We just recently completed a slew of candidate interviews for a new support position at Thought Ensemble and the job is primarily virtual. So, one of the big topics covered in the interviews was how comfortable and competent the candidate would be working remotely. Personally, I love working from home and am super productive working from home, so I was fascinated by the candidates who really wanted to go to an office every single day. There were several who basically said they’d be willing to work virtually, but I could tell they found it to be a downside of the job.
On a similar note, I was recently doing an IT strategy project and in interviewing some of the executives, saw a huge dichotomy in their perspectives on whether remote work needed to be enabled. Most of the execs loved the idea, but a few just could not comprehend how they could possibly manage people if they weren’t in the office. They had lots of reasons why it wouldn’t work, but when it came down to it, it was all about the fact that they primarily measured employee contribution based on hours sitting in the office.
Now, I’ve discussed this topic many times before, most notably and recently in this blog post: Working from home WORKS! But, the thing I’d liked to add to this conversation, something that Tim Houlne and Terri Maxwell may discuss more in their book, “The New World of Work” (which I’m eager to read), is how to manage people via results versus hours. Managing for results versus hours is an argument of quality versus quantity. What is more important, how long it took someone to complete a project or the outcome of the project itself? Virtual work drives the transition from hours based management to results based management, which is a better way to be anyway. As a consulting firm I love that we are paid primarily via fixed fee projects, where we are incented to deliver work faster. The more crap we can cut out of our projects – useless meetings, bureaucratic processes, etc. – the more successful we are. Since we aren’t just trying to burn hours we can focus on what is most critical, which means our projects aren’t overloaded with worthless filler and the client sees results sooner.
On a final note, I recently saw this interview of Tim Houlne talking about the trends driving virtualization of our workplaces. Whether you are an advocate or a skeptic, check it out – it is just a 3 minute video. Plus, we know and love both Tim and Terri, so I wanted to do a shout out!