IBM ditching remote work and Apple’s monolithic new office building are two notable examples of Silicon Valley giants making bad bets on the future of the workplace.
As tech companies scramble to entice millennials into their workplaces with the lure of foosball tables and bean bag adorned break-out rooms, cold reality will soon hit recruitment.
As millennials begin to settle down and start families, these office perks – explicitly and deliberately designed to increase employee time-on-campus – will no longer be attractive.
Instead of a ‘cool’ office, millennials will soon want the flexibility to work from home – or, for that matter, from anywhere – to spend time with their growing families. The companies that are today adopting flexible working practices and integrating them into organisational processes will be the long term winners.
These businesses will be in a better position to attract the best talent. They will also find a much deeper talent pool by widening the scope of recruitment beyond the commutable distance of an office.
Tying people to a large office complex in one of the world’s most expensive areas is unlikely to be a draw for much longer.
With 1990s thinking, IBM and Apple just made bad bets.
Last month we learned that IBM – for a long time the leading light in the remote work movement – had decided to end its flexible working culture for thousands of employees.
This week we learned that Amazon is going in the opposite direction. The commerce and cloud computing giant is adding 5,000 remote work positions.
“There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job—whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent—and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live,” said Tom Weiland, Amazon Vice President for Worldwide Customer Service.
Working anywhere just got a little easier.
This video is a teaser to David Heinemeier Hansson’s book, Remote: Office Not Required.
Even in this short clip, there are some great insights into why anywhere work is a viable option:
- When hiring remotely, candidates are judged on how good they are and not where they are.
- You permit people to work on their terms. Effective collaboration can happen in moderation.
- People are more productive when they are able to work on their own schedule.
- “I don’t have to live in a tech hub to have a good tech job”. Remote work can be an effective recruitment tool.
- “Flexibility to live your life.” People aren’t forced to compress their non-working lives into a short few days at the top and tail of each day.
- “Remote work is a viable option” – The premise of David Heinemeier Hansson’s book.
Anywhere work is happening already. And people like it!
An excellent article on anywhere work collaboration from the HBR.
The Office of Personnel Management reports that remote work has increased job satisfaction, reduced employee turnover, and cut costs on several fronts, including real estate, utilities, and travel subsidies.
Many companies focus too much on technology and not enough on process. This is akin to trying to fix a sports team’s performance by buying better equipment.
Successful remote work is based on three core principles: communication, coordination, and culture.
The HBR goes on to explain these principles in greater detail.
A close reading of the article is well worth it. The main challenges of remote collaboration are no longer technical issues; they centre around processes and group dynamics.
Effective teams have a clear mission, are excellent at communicating, and understanding the subtle behavioural differences required by physical distance.
Teams that address these factors are equipped to solve complex problems anywhere.