Management by checking the temperature of a person’s chair is not a path to high-performance.
Lean management eliminates unnecessary and wasteful activities and resources like commutes and facilities for the many knowledge workers that don’t authentically require time in the office, who deal exclusively in a working world where information and resources are created, transmitted, and stored electronically.
Don’t forget that the biggest companies prior to the last 20 years were built on multiple continents using telephones, postal mail, and couriers. It is possible to operate at the enterprise level with key participants who are not at the same location.
The idea that collaboration and innovation can’t occur without collocation lacks creativity and commitment. It’s an unprovable opinion, not a fact. It’s lazy logic, disproven over and over by the billions of dollars spent by companies on less expensive labor in other countries.
For nearly twenty years, I’ve worked on “teams” where one or more of my “team members” was in another timezone, often on another continent, despite the fundamental premise that collaboration works best when teams are collocated. Of course, all the people in a given geography still commuted into an office so they could telephone, email, or, more recently, video call the rest of the team elsewhere, and so they could log in to systems that could also be reached from home.
Let me say that again: everyone commuted to work, so they could get on a call or use a keyboard that could have been used from home. Because that’s efficient, or somehow better.
If the leadership in your organization lacks this basic logic and reason in their strategy, you might look in three places for the reason:
- they’re posturing for shareholders who themselves are not interested in logic or reason
- they’re heavily exposed to commercial real estate markets and trying to drum up demand for office space (I’m looking at Jamie Dimon and Sandeep Mathrani here)
- maybe they’re just misinformed, focusing on the wrong KPIs and performance metrics to effectively lead a modern, educated, creative team of innovators
The winning leaders and companies of the future will function and win regardless of location. The others will complain it can’t work and prove it with their underperformance.
@mention or comment the people and teams with whom you have successfully navigated remote work relationships.