Communicating Remotely

A recent study recommends remote teams communicate in “bursts,” not constantly throughout the workday.

The website behavioralscientist.org, a site discussing human psychology, published the following article on May 29:

“Bursty” Communication Can Help Remote Teams Thrive – Behavioral Scientist

I find the fact that a psychology website brings up Remote Work very important. Adoption of Remote Work is more a question of psychology than anything else.

The tech IS available, and has been for years. Implementation only takes days. But before that you need the company to accept the notion of Remote Work (what many call ‘buy-in’). After implementation, you need work habits to change, adapting around the new Remote Work option.

These are both a matter of human beliefs, attitudes, and habits – all aspects of human psychology.

So let’s examine what the BehavioralScientist.org article has to say.

Study Done on Remote Team Productivity when Using 2 Communication Methods

The article discusses a study which tested remote teams’ communication strategies. Specifically, they measured two different communication methods:

  1. Standard communication: Communication occurred constantly, in small exchanges, all throughout the day. Lag time often occurred between initial requests and responses.
  2. “Burstiness”: Communication “bursts” – rapid exchange of messages within a short time period – occurred sporadically during the workday. Then people went back to their work until the next “burst.”

The result? The teams using “burstiness” were more productive, more coherent, and had higher-quality work at the end of the day. Findings included this statistical result: “A one standard deviation increase in burstiness lead to a 24 percent performance increase.”

24% improvement is pretty darn significant for a controlled trial!

What This Means: Nonstop Conversation Trickle Disrupts Work. Communication Bursts Allow Focused Work.

I’ve seen this reflected in my own telecommuting. As you’re working, you begin to run into snags. I need this file from Sharon…are we debuting the new trial version on Thursday or Monday…

You ask the co-worker about the snag. But co-workers, wrapped up in their own work, don’t answer right away. What do you do? You either a) keep bugging them, or b) wait (causing what I call ‘Question Buildup’).

Within a normal office environment, you could go ask them & get back to work. But that creates another type of disruption. You go to Sharon’s desk, ask her a question, and get an answer. Then someone else asks Sharon a question & gets an answer. Then someone else…

How much work can Sharon accomplish like this? None!

A constant trickle of quick conversations, facilitated by an easy-to-access office environment, just RUINS productivity. But without those questions answered, you get Question Buildup, and your work can’t progress. It creates a bad Catch 22.

“Bursty” communication periods can solve this problem, according to the study.

Here’s how I envision using “burstiness” during the workday. (Forgive the crudely-basic infographic; I am not a designer.)

Burstiness for Remote Teams

“Burstiness” and its role in the remote team’s workday.

  1. All team members proceed with their work.
  2. Questions begin to build up among them.
  3. One or more persons calls for a Burst session.
  4. Everyone stops their work & converses with the team.
  5. Questions are answered, issues resolved, direction obtained. Could take as little as 5 minutes.
  6. Team members go back to work.
  7. Repeat cycle if necessary.

Communicating in Bursts Lets Remote Workers Do Their Work, AND Stay Productive. Try It!

Take a minute and read the BehavioralScientist.org article. It’s an excellent study, and a short read.

We glean a strong two-part point about remote work from the study results:

  • Communication is key for ALL teams, but especially remote teams. Doing so productively translates to big productivity gains.
  • Remote Work is more a matter of psychology than procedure. If the psychological acceptance isn’t there, someone will sabotage the whole effort.

How do you handle communication when working remotely?

Remote Work Productivity

How Task Overlap Wastes Productivity, and How One Simple List Can Stop It

“Everyone does a little bit of everything here.” It’s a common saying in startups, and some small businesses. Harmless, right?

No. If you have remote workers, you need to stamp that practice out.

It will hurt your company’s productivity and cost you valuable time. I’ll elucidate how in this post.

Productivity Drain Warning: Task Overlap

Let’s illustrate an example here. We have a business where everyone works remotely. One worker, Bob, can do a certain task. I’ll use “populating SEO metadata on webpages” in this case.

SEO population is not Bob’s primary job. But he can do it. Now, another worker, Sarah, does SEO population as part of her regular weekly tasks.

However, not everyone in the company knows this.

Jeff, Sarah’s manager, does know about Sarah’s SEO population duty. Bob does not. Bob’s manager Anna doesn’t either.

Problem: Anna receives a task request for SEO population. Her mind, of course, goes to Bob. She asks Bob to do it.

Because Bob doesn’t know Sarah can populate SEO (and regularly does), he goes ahead & does it. It takes him 15 minutes because he’s not accustomed to doing it regularly. Two days later, Sarah does her regular SEO population for all clients. It only takes her 5 minutes per task. Along the way, she sees that one population was already done. Curious, she takes 3 minutes and finds out Bob did it.

Bob has wasted his effort and 15 minutes of time. Sarah has wasted 3. This is what I mean by Task Overlap.

Frustrated Remote Worker

I wasted HOW long doing that??

Be Specific on Who Does What, to Avoid Task Overlap

If people do many things/skills, and are not expressly aware of everyone else’s duties, then they can overlap with others. Causing wasted productivity each time. Only a little time, as we saw above. But that can add up fast.

Imagine if you could get 1 extra hour of productivity, per person, per month. That’s a big chunk of useful time.

Regular thorough communication can help avoid Task Overlap to a large degree. But it’s not as effective as specifying everyone’s duties.

How to ID Remote Workers’ Specialties

Here’s a way to solve the Task Overlap issue. You only need a little time, documentation, and a shared workspace (e.g. a wiki, Asana, etc.).

  1. Survey every remote worker. Ask them to list their specialties and their regular duties.
  2. Document all of these in 1 big list. Separate by type and person. I’ve worked up an example in the below image:

    Remote Work Duties & Specialties List

    Duties and Specialties for Bob & Sarah. At-a-glance Task Overlap prevention.

  3. Publish the list somewhere ALL workers, remote or otherwise, have access to.
  4. Require all workers to view & bookmark the list.
    • Everyone can refer to this whenever they receive a new task.
  5. Update the list quarterly. You can just re-run the previous process to check in with everyone.
  6. When you do update the list, send an email reminder around so everyone knows to check it again.

Let’s go back to our earlier example. Anna receives a request for SEO metadata population. She checks the list. Sees that Bob has SEO population listed as a Specialty…but Sarah has SEO Population under Duties.

Anna forwards the request to Jeff, who adds it to Sarah’s regular weekly task list. Time? Maybe 3 minutes. Productive time wasted? Zero.

Clarity on Who Does What Saves Time AND Productivity

Don’t get me wrong…it’s good to have multi-skilled people on your team! Especially in a remote work environment. That way another person can step in to help if someone’s out sick, or on vacation.

You just don’t want to mis-target their efforts, over and over.

In a Remote Work environment, people sometimes feel they’re the “only one who can do this.” One simple list can explain otherwise, AND let them focus on what they do best.

Does your company document people’s duties/specialties?

Paying Remote Workers in Crypto

More avenues than ever exist to pay remote employees & contractors. Should you add cryptocurrencies to the list?

That’s what this post will discuss. We all saw the meteoric rise of Bitcoin in late 2017, blowing past everyone’s expectations in a sudden rush to the $20,000 mark. It’s now dropped back down around $10,000 and waffles every day.

Personally, I think of Bitcoin itself as a bubble. But it served a valued purpose—moving the blockchain (its core) from a small Web-only curiosity, to a globally-recognized technology. Thousands of blockchain-development companies now exist, seeking to capitalize on the tech everywhere from identity to security to business operations.

Including, of course, payments using cryptocurrencies. Which any business can do already, in one of several available currencies. If you prepare a little bit.

ethereum photo

Photo by stockcatalog

Prerequisites for Using Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies (or “Cryptos” as I’ll reference them in this post) are still in early stages. It is possible to use them for remote worker payments. But some preparatory steps are required.

Any business wanting to use cryptos as a payment method must have staff (or a consultant) who knows the crypto space. They must have:

  • Technical acumen (for knowing/learning the process)
  • Forward-thinking mindset (to see the value in using crypto)
  • Familiarity with current payment options (so you’re not bleeding money on every transaction!)

To assist, here are some resources which will help you familiarize:
What is Cryptocurrency: Everything You Need To Know [Ultimate Guide] – BlockGeeks.com
Reddit – Cryptocurrency
What is the best way for a beginner to learn about the cryptocurrency market? – Quora

When to Use Crypto for Payments

Cryptocurrency as a payment method is viable. It actually has been for a few years, but recent interest compels a more serious look. If your business finds itself in the following circumstances, maybe it’s time to consider a crypto payment:

  1. Other payment methods are not available.
  2. Fees for invoices (or an invoicing software) are too high
  3. Your payroll system doesn’t handle international payments well, or it’s slow.
  4. Overdependence on one payment option, like PayPal.
  5. Workers request it. Yes, this does happen! Witness Ethlance.com, a freelance jobs website like Upwork…only it pays workers in the Ethereum crypto.

Sounds intriguing, right? But even if you’re interested in doing this, it may not make sense for your particular business (or industry). In such cases, we should take a moment & determine if you should embark down the cryptocurrency road.

Should You Pay Remote Workers in Cryptocurrency? How to Tell

The old rule goes, just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you SHOULD. It still applies to cryptos. Let’s say your business wants to explore using cryptocurrencies. Which businesses would benefit from doing so?

Yours would, if the business meets these criteria:

  • Some of your remote employees are international. Or they might live in high-tax states (e.g. California), where you’re based in a low-tax state.
  • Your remote workers are tech-savvy. For instance, software engineers. This makes them more likely to know the crypto space. They might even hold some cryptocurrencies already.
  • You can handle volatility. Cryptos change value like other currencies…but they do so a little more ‘vigorously.’ At least for now.
  • Your business is flexible enough to switch from one cryptocurrency to another. This is important; it means you can switch to a crypto which works better for your industry. The technology for this is still developing.
  • You have in-house talent capable of managing crypto for you NOW. You’ll have to poll workers to find this out. More than likely if someone knows the technology, it’s due to personal testing. They may not want to share that knowledge publicly (people have ridiculed cryptos in the past).

Finally, one caveat. Do not hire someone just to manage cryptocurrency payments! Unless you plan to switch the entire business over to crypto payments, it should not have full-time focus.

Think of it this way. Your bookkeeper doesn’t spend all day, every day, paying staff. They’re also managing the books, collecting from customers, handling tax preparation, etc. The most efficiency method of adopting cryptocurrency is to fold it into the existing payroll structure as much as possible.

crypto photo

Time for payroll!

How to Select a Cryptocurrency & Pay Remote Workers With It

So you’ve determined that you want to add a cryptocurrency to your employee payment options. Which one? And how do you work it into payroll?

Here’s how. There’s a few steps…but most of these are the same steps you’d take to add any other payment method.

  • If you haven’t yet, survey your remote workers. Do they want the option to receive payments in cryptocurrency? If so, which crypto would they prefer?
  • Choose a crypto based on feedback. I recommend starting with only one. You can add more later if desired.
    • See the next section for recommendations on cryptos to use.
  • Set up accounts to buy the crypto. This is where you need the crypto-familiar employees or an expert consultant. Lifehacker.com did a piece on how to buy cryptocurrency which can help guide you. So can a recent Bankrate.com guide, “How to Responsibly Invest in Bitcoin.”
    • Coinbase is the most popular method of buying cryptocurrency. I recommend starting here, as they take pains to make it easy for everyone. But you have many other options. Search for “Buy [Your Chosen Cryptocurrency]” for more help.
  • Familiarize Accounting with the buying process. At least two people should know how to exchange regular currency (referred to as ‘fiat’ in the crypto space) into the desired crypto.
  • Set up an interval to buy & hold the crypto. One hallmark of cryptocurrency is its fast transfer speeds. It’s easy to buy all the crypto you’d need for a while, and just leave it in your wallet (the storage medium for crypto, like a bank account) for when you need to pay out.
    • I recommend a 1-month interval to start.
  • Pay out to each worker on your normal payment schedule. Like initiating transfers to remote workers’ account numbers, you would initiate crypto transfer to your remote worker’s crypto wallet.
    • Do a live comparison of the crypto’s CURRENT value to your regular currency first. Use a site like CryptoCompare; it will always tell you what 1 of any listed crypto is worth in US Dollars. That way you’re not overpaying unintentionally.
    • Each remote worker must provide you their wallet’s “public key” to do this. Treat these like a bank account number.
  • Record the amounts in existing books. You can use the crypto’s Currency Code instead of marking them in dollars. (Some examples of Currency Codes included below.) If you want to record the corresponding US Dollar amount alongside it, go ahead. This may help you come tax time.

Six Cryptocurrency Choices

When you ask your remote workers, you may hear a bunch of names you don’t recognize. “What’s an Ethereum?” you may wonder.

Let me offer a few explanations beforehand. Many cryptos are popular now…mostly because they can make people money. But for business, you’d want to concentrate on value and fair cost. With that in mind, here are few cryptocurrencies I think are either good for business use, or ones you should avoid:

  1. Bitcoin (BTC) – It’s big, it’s well-known…and it’s crazy volatile. Not recommended.
  2. Monero (XMR) – This is a privacy-focused crypto. It’s good, and better priced than Bitcoin. But as of early 2018, cybercriminals are flooding into Monero use. They like receiving ransomware payments in it. Which may cause volatile price swings and/or unwanted attention. Not recommended (at least for now).
  3. Litecoin (LTC) – The “silver” to Bitcoin’s gold. It’s a longtime crypto, and stable enough to use.
  4. Ethereum (ETH) – A versatile crypto, with many subprojects. Usable.
  5. Ripple (XRP) – Made for international banking, so it’s quite usable. For now, very cheap too.
  6. Industry-specific crypto – Many industries already have one or more cryptocurrencies specializing in their needs. For example, we have Atlant (Real Estate), Ambrosus (Food & Medicine), Stellar (Banking), and many more. Just search for “crypto [Your Industry]”.

I recommend: Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and Industry-Specific. In that order.

Why?

  • Stability. Each is stable enough in terms of pricing.

    litecoin photo

    Photo by btckeychain

  • Purpose. Each has a defined purpose and a team backing it.
  • Familiarity. These are recognized by other crypto-friendly businesses.
  • Lower Cost. Even the most expensive of these, Ethereum, isn’t nearly as expensive as Bitcoin. As of this post’s publication, 1 ETH is worth $861.93.

Cryptocurrency Payments are Here. Will You Put Them on Payroll?

While I am familiar with the crypto space, I am NOT a Cryptocurrency expert. Please do some research before making your crypto selection.

Disclosure: I hold some of the following cryptos – Ripple (XRP), Stellar (XLM), Ambrosus (AMB), and the Basic Attention Token (BAT). If a business wanted to pay me in cryptocurrency for my labor? I would accept payment in Stellar, Litecoin, or Ripple.

I agree with those who’ve said that cryptocurrencies are at the tail end of the “Wild West” stage. I’m writing this post now because I see a lot of value in blockchain technology in general (of which cryptocurrencies are a big part). I also want to give fellow remote workers a resource to which they can point, if they want to accept crypto.

Remote Workers, would you accept payments in cryptocurrencies? Which ones? Sound off!

Fire Extinguisher Emergency

Let’s finish off 2017 by continuing the “Suitable Work Type” post series. It’s time to talk about a few work types that don’t make sense to do remotely. At least not yet.

I know, it’s a bit strange to see a post on a remote-work blog talking about this. But when advancing a big change, such as a major shift in how many jobs are done, one must expect opposition. Especially when said shift threatens a lot of jobs (including that of the opposition).

I’ve already had people throw out counterarguments like:
“How will police do their jobs, huh?”
“You can’t do ER work remotely, so that means the whole thing’s wrong!”

To a large degree, these arguments are true. For now. They just don’t consider the future perspective.

I’m writing this post to illustrate how true they are, if there’s any progress toward making them remote-friendly, and why this doesn’t disprove the larger telecommuting shift.

Identifying Non-Suitable Work Categories

A reminder: I’m grouping the following into categories. These are segments of the workforce, with many specific jobs under their umbrella. Easier to envision them this way.

Most (but not all) of these jobs we cannot yet do remotely. Not without severely low efficiency, and/or serious risk to the larger populace.

I want to stress something before I continue: These jobs are important.

They help us build & sustain critical parts of our economy. In no way does my listing them here minimize their necessity.

That said, let’s take a look at the criteria.

The Criteria (Again) for Remote Work Suitability

I’ll use the same set of criteria as the last post.

  1. Primary Role – Where is this role most effective?
  2. Job Location vs. Customer Location
  3. Do the daily duties require physical interaction?
  4. Which communication methods are commonly used?
  5. What is the ideal communication method for this job?
  6. What output does the job generate, and where does it go?

Work Type 1: Blue-Collar/Trades

This is a blanket term for many constructive roles (literally) – plumbing, electrical, residential/commercial construction, etc.

  1. PRIMARY ROLE – Tradespeople are most effective at a worksite. This can be a new construction location, a home in need of repair, and so on.
  2. LOCATION – The customer may not necessarily be at the job location. For instance, commercial developers in one city paying workers to wire a building under construction the next city over.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION – Yes, definitely. Pipes can’t lay themselves (yet), buildings can’t build themselves (yet).
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS – The trades can use any communication they want. My limited experience has told me that many workers like phone calls, texting, and conference calls. All methods they can use while on-site.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION – At this point, I’d have to say texting is ideal. It doesn’t force a worker to stop what they’re doing, and they can keep in touch with whomever they need to.
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE – The trades produce some of the most tangible output possible. New homes, office buildings, city infrastructure, sewage & electrical systems, and much more.

Remote Work in such a field is not possible. At least not entirely. Instead, we have a lateral change occurring in the trades…automation! Automation is making a lot of headway in terms of construction. Witness robots building houses!

A Robot Can Print This $64,000 House in as Little as Eight Hours – Futurism

3D Printed House

Photo courtesy of Futurism.com.

 

(The technology is still a bit preliminary. That will change, fast.)

Work Type 2: Medical (in Part)

Another huge blanket term, covering everyone from orderlies to cardiac surgeons.

Ambulance

Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

 

  1. PRIMARY ROLE – The site of patient injury.
  2. LOCATION – There are three primary locations for medical professionals: the Hospital, the Injury Site, and the Patient Home.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION – Yes, for almost all instances.
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS – Direct person-to-person, by phone, through electronic records, some email, texting.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION – I’m going to say a combination of person-to-person and electronic records here. Phone is fastest, but it’s also the most subject to misunderstanding. How clear can you be on the phone if your family member/friend is bleeding?
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE – Medical professionals output better patient health.

Since the medical work type must work in so many capacities, Remote Work is largely impossible. However, some aspects of it CAN work remotely.

For example, HealthTap is developing technology capable of replacing a doctor visit/consultation. One very large aspect of the entire medical profession…done from anywhere.

Think of how this would benefit Doctors Without Borders. They could estimate where to send the most resources based on ground-level experience, all gathered before anyone begins travel. Mission successes would jump, resource allocation efficiency improves, and most importantly, more people stay healthy.

Work Type 3: Emergency Response

These are the people working in between things like the medical and legal industries. Firefighters, EMTs, Search & Rescue, and so on.

Fire Department

Photo by Mike Anderson on Unsplash

 

  1. PRIMARY ROLE – The site of emergency.
  2. LOCATION – Anywhere people are injured, lost, or in danger. Any place property is damaged.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION – In most cases, yes. Visual assessment and physical response are key.
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS – Any & all available. These professions even have their own communication channels (e.g. specific radio bands, point-to-point calls).
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION – The profession’s own communication channels work best. That’s why they developed them!
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE – This work type outputs mitigated emergencies. Injured people treated, lost people found, property preserved, fires put out.

There’s too much travel for this work type to accomplish 100% remotely. However, we’re already replacing aspects of it with automation.

Self-driving vehicles help with the ambulance question. We don’t yet have machines which can do EMT work in the back of an ambulance…but we will automate the driver’s role very shortly. Search & Rescue? Launch drones! It’s not as good as an expert tracker’s eye, but it’s much more efficient than mobilizing dozens of people when seconds count.

Work Type 4: Law Enforcement

This work type primarily covers police and related bureaus (e.g. federal investigators). To a lesser degree it also covers judges.

Police Officer

For some reason I just like this photo. Maybe it’s because he isn’t rushed or angry or under threat. He’s just out there doing his job. Photo by Jordan Andrews on Unsplash

  1. PRIMARY ROLE – Law enforcement does their job best when they’re able to interact with colleagues and suspects.
  2. LOCATION – One important point here. Law enforcement’s “customer” is actually the citizen. Their job is to protect & serve citizens, by enforcing laws among them. Thus their job location is best characterized as “in the field.”
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION – Yes. Some police departments insulate themselves from the populace; this is not only wrong, it’s inefficient. It breeds distrust among citizens and an authoritarian attitude among officers.
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS – Police generally use radios, electronic records, phone calls, and email.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION – I would lean more toward electronic records as best. I don’t know if you’ve ever listened to 911 call recordings or police dispatch calls, but the audio quality (not to mention vocal timbre) is terrible!
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE – Law Enforcement’s best output is a safe environment for citizens. When children can play outside without their parents fearing the worst.

What’s the Remote Work future for law enforcement? Robots! We already have robots which can monitor locations, provide a ‘presence’ to deter crime, and process criminals. They aren’t perfect. But nothing is in early stages.

For now though, we don’t have robots that can chase down a suspect or conduct questioning. Law enforcement is not Remote Work-suitable just yet.

The Future: Automation Can Replace At Least Some of These

As I pointed out above, automation looms large for many work types. Overall I believe this is a good thing; jobs such as firefighting and construction take a heavy toll on workers’ bodies. Any form of lightening that load should be employed.

Does that mean fewer jobs (even remote ones) for individuals in these work types? To a small degree, yes. But we will always need people to manage the drones, maintain the equipment, program them, fix mistakes…

Not everything will be remote work. But more of it will shift as automation grows. Which can actually help Remote-Enable more professions!

I’ll dedicate more posts to automation later. It’s a meaty topic; a bunch of professions deserve an address from its perspective.

For now, thanks for reading, and Happy Holidays!

What’s your perspective on these work types Remote-Enabling in the future?

Remote Work Web Development

You can do entire types of work remotely. More types than you might suspect.

This is the first of a post series, talking about which jobs/job types are best (and worst) suited for remote work. I’m writing it for two explicit audiences:

  1. Those who’d like ammo in case someone asks, “Well if telecommuting’s so great, how come only programmers do it?”
  2. Those who hear about Remote Work and think, “There’s no way you could do X Job remotely.”

If you think remote work is only good for contracted programmers, this post should prove enlightening. I’ve met many different people who work remotely, in a variety of roles…all the way up to CEO!

Maybe I’ll address the “remote CEO” question later. For now though, let’s dig into our definitions. In order to determine if a work type is indeed suitable for Remote Work, we’ll need criteria. Factors which, if they all add up, mean the job is not location-based. Here are those factors.

The Criteria for Remote Work Suitability

After some research and pondering, I devised these criteria for our use. They cover critical work functions, interactions, and goals. They are also broad enough that they apply to most work types without special circumstances (e.g., medical, rural industry).

  1. Primary Role—Where is it most effective?
  2. Job Location vs. Customer Location
  3. Do the daily duties require physical interaction?
  4. Which communication methods are commonly used?
  5. What is the ideal communication method for this job?
  6. What output does the job generate, and where does it go?

I’ve dissected 6 common work types using these criteria, and found all of them are suitable for remote work. In fact, none require a physical office at all!

I hope at least one of these surprises you. I’m using standard industry names for easy understanding.

Working Remotely from Anywhere

Work Type 1: Web Development

  1. PRIMARY ROLE — Wherever the developer is most productive.
  2. LOCATION — Customer location can be “anywhere.” Job location is therefore location-independent.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION — No. Email, calls, and chat work fine. Especially when dealing with code.
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS — Email, GitHub, chat, etc.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION — This depends on the client for whom the developer works. Any of the methods from #4 may then work.
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE — Code for apps & websites. This is posted to a server, tested, and released.

From what we can see. nothing about this role requires presence in an office. No surprise that this is one of the largest telecommuting-friendly work roles today.

Work Type 2: Management

  1. PRIMARY ROLE — Directing the workloads of others. You can do it in-office or through other methods, depending on scale & business standards.
  2. LOCATION — “Customers” are split between actual business customers & employees. Either or both can be local or remote.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION — Requires interaction, yes. Physical interaction? Again, depends on scale & business structure. But no, physical interaction is not required.
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS — Phone, email, collaborative editing, yelling across the office, text…all sorts. In fact, some communications were arguably invented for Management to talk with you more!
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION — For management, ideal communication is trackable, fast/real-time, and clear. Email & phone win out.
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE — A manager’s output is measured in employee productivity & customer satisfaction.

Should Management stick to the office? They can. Do they have to? No.

Work Type 3: Creative Work

  1. PRIMARY ROLE — The same as a developer…wherever they are most productive.
  2. LOCATION — Customers are usually an employer or client. Job can be wherever they are, or wherever the creative is.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION — Daily duties involve focused work: writing copy, designing graphics, etc. They require focus…the opposite of interaction!
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS — See Management’s #4.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION — I asked a designer friend of mine how he prefers to communicate. He prefers two methods:
    • Email (for as much detail as needed), and
    • Video calls (for getting a good sense of what someone wants).
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE — Output is creative content. This normally goes into a website, ad, or marketing campaign.

Like web developers, nothing in creative work requires an office. In fact, many find offices stifling. Too much noise, not enough focus time.

Work Type 4: Sales

  1. PRIMARY ROLE — Salespeople sell. Thus they are most effective where the customer is most receptive. That could be in a store, on a website, or over a phone.
  2. LOCATION — See #1.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION — Some sales processes do require personal interaction…negotiating deals, for instance. But this is changing as more people shop online.
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS — Salespeople rely on techniques & rapport. In the past they built both with speaking & learning about customer needs. Such skills are still useful…and even better, you can use many of the same techniques online.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION — So much business occurs online that I’d say the ideal sales communication method is now the written word. That means email, webpages, chat, texting.
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE — You can measure sales output in customer purchases, reviews, repeat sales, & so on. Doing sales remotely actually makes all of these easier to track.

Sales is very audience-specific. Depending on yours, your salespeople could do very well telecommuting.

Work Type 5: Information Technology/IT

  1. PRIMARY ROLE — IT is a broad term, but I’ll go with a general goal of “maintaining IT systems within the business.” This is most effective from a place where the IT professional can access said systems efficiently.
  2. LOCATION — Customer is the employer or client (they’re the ones paying for the technology!). Location could be where the system is, if remote access is not possible. Bust that’s becoming a tiny minority. Remote access is commonplace.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION — Duties require interaction with the system more frequently than with people. Some IT pros prefer not interacting with people at all!
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS — Like web developers, IT pros use almost every communication method out there.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION — Based off my own IT friends, I’d say online chat has become the ideal method. Slack, Skype/Teams, etc. It’s real-time, easy to follow, and keeps logs.
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE — Output is a fully-functional IT system. Done right, you’re just doing regular checks & maintenance in between upgrades.

We’ve all breathed a sigh of relief when “the IT guys” show up to fix our problem. Nowadays though, they don’t have to physically go anywhere.

Work Type 6: Customer Service

  1. PRIMARY ROLE — Since Customer Service must address customer issues, they are most effective when dealing with the customers where THEY (the customers) want to be.
  2. LOCATION — Customers can be anywhere. Customer Service jobs must at least have the capability to help them anywhere.
  3. DUTIES REQUIRE PHYSICAL INTERACTION — A definite no. Case in point: Amazon’s Help Center. These CS reps are worldwide, and yet they do a pretty good job of addressing Amazon customers’ issues.
  4. COMMUNICATION METHODS – Customer Service is traditionally done through phone. However, I can’t recall the last time I called one. Instead, I go to a company’s website, and either send them an email, or fire up a chat window.
  5. IDEAL COMMUNICATION — Like IT, chat shines here. Chat works on any device, real-time, with no yelling or trying to figure out what the customer mumbled.
  6. OUTPUT & WHERE — Output is measured in number of satisfied issues & post-CS survey results. All made & recorded online.

Remote Work has given Customer Service a boost. A job search on Indeed showed me that the majority of CS jobs listed said the job was remote.

6 Major Work Types are all Remote Work-friendly. Is Yours?

These are just six types of work. You could also illustrate good Remote Work choices by industry (I’ll do that in a future post). Regardless, we can clearly see that major roles are easily “Remote-Enabled.”

Next time I’ll list some work types NOT suited for Remote Work. At least…not yet.

Is your job among the types listed above? If so, are you working remotely? Why/Why not? Please comment or email me your thoughts.

“If I can’t see you working, how do I know you’re working?”

You’ve heard this mantra from business executives before. It always comes up when employees talk about telecommuting.

Seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? But some execs just won’t budge.

In this post we’ll explain why they don’t. It’s not the reason you might think…and it’s definitely not the reason they give!

What are Execs Really Afraid of With Telecommuting?

This statement, meant to sound like a reasonable rejection of a telecommuter’s working outside the office, actually illustrates a fear. A fear the exec has…a fear which is central to Remote Work objections. A fear that stands in the way of its adoption.

However, it’s not a fear of laziness. That’s what you might think when you hear it. But the exec isn’t worried telecommuters will just slack off and not do any work. (Few white-collar execs assume so little of their employees.)

No, no. This is a deeper fear. A personal one.

The Question of Control…and Losing It

The fear execs have when it comes to Remote Work is actually fear of loss of control.

The belief is that Remote Workers are outside of Management’s reach, and thus the exec cannot direct them. Cannot control their actions. The result? They (the exec) no longer controls that worker’s productivity.

Scared Executive

Of course that’s not true. Remote Workers still need direction for a bunch of job aspects:

  • Overarching business strategy
  • Project oversight
  • Inter-department communication
  • Customer service
  • R & D
  • Marketing objectives
  • Snags in the day-to-day processes

Et cetera.

I think we can safely say that fear of loss of control is unfounded. It has no rational basis (as if most fears ever do!).

But if there’s no rational basis, why does the fear of “I’m losing control” arise at all?

For the answer, think in terms of business models. A business executive is likely older (I’m generalizing)—in their 50s, 60s, etc. Throughout their career they knew only one business model:

  1. You Go To Work
  2. You Do Your Work
  3. You Go Home

They’ve lived within that model, that paradigm their entire professional life.

Enter Remote Work. A business model which moves emphasis away from physically going to a job site. Yet the work still gets done.

To the exec’s mind, this is unnerving. Incompatible. Their emotions activate and start yelling.

“New model! Uncertain! I can’t use the same mindset I always have. Am I obsolete? No! REJECT!”

…and that’s where the fear comes from. Loss of control, not just over their employees, but over their entire business mindset. Remote Work is perceived as a threat.

In a sense I understand the fear. We’re all only human. But even though I understand, I must still point out a major problem. It’s not just a problem for workers wanting to telecommute either…it’s also a problem for all the businesses whose execs are afraid of Remote Work.

This fear expresses itself as a rejection of Remote Work altogether. The exec can’t see themselves in the Remote Work paradigm, which jeopardizes their own position. So they try to stop it. Try to keep their time-worn mindset relevant (and keep their job).

Here’s the problem. Remote Work isn’t going away.

In fact, it’s still growing. According to the Flexjobs report, “2017 State of Telecommuting in the U.S. Employee Workforce,” telecommuting grew by 115% from 2005 to 2015.

If a business’ execs continue to reject it? It’s the business equivalent of paddling into a tidal wave. The BUSINESS is what’s going away, not Remote Work.

Feel the Fear…and Embrace Remote Work Anyway

The cold truth for all executives is: The market values productivity over brand names. It doesn’t care about your fears. It doesn’t care about your business model, no matter how long it’s been around. It only cares about the value you provide your customers.

Here’s a quick example. Let’s say your business and a competitor each have a similar product. Your business refuses to allow Remote Work. But your competitor embraces it.

You pass the traditional operating costs (salary, benefits, R&D, misc. Op-Ex) on to customers via the product’s price. Typical model. Like they used to.

The competitor, having lowered their Op-Ex by granting telecommuting to its workers, is able to lower its total expenses. Let’s say they reduced their office space, and moved most of their IT services to cloud platforms. This allowed them to reduce expenses by 10% – which they use to lower their prices.

Their product is now 10% cheaper than yours. The product is just as good, just as high-value…just more affordable.

Guess which product the market buys.
Guess what happens to your business.

Remote Work Fear

But…I don’t have a good reason not to enable Remote Work, but maybe I can come up with one…

Message to Business Executives: Remote Work is Here to Help. Don’t Be Scared.

Sorry, but your, “if I can’t see them, they’re not working” mindset is directly harmful to the bottom line. Time to change. The world is not waiting.

What can you, the worker, do to make this clear to Management? Show them this post. After you do, please leave a comment on the results. I always like hearing stories from fellow Remote Workers.

Traffic Jam

Remote Work doesn’t just benefit you, the worker. Or you, the manager (from the greater productivity your workers gain). It also benefits something you both use every day.

Your environment.

How? By not contributing to environment-damaging conditions—when commuting.

Think about this. In any given major city or large metro area, what happens every workday? The Commute. Lots of people in cars, subway trains, and buses. Millions of bodies clogging up transportation routes at two (sometimes 3) times of the day.

Every vehicle filling the air with smog, heat, and soot.

Let’s see how Remote Work and commuting work together. You’ll see pretty quickly that even a small amount of Remote Work has a notable effect on the local environment…benefiting everyone who lives there.

Commuting Exposes You (and Everyone Else) to More Pollution Than Ever

According to StatisticsBrain, over 128 million people commute every day in the U.S. The majority (75%) drive their own car, going between 1-10 miles one-way. The average commute is about 25 minutes.

(Speaking as someone in the San Francisco Bay Area, I can confidently say…we commute on average FAR longer than 25 minutes. It’s taken me 45 minutes to go 3 miles, more than once!)

Commuter Train

That’s definitely not a BART train. There’s way too much space open.
Photo by Adelin Preda on Unsplash

Now, let’s broaden our perspective a little. What ELSE happens as a result of all those vehicles moving back and forth?

  • Air pollution.
  • Lots of fuel/energy use.
  • Each person loses time in traffic/delays.
  • Stress.

All serious problems. More so now than ever before.

In July 2017, just days before I wrote this, Duke University published a study on in-car pollution levels for commuters. They found that commuting drivers breathed in twice as many pollutants as sensors checking the air from the sides of the road. The kind of pollutants that not only make you cough, but can contribute to heart disease and cancer.

The study measured air in Atlanta traffic. But I’ll bet it’s just as bad, if not worse, over here on Silicon Valley’s clogged highways.

How Remote Work Saves the Planet! (Or at least improves your health.)

Just by commuting, you’re causing environmental damage, wasting time, and actually hurting yourself. 5 days a week, (nearly) 52 weeks a year, every year.

“Yeah, it’s not good for the planet. But what can we do?”

Simple. We can work remotely.

Imagine that same big city/metro area, with a large number of local businesses switching to Remote Work strategies. It wouldn’t affect ALL jobs (can’t telecommute to a construction site…yet). But even a 10% drop in people commuting could yield incredible improvements.

  • Better/lighter/faster traffic (I’m sure you’d appreciate that!)
  • Hours regained every week
  • Higher productivity from said regained time
  • Reduced air pollution
  • Lower stress levels
  • Happier workforce
  • Lower fuel/energy costs
  • More flexible business hours
  • Improved health for everyone!

Let’s gather some statistics to back these up. Here in the Bay Area we have a “Bike to Work” Day in May. They list the environmental benefits of such on this page:
Environmental Benefits – Bike to Work Day

According to their statistics, a mid-size car generates 1.3 tons of CO2 commuting 5 days a week for 1 year. Now, according to BayAreaCensus.gov, we had 2,674,000 people driving to work in 2010. I will round up to 3,000,000 for present day.

3 Million Cars x 1.3 Tons of CO2 = 3.9 million tons of CO2 dumped in the air. Every year. Just in one metro area. Multiply that by over 10 metro areas…yeah. That’s BAD for everybody.

If 10% of those workers telecommuted, it would stop 390,000 tons of CO2 from billowing up into the air.
Air you and I breathe each day.

Plus, you have time saved. Not just for telecommuters not driving to/from work, but for everyone else too. 10% of 3 million cars is 300,000 cars. What would happen to the people still commuting if we removed that many cars from daily traffic?

300,000 cars removed gives us 2,700,000 cars still commuting in the Bay Area. This Texas A&M study says that 148,000 person-hours are lost in traffic congestion for the San Francisco-Oakland area. A 10% reduction gives us 14,800 person-hours back. Divide that by 2,700,000 and you get…
32 seconds.

Okay, so a 32-second time savings on your commute isn’t much. But that’s with only 10% of commuters shifting to Remote Work. Imagine if we went to 20%. Or 50%.

You’re looking at huge pollution reductions, as well as more & more time saved for people who still commute.

Sounds like a good way to help prevent more heart disease and stress, doesn’t it? It sure does to me.

I have to say, that’s pretty smooth traffic for the Golden Gate!
Photo by Freddie Collins on Unsplash

Remote Work Helps Worker Productivity, Traffic, AND the Environment

The tremendous rush of commuting contributes to pollution and stress, every day. Helping keep the air clean and stress low is easily doable. All it takes is the decision to use a Remote Work approach.

If you use this “environmental benefit” argument to request Remote Work, please comment on the experience! I’d love to hear how well it works (and if not, what does!).

Productive Worker at Home

But I have a different perspective on 1…

Let me share a great article on telecommuting with you today.
Why Working from Home is the Holy Grail of Productivity Hacks – BestLife (Alex Daniel)

Overall, it’s a great article. Well written, and does a good job of illustrating the 10 most-commonly-cited productivity boosts you get from working remotely. I’ve already shared it on Reddit, and sent it to some managerial friends.

However, I have one minor issue to raise.

(Okay, two. Alex recommends two days a week telecommuting. I recommend all five, depending on the industry. But, that’s me. Okay, onward!)

The Issue – One Productivity Boost Can Go Even Further

The author talks about 10 different ways telecommuting improves productivity. Regaining commute time as work-time, controlling things like noise level and workflow pace, killing meetings, and so on.

(Sheesh, the TIME we spend stuck in meetings…how many of us have screamed in our heads, “We could have done all that in 3 emails!”)

office meeting photo

“So, we’re all going to remember everything on these posters tomorrow, right?”
Photo by Hollywood_PR

It’s with meetings that I have to raise my minor issue.

The author quotes David Niu of TINYPulse about when it’s a good time to have a face-to-face meeting: the Ideation phase of a project. When you’re figuring out the project’s objective, goals, and planning out steps.

I have to partially disagree here. As sourced, David’s quote talks about the value of face-to-face to “rapidly exchange ideas and read each others’ reactions to feedback.”

Essentially, he’s talking about nonverbal cues. Body language, eye movements…the opinions we give without speaking of them.

Thing is, you don’t necessarily need face-to-face to read verbal cues. Instead, you need:

  1. A video medium
  2. Familiarity with co-workers

If you’ve worked with anyone for a while, you’ve picked up on their typical nonverbal cues. (We don’t have a lot of nonverbal variance from person to person…nobody looks you in the eye when they’re nervous.)

Once you know how to tell when your co-worker likes/dislikes an idea, all you need is a way to track that.

Remote-Work Solution? Group video chats.

video chat photo

Everyone sees everyone. Nonverbal cues come with the discussion.

Dozens of software apps do this already. Skype, Skype for Business, HipChat, Workplace, Slack, etc. All you need are the devices you’re already using, decent bandwidth, and time.

Wait, wait. I can already hear the objection in your brain. “But you can’t see the whole person! It’s not face-to-face, so you can’t be sure!”

A very quick realization for you: You don’t see the whole person when face-to-face anyway. They’re sitting down at a table, leaning forward, partially blocked by a computer or tablet. Unless everyone’s standing up and spread out 10 feet from one another – which would be a little weird anyway – you’re pretty much concentrating on their face and hands.

What does a video chat display? Their face and hands.

It’s a minor quibble. but it does illustrate that sometimes, you can still do those “must be done in person” workday elements remotely.

Alex, great job. Hope to see much more of the same!

I don’t see a Comments section on BestLife, so…what are your thoughts?

IBM and Remote Work

IBM has decided to cancel its remote worker policy.
Extraordinarily bad idea. I’ll illustrate why.

IBM, remote-work pioneer, is calling thousands of employees back to the office – Quartz.com

IBM’s Current State: Unwell

Let’s frame the entire discussion right now. IBM as a company is not doing well. They’ve had 20 straight quarters of revenue decline, right up to Q1 2017 (which ended right as they made this announcement).

IBM stock tumbles as year-over-year revenue declines for 20th consecutive quarter – CNBC

Now, I like the Watson project. I almost can’t overstate its value to medical professionals and research teams. But even with Watson and cloud sales improving, IBM can’t pull themselves out of a LONG slump.

I find this very telling, in regards to their remote work termination.

The Reasons Given: Lofty and Shaky

Sources cited in the Quartz article talk about innovation and productivity gains. About IBM needing to be faster, more ‘agile.’

ibm photo

Used to use one of these…ahh, days gone by.
Photo by byzantiumbooks

“What IBM should value most, says John Sullivan, a professor of management at San Francisco State University who specializes in HR strategy, are better ideas. ‘It turns out the value of innovation is so strong that it trumps any productivity gain,’ he says, pointing to companies like Apple and Facebook that make around $2 million per employee (IBM makes about $200,000 for each employee). ‘[Remote work] was a great strategy for the 90s and the 80s, but not for 2015.’ He thinks that working together in person is one key to innovation.”

The comparison Professor Sullivan uses is, quite frankly, laughable. IBM already has to collaborate with ‘remote’ locations–its multiple worldwide offices! The marketing department alone has 6 offices across the U.S. ‘Working together in person’ is not possible.

(It’s also notable that the quote came from 2015…IBM had to go back 2 years to find it, apparently.)

Other sources appear to rail against remote work…Yahoo’s similar cancellation, Reddit’s demand that all employees relocate to San Francisco. The fact that Yahoo and Reddit both experienced severe trouble (and Yahoo’s ultimate collapse) are not mentioned.

The QZ.com author, Ms. Kessler, tries to show a bright side to the move. (The article itself is good; I always like seeing great writing.) But an upbeat article won’t make the truth go away.

Who made this ridiculous decision?

The Decision’s Sponsor: IBM’s New CMO

Michelle Peluso is IBM’s Chief Marketing Officer. She came on board in September of 2016. From the available information, it appears she set out to destroy IBM’s remote work policy from Day 1.

“In a video message, Peluso, formerly the CEO of fashion startup Gilt, explained the ‘only one recipe I know for success.’ Its ingredients included great people, the right tools, a mission, analysis of results, and one more thing: ‘really creative and inspiring locations.'”

Wait a minute. The only recipe she knows for success…from a fashion company? IBM is about as far from fashion as you can get. It’s not reasonable to presume the tactics used in a fashion company will work in a technology giant like IBM.

Another thing to point out…she’s the IBM Chief MARKETING Officer.

That’s not an HR position…she shouldn’t have anything to do with hiring & firing. She has no technical experience either. Yet she’s the one making a company-wide decision affecting thousands of technology workers?

This makes no sense at all! What’s the real reason behind IBM’s move?

Using Remote Work as a Scapegoat for Cost-Cutting

When we think about it,it’s pretty easy to see what’s really going on here. It’s all a cost-cutting effort.

  1. Declare an end to the remote work policy.
  2. Assign remote workers to a physical office. The office could be in a totally different city from your home. For example, say you work out of a Boston suburb. Your job is now assigned to the Austin office…and you have to show up.
  3. IBM has now created a circumstance where remote workers quit, since they can’t reach the office. If you don’t want to move? You’re fired.
  4. Profit?

The thing is, they’ve already done layoffs. Thousands of them, just in the past 12 months. It didn’t help their costs. This move won’t either…and in fact may do structural damage to the company.

What Happens to IBM Next?

Maybe some of the talent lost wasn’t so good. If so, a simple layoff would suffice. But a move like this sends a powerful message…a very, very bad one. To the world at large, and to the remaining IBM employees.

The remaining talent…the skilled engineers, good programmers, and so on…now know they can get dumped too. Nobody is safe from Peluso’s “improvements.” What will the skilled workers do in response? If I were any of them, I’d run for the exit as fast as possible!

Thousands of companies will happily slurp up IBM’s talent. Not only do they gain highly-skilled workers, they cause IBM damage. In trying to bolster its own innovation, IBM has sent a shockwave through its own halls.

In terms of short-term effect, here’s what I predict. Any IBM department which must reabsorb formerly-remote workers into their on-site workflows, will slow down. Workflows must change, space must be made, relationships built or rebuilt. The day-to-day of people moving about will drag down productivity.

Of course, this causes the opposite of what Peluso claims she wants. Unless she was only after destroying the remote work policy…in which case, anything that happens afterward is not her problem.

Could IBM Reverse the Remote Work Decision?

Is such a decision reversible? Yes, and that’s the best move. Reinstitute the remote worker policy. Do it companywide, right away.

But, even if they did so tomorrow, the damage is done. It would help them in the long run. But they’ve already burned their most important bridge…the one to their talent.

Even if invited back, some of the remote workers cut by this move will not return. (Nor should they; IBM has declared they don’t trust or want you.) That means IBM has to spend more time/money training new people…wasting all the time/money they already spent on the departing workers.

IBM now has to re-home thousands of workers, paying power costs, growing the needed office space, and raising pollution in every city affected.

crowd photo

“This is my office.” “No, this is my office.” “It’s my office too!”
Photo by markhillary

The sad thing is, IBM once enjoyed incredible boosts from their remote work policy. Not just in productivity, but in ACTUAL cost savings. The article even mentions this!

“And by 2009, when remote work was still, for most, a novelty, 40% of IBM’s 386,000 global employees already worked at home (the company noted that it had reduced its office space by 78 million square feet and saved about $100 million in the US annually as a result).”

Hundreds of millions in savings. Now destroyed, rendered moot.

A Bad Move by a Troubled Company

I give credit to the Captain Capitalism blog for pointing out the Quartz article. The man is brusque, but he knows his economics. Take heed.

My final word: IBM has destroyed a remote work policy that brought them provable gains, because a fashion exec says it’ll save the entire company. The IBM decision-makers are either voluntarily ignorant, or they think they’re above the market.

20 straight quarters of declining revenue says they are wrong.

What do you think?

working remotely

One of these will surprise you.

office space management

Yeah, if you could stop interrupting my work every 15 minutes, that would be great…

Whenever I talk about working remotely, there’s always someone who thinks it wouldn’t fit a certain job type. (Curiously, it’s often the job of someone they don’t like.) “Oh, Management could never work remotely, you couldn’t keep a handle on everyone’s activity!”

Sure you could. It’s just a slightly different approach than randomly visiting desks and doling out orders, a la Mr. Lumbergh in Office Space.

The truth is, not only could Mr. Lumbergh’s job work remotely, so could almost every job ‘under’ his.

Which jobs in particular am I talking about? Let’s work up a list. More jobs than these are certainly possible, but this list will do for now.

  • Creative Pros: Designers, Copywriters, Social Media Marketers
  • Web Pros: Developers, UX Specialists
  • Sales Reps
  • Customer Service Reps
  • Financial: Accounting, Financial Advisers, Bookkeeping
  • Management
  • IT: Support, App Development, Administration
  • C-Level: CEO, COO, CIO

Quite a list, huh? Most of a business’ core functions and assistive roles are here. How could all of these roles work via telecommuting though? What makes them suitable for it?

Is Output Required? Then the Job is Remote-Work Suitable.

They all have one key factor in common. It’s a core principle of work, as old as humanity. These jobs are all dependent on, or characterized by, their OUTPUT.

The results they turn in. The processes they sustain. All based on the job’s output. If the job doesn’t produce a certain type of output, consistently and of good quality, then the person in that role isn’t doing their job.

accounting photo

Output in this case: Large quantities of paper.  Photo by _foam

Here’s an example of Output for each of the above jobs. If this is your role, take a moment to think about the work you do. Try to envision it all in a big, looking-down-from-above view. I think you’ll find these examples match up pretty closely.

  1. Designers: Digital assets available for use on the Web, in marketing campaigns, etc.
  2. Copywriters: Content available for use in websites and marketing campaigns.
  3. Social Media Marketers: Growing subscriber/follower counts, likes/shares, audience growth.
  4. Developers: Usable code for websites and online tools.
  5. UX Specialists: User Experience strategies for websites, tools, and other customer-facing resources.
  6. Sales Reps: Customers brought from lead to sale.
  7. Customer Service Reps: Low returns/refunds, high satisfaction scores, good reviews online.
  8. Accounting: Financials in good order. The business’ fiduciary requirements are met.
  9. Financial Advisers: Financial direction for future planning.
  10. Bookkeeping: Balanced books.
  11. Management: Smooth daily operations, good communications within & between departments.
  12. IT Support: Access to needed IT resources.
  13. App Development: Apps built & available to customers.
  14. Systems Administration: IT systems secured and fully functional.
  15. CEO/COO/CIO: Stock price growth, smart future decisions.

We have quite an assortment of output here. Everything from the “useful in a business setting” to “critical for everyday function.” A business could work without some, for a while. Some—I’m looking at you, “balanced books”—are so important that without them a business can implode in minutes!

And yet…absolutely NONE of these output examples require a physical presence in an office all the time. Only a focus on the output is necessary. (Which is what you want anyway, right? Good healthy productivity?)

How to Adapt Jobs to Working Remotely (Easier Than You Think)

What changes would a business need to make all of these jobs work from a remote setting?

You’d need certain business processes in place. The good news is, almost all of the jobs will work remotely using the same processes. Nothing incredibly unusual is required.

  1. Establish a communication standard. One way to communicate that everyone has & can rely on. Phone and email are always there, of course. But I’m talking more about real-time communications tools: Instant Messaging, Slack, and so on. I’ll address tools like these in more detail soon.
  2. Security between the worker’s computer and the company’s IT resources. The WannaCry attack recently knocked the world for a loop. If nothing else, it emphasized the importance of good strong cybersecurity. Said cybersecurity must protect everyone’s computers (and the data on them), irrespective of environment.
  3. Reliable employees empowered to maintain their own output. More of a philosophical position than a practical process. But it pays dividends when each employee knows they can and should focus on doing their best work.
  4. Project tracking/management system. A way to monitor & guide projects to completion. Pretty much necessary nowadays, since people have a lot to do, and projects have many moving parts. I like Asana myself. But you have many other excellent options: Trello, Basecamp, Workfront, Wrike, etc. Try some out, see which you like the most.

Now, here’s the kicker. Any well-run business will need all of these processes anyway! Remote work or not.

Thus adapting them for Remote Work is not a difficult or obstructive task. In fact, you may already have some or all of them in place.

So what’s holding you back from Remote Work? Just the decision. The recognition that most modern jobs are suitable for Remote Work. More than you thought before.

When will you decide?