Seventhman Blog

  1. The Telecommuting Case: Innovator or Disruptor?

    "telecommuting"Just when the flames of Yahoo’s telecommuting memo is slowly dying, we hear Best Buy adding more fuel to the fire.  I can’t resist not to jump in and make a case for telecommuting.  Last week, I wrote about Employee Appreciation Day and how flexible time can become the highest motivator for your people to do their jobs well.  Guess what?  A case against working from home is posted on the Web, saying that such activity is not only counter-productive, but a creativity killer as well.  While I’m not against research, they have forgotten to mention that collaboration technology is improving and more employers are saving valuable money that would have been spent on travel and office space.  Do they have the most current study on work patterns?  If innovation is said to happen in those unexpected moments when you bump into someone from another department, then.. there’s simply no need to plan team huddles to brainstorm an idea as it can happen in a snap, right?

    It’s Not the Distance

    For over two decades of having worked with remote teams across the globe, I would say that it’s not an issue of where you work — but how you manage your team to produce the best results.  By management, I’m not talking about micromanaging or this destructive habit of trying to make marionettes out of your team.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with remote work and it can even help you attract top talents to your brand.  But at some point, telecommuting has to be managed because the potential for abuse is still there.  Honestly, if someone’s consistently producing great work – I don’t really care much if s/he’s working from Jupiter or Mars.  If they can’t do their job well from a distance, what makes you think they will do better when they’re only six feet away?  But, each time I hear someone saying that s/he has the right to telecommute, the problem is always about how things are being managed from within; not telecommuting.

    Remote Work: It’s Not Picture-Perfect

    Like working in the office, telecommuting has its share of benefits and drawbacks.  One thing’s for sure though – employees are happier when they are given a chance to be home-based.  This is why they were aghast when Yahoo’s Chief announced that telecommuters report back to the office by June.  Those who are running a work-at-home program can do well if expectations are clear from the very start – from defining the job scope to deadlines.  There is a major difference between working from home occasionally and doing it all-year round though.  Managers may just not be readily available when you need instant help.  Then, there are also issues on data security, poor performance evaluations and lesser promotions for people who work from home.  If you ask why people still clock in from 9-5, they might tell you it’s all about that good ol’ feeling of how your colleagues think highly of you even if they don’t know what exactly it is that you do.

    The Reality of Working from Home

    Did you know that majority of corporate America spends telecommuting hours – only after they have worked in the office?  That’s time spent on checking emails and writing reports after office hours.  The truth is that managers are still glued to doing the old way of things, that your commitment and productivity is measured with the time you spent in the office.  This is why they want to see you and are leery of those who are out of sight.  Also, they are having difficulty measuring how well you have worked if you do it out of the office.  While there are tasks that will benefit more from face time, the future of work tends to shift from this as people are finding balance between regular communication and working as one.  Digital tools have yet to solve the issue on how to get things done when work becomes more complex.

    There’s no doubt that we will see better technology to make telecommuting seamless.  The question is not much about which platform to use – It’s more on how the company culture support autonomy.

    Do you think that telecommuting is the future of work?  I leave you with that question.

  2. Synergy: Doing Business in Real-Time

    "synergy"It’s amazing to see the correlation between the rise in  remote work and the growth in virtual teams around the world.  A survey even shows that 77% of American adults feel that online meeting is on the rise.  When companies are in a boot-strapping mode so they can meet their business goals, just how can teams that are spread out geographically collaborate like they do in real-time?  Of course, online collaboration saves a lot on travel time and transportation cost, not to mention that participants are more focused meeting online than offline.  Even after years of working with virtual teams, I still face daily challenges in managing it and having an open mind is just a start.  The real question is:  How can you make your process work?

    When Real-Time Performance Feedback Counts

    If you’re working with people across different culture, you know that having a global mindset is the key to making everyone work seamlessly together.  Having a common language is not really enough.  You have to combine communication tools with real-time feedback to your team so they can learn and improve faster.  Most often, feedback come in a little too late and people end up with disagreements.  To engage your virtual workers, you have to give constant feedback that will encourage good habits and practices.  Thanks to online conferencing tools and social networks, this is not an impossible task.  I’m using Yammer to share constant updates with my team, to keep a friendly and healthy discussion, or when I need to implement a quick change.  Think of it as having your own knights-of-the-round-table in a click.  Slipping out a note of appreciation can work wonders too and yet, how many of us have sent a thank you note lately?  Call it your digital pat on the back and it’s time-tested to boost your workers’ morale, no matter how far they are.

    Keeping the “I” in Agile

    I.. for innovation, that is!  Just how can you mix quality time with real-time connectivity?  And if you can, will you create a synergy that will help bring you closer to your goals?  Creating a real-time feedback loop is a serious game that demands business agility, where people can excel at their skills.  Still, there are some who say that the Agile process is anti-innovation.  This can be true though if your user stories are not based on real scenarios that your business face.  The problem with online collaboration comes in when there are more than two users/players in the scene and most often, too much time is wasted on talking about things that are not related to the issue at hand.  To learn faster and come up with effective solutions of getting things done will require not only abstract thinking in a technological perspective, but innovative minds as well.  If you are transparent with your team about your plans and processes, you open the door to making better decisions for your business.

    Revamping Your Business Process Management

    With globalization, the demand to accelerate business processes to come up with real-time solutions is becoming a necessity.  In the name of growing a brand’s recognition and business profit, organizations will have to learn how to synergize by getting rid of information anxiety and empowering their team at all levels.  It will all come down to managing IT, the people.. and maximizing business value where tech is concerned.  These days, the fast will beat big and everyone will be forced to innovate.  Doing business in real time may simply mean alignment of strategies and performance feedback from day-to-day… and responding quickly to change.

    Are you ready to empower your team?