Your First Remote Work Domino Fell Long Ago

Your First Domino Fell.


Debbie Levitt

3 years ago | 4 min read

A company declined to interview me for a job because I was remote. They said they were “very collaborative,” and wanted to know if I might move near their City A or City B offices.

If you’re so against remote, how do your City A and B offices collaborate now?

The dominoes are falling. Don’t stop them.

Your First Domino Fell.

That first offshore company you hired to do some of your coding, QA testing, or other Engineering.

That outside agency or consultant you hired for your marketing, social media, or UX. The graphic design freelancer you brought on, but they worked from home.

That second office you opened. That first worker who had to work from home a few weeks (or always) due to a temporary or permanent disability.

As soon as your physical office took up more than a “small amount of space,” your domino fell.

Suddenly you had to find ways to communicate with people not geographically near your desk… elsewhere on a large floor, elsewhere on another floor of the building, etc. People used chat systems rather than getting up, walking to the elevator or stairs, and going to see if another human is at their desk.

That was your first domino falling. Which means remote work is not as wild and unfamiliar as you imagine.

Your Dominoes Are Falling… In a Good Way

Your second office, your offshore team, and your outside consultant were the first domino falling in your remote work landscape. You now have two or more teams or locations that had to figure out how to meet, collaborate, make decisions, and share information.

You had to add Zoom to meetings so people could dial in. You set up Slack or Microsoft Teams so that people could chat in real time or asynchronously. And there’s always email. You set people up with calendars so they could see everyone’s availability, and book time to talk.

Or maybe you already had all of these in place because they and their competitors are now standard work tools for tech companies.

Pandemics Prove That Old Excuses Don’t Fly

We’ve all heard the reasons why our company doesn’t want remote workers.

  • “It wouldn’t be fair to those coming into the office.” If you know coming into the office is unfair, create a remote working policy. You wouldn’t have a problem with workers jealous of those working remotely if it were available to everyone.
  • “We’re very collaborative.” You should be, you have been, and you will be. Having distributed teams doesn’t mean you stop finding multiple ways to work together.
  • “You guys like to whiteboard, so you will have to come into the office.” We have things like Mural now. We can virtually whiteboard together from anywhere.
  • “How will we know if people are getting work done if they’re not in the office?” How did you judge or measure them when they were in the office? Most jobs have deadlines. Did people meet or beat those deadlines? There are many easy and common ways to measure if people are “doing their work.” If you hired unproductive, untrustworthy people, get rid of them and hire productive, trustworthy people.
  • “Agile and Scrum require that everybody be colocated and sit within smelling distance of each other.” Magically, we’re able to get Agile done. Agile and Scrum coaches are all scrambling to create remote training (so you keep paying them for something) as well as to shift their messages about where workers can be located.
  • “Our workers can be remote but managers and higher should be in the office.” Why? We’ve just learned that all jobs can be done from houses and apartments, even with bored dogs, stressed-out kids, and lots of fear and anxiety.
  • “We tried it before and it didn’t work.” It’s working now that you have no choice but to make it work.

It sadly took a global pandemic, and some companies are still finding their sea legs, but every day, we prove a little bit more than remote working works. Some already knew, but some are just learning now how much people prefer working from home, how productive they are, and how much they save companies. Companies, check your utility bills for the offices nobody has been going into. Now imagine those costs, furniture costs, and more slashed further when you shift to smaller offices or no offices.

Create a (Permanent) Remote Work Policy

Working remotely shouldn’t be something that only happens for a few weeks while you try to avoid spreading a pandemic. Current (March 2020) job listings saying that you can work from home for X months, but then must come into the office when there’s no longer a pandemic are telling us what these companies value most: pseudo-control over workers.

If you care about diversity and inclusion, then you care about having a permanent remote work policy, one that persists in the post-COVID-19 world. It’s great for those with temporary or permanent disabilities. Great for finding the best talent anywhere, even if they don’t live near your office. Great for people who need flexibility due to caring for their children, their parents, or both.

This allows for a more diverse workforce, and for everybody to be included. The work will still get done. We all know we’ll be fired if we don’t get work done. Try trusting us. Remote work is going to quickly be the new normal.

This article was originally published by Debbie levitt on medium.


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Debbie Levitt







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