of your tasks managing and updating HR profiles?  When you complete your updates, the results are what is important, not you were able to complete the duty between 8:30AM and 7:00PM under the gaze of an overseer.

Management doesn't manage people they manage policy and adherence to procedures.  I'm not suggesting all managers are useless - I am saying we will need fewer managers and more "coaches".

"...Manager tells sales force in a video meeting that if they want company-provided leads they need to come into the office more often to get them. That's the kind of logic trap that results in bridges built over potholes..." - actual account from the field.

Work from Anywhere = Work for More than One

"...we're afraid our companies will see us advocating for something that can be construed as self-interest rather than company interest..."

The work from anywhere movement is not about a new business model environment, increased productivity, or happier employees it is the discovery of your purpose. 

This sounds a bit new age, but it isn’t. 

People are quitting jobs in record numbers. Sure, working from home is a big reason for the exodus, but I suspect there is something deeper. The fear of Covid forced us to look inside ourselves, to narrow our vision from the global to a few blocks. We were forced to figure this new way of work all on our own. 

Corporate HQ didn’t have a plan. Management pushed you out of the office and told you to figure out how to work from the kitchen table. Nobody had ever been there before. You put plans together and worked the best way possible under great stress and a belief that you were helping your company stay alive. Your loyalty demanded this response. 

Zoom meetings with upper management parroting a seemingly heartfelt, “We’re all in this together,” lie, became ubiquitous. During the past few months, the Universe revealed ‘Loyalty’ to be a one-way street. Employees are re-evaluating their return on investment for long commutes, late hours, missed soccer matches.

The "math" is not adding up.

Here's the new evolutionary path:
  • Covid sends everyone home
  • We determine how to work from home
  • We like it
  • Covid scares the crap out of everyone, we begin to look at life differently
  • The Covid fear recedes
  • Businesses start asking employees back to the office
  • Employees quit en masse, across all sectors
  • Employers dictate a return to the office
  • Employees resist
  • Employees seek out remote and find jobs
  • Employees figure out how to work multiple remote jobs simultaneously, move to 1099 
Like the plantations, major changes were a result of radical social upheaval. Covid is a catalyst for so many changes it will be up to historians to document. 

One thing is certain, we are at the precipice of either the greatest shift in business models or a tumble into oblivion.

2 comments:

  1. Greg this is great thank you for writing. I do not regret my time in "cubicle farm," my life and productivity has changed dramatically since getting out. I'm selling more, customers are happier and i'm better able to manage all the behind the scenes stuff needed to make magic happen and turn money trees in money deposits. I actually sell for three companies now and all of them are happy. I've doubled my budget this year and am going to hit my targets. Now if i could just avoid being pegged in the face with a paintball from half a field away.

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    1. Sean, thank you for reading. Yours is a great story! Three? xlint!

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