I live in San Francisco and I work in Santa Cruz. That statement and the 75 miles in between usually freaks people out…how do you do that? Well, honestly I don’t, can’t and won’t. Hats off to those who can drive those long distances and still maintain their sanity but the traffic/time trade-off is just too much for me.
So when Plantronics closed their Berkeley office in 2007 I went to remote working from home as much as I could. I had the OK of my boss if not exactly the blessing of the organization. But since then, Plantronics has fully embraced remote working for geographically distressed people like me and for most teams that don’t provide on-site service or need on-site tools.
So while my marketing team had gotten used to having a remote boss, it was now my turn to get used to having a dispersed team. My team members had been driving to work at the Santa Cruz headquarters each day, but they jumped at the chance for flexible work. They could each tweak their work/life balance AND learn more about how our products play a key role in the changing office landscape. Dare I say it…a win-win.
Jamie got to spend more time in Portland with her boyfriend. Jennifer could make the first meeting of the day by phone so her household of teenage late sleepers wasn’t challenged by that 7:30am start time to catch the EMEA team. This changed more than their commute habits. They are thinking and working outside the box (borrowed that from Jamie) and I’ve actually gotten to know my team better without a single issue around access or responsiveness.
Now much of that is due to great people using great tools. We all have company provided laptops and cell phones. We all use Microsoft Lync to “see” who’s available when. And, of course, we use Plantronics headsets and speakerphones to bring the voice of business with us wherever we are. While it has been a benefit to have our collaboration little more personal, nobody really wants to know or needs to know exactly where you are or what’s happening around you. Another way of putting it, we all benefit from the mute button and the latest noise cancellation technology because – admit it – we’ve all heard the toilet flush during a conference call before.
So you get the idea…maybe next time I’ll formalize a few suggestions for managers not quite ready to make the leap.