The Work Remotely Genie Has Now Escaped the Bottle
Remote work is here to stay…permanently
Recently the technology company Square announced that they were permanently allowing people to work remotely. This announcement comes on the heels of Twitter’s similar declaration a week ago.
Also, companies like Facebook and Google announced that their employees wouldn’t be returning to the office for the remainder of 2020. Want to make a bet that these companies will now pivot and allow people to work remotely – permanently?
Well, thanks to COVID-19, the Work Remotely Genie has now escaped the bottle completely. It is no longer going to be a perk. It is now ascendant and will become the norm as we redefine a new normal in this pandemic world.
I’ve seen this for a while now, as early as 2015 or even earlier. I was working in a distributed environment, where my team members were scattered in our Santa Clara headquarters, and in our Guadalajara and Chennai offices. At one point, I became fully remote, where I was the only person on the team in the USA, while the rest of my team were in Mexico.
I already began to think that the Agile ideal of colocated teams was just that – an ideal.
Agile had to adapt to the world that was getting more distributed and starting to become more remote. I was adjusting to a remote world personally. During this time that I was working, either as distributed or remote, I started figuring out ways to be more Agile in this environment. Some of the things I tried didn’t work as well as I expected, while others succeeded.
“If you want to be working from home, you need to be Agile. If you want to be Agile, you need to think about working from home.”
How do I know? Well, I got a touching send-off from my Guadalajara team when I was leaving to go on my next adventure. Yes – the lone remote worker getting a very heartwarming and touching send-off – who would have thought that this could happen while working as a remote worker?
I didn’t realize that remote working was becoming a big thing. I only realized this when I attended the Remote Forever Summit in 2019 for the first time. The conference blew my mind. Here were people working entirely remotely AND still being Agile. Some of the things they were doing were things that I had been doing already with my teams.
I got validation that I was going down the right path. I confirmed my hypothesis that colocation was an ideal that would be left in the ensuing dust.
Today, the remote work genie is totally out of the bottle. Thanks to COVID-19, the pandemic situation accelerated this change.
Companies that don’t embrace remote work options will fail in the long term. I’ve heard this from various leaders from startups and companies while attending conferences and webinars during the Shelter in Place period. The announcement from Twitter and Square validated these points.
Remote work has its advantages. The real estate costs for companies goes down. The work commute disappears, and people will have a better quality of life for both home and work with the diminished stress.
But these bring up interesting questions and issues as well. The law hasn’t caught up yet to this new work paradigm. Who covers worker’s compensation when one gets injured while working in their home office? Is it you, the worker? Or is it the company? These kinds of issues and questions require answers as the shift to remote work accelerates.
In the meantime, remote work is here to stay. Companies better start looking into this during these times or will be left behind in the long run.
PS – So you may be asking – what’s the difference between distributed and remote? In a nutshell, distributed is when you have people working in offices together. And the offices are all over the world. People in these offices come in during business hours, and they collaborate locally and with other offices. Remote is when you work remotely by yourself, for the majority of your time.