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I work in Madrid. My boss is based in Munich. My team supports the Atlassian tools stored in a data center and we are moving them to AWS. We use Slack for communication and notification. We have almost 1.000 users spread throughout Europe. All my work, tools, processes and communication channels are digital. I do not have any asset in the office relevant to my daily work and none of my processes depend on me or my team being in the office.
Summarizing, I work in a centralized team because we all work in the same office but we support a big amount of decentralized users spread throughout Europe. Therefore, our information, tools, processes, channels and users are “remote”.
The only benefit we get when we work in the office is the social interaction because we can have a coffee or lunch together. I usually balance my work 40% at home and 60% in the office and I try to synchronize this schedule with my colleagues because if they are working at home and I am alone in the office, I spend time and money traveling to the office with no benefit. I really value these social interactions. In my previous company I had the opposite situation, I worked in a decentralized team, we were a bunch of people distributed in several locations supporting local users. We worked in this way for years before having the opportunity to meet us in-person. After the meeting when we could spend time talking and sharing a lot of things, we had an outstanding improvement of our engagement and performance. I learnt in that moment that the total isolation is really harmful for teams.
Beyond that social interactions are great, we still consider the concept “remote” by inherited habits because we are already 100% remote. Our data, colleagues, information, tools, platforms, customers, partners, users and channels are remote. Therefore, we should not talk about remote work that it is actually the standard but on-site habits. Something like, “in my company we have the habit of reporting in an on-site meeting every Monday morning”. This new paradigm is like a x-ray photograph where you can see clearly the “bones” of the managers. Most of these new technologies that allow us to work remotely are quite recent and they are not used to working with them. So they have two paths, they can ignore them and oblige their teams to work with obsolete habits (at the end of the day, this way of working made them managers). Or they can learn something new and trust on their teams. I am sure you can identify people in both groups and I bet you'd rather work with the second group. Therefore, instead of remote work we should talk about on-site habits and on-site managers.
But then, what is remote work? I do not know, maybe working without my laptop? 😉