Here is a collection of TED and RSA Animate talks by some of the most prominent thought leaders in remote work.
If you’re not sure how working remote might impact your business, this article offers some insights that will suggest that your company should consider ditching the office and start working Anywhere instead.
1) Why work doesn’t happen at work: Jason Fried, founder of Basecamp
In his TED talk, Jason Fried looks at how the traditional office is not a productive workplace.
Office-based work is full of managerial and meeting-type interruptions, Jason calls them ‘M&Ms’. These disruptions are so chronic that people can find themselves trading in their work days for ‘work moments’.
This is clearly not a productive way to work. Even if you consider yourself a multi-tasking master, you still need long stretches of uninterrupted time to complete meaningful work.
To understand why we need long stretches of time to get work done, Jason compares our work and sleep cycles. He suggests that they’re actually very closely related; they’re both phase-based events.
If you’re interrupted in the early stages of your sleep or if you’re interrupted just as you are settling into your work, then you’ll have to restart. Put simply, you’ll have remind yourself of the work you just did or you’ll have to go back to sleep again. That’s hugely inefficient.
On the other hand, if you have uninterrupted sleep for a long period time, you’ll reach a deeper phase of sleep and will consequently, feel more rested in the morning. Additionally, if you work uninterrupted over a sustained period of time, you’ll be more productive and your output will be more substantial.
It’s no wonder that Jason highlights that people often choose to work outside the office. When working Anywhere, you can avoid unnecessary ‘M&M’-type interruptions and get more done.
So, go ahead. Try working Anywhere, avoid distractions, and watch your team’s productivity rise.
Shawn Achor, a psychologist, points out that happiness inspires us to be more productive in the workplace.
He suggests that only “25% of job successes are predicted by IQ” and “75% of job successes are predicted by optimism levels, social support and ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat”.
His research also reveals that most people in the workplace believe that if they work harder, they’ll be more successful and, consequently, happier. In other words, most people perceive happiness to be the result of constantly getting ‘better’ at work.
Achor highlights that instead of companies focusing on employees’ future activities and ‘moving up the ladder’, they should focus more on raising team positivity in the present work environment. Why? Because the “brain at positive is 31% more productive than at neutral”.
Therefore, the more you focus on making your team happy in the here-and-now, the faster you will reach your goals.
But how do you increase employee happiness? Our next TED talk will answer that question.
3) Re-Imagining Work: Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft
Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, believes that one answer to employee happiness and productivity is to adopt a flexible work environment.
Dave points out that a large percent of Americans are unhappy at work because of the layout of traditional offices, which breed stress, anxiety and unproductive time at work.
For example, the cubicle layout in many offices creates physical barriers to collaboration and, consequently, productivity. Similarly, open-plan American offices can also reduce productivity. Weren’t open plan offices supposed to improve team collaboration? Unfortunately, this hasn’t happened in practice.
Typically, there are a collection of desks and computers in the middle of an open-plan office. This layout often causes anxiety as people are literally ‘in the open’ and can be monitored by their managers in their corner offices. Just like our ancient ancestors, we don’t like to be in the open. At a primal level, we don’t like to feel like prey in the middle of a savannah; it makes us stressed. And the more stressed we become, the more unproductive we become.
What’s the answer, then? How do we create an environment that facilitates productivity? Coplin believes that the answer lies outside an office, and in a flexible home work environment.
He argues that, for the average knowledge worker, destination is not important for work. Work is what you do, not where you do it.
So, to overcome the problems of the cubicled and open office, consider ditching the office altogether and offering your team an ‘anywhere’ work environment instead. By giving your team choice over where they work, they’ll be able to work productively on their own terms without the stresses that can come with working in a traditional office environment.
4) The Evolution of Work: Stacey Ferreira, CEO of Forge
Making the shift to remote work isn’t just needed to make employees happier and more productive, it’s also needed as a tool to gain and retain tech-savvy millennials. Stacey Ferreira argues that the future of work will be shaped by flexibility.
Ferreira points out that we are now experiencing a generational shift from the Information Age into the Age of Creativity. As we enter this new age, and as millennials represent an ever larger proportion of the workforce, you’ll need to offer work flexibility.
Making the change to Anywhere work can be intimidating but it can also be profitable for your business. In her research, Ferreira found that “85% of employees reported improved work productivity” when working flexibly. By opting for an Anywhere workplace, you’ll be choosing a productive workplace.
– Working from home can result in your team being more productive. At home, it’s easier to avoid unwanted ‘M&M’-type distractions.
– A happy workforce is a more productive one. If you focus on your team’s happiness you will not only boost morale and cohesion, but also productivity. Allowing people to work outside the traditional office environment is one way to boost happiness; people like freedom.
– We are now shifting from the Age of Information to the Age of Creativity; where millennials seek flexibility and choice at work. To gain and retain the future workforce, companies will need to give flexible working options to attract and retain the best talent.