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Remote Work, Cubes, & Everything In Between

Where—physically—do you work? Does it matter?

Remote Work, Cubes, & Everything In Between

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Reasonably Accurate 🤖🧠 Transcript

Morning everybody. How are you doing today? Um Again, coming to you from outside, enjoying some beautiful fresh air um and feeling a little refreshed. Now, on last episode with Mornings with Mark and we talked about burnout and balance and that generated a lot of great conversation and I want to tackle a similar topic today. And that's one that's a little sensitive as well because it deals with corporate culture.

But I think it's really important and that's remote work or work flexibility. At least now I've seen all manner of this implemented in all sorts of organizations. There are some organizations that have stripped work from home policies where you need to have an agreement and you can do, you know every other Friday or every other Monday and those seems set up in a very certain way.

And I'll come back to that in a second. There are other companies that rely on the individuals and they say, well, you know, you just balance it yourself and there are others that have a flat no work policy and we've seen, you know, very famous and very public examples of companies kind of going both ways.

So we know that Yahoo and IBM, both in recent years have called everybody back to the office in the name of collaboration. But there's an interesting sort of counterbalance or concurrent event that's happening where we're seeing more and more companies switch to open office concepts. So we know the big cube farms. I've seen some start ups that are terrifyingly packed in, but that stays as they grow into bigger, bigger companies where essentially you've got all these people, all these developers built into like a and um you know, and then there's others, you know, famously Joel Floss at Fog Creek or previously Fog Creek said like, oh, here is how we built our office and everybody's got their own individualized space and all these things are very um culture specific, organizational specific, team specific people, specific decisions.

But unfortunately, there's a reoccurring theme that I see through a lot of them. And I think this comes back to burnout and balance that we talked about on the last episode of the show. Is that very rarely are these set up for individual optimum outputs because everybody is different. So you can't have one solution, regardless of what that solution is, you can't have one solution that applies to everybody and expect everybody to be at their optimum.

But there are some things that you absolutely have to ensure that you do not have in place because there are signs of other weaknesses and that's a big challenge organizationally in general where we a solution in one area to really cover, you know, to try to address a problem. But really that problem is in a completely other area and we're not actually addressing the problem.

So the biggest one is the initial hesitation of a lot of folks to allow people to work from home or to work flexible hours and things like that because management doesn't have the trust in them to deliver what they're supposed to deliver or they have no way of measuring what they're actually getting out of their employees.

This is not a work from home problem. I mean, it hits up in work from home, but that's a bigger problem as well because people just assume that your bums in the chair, you're being productive and we all know nothing could be further from the truth, especially if you're doing creative work. If you're writing something up, if you're analyzing, risk sitting at a desk, pounding away, doing a risk assessment is not the way to do it, get a bunch of people in the room and, and do a whiteboard session and brainstorm, that's a fantastic way to generate the initial material.

Then if you write, then to write that up and to pull that into a cohesive assessment, you probably need some alone time and just throw it on monster headphones, might not do it for you. Again. There's no clear answer here. There's no one size fits all answer. And I think that's really what I want to drive home is that you can't have a general, this is how everything has to be done and expect a group of individuals to all be at their optimum.

And I think this really comes down to building trust with your employees and employees having the trust in their managers and the self awareness to come up and say, listen, I don't work well in this type of cube environment or in this type of isolated environment or I don't work well remotely, I know plenty of folks who cannot stand working remotely, they do not like working in isolation, they need to be around people.

All of these things are fine. I'm not saying that one of them is better than the other. I know what works for me. Um But you need to know what works for you and once you know that you need to be able to articulate that and you need to be in an environment that allows for that.

So for people who prefer remote work, that's very much me. I like to be isolated and alone. But there's times when I need to be with my team um collaborating with other teams. Um And on site, you'll see me obviously popping around to a bunch of events and things like that. Give me the social charge.

But I know where those limits are. At least I know the edges. I'm still learning as always, um some of the specifics, but I'm able to articulate that and say, listen, if you want me to deliver this, you want me to deliver this project. Um, here's the best way in which I can do that.

But if you are unable as a team member to articulate that, that's a real problem because now you're just going to fall under the generic. Well, we need people here 9 to 5 Monday through Friday and overtime on demand, but it needs to be in the office and you can't leave or we're completely distributed company.

You know, we have no plans of bringing people back together that may not work for everybody. You need to be able to find that I think that directly ties back to balance and burnout. In fact, there was a study released this week from a company in New Zealand that did a very quantitative approach to a very subjective sort of thing.

And what they did was they measured before, during and after and uh two or three month experiment of doing a four day work week for everybody. So they said, you know what, we're going to go down to four days Monday through Thursday and we'll see what happens and everybody was happier work, life balance improved.

Um The productivity maintained if not increased. Um People re uh reported that they were much more engaged with the work. Um but it took a lot of adjustment and a lot of collaboration. And that works for that organization that might not work for your organization, especially if you're running something like a security operation center, there are certain you just need to have it staffed.

So now you're talking shift work. But then again, you can start to customize the physical environment to help optimize the employees as well. Because we know as so is really just a team using a whole bunch of digital tools that allows you for an insane amount of flexibility. And I think that's really one of the biggest frustrations for me is that we in it security as builders, we as developers, we work in stuff that's ephemeral, it's digital, it can be accessed anywhere.

We have a connection. So why are we letting old models dictate where we work, how we work, you know, and don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of face to face. I'm a huge fan of collaboration and you need to even for remote workers, you need to see people face to face, break some bread, shoot, shoot the breeze together.

Um That needs to be happening and you, but at the end of the day, you need to treat people as individuals and you need to have a flexible enough work environment that allows people to work to their optimum and it's incumbent on them to know what their optimum is and how to get the most, how they can get the most out of themselves.

Very tricky. Lots of fuzzy areas not trying to dictate or pre cheer, just trying to highlight um what the challenges can be. Um What's your with this? What do you think? Um Where's your stance? Let me know online at marknca um in the comments down below or as always by email

Um What's the balance for you? Do you have a specific arrangement you think is unique? Do you find stuff that isn't working? How do you deal with those bosses who say you're only productive if you have your bum in your chair? Um Let me know. I hope you're set up for a phenomenal Friday and an excellent weekend.

I will talk to you next week. Take care.

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